There might not be any UFC or major MMA events this weekend, but boxing continues its run of major cards to close out the year with shows on DAZN, Showtime, and uh... okay so maybe that Triller show is really close to being an MMA card since it’s billed as an MMA-boxing blend of sorts.
Whatever the case, I got your preview right here!
The Best Fight - Stephen Fulton (19-0, 8 KOs) vs. Brandon Figueroa (22-0-1, 17 KOs) (Showtime, 10 PM ET)
What’s at stake: Figueroa’s WBC super-bantamweight title and Fulton’s WBO title. It’s a unification bout, basically.
What to watch for: Figueroa is a seemingly unstoppable volume puncher and pressure boxer. He really made his arrival onto the big stage as a top-level boxer with his seventh-round KO of Luis Nery to take Nery’s title off of him. It is very common for Figueroa to get into fiery exchanges and attack the body heavily. Fulton is a slick boxer out of Philadelphia who has a great jab and exemplary footwork. He’s also no joke fighting in close quarters, as he showed in his WBO title win over Angelo Leo. Fulton doesn’t hit nearly as hard as Figueroa but he has the superior overall boxing skill that his status as the betting favorite seems accurate. The work he does on the counter could expose Figueroa defensively but it’ll be fascinating to see whether or not Fulton can successfully slow down Figueroa’s offense.
Why you should watch: This has zero chance of being boring and the winner will be a unified champion, meaning that super-bantamweight’s only champs will be the Figueroa-Fulton winner and IBF/WBA champ Murodjon Akhmadaliev. Undisputed title fight in 2022, anyone?
Notable undercard fights: Ra’eese Aleem vs. Eduardo Baez should be a fun scrap at bantamweight with Aleem poised to be fighting for a world title at 122 lbs next year. Gary Antonio Russell (brother of Gary Russell Jr) also takes on Alejandro Santiago in what should be a favorable matchup for the unbeaten Russell.
The Biggest Fight - Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) vs. George Kambosos Jr (19-0, 10 KOs) (DAZN, 8 PM ET)
What to watch for: This routine IBF mandatory title defense for unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez should’ve happened ages ago. For a variety of reasons, it didn’t, and Triller’s incompetence/sketchiness ultimately led to them abandoning ship and DAZN/Matchroom Boxing picking up the card. Lopez has been out of action since his milestone win over Vasiliy Lomachenko, in which he showed he can outbox one of the best boxers of his generation. His status as a devastatingly sharp and accurate puncher is unquestioned, and usually his knockouts come with a Fortnite celebration. Australia’s Kambosos is aggressive but not overly powerful, and might try to put Lopez on the back foot. Teofimo tends to work better on the front foot but also he’s such a vastly superior boxer that Kambosos just moving forward is way easier said than done. Really we’re just looking to see how quickly this fight ends so Lopez can move onto bigger and better things.
Why you should watch: Teofimo Lopez is a wonderful fighter to watch and he’s going to do terrible, terrible things to Kambosos to get this tumultuous 2021 over with.
Notable undercard fight: Kenichi Ogawa vs. Azinga Fuzile for the vacant IBF super featherweight title. It’s a far more competitive and intriguing fight, although I can’t completely vouch for it to be the most fan-friendly.
The Biggest Sh-tshow - Triller Triad Combat (Fite.tv PPV, 8 PM ET)
What to watch for: Chaos. Probably a lot of mismatches too. If you’re not up to speed on this triad combat idea, it’s boxing but with MMA gloves and the ability to punch in the clinch and do superman punches and spinning backfists. All of it is explained here. Quinton Jackson is captaining Team MMA and Shannon Briggs is captaining Team Boxing.
The main event is former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir against former heavyweight boxing title challenger Kubrat Pulev. This is likely going to end poorly for Mir, who uh... isn’t a pro boxer and Pulev is someone who’s very much willing to punch in the clinch even though it’s not legal in boxing. Mir lost a clear decision to a semi-retired Steve Cunningham. I don’t know what we’re doing here.
Mike Perry’s first post-UFC fight is against Michael Seals (25-3, 19 KOs), who is most recently known for getting KTFO by Eleider Alvarez in 2020. However, he’s a huge puncher and Perry’s vaunted power hasn’t really shown up in an MMA environment in ages. He looks like a shell of himself and this could end with him getting very hurt and possibly unconscious.
If you want to handicap MMA fighters with a more than decent chance of winning on this card, I’d go with Albert Tumenov over Scott Sigmon, whose fame as a journeyman is losing to Roy Jones Jr in his retirement fight. Derek Campos is probably undersized against Brian Vera but Vera is at least eight years past his best. Alexander Flores isn’t very good but he’s likely likely to wallop Matt Mitrione, whose chin is already not good for MMA and probably will be easily compromised in this boxing-MMA hybrid thingy.
Why you should watch: You are unhealthily addicted to combat sports and weird things. And you’re also a fan of Metallica.