The MMA world outside of the Big Two continues to offer a lot of fun. This weekend is a good one in which some established veterans get the opportunity to get some work in, while some younger talent get tested.
Case in point: Fight Nights Global 84: Deák vs Chupanov. Sharamazan Chupanov (4-1-1 draw) faces Tomas Deak (17-9-1) for the Fight Nights bantamweight championship. This fight is actually a rematch from a bout they had in 2015, win which Deak won by split decision. Chupanov has been fighting much more experienced opposition in his last two fights, and has had all of his wins go to a decision. That means he clearly knows how to pace himself and can go deeper into a fight, but Deak has faced much more battle-tested opposition. Deak’s had losses to powerhouse wrestler Antun Racic, as well Alexander Sarnavskiy, Yusup Saadulaev and KSW champion Mateusz Gamrot (who also fights this weekend). His ceiling appears firmly established at this point, as none of his wins have been against notable opponents. This should still deliver in terms of action.
Former BAMMA interim flyweight champion Andy Young (11-9) steps up for the biggest fight of his life against former UFC fighter Ali Bagautinov (17-7). Bagautinov’s first fight outside of the UFC was a devastating knockout loss to former WSOF fighter (and lineal Bellator champion, look that one up) Tyson Nam, but bounced bag with a submission win over Pedro Nobre. That win was followed by a decision win over former TUF contestant and UFC fighter Danny Martinez last October. Also on the card, Swiss veteran Yasubey Enomoto (16-10) faces Shamil Amirov (3-0-1). Remember Viktor Pesta? Well, he’s back to bump his record up from 12-4 against former OPLOT fighter (why, yes... those guys) Alexander Gladkov (10-1). Only two of Gladkov’s wins have been by way of decision. As for Pesta? He’s doing quite well these days. Released by the UFC after his submission loss to Alexey Oleynik, he’s earned back to back wins with a TKO of Michal Kita and a submission of Alexei Kudin. This could be the sleeper fight of the card.
Fight Nights Global 84: Deák vs Chupanov takes place in Bratislava, Slovaka. Card starts at 5:00pm EST this Friday. Videos will be shared via their YouTube channel.
Friday’s LFA card has some promise as well, with LFA 34: Watley vs Jenkins starting at 7:00pm. Robert Watley (9-1) lost his pro debut, but hasn’t lost since. His record has four finishes due to strikes, and one submission win. His opponent Brandon Jenkins is nicknamed “The Human Highlight Reel“, and it’s not hard to see why. His last fight in December against Carl Wittsock was the only decision win on his record. Travis Perzynski (22-9) meets Trey Ogden (9-2) at lightweight, while Darrick Minner (20-7) shares the cage with14-5 Jordan Griffin. MMA pioneer Kelly Kobold (18-3-2 draws) takes on Katy Collins (7-3), who has also fought for Bellator. Collins has losses to Shannon Sinn and Emily Ducote (who fights this weekend for Bellator), but has wins over Mandy Polk and Bruna Vargas. Kobold started her pro career in 2002, going 17-0 with a draw against Ginele Marquez to start off her career. She holds signature win over Shayna Baszler in 2004, and Adrienna Jenkins. Fun fact: Kobold has a win over Jessica Kresa, better known to professional wrestling fans as O.D.B. After losses to Tara LaRosa, Julie Kedzie, and Gina Carano (in 2008), she took a break until 2011 and didn’t return to action until last August. Her last fight was a split draw against Alliance MMA’s Christine Stanley.
LFA 34: Watley vs Jenkins will air live on AXS TV.
Ring of Combat 62 also goes down this Friday at 7:00pm, with FIVE title fights on the line. Former Ultimate Fighter contestant and originator of the “Let Me Bang Bro“ phenomenon Julian Lane (12-8-1) will be headlining against Jeff Lentz in a rematch for the welterweight title. Lane had been released from the UFC after his first TUF stint and a loss to George Sullivan in his UFC debut. After a 2013 loss to Paul Felder, he went on a four-fight win streak that was halted in a rematch against Luis Felix. Things were up and down for Lane until he made it to his second run on the Redemption season of The Ultimate fighter, and he lost his first fight after the reality series wrapped in a fight against Akhmat’s Haseyn Daudov. He bounced back with a decision win over Lentz last November for the then-vacant title, and hopes to successfully defend it. Lentz is another fellow TUF contestant, as well as a CFFC and Ring of Combat veteran. Despite losses to Andre Harrison and the aforementioned Lane fight, has wins over Dustin Pague, Anthony Leone and Jared Gordon.
Bradley Desir (10-5) added to the prelim fireworks at last year’s Bellator NYC show, finishing Nate Grebb with a sensational knockout. This was after finishing Julian Lane with a headkick knockout in his previous fight. Not a single Desir fight has gone to a decision, so this is another name to look out for. His opponent is 6-1 Tajuddin Abdul Hakim, riding two consecutive wins into this bout.
And on a personal note, big ups to Bill Algeo (9-3), fighting for the featherweight title against Tevin Cooke (5-1).
Before UFC 222 this Saturday, you might want to start off with Cage Warriors 91, headlined by Josh Reed (7-1) vs Brian Bouland (6-1) at bantamweight. Welterweight Ross Houston (5-0) is scheduled against Aaron Khalid (6-3-1 draw). Cage Warriors will be streaming live via UFC Fight Pass, starting at 4:00pm EST.
As a final aside, UFC veteran and Czech wrestling standout Karlos Vemola (19-5) competes at X Fight Night 8 in his native Czech Republic this Saturday against 8-3 Englishman Jamie Sloane. Vemola has gone 10-1 since his UFC release with his lone loss in that stretch being against current UFC talent Jack Hermansson.