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MMA Rundown - May 18th-20th: ONE, Combate Americas, FNG and ACB line up stellar cards

Some excellent matchmaking this weekend, giving the international scene some serious shine.

Lee vs Yamaguchi

With the UFC having a card that’s not high on their tier list and Bellator taking the week off, international fight fans have plenty of meat on the bone for this weekend. Asian MMA and the European scene in particular have some noteworthy events, with some outstanding action pairings. This week’s optional listening accompaniment can be found here. Just put that on a loop, and you can thank me later.

Friday morning brings us ONE Championship: Unstoppable Dreams, live from Singapore. ONE continues to bring some underrated and overlooked talent with event titles that resemble SNK fighting games, as well as exciting matchups. This time around they’ve got the usual early bird special with some of their more exciting talents with a legit banger headlining the card, as Angela Lee (8-0) defends her strawweight title against Japanese fireplug Mei Yamaguchi (17-10, 1 draw) in a rematch of their sensational bout almost two years ago. Lee has defeated Jenny Huang and Istela Nunes since then, while Yamaguchi has gone 2-1 since that encounter. If past is prologue, we’ll see more wild exchanges standing with frantic action on the ground and neither competitor giving up any ground.

The co-main event features Angela’s brother Christian Lee (9-1) against dual lightweight and featherweight champion Martin Nguyen (10-2). Nguyen unsuccessfully tried to vie for a third belt against Brazilian juggernaught Bibiano Fernandes back in March, but will put his featherweight belt on the line in a rematch of a fight between the two from 2016, one which Nguyen won by first round submission.

You want better than that? Shinya Aoki (39-8) returns to fight ACB veteran Rasul Yakhyaev (11-6) at lightweight and ONE mainstay Eduard Folayang (18-6) tests himself against undefeated Russian finishing machine Kharun Atlangeriev (11-0).

One Championship: Unstoppable Dreams begins Friday morning at 7:00am EST, and will be streaming live and free in the U.S. via their revamped mobile app. Take it from me, kids - the app is pretty amazing now. Be sure to give it a shot.

Friday night brings a little heat to windy Tijuana, Mexico as Combate Americas returns to Mexican soil once again, adding to the theme from their last event with Mexico vs The World. Combate 21 has a group of bold Mexican talent facing very tough opposition, starting with the headlining act. Former Ultimate Fighter contestant Andres Quintana (13-2) hopes to continue his current 3-fight win streak as he faces Mexican bruiser Marco Antonio Elpidio (7-2). Elpidio is dropping from lightweight to featherweight for this fight and faces stiff competition from the surging Quintana, who has improved his slick boxing, submission game and sharp elbow arsenal.

Rodrigo “Kazula“ Vargas (10-2) returns to lightweight against former UFC fighter Mike de la Torre (14-8), while Spanish Judo champion Vanessa Rico Fernandez (3-3) will have her hands full against Mexican striker Yajaira Romo (3-3). 22-year-old Brazilian striking phenom Vinicius de Oliveira takes on crafty Mexican prospect Christian Quiñonez. Erik Perez will be cageside to mentor his younger brother Jair Perez, who makes his pro debut and looks to follow in his brother Goyito’s footsteps.

Combate Americas: Mexico vs the World starts at 9pm EST with prelims via their official Facebook page, and the main card on Univision Deportes.

Saturday brings much joy starting at noon, as Fight Nights Global stacks serious talent for an organization that may be in dire straits pretty soon. Bingo Boom Fight Club’s Armenian veteran David Khachatryan (24-3) will have to deal with hard-nosed SBG Ireland product Peter Queally (10-4-1). Perhaps more interesting is the co-main event, which is truly the People’s Main Event here. Former UFC fighters Nikita Krylov (DA GAWD, 24-5) will be engaged in what is almost guaranteed to be a certified rollercoaster of a fight against the plucky and nearly indestructible Fabio Maldonado (24-11). Fabio will be defending the Light Heavyweight title, which he won form Kurban Omarov, which ended in a very emotional night for Maldonado. Krylov has taken a different direction with his fighting, as his motivations have become more defined. Even though his departure from the UFC was a sad one, he’s been undefeated since with finishes over Stjepan Bekavac and former Bellator champion Emanuel Newton.

Another former UFC fighter Adriano Martins (28-9) faces Alexandr Shabliy (17-3) while yet another former UFC talent Mike Graves (6-1, 1 draw) looks to get back into the win column against 6-6 welterweight Murat Khasanov. Jungle Fight and UFC veteran Elias Silverio (13-3, 1 draw) tries to avoid being a stepping stone for surging Russian talent Saygid Izagakhmaev.

Fight Nights Global 87 begins at noon EST, with fights to be made available via their YouTube channel after they happen.

ACB brings their sense of spectacle to the UK, as ACB 87 will be live from Nottingham, England on Saturday afternoon. They continue their international tour with a host of familiar faces and hometown heroes against Russian talent.

Main event on this one is a can’t-miss encounter between former UFC talent Robert Whiteford (14-4) and Kane Mousah (10-1). Whiteford’s been on a good run as of late, with wins over Kevin Petshi and Nam Phan, while Mousah’s been finishing less fights but fighting consistent and well-rounded opposition. Mousah’s lone loss was to current UFC fighter Marc Diakiese. Poland’s Piotr Strus (12-3, 2 draws) has an odd matchup against former Bellator Fernando Gonzalez (27-15) at middleweight. Would-be UFC fighter Pietro Menga (13-1) tries his luck against former UFC fighter Takeya Mizugaki (21-13, 2 draws), as Rob Emerson (19-12) gets to see what Berkut FC’s Shamil Shakhbulatov (9-1) is made of.

Andre Winner (21-11, 2 draws) will be in what’s likely to be the show-stealer of the night against Adam Aliev (8-2). Another Berkut talent, Ibragim Chuzhigaev (11-5), goes up against former UFC and Bellator fighter Mike “Biggie“ Rhodes (10-5).

ACB 87: Nottingham begins at 3:00pm EST, with fights being available shortly after they take place on their YouTube channel.

Disclaimer: Victor Rodriguez works as a member of the Combate Americas digital content team.