Eagle FC makes its U.S. debut this Friday night with a surprisingly intriguing card from its new home base of American operations, Miami, Florida. And the names chosen for this maiden voyage are mostly those of note, but with a lot of questions surrounding them.
First up, the main event. Originally scheduled to be Tyrone Spong (2-0 MMA) vs Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, that got nixed as Spong will now be facing Sergei Kharinotov (33-9). A man that’s been almost everywhere and almost everything in Kharitonov will now be up against one of the most respected heavyweight kickboxers of his era. Now, Spong hasn’t fought in MMA in close to a decade since his WSOF bout against Angel DeAnda, but has maintained an active schedule with Muay Thai, kickboxing and boxing matches. But what does that mean for his MMA game? He’s still got a strong team with him at Sanford MMA, and that should serve him well along with having stayed busy.
As for Kharitonov, well... he had his last bout in Bellator against Chieck Kongo back in August, a surprisingly fun affair. He lost by late submission, and bounced back with a win over Fabio Maldonado. Yes, that Fabio. He’s still game despite his age and mileage, but can he still hang with a dedicated and complete striker that is still athletic and carries massive power? We’ll find out soon enough.
Rashad Evans (19-8, 1 draw) is back from retirement, and up against BJJ powehouse Gabriel Checco (12-5). Evans left the UFC after his last bout against Anthony Smith in 2018, a bout that extended his losing skid to five in a row. In fact, he hasn’t won a fight since defeating Chael Sonnen in 2013. Another Sanford rep, he’s got a great crew with him. But what does he still have in the tank against a younger, fresher, stronger and much more lethal grappler? Will he still have a striking advantage here, and has he made the most of his time away from MMA competition? Again, it’s shaky ground. But we’ll see.
Ray Borg (14-5) returns to active competition, this time at bantamweight against another UFC vet in Cody Gibson (18-7). John “Doomsday“ Howard (29-17, 1 draw) is back at welterweight against surging prospect Ramazan Kuramagomedov (9-0), a guy you really, really should keep an eye on.
Anthony Njoukuani (16-12) also makes an appearance, as he’s up against 8-1 Raimond Magomedaliev. Remember Yorgan De Castro (7-3)? He’s back as well, this time against Shaun Asher (13-4, 1 draw). Arman Osparov (11-4) looks to turn some heads at featherweight against Dylan Salvador (3-1), who missed weight and will be fined as a result.
Finally, Loik Radzhabov (15-4, 1 draw) leaves his PFL days behind to face former Bellator talent Zach Zane (15-9), while former standout wrestler Shawn Bunch (10-5) faces Firdavs Khasanov (8-2) at bantamweight.
You can check out the ceremonial weigh-ins here courtesy of the crew at MMAJunkie:
Full card is as follows:
Tyrone Spong (228.4) vs. Sergei Kharitonov (264.6) - Heavyweight
Gabriel Checco (204.4) vs. Rashad Evans (202.2) - Light heavyweight
Ray Borg (135.8) vs. Cody Gibson (135.8) - Bantamweight
John Howard (174.8) vs. Ramazan Kuramagomedov (174.6) -
Raimond Magomedaliev (175.4) vs. Anthony Njokuani (173.6)
Arman Ospanov (146) vs. Dylan Salvador (149.4)* - Featherweight
Shaun Asher (239.4) vs. Yorgan De Castro (264.6) - Heavyweight
Miles Hunsinger (175.8) vs. Demarques Jackson (174.6)
Shawn Bunch (135.6) vs. Firdavs Khasanov (134.2) - Bantamweight
Loik Radzhabov (165) vs. Zach Zane (164.5) – 165lb catchweight
Sitik Muduev (155.4) vs. Ayadi Majdeddine (156) - Lightweight
Eagle FC 44 begins this Friday night at 6:00pm EST, streaming live and free, exclusively via FLXCast.com.