Alex Perez (via @Jolassanda)

Last Week in MMA #41: Pettis Rocks Mexico, Contender Series Kicks Ass, M-1, ACB, ONE and Much More!

Highlights from the 23 Best MMA Events of the Past Week

Highlights from the week in the big US, Russian, Asian and European MMA promotions, followed by clips and news on big show veterans and rising prospects competing at regional events across the world.


Major MMA Events


Dana White’s Contender Series 5  (Las Vegas, Nevada)

This week’s edition of the Tuesday Night Dana Show may have been the best one yet, as four of the five bouts were excellent – and the fifth, Shelton Graves’ (7-3) pitty-pat TKO of Everett Sims (4-1), was so mind-blowingly bad that you couldn’t avert your eyes. That heavyweight stinker aside, both Ricky Simon (10-1) and Donavon Frelow (6-3) looked terrific as Simon survived Frelow’s high octane striking assault and used his Dagestani-lite grappling skills to secure a split decision that would have earned Simon (or both men) a contract in a less competitive week. Ring of Combat featherweight champ Julio Arce (13-2) also impressed but walked out empty-handed, as he survived a rough first round before turning up the heat to beat down and take out talented but inconsistent Peter Petties (5-3) via round 2 TKO.

Those two quality prospects were left on the sidelines thanks to a pair of utterly spectacular first round finishes. If you haven’t seen CES alum Mike Rodriguez (9-2) decapitate TUF vet Jamelle Jones (7-5) in the show’s main event, first remind yourself that Rodriguez is a 6’5” light heavyweight before feasting on this ultra-athletic flying knee:

 The other contract winner, former Tachi Palace flyweight champ Alex Perez (18-4), looked like a star in the making against top-shelf gatekeeper and Victory FC flyweight titleist Kevin Gray (9-4). Perez finally punched his ticket to the big show with a fantastic first round striking display capped by a snapdown anaconda choke that would make El Cucuy proud. Much credit to referee Mark Smith for immediately recognizing when Gray went out cold with his eyes wide open:


UFC Mexico City  (Mexico City, Mexico)

After starting his UFC run with three straight strong performances, charismatic Mexican flyweight Brandon Moreno (14-4) finally met an obstacle that he couldn’t overcome in technically sound Milwaukee native Sergio Pettis (16-2). Though Moreno threatened early from back mount, once Pettis got his takedown defense in gear the 23 year old Roufusport product easily won the last four rounds of the contest via superior standup skills. Will Sergio’s technical proficiency give him a chance against the legendary Mighty Mouse?  Who knows, but on paper it looks like one of the most interesting flyweight title matchups out there – assuming that DJ handles Ray Borg in his upcoming defense. The co-main was another battle of attrition that went the distance and also saw the more technical talent, strawweight prospect Alexa Grasso (10-1), hold off a less-polished athlete in Randa Markos (7-5). And since we’re talking decisions, we’d be remiss not to nod to The Artist Formerly Known as Shad (19-7) who lost a decision to Sam Alvey (31-9) in an exceedingly dull middleweight affair.

While the name bouts relied on judges, the undercard brought the finishes – which explains why UFC gave out four Performance of the Night bonuses but no Fight of the Night.

POTN Exhibit A:  Explosive young welterweight Niko Price (11-0) remained undefeated by smashing through name vet Alan Jouban (15-6) in under two minutes. Price has now finished off his opponent in each of his three Octagon appearances, and after crushing Jouban the Floridian can’t be far from a bout with one of the division’s ranked parties:

POTN Exhibit B:  Unknown Peruvian featherweight Humberto Bandenay (14-4) stepped up to the big leagues on short notice, and then disposed of TUF Latin America winner Martin Bravo (11-1) in extremely short order with a gnarly head kick that had the ref jumping in just 26 seconds after the opening bell. Welcome to the show, Humberto!

