Bummed by the fact that there’s no UFC or Bellator this weekend? Well, the gods of violence continue to be benevolent with plenty of other events, including RIZIN and Invicta. And while those organizations are also putting up excellent cards, we’ll focus - as always - on the wilder side of the international and regional scene.
Azerbaijan awaits us for Friday’s WFCA 48, headlined by Bellator veteran Frodo Khasbulaev (28-7) faces Salman Zhamaldaev (15-1). This bout was originally to take place in Feburary, and was delayed when Zhamaldaev suffered a rib injury. Khasbulaev went on a four-fight win streak starting in 2011, then won an additional five in a row while in Bellator. During that time he accumulated wins over Marlon Sandro, Mike Richman and Ali Bagov, only to depart the organization in 2013 to fight for ACB, some Akhmat Fight Show events and now WFCA. This is a rematch between the two, as Salman had defeated Magomedrasul in 2016 after a 5-round decision. Khasbulaev has won four straight since then with two TKOs and one submission. Zhamaldaev lost in his professional debut to Antun Racic, but hasn’t lost since then. Repping the Akhmat Fight Club, he also holds wins over Kevin Petshi and Felipe Froes.
This card also features heavyweight Evgeniy Goncharov (9-5) taking on American Brandon Cash (10-4). Goncharov is a true kill or be killed fighter, as the Tech-Krep FC and ProFCsome victories by TKO or submission on his record, but getting finished in each of his losses. Cash has been fighting since 2008, with wins over Eric Prindle and Javy Ayala. He had a 2009 loss against the late Shane Del Rosario and is coming off a loss against Evgeny Erokhin.
This card begins Friday at noon EST, and may probably be streamed online.
Later that evening, Quebec’s Videotron Centre plays host to TKO 43. Two titles are up for grabs as both the middleweight and welterweight titles are currently vacant. The co-main event sees Jonathan Meunier (8-1) vying for the belt against Menad Abella (5-0). TriStar’s Meunier went 1-1 in the UFC, with a loss in his debut to Colby Covington and a win over Richard Walsh. After a fight against Li Jingliang fell apart due to Meunier suffering an injury, he was released and made his way to TKO. Despite two cancelled bouts, this is his debut with the organization, and he’s taking on a tough test right off the bat. Abella started his career with four straight TKO wins, and earned a split decision in his last victory at Prestige FC 9.
The main event will be a middleweight title fight between hometown guy Marc-André Barriault (9-1) against Brendan Kornberger (9-3). Barriault has won six in a row, and this is his fourth fight under the TKO banner. Kornberger went 1-1 with World Series of Fighting, and has career losses to Krasimir Mladenov and Ryan Janes. He’s on a three-fight win streak, which include a submission and a TKO.
Also, Poland‘s Sylwia Juskiewicz (8-5) faces former Ultimate Fighter contestant and Alberta’s own Alyssa Krahn (4-1) at strawweight.
TKO 43 streams live on Friday night via Fight Pass, starting at 6pm EST.
LFA also returns on Friday night, as Colorado gets a treat with a few hometown fighters lighting things up. Top of the card features Factory X alum Ian Heinisch (9-1) attempts to defeat Gabriel Checco (10-2) for the interim middleweight title.
Submission ace Hayward Charles (15-10) tests himself against Brazilian talent Christiano Frolich (10-2), and Fort Collins standout Maycee Barber (3-0) attempts to stay undefeated against Audrey Perkins (1-0).
LFA 39: Heinisch vs Checco airs live on AXS TV, starting at 9:00pm EST.
CES brings more battle-tested talent to the forefront as they CES NY 1. Lots of tough regional talent with deceptive records take each other on. Former World Series of Fighting and Bellator fighter (as well as former Ultimate Fighter contestant) Matt Secor (9-5) steps up to face former UFC fighter Renee Forte (8-4). Forte went 1-3 in the UFC with a win over Terry Etim, but was released after consecutive losses to John Makdessi and Francisco Trevino in 2014. This will be his first fight since. Secor.
John Gotti III looks to improve to 2-0 against Eddie Haws (0-1). Haws went 3-2 as an amateur, with all three wins being finishes.
