Another week in which we have been granted some mercy from the UFC’s ruthless schedule, and there’s no Bellator for a while. What’s a fan of fisticuffs and grapples to do? Well, you’re already reading this, so you know what it is. Time to get ready for some international and regional action.
Friday morning gives us M-1 Challenge 94: Ismagulov vs Damkovsky, headlined by a lightweight title fight between Artiom Damkovsky (22-10) and Damir Ismagulov (16-1). Damkovsky’s got skills, and is aided by his cardio and fight IQ to do stuff like this. With three consecutive wins already, he aims to score a fourth against an opponent on a 10-fight streak. Ismagulov has wins over Rubenilton Pereira and Raul Tutarauli (both also featured on this card), and really knows how to put opponents away when he has the opportunity.
This card also features Finland’s Juho Valamaa (15-4) vs Maksim Grabovich (7-5), Roman Bogatov (6-0) vs Raul Tutarauli (18-5), and heavyweights Marcus Vinicius Lopes (12-6) and Maksim Yakobyuk (2-0) tangling for big boy bragging rights.
Friday night has a real treat from the East Coast as CES MMA CES 50: Paiva vs Ewell. Dinis Paiva (11-6) faces Andre Ewell (12-4) for the vacant bantamweight title. Paiva’s had every single professional fight under the CES banner with a loss to sometimes Bellator fighter Kin Moy and wins against Bruno Marquez and Kevin Barberena. His crisp striking and veteran composure should serve him well in this fight, as he takes on a fantastic athlete that hits like a truck. Ewell’s got back to back wins due to strikes, and a submission win to make it three wins in a row. He has faced subpar opposition in Gladiator Challenge, but has developed to a talent that performs incredibly well. Those fights in Gladiator seem to have bolstered his confidence, because he’s absolutely fearless against legitimate opposition. Really. This should be an excellent bout, and it takes place at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island.
Former UFC and Strikeforce fighter Ron Stallings was scheduled to be on this card, but his fight got cancelled.
Co-main for this one is a tilt between Ultimate Fighter contestant Jon Manley (11-4) and Jeremiah Wells (4-1, 1 draw). Manley has had some success after TUF, with losses to Emmanuel Walo and current UFC lighting rod Mike Perry. He’s got two straight wins with his last fight being a decision win against Ryan Sanders. Wells is a Ring of Combat and CFFC vet with a win over former onetime Bellator fighter Bradley Desir, and a draw against Bassil Hafez (hi, Bassil!!). He’s got athleticism and big punches on his side, and he’s not a slouch in the submission department.
Also on the card, Invicta fighter Mallory Martin (3-2) is looking to extend her winning streak to three for the first time since her amateur days as she faces flashy kicker Maria Rivera (2-0). If you haven’t seen Martin fight, you’re in for a treat - she’s violent, and has a mean streak. This ought to be great.
CES 50: Paiva vs Ewell airs live as usual on AXSTV, starting at 9:00pm EST.
ACB pitches its tent in Australia as ACB 88 returns down under arrives at the Chandler Arena in Brisbane.
Top billing goes to a light heavyweight bout between former UFC fighter Luke Barnatt (14-5) and Poland’s Karol Celinski (15-6). Bigslow lost a decision to Scott Askham last September at ACB 70, but rebounded with a pressure-heavy win over Maxim Futin this past February. Celinski is on a three-win streak with decision wins over Futin as well as former UFC fighter Vinny Magalhaes.
Former Bellator and UFC fighter Marcin Held (23-7) brings his leglocking prowess as he steps up to face Aussie Callan Potter (16-6). BJJ phenom Rodolfo Vieira (3-0) looks to collect another scalp as he deals with Jacob Holyman-Tague (5-1). Former UFC heavyweight Chase Gormley is also on the card, taking on Canadian Tanner Boser (14-4).
Former UFC talent Steven Kennedy (25-8) has been undefeated in three straight fights since his UFC release, but now he clashes with former Bellator and Titan fighter EJ Brooks (12-5) while Brazilian transplant Gustavo Falciroli (17-5-2) will have his hands full with PXC vet Trevin Jones (10-5).
Interestingly enough, the original headliner for this card was supposed to be Thiago Silva vs Chris Camozzi, a fight cancelled due to visa complications for Silva. Former Bellator fighter Brett Cooper was also scheduled and had to withdraw, and a fight between Andrew Fisher and Luis Palomino was also scrapped. Would have made a pretty great card even better, but that’s the fight game.
This one’s bright and early for those stateside as it begins at 6:00am EST. Good luck finding a live stream, but fights are uploaded shortly after they take place on their YouTube channel.
Cage Warriors moves over to Antwerp, Belgium with a 14-fight card this Saturday.
Bantamweight gold is the special of the day, as Belgian bantamweight Brian Bouland (7-1) tries to best Spaniard Ilia Topuria (5-0). Bouland has earned this shot with brutal violence, and a great finishing instinct as he enters this fight with back to back wins, both finishes. Topuria hasn’t seen a decision, finishing all opposition. He’s crafty, and he’s a real submission threat.
Jan Quaeyhaegens (6-3) is a name that you should start to be familiar with if you aren’t already. All finishes on his record, and he’s on a three fight winning streak. His hard-hitting style gets tested against SBG Ireland’s Philip Mulpeter (8-5), who also has a nasty finishing habit.
Cage Warriors 94 streams live from the Lotto Arena in Antwerp Belgium starting at 1:00pm EST, exclusively via UFC Fight Pass.