POTN Exhibit C:  Who says flyweights can’t hit hard?  Longtime fringe contender Dustin Ortiz (17-7) laid that myth to rest with a nasty 15 second TKO of Hector Sandoval (14-4) that marked the fastest finish in UFC flyweight history:

POTN Exhibit D:  Urijah Faber protégé Joseph Morales (9-0) faced a tough Octagon debut in undefeated flyweight foe Roberto Sanchez (7-1), and the long-haired Texan gave Morales a bit of trouble early in this contest. But Morales is a tenacious scrambler and he managed to work to the back and secure an RNC finish with a little bit over one minute left in round one:

POTN Honorable Mention:  Sure, a Von Flue choke requires a bit of unwitting cooperation from the tapping fighter, but much credit to Carolina boy Jordan Rinaldi (13-5) for recognizing the opening so quickly when Alvaro Herrera (9-5) foolishly held onto a headlock from bottom with Rinaldi in side control:


LFA 18  (Shawnee, Oklahoma)

The recently appointed MMA capital of the American heartland, Shawnee, Oklahoma hosted its fourth major MMA event of the summer when LFA stopped by for a return visit to the earthquake-ridden OKC suburb. A few talents really stood out from the pack in this prospect-filled offering. The main event saw LFA featherweight champ Kevin Aguilar (13-1) reassert his status as a top 145er outside the UFC, as he showed off crisper technique than Justin Radar (7-3) on the feet and managed to prevent the Lovato BJJ ace from threatening with his grappling skills. The co-main was also a matchup of notable young talents, as recent LFA middleweight title challenger Brendan Allen (8-2) and Bellator vet Chris Harris (9-2) slugged it out in a wild first round before Allen cinched up a fight-ending triangle choke 82 seconds into the second:

The undercard saw solid decision wins for UFC vet Chris Kelades (10-3), who outwrestled and outstruck former Oklahoma wrestler Tyler Shinn (8-4) en route to a unanimous nod, and LFA regular Derrick Adkins (10-4) who battered Kyle Driscoll (5-3) throughout their lightweight bout. Meanwhile, lanky welterweight prospect Braden Smith (8-2) couldn’t bring Chauncey Foxworth (7-4) to his world on the mat and he suffered the consequences. Foxworth wore his man down before pummeling him out with ground strikes with 29 seconds left in the fight to score the biggest victory of his career. And one prospect did reign supreme, as lightweight Daryl Wilson (7-1) lived up to his advance billing with a 64 second one punch KO of stocky veteran Jarrod Card (16-9-1):

ONE: Kings and Conquerors  (Macau, China)

When fans talk about elite fighters who have whiled away their prime toiling against lower-level foes in Asia’s ONE promotion, undefeated former Bellator welterweight champ Ben Askren is inevitability the first competitor who comes up. But another ONE champ, Brazilian king Bibiano Fernandes (21-3), has been making things look just as easy in the promotion’s bantamweight ranks – a division that is much more well-stocked than Askren’s thin 170 pound class. Fernandes dominated once again in the Kings and Conquerors main event as he took out Phuket Top Team’s Andrew Leone (8-3) with a wicked knee strike followed by a fight-finishing RNC under two minutes into the bout. With the win Fernandes has now succeeded in eight straight ONE title contests, and has triumphed 13 straight times overall. Who knows how far the talented Manaus native would have ascended in the UFC if contractual issues hadn’t prevented him from signing with the world’s biggest fight promotion back in 2012.

The second title bout on this legitimately stacked ONE card was a flyweight tilt between undefeated Kazakhstani champ Kairat Akhmetov (23-1) and the man that he defeated for the title over a year and a half ago, Adriano Moraes (16-2). This time things were easy for Moraes, as he controlled the action during this five round war of attrition en route to a unanimous decision win. Dangerous Dagestani featherweight Timofey Nastyukhin (11-3) also enjoyed a unanimous verdict on the secorecards at the end of his 15 minutes clash with Koji Ando (12-6). And in the show’s other notable decision, heavily hyped Brazilian Herbert Burns (6-2) suffered a second straight defeat, this time at the hands of wrestling beast Magomed Idrisov (7-1).

