There’s a reason this column is coming out on Tuesday rather than its normal Monday spot. This past weekend had an absurd amount of MMA action, both notable and obscure. There were five cards with lined bouts — normally a good indication of the level an event is at — and a ton more with recognizable names on local shows. Let’s start with the betting recap, sans UFC and Bellator, as always. The top fighter in action this weekend was Marlon Moraes (14-4-1) who moved his WSOF record to 6-0 at WSOF 13. The top 10 bantamweight was dominant against Cody Bollinger (16-3, 1 NC) both on the feet and on the ground, earning a second-round submission victory. It’s unfortunate that the WSOF card as a whole wasn’t incredibly enticing, and was largely overshadowed by UFC Fight Night 51. Even I didn’t watch the World Series of Fighting offering live. Moraes was the reason to tune in, but even his bout wasn’t viewed as competitive with the WSOF champ going off as a -570 favorite (bet $570 to win $100) at 5Dimes Sportsbook. The other main card bouts at WSOF 13 went to plan, as favorites Ozzy Dugulubgov (6-2), Timur Valiev (8-1), and Frankie Perez (9-1) all picked up victories, with Dugulubgov earning a particularly vicious knockout against Keon Caldwell (9-3). Earlier on Saturday, Cage Warriors 72 went down in Newport, Wales. The promotion was supposed to have two belts on the line, but Gael Grimaud was forced out of his welterweight title bout against Nicolas Dalby the day before the event. Still, the UK promotion put on an entertaining card, with an impressive performance by Toni Tauru (10-1-1) closing the proceedings. The Finn captured the vacant Cage Warriors bantamweight title with a fourth-round submission over Cory Tait (8-3). The win was Tauru’s tenth straight, and seventh consecutive finish by submission. He was a -170 favorite in the bout. The co-main event was a back-and-forth affair between Jack Marshman (16-5) and Che Mills (16-8, 2 NC). Mills started off well and had Marshman in trouble early, but true to his nature he faded once he was unable to get a quick finish. Marshman took advantage in the second earning a TKO victory and coming through as a +225 underdog (bet $100 to win $225). Polish prospect Mateusz Gamrot (7-0) proved he was worthy of his massive -675 price tag, as he dispatched Tim Newman (10-5) in just 97 seconds with a heel hook. With only one finish in his previous four fights, it was nice to see some excellent stopping ability from the 23-year-old. Welsh fighter Lewis Long (8-3) came back from some early adversity of his own to pick up a second-round TKO against Steve Dinsdale (6-3) as a slight -105 underdog (spreads are wider on the smaller shows, so his line was in fact an underdog price). On Friday night, one more event had betting lines, as RFA 18 crowned a new champion of their own. Brazilian flyweight prospect Alexandre Pantoja (15-2) started off the weekend’s trend of comebacks as he was rocked in the first round against incumbent Matt Manzanares (7-3) before switching the gameplan up to take advantage of his grappling. He advanced to mount early in the second and sacrificed the position to go for an armbar which Manzanares escaped. Pantoja was able to earn another takedown and quickly transition to the back, where he sunk in the rear-naked choke. It was Pantoja’s eighth consecutive victory and should earn him a long look from Sean Shelby. The fight closed as a pick em of -120 on each side, and that line is hard to argue with given the obvious advantages each man held in his preferred realm. The other two bouts with betting odds featured a pair of fighters who could be on their way to the UFC shortly as well. Returning after nearly three years away from MMA, Abel Cullum (19-6) didn’t miss a beat, as he submitted Ulysses Gomez (9-5) with a slick guillotine early in the first round. It was the first time Gomez had been submitted in his MMA career, and showed that Cullum — who is still only 27 — may still have a bright future in MMA. Chidi Njokuani (11-4, 1 NC) was dominant, earning a unanimous decision over Steve Hanna (4-2). The brother of UFC fighter Anthony, and equally talented striker, Chidi showed some improvements in his takedown defense, something that will be very important if he is to take a step up to