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MMA Rundown: March 23-25, 2018

While the American scene takes a breather, the international events do not slow down.

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Gallery Photo: ONE FC 9 Photo Gallery - Part 1: Bibiano Fernandes Koji Oishi Masakatsu Ueda Kevin Belingon

Welp. No UFC, Bellator or any other major events this weekend. Don’t let that fool you into thinking that we’re not going to have anything on the international circuit.

Friday morning we get action bright and early as Polish organization Thunderstrike Fight League presents Thunderstrike Fight League 13: Noxy Night. Former UFC fighter Izabela Badurek (6-4) returns to action after a TKO loss at Ladies Fight Night 7 this past December. She faces 4-3 Barbara Nalepka (4-3), who is on a three-fight losing streak. No information is available as to where this event can be viewed.

Friday night has a lot more substance, though. LFA 36 will feature Ricky Simon (11-1) defending his bantamweight title against Vinicius Zani (11-4). You may remember Simon as the fighter that faced former UFC competitor Chico Camus back in December. Simon won that bout by decision, extending his win streak to four consecutive wins, including a win over former WSOF title challenger Donavon Frelow. Zani has a previous career loss to current UFC talent Thomas Almeida, but turned things around to go on his own run with four consecutive wins. Notable among recent wins are victories over Joey Miolla and Joe Murphy under the RFA/LFA banner.

Jamall Emmers (12-3) comes off a November win over former UFC fighter Chris Avila to fight fellow featherweight Guilherme Faria (15-6). Emmers is a teammate of UFC fighter Bobby Green, and has three straight wins coming into this contest. Faria’s making his U.S. debut after making a name for himself on the Brazilian circuit, where most of his wins have been by KO/TKO.

Steve Swanson (14-3) also returns to combat, as he takes on California’s Benji Gomez (6-10). Swanson is the brother of UFC talent Cub Swanson, while Gomez is known for his brawling style on the West Coast scene.

LFA 36: Simon vs Zani will air live on AXS TV as per usual, starting at 9:00pm EST.

ONE Championship sets up another card with some well-known talent at the top, as Bibiano Fernandes (21-3) defends his title against Martin Nguyen (10-1). Nguyen rattled off six straight wins to get here, avenging his lone loss to Marat Gafurov, as well as dispatching of Edward Kelly, Eduard Folayang and Christian Lee (brother of WMMA sensation Angela Lee) along with Japanese vet Kazunori Yokota. Fernandes hasn’t lost a fight since 2010, defeating the likes of Andrew Leone, Kevin Belingon, Masakatsu Ueda, Gustavo Falciroli and Takafumi Otsuka (whom he had beaten earlier in 2009). Earlier wins over Hiroyuki Takaya, Joe Warren and Joachim Hansen have made Fernandes something of a mythical figure, as he continues to amass a wealth of experience and a reputation for being one of the best in the world.

American grappling ace Garry Tonon will make his professional MMA debut against Filipino Richard Corminal (4-3). It should be noted that Corminal is coming off back-to back losses to Shannon Wiratchai (also fighting on this card) by TKO in a pretty wild bout, as well as Arnaud Lepont by first-round submission. Heavyweight Alain Ngalani (3-4) returns after his submission loss to middleweight champion Aung La Nsang (yes, that really happened) as he takes on 1-0 Mongolian Ariunbold Tur-Ochir.

ONE Championship: Iron Will streams live via ONE’s website, starting at 7:00am EST.

Remember Karlos Vemola? Czech wrestling phenom? Cannabis entrepreneur? He fought earlier this month on March 3rd, defeating Jamie Sloane in the very first round. He fights again this weekend at Night of Warriors 13, defending his light heavyweight title against Prince Aounallah (13-8) in his native Czech Republic. Vemola’s got a hot hand with four victories in a row, and has been looking good taking on less experienced opposition. The event starts at around 10:00am EST, and Twitter will most likely have updates as it happens.

At 11:00am, ACB: Baku airs live from Azerbaijan with 14 fights, headlined by a bantamweight title fight between Oleg Borisov (20-2-1) and Rustam Kerimov. Borsiv had a few early wins in his career, but after a loss to Timur Valiev, he notched 15 wins and a draw before seeing his next defeat - a submission loss against Magomed Magomedov (also competing on this card). Borisov has a load of finishes on his record, mostly via strikes. Kerimov is coming off the biggest win of his career in what was a strange TKO win over UFC veteran Takeya Mizugaki last September. Kerimov is a very talented fighter with a lot of upside, so this should be worth watching in terms of talent. RIZIN veteran Amir Aliakbari (7-1) takes on Denis Smoldarev (13-3). Smoldarev has losses against current UFC fighters Alexander Volkov and Marcin Tybura, and wins over M-1 veterans Akhmed Sultanov and Kenny Garner. The aforementioned Magomed Magomedov (14-2) faces Latvian Edgars Skrivers, who has back-to-back wins against Antun Racic and Xavier Alaoui. Former UFC fighter Daniel Omielanczuk (19-8-1 draw) tries to rebound after three straight losses that saw him released from the UFC, when he faces American Bobby Brents (17-6, 1 NC). Brents was last seen on the wrong end of a decision against Chase Gormley at Bellator 162, way back in October 2016.

ACB: Baku streams live and free via Fite.tv starting at 11:00am EST.

Oh no, we’re not done yet - Cage Warriors 92 has three title fights on deck. The main event is a fun one, with Nathaniel Wood (12-3) defending his title for the second time, this time against Luca Iovine (12-1). Wood’s got four wins in a row, with Josh Reed and former UFC talent Vaughan Lee among his more recent victims. Speaking of Lee (14-13-1), he’s also on this card with four straight losses as he takes on hungry up-and-comer Jack Shore (7-0). Heavyweights Mauro Cerilli (11-2) and Karl Moore (8-1) will square off for the heavyweight belt, as Sam Creasey (9-1) and Nathan Greyson (5-2) will vie for the flyweight championship.

Cage Warriors 92 will stream live via Fight Pass, with prelims to air on Facebook.

Later on in the day, former Strikeforce fighter Dion Staring (36-14) faces fellow Dutchman and Dirty Bob Schrieber protegé Nils van Noord (17-9-2) at World Fighting League 2 in Almere, Netherlands. As well, Watch Out Combat Show features former UFC fighter Larissa Pacheco (10-2) in a headlining slot against Karolline Rosa (8-1). Rosa has a win over Mariana Morais, while this will be Pacheco’s first fight after her UFC release in early 2015.

That’s it for this week, but there’s plenty more coming along for next weekend. Be sure to watch this space for more.