Despite those high-profile decisions, there were also plenty of exciting stoppages emanating from Macau. Top Thai MMA fighter Shannon Wiratchai (8-1) certainly enjoyed a nice finish, and even showed a modicum of sportsmanship when he opted not to take Supa Fight League veteran Rajinder Singh Meena’s (8-7) head clear off his shoulders following the standing knee that put the Indian lightweight on dream street:

Undefeated Japanese regional flyweight Hayato Suzuki (17-0-2) also got in on the finishing action, as he looked great tapping out Joshua Pacio (12-2) in just over three minutes to cap his first prominent international appearance:

 And ex-UFC competitor Leandro Isso (14-6) used his dominant ground skills to neutralize and batter Norwegian expatriate Toni Tauru (11-6) en route to a second round GNP stoppage:


M-1 Challenge 82  (Helsinki, Finland)

The talent was solid and the fights were decent at M-1 Challenge 82 from Finland, but unfortunately this was one of those outings where the battles were almost entirely decided by judges’ opinion.  At least the main event light heavyweight contest between Bellator tourney vet Mikhail Zayats (23-8) and Finland’s Marcus Vanttinen (24-6) was easy to score, as Zayats had no problem dominating the Finn in all areas in his first fight since dropping a decision to King Mo at Bellator 110 way back in 2014.  Likewise, recently dethroned M-1 lightweight champ Alexander Butenko (44-12) brutalized Alabama wrestler Keith Johnson (12-4) on the feet en route to a clear decision nod, while Russian lightweight prospect Pavel Gordeev (8-1) had his way with game foe Michel Silva (18-7) for most of their 15 minute contest before thwarting the Brazilian’s gritty but ultimately fruitless late comeback.

A couple of the decisions were razor thin; Ukrainian bantamweight contender Vitali Branchuk (24-7) beat down Mikael Silander (17-5) so badly in the first round of the M-1 Challenge 82 co-main event that one judge awarded him a 10-8, but the resilient Silander didn’t wilt in front of his hometown crowd and instead roared back to claim the 2nd and 3rd frames to eke out a majority decision.  And it’s impossible to get any closer than a split draw, which was the verdict rendered to bantamweights Heliton dos Santos (15-6-1) of Brazil and Janne Elonen-Kulmala (15-5-1) of Finland.  At least the Helsinki crowd enjoyed one notable finish from a domestic talent, as welterweight Juho Valamaa (15-4) trapped overmatched Portuguese welterweight Aires Benrois (10-7) in the corner of the Rage and used his educated knees to put him away as the first round bell approached.


ACB 66: Young Eagles 20  (Grozny, Russia)

Though not nearly as star-packed as a major ACB show, this particular Young Eagles card from Grozny featured plenty of intriguing prospects and a handful of solid Russia vs. Brazil battles. The main event didn’t last long but it produced a must-see highlight when Team Nogueira lightweight talent Herdeson Batista (13-1) plastered Daud Shaykhayev (5-2) with a step-in knee that forced a prompt first round KO stoppage:

Although the main event went to Brazil, the Russian contingent got one back in the penultimate contest of ACB 66 as middleweight banger Baysangur Vakhitov (7-0) raged his way to a first round ground strikes KO over Bruno Assis (5-2):

Another skilled Brazilian, bantamweight Walter Pereira (13-3), enjoyed a terrific performance on the undercard against Islam Yunusov (4-2). In the second round it appeared that Yunusov had Pereira dead-to-rites in a tight guillotine, but the Brazilian persisted and roared back in the third round with a backtake and RNC finish just about a minute in.