the next level. Since Njokuanki’s recent opponent Chris Heatherly was signed to the UFC, it would not be shocking to see Chidi in the Octagon soon as well. That does it for cards with betting odds, but we’re far from through the weekend’s action. ONE FC crowned a new flyweight champion as well, with another Brazilian prospect earning their belt. Adriano Moraes (12-1) submitted Geje Eustaquio (6-3) with a guillotine in the second round. Moraes’ only career loss has come by split decision to solid 135er Yusup Saadulaev, so he’s certainly a fighter to keep an eye on moving forward. The only problem is that ONE FC doesn’t have a great deal of depth at flyweight to create challengers for their new champion. The only other particularly notable result at ONE FC 20 was Caros Fodor (10-4) submitting Vincent Latoel (15-15-2) earning yet another second round stoppage this weekend. There was a bit of controversy in the Arnaud Lepont/Suasday Chau bout on ONE FC as well, which saw some rather negligent officiating result in Chau getting repeatedly head-stomped (illegal in ONE FC), then being allowed to continue the bout only to get stopped with strikes later in the first round. Some other results you should know from around the globe this weekend include:
- Paul Daley (35-13-2) picking up a body punch KO at BAMMA 16. The stoppage was Daley’s 26th career T/KO, but he’s not fighting dangerous opponents right now in BAMMA, and it’s rumored that Bellator has been blocking Daley from taking tough opponents overseas for some time now.
- Former UFC fighter David Mitchell (15-4) picked up his third consecutive win since being cut from the promotion, and captured the WFC middleweight title in the process at WFC 11. Submitting Matt Major (6-4) in the first round. Mitchell will be competing in Battlegrounds MMA’s inaugural 8-man welterweight tournament in three weeks, and seems to be in solid form. As for Major, there was an interesting article published on him and his comeback a couple of weeks ago that definitely deserves a read.
- Also on WFC 11, Tyson Nam (12-7) dropped his third consecutive bout since his stunning KO of Eduardo Dantas. Nam lost a five-round decision to Jeremiah Labiano (8-2) for the WFC bantamweight title.
- UFC veteran Ryan Roberts (20-10-1) has experienced a bit of a resurgence in the past couple years. He defeated Bellator vet Jeremy Spoon (15-3) this weekend, and now has consecutive victories over L.C. Davis, Chase Beebe, and now Spoon, a very impressive run, and he’s 10-2-1 since 2010. Dare I say, worthy of another UFC shot.
- Brazilian veteran bantamweight Gilberto Pantoja (14-2-1) may be 35 years old, but he’s undefeated in his past 10 fights, including a win this weekend over TUF Brazil cast member Wagner Campos (12-7). Despite his advanced age, the 135lb division always needs more fighters, and he may get a call for an upcoming Brazilian show.
- Capital City Cage Wars saw Chase Beebe (24-13-1) fall by TKO to prospect Vincent Eazelle (9-1-1), and Fallon Fox (5-1) picked up a win over former Invicta fighter Tamikka Brents (2-2).
- Jeremy Horn inched a bit closer to 100 career wins, picking up his 91st at SCS 22. His career record now stands at 91-21-5 with 63 submissions.
- German featherweight Martin Buschkamp (8-0, 1 NC) kept his record undefeated with a unanimous decision victory at German MMA Championship 5. The former Cage Warriors fighter is one of the fighters to watch out of Europe over the next few years, as he has an excellent grappling game.
- Luis Alberto Nogueira (19-3) is undefeated in his last five fights, and could be free to sign with another promotion since Bellator seems to have completely abandoned their 135lb weight class.
This coming weekend won’t be quite as busy, but with UFC and Bellator on tap there will still be plenty of fights with betting lines. On the more regional side of things:
- Ring of Combat 49 will feature top prospects Julio Arce and Andre Harrison in action.
- Paulo Filho is currently scheduled to face Amilcar Alves in Brazil at Fatality Arena 7, but there’s still a whole week for him to do something crazy and drop out of that bout.
- Gesias Cavalcante is doing his best Stephon Marbury impression, and taking his talents to China for the Kungfu Union event where he’ll face unknown Gele Qing.