CES NY 1 will be live from The Space in Westbury, NY (fun fact: not far from the Old Westbury golf course I used to work at). The event begins at 7:00pm EST.
King of the Cage is also back, and with a headliner I personally never saw coming. The New York Bad Ass Phil Baroni (15-18) returns after almost four years away from the sport to face Matt Lagler (12-14,1 draw). This fight is to be contested at middleweight (!!) as the main event for this card.
KOTC: Under Siege will be airing live on MAVTV where available starting at 10:30pm EST this Friday.
DKW Fight Night 2 begins on Saturday morning for the stateside audience, with a main event that is guaranteed heavyweight action. Kamil Bazelak (8-9) attempts to even out his record against Brazilian specimen and pound-for-pound best title belt photo holder on earth, Fernando Rodrigues, Jr. (11-4). Bazelak is the one of the truest kill or be killed fighters in the game, as all of his wins and losses have been by finish. Unfortunately, all of his wins have either been against debuting opposition with the exception of his last opponent, who was 0-1. That’s also because that fight was a rematch of a fight that Bazelak had defeated him in five months prior. Rodrigues has been pasted in back to back KSW fights against Michal Andryszak and Marcin Rozalski, both of them being first round knockout losses.
Also on the card is the very busy former UFC talent Izabela Badurek (7-4) against kickboxer Judyta Rymarzak-Niepogoda (1-2). Badurek has ben 2-1 since her UFC release, while Judyta won her pro debut, did a few kickboxing matches and lost two straight MMA bouts.
DKW Fight Night 2 begins at 10:00am EST.
Russian Cagefighting Championship starts another event this Saturday, with a whopper of a headliner as former UFC fighter Gabriel Gonzaga (17-11) is set to fight former PRIDE standout and convicted rapist Alexander Emelianenko (26-7-0). Gonzaga is returning from his second retirement stint after a brutal loss to Derrick Lewis in April of 2016. Emelianenko was released from prison and bounced back to win three straight against Geronimo dos Santos, Virgil Zwicker and Szymon Bajor.
Speaking of Geronimo dos Santos (40-20), he’s in the co-main event of this card taking on Ivan Shtyrkov (14-0) in a battle of the action figure heavyweights. Shtyrkov has been on an absolute tear, defeating the likes of Christian M’Pumbu, Satoshi Ishii, Bigfoot silva, Ricco Rodriguez and Jeff Monson, as well as current KSW heavyweight champion Phil De Fries. Geronimo has suffered tough losses to Sergei Kharitonov, Amir Aliakbari, Vitaly Minakov Thiago Santos and Josh Barnett, but also has career wins over Dion Staring, Evgeny Erokhin, and the dreaded Zuluzinho. Yes, him.
RCC 2 begins this Saturday at noon. No word on streaming availability, but the internet is your friend.
ACB 86 is also happening this weekend, live from Moscow. Three title fights are set along with some impressive talents acquired by the Russian org. Marat Balaev (8-0) looks to keep his winning ways in a rematch against Yusup Raisov (12-1) for the featherweight title. The two tangled in a 5-round battle in 2016, and Balaev edged Raisov out in the end.
Askar Askarov (9-0) defends his flyweight title for the second time against Rasul Albakhsanov (7-2), a bout originally scheduled for this past January. Askarov won the title in 2016 against Jose Maria Tomé and defended successfully against Anthony Leone with a third round submission last April. Albakhsanov lost to Leone in 2016 (also by submission), and has won two straight since to earn a bid at the belt.
Light heavyweight action will also be present as Batraz Agnaev (4-0) defends his title against Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov (15-5, 1 draw). Agnaev has finished all of his opponents, including a vicious TKO victory over former UFC fighter Thiago Santos. Yagshimuradov has won five in a row, including his last two wins over Luis Fernando Miranda and Joachim Christensen - both first round knockouts.
Ciro Rodrigues will see action against Beslan Isaev, Akop Stepanyan fights Arman Osparov, Georgi Karakhanyan takes on Alexey Polpudnikov, and Brazil’s Denis Silva replaces Rasul Mirzaev against Abdul-Rakhman Temirov.
ACB 86: Raisov vs Balaev starts at 2:00pm EST on Saturday, with their fights being uploaded to their YouTube channel.