One of the great things about ACB (or terrible things, depending on who you ask) is that they don’t bother keeping up an appearance of regulatory infallibility when the officials screw up. See the ACB 66 fight between Bai-Ali Shaipov (3-0) and Anatoly Baal (7-1) that was originally stopped in error when the referee thought he saw a tap that never happened. It only took a few moments for the promotion to sort things out and rule the fight a no-contest – not the ideal result for either man, of course, but imagine how long that would take to fix in a commission-governed region (assuming they bothered to admit to the error at all).


Around the World in 13 MMAEvents

The best of the rest of US regional and global MMA!


Tachi Palace Fights 32  (Lemoore, California)

TPF 32 lost its original headliner when top local Alex Perez was promoted to a Dana White Contenders Series spot – and subsequently promoted to the UFC – but California’s most consistent regional still put on plenty of entertaining Thursday night fights streaming free on Fite.TV and YouTube.  One of the most impressive victors on the evening was hard hitting lightweight prospect Sal Becerra (6-2) who smoked Hawaii’s Robby Ostovich (5-4) with grounded punches and elbows in just over three minutes. That makes two straight crushing KOs for Becerra inside Tachi’s famous bingo hall:

Other finishers included Kamaru’s brother Mohammed Usman (2-0) who easily won by kimura in under two minutes against an entry-level heavyweight opponent; underdog Te’Jovan Edwards (4-1) who started the show off with a head kick-fueled TKO over Bellator vet Thomas Diagne (6-7); and Tachi regular Anthony Avila (14-5) who ate a big shot early but still only needed a couple of minutes to put away Ray Cervera (9-7) via heel hook.


CFL 11  (Victorville, California)

This California regional card featured a pair of eminent veterans in action. UFC-centric fans will be pleased to hear that 13 fight UFC vet Mac Danzig (22-12-1) made a successful return to the cage in the CFL 11 co-main event, as the 37 year old finished his first bout in nearly four years a third round RNC of onetime WSOF combatant Joe Condon (13-11). But for the rest of us regionals-obsessed degenerates, the big news was another quality performance from 43 year old heavyweight wonder Tony “Kryptonite” Lopez (54-25), who picked up his 12th win in the past 12 months with a first round TKO of Jason Walraven (8-7). Lopez has only lost two fights over that time frame, to UFC veterans Jack May and Ronny Markes, and the venerable Californian now finds himself on a seven fight win streak including stoppages of Bellator regular Dan Charles and former AFC champ Mika Faavale.


Global Knockout 10  (Jackson, California)

After falling short in a LFA heavyweight title bout against Richard Odoms just over a month ago, 25 year old Jared Vanderaa (6-1) got back on the horse at GKO 10 with a gimme fight against Idrees Wasi (2-15). Wasi suffered an eleventh straight loss when Vanderaa locked in a Kurt Angle-style ankle lock for the first round finish. The fights at the top of the card saw a few notable western regional talents defeat slightly more reasonable journeyman competition. First, two-fight Bellator prelims competitor Josh Paiva (9-2) tapped late notice replacement Martin Sandoval (9-9) with a keylock in the second round of their flyweight tilt.  In the co-main event regional stalwart Buddy Wallace (15-6) picked up a first round TKO over middlewight foe Mike Morales (7-8), and in the main event young middleweight Brandon Hester (4-0) disposed of faded Bellator vet Justin Baesman (19-14) via first round RNC submission.


King of the Cage: Fractured  (Lincoln City, Oregon)

Fresh off a win over ex-WSOF heavyweight champ Smealinho Rama at PFL 1, Ronny Markes (18-5) returned to King of the Cage and made light work of regional light heavyweight Dylan Potter (5-3). Markes needed just 2:29 to ground and tap out Potter, which gave the Brazilian his first back-to-back wins since Yoel Romero snapped his three fight UFC win streak back in 2013. Other winners included Oregon’s Ben Egli (10-1), who successfully defended his KOTC welterweight title with a late fifth round TKO of Tyson Jeffries (14-10); lightweight Ryan Walker (8-3) who scored a decision over Scotty Hao (3-2); and strawweight Glena Avila (6-4) who rebounded from a loss to Invicta regular Amy Montenegro with a unanimous decision over Katie Howard (3-6-1).


SCL: Wyoming  (Cheyenne, Wyoming)

Anyone familiar with the main eventers atop Sparta Combat League’s weekend trip to Wyoming will be unsurprised to hear that the battle between regional flyweight grapplers Matt Manzaneres (7-7) and Nick Mamalis (29-12) went the distance and featured plenty of wrestling exchanges. In the end Cheyenne’s Mamalis walked away with a unanimous decision victory to rebound from a recent Victory FC title loss to DWCS participant Kevin Gray – check out the fight below courtesy of Sparta Combat League’s Facebook.

SCL WY-Manzanares vs Mamalas

SCL WY-Matt Matt Manzanares vs Nick Mamalis in a PRO MMA 125lbs Bout. From Sparta Combat League's premiere event in Cheyenne, Wyoming on 8/5/17. Visit for upcoming event info and tickets!

Posted by Sparta Combat League on Wednesday, August 9, 2017


King of the Cage: Second Coming  (Wyandotte, Michigan)

The hardest working promotion in US MMA brought their second big top to one of their strongest regions, the under-the-radar Michigan territory that continues to produce more than its fair share of solid prospects.  This week’s show saw “Pretty Boy” Troy Lamson (9-2) notch a unanimous decision over Canadian lightweight Kyle Prpolec (10-5), while 24 year old light heavyweight Jesse Murray (5-1) took out low-grade journeyman Eddie Larrea (22-41) via RNC with three ticks to go in the first round of their main event clash.


NEF 30  (Bangor, Maine)

New England Fights lightweight champ Ryan Sanders (15-8) started his career with a slate of very difficult challenges, including a bout with Michael Venom Page in his eighth pro contest and a tussle with UFC vet Marcus Davis in his tenth outing. Lately Sanders has eased back the strength-of-schedule, and he cruised to a fifth straight victory at NEF 30 with an academic triangle choke finish of perpetual punching bag Jay Ellis (13-70) in 154 seconds. The main event ended even more quickly, as undefeated local middleweight CJ Ewer (3-0) used an arm triangle to tap out Mike Hanson (5-6) in only 103 seconds.


NFC 98  (Atlanta, Georgia)

Raise your hand if you liked NFC’s old name, Wild Bill’s Fight Night, way better than the southern regional’s current generic acronym.  Anyone?  Bueller?  Maybe it’s just me.  Either way, the show featured a few solid pro talents who took care of business over lesser opponents.  Winners included superathletic two-time LFA winner John Sweeney (3-0) who kept his finishing record perfect with a second round TKO, lightweight Jonathan Cobb (3-0) who notched a first round armbar, and featherweight Josh Blyden (6-1) who ground out a three round decision win in the main event.


Cage Fury FC 66  (Atlantic City, New Jersey)

As usual CFFC employed several quality Northeastern prospects on this practically invisible local card from Atlantic City. Recent UFC welterweight Jonavin Webb (10-2) was the headlining attraction, and though he couldn’t find a finish he did manage to walk away with a decision over Cody Wilson (9-4). Onetime WSOF lightweight title challenger, aka Gaethje victim, Rich Patishnock (7-4) battled his way to a split nod over Mike Wilkins (7-5). Prospects who triumphed by KO/TKO included slick lightweight Cesar Balmaceda (4-0), athletic featherweight finisher Sodiq Yusuff (5-0), recent CFFC heavyweight challenger Shawn Teed (4-1), and Ricky Bandejas (9-1) who picked up the CFFC interim bantamweight belt with his finish of Giorgi Kudukhashvili (3-1).


Katana Fight 3  (Curitiba, Parana, Brazil)

It’s been a pretty slow year in the Brazilian regionals, especially since Shooto Brasil faded back into obscurity after its UFC Fight Pass deal expired. The third edition of Katana Fight sought to change that by bringing some of the region’s best to Curitiba for an evening of well-matched action, at least by BRMMA standards. Featherweight prospect Richard Godoy (10-4) was among the fighters looking forward to a showcase opportunity, against regional gatekeeper Edilson Teixeira (23-12-2), but instead Godoy found himself staring up at the lights after this ridiculous knee KO:

The Katana 3 main event presented another featherweight tussle that ended in violent fashion. 23 year old talent Leonardo Limberger (10-1) entered this one on a six fight winning streak, and he stretched it to seven by grounding Max Lima (9-3-1) and finishing him with strikes from back control halfway through the contest’s first round:

Another terrific prospect, undefeated bantamweight Rogerio Bontorin (12-0), overwhelmed Pancrase and WFCA veteran Rildeci Dias (21-6) with strikes in just about 45 seconds. Dias had reason to complain about the early stoppage, which halted Bontorin’s streak of tapping out nine straight opponents who stepped inside the cage with him.


WOCS 46  (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

In the most competitive bout of this relatively solid regional card from Rio, at least on paper, featherweight veteran Jadison Costa (23-8) made quick work of Jefferson Correa (10-5) via the ever-exotic calf slicer finish. Other finishes included Swiss lightweight Roger Berger’s (5-6) upset TKO of Joao Carvalho (7-2), plus headlining squash match finishes from welterweight Marcio Santos (11-2) and featherweight Antonio Carlos Ribeiro (15-3).


Thunder Fight 11  (Sao Paulo, Brazil)

Time waits for no man, even “The Legendary” Flavio Alvaro (49-11). The 60 fight veteran has long been a gatekeeper to the international ranks in his native Brazil, and he stepped inside the cage for his first bout in two years just in time to celebrate his 40th birthday. But this time out he found a supplicant who wouldn’t take no for answer in late notice replacement Clecio Oliveira (10-9). Alvaro has always been known for terrific grappling and a limited gas tank, and the third round curse struck him again as he ate a straight right hand from Oliveira that precipitated the upset TKO stoppage inside the first minute of the final round:

The show also included a lightweight clash between intriguing young talents Felipe Douglas (13-3) and Joao Paulo Silva (8-2) that ended abruptly in the first round when Douglas caught his man with a perfectly timed overhand right:


Plotforma S-70 8  (Sochi, Russia)

If you blinked then you may have missed out on noticing the existence of this off-the-beaten-track Russian MMA show from Tuesday. Yet Plotforma S-70 pulled out all the stops necessary to build a card that rivals its more well-known domestic competitors. The main event featured a TKO win for middleweight star Slava Vasilevsky (32-5), who took out Brazilian journeyman Luis Melo (30-16) just 17 days after submitting American Will Noland at ACB 65. The Russian earned his fourth straight victory since falling to Storm Shlemenko at M-1 Challenge 68 and did so in slightly odd fashion, as Melo clearly stopped defending his face while Slava dropped ground-and-pound, yet protested when the referee stepped in. Pretty reasonable stoppage if you ask me:

The co-main was also a worthy contest that saw RIZIN 2016 Grand Prix quarterfinalist Szymon Bajor (17-7) punch out Uzbekistani heavyweight Alexander Stolyarov (12-5) in round three.

This was an international-caliber event from top to bottom; undercard winners included Bellator regular Virgil Zwicker (16-6) who took 15 seconds to KO heavyweight foe Nikoley Rachek (5-5); Brazilian heavyweight Leonardo Silva (10-1) who enjoyed a successful Russian debut with a round one TKO of Konstantin Andreitsev (6-5); and Kazakhstani middleweight Roman Kopylov (5-0) who scored a first round TKO of his own when he folded up opponent Luiz Gustavo Dutra (6-3) with a nice straight left.



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