Worldwide MMA Preview – Legacy, One FC, West Coast FC and WSOF

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The weekend’s action begins in Houston, Texas with Legacy FC 50. Evangelista ‘Cybrog’ Santos will be fighting Artenas Young at welterweight in the main event. Santos has been around for a very long time with his MMA debut being all the way back in 1997. He fought good competition in Brazil, Japan and Britain before making his United States debut with Strikeforce. In Strikeforce he beat Marius Zaromskis to set up a fight with Nick Diaz which he lost via armbar in the second round. Santos’ last fight was a first round defeat to Melvin Manhoef in 2014. Young has fought in Legacy often throughout his career and he has come across some UFC talent in his time. He holds wins over Elvis Mutapcic and Bubba Bush and defeats to Clifford Starks and Tim Means in his 10-9 professional record.

One FC are set to hold their first event of 2016 on Saturday in Changsa, China. The card is headlined by a bantamweight title fight between Bibiano Fernandes and Roy Belingon. Fernandes can stake a claim to being the best bantamweight currently outside the UFC. Two of his three career losses came in his first three fights as a professional and since 2007 he is 17-1. At 35 years of age it seems unlikely that Fernandes will ever compete in the UFC and he has breezed past all of the competition put in front of him by One FC. His last fight was a first round TKO of former Cage Warriors champion Toni Tauru. The Philipines Belingon has featured prominently in One FC cards that are held in his homeland but he has previously been defeated just when he was on the cusp of a title shot. In December 2014 he overcame Koetsu Okazaki to bring his record to 13-4 and earn a shot at Fernandes.

Also featured on this card is 20 year old prospect Muin Gafurov from Tajikistan. Tajikistan is not known as a hotbed of MMA talent but Gafurov has a wealth of experience in Combat Sambo and a perfect 9-0 record as an MMA fighter. He has finished all of his fights, six via submission. While Gafurov trains mainly at home, he has spent time with big camps in Thailand and America which could see him improve exponentially. He will be fighting former title challenger Toni Tauru. Tauru captured the vacant Cage Warriors bantamweight title in 2014 and his lone fight of 2015 was an unsuccessful title challenge against Bibiano Fernandes which brought his record to 10-2-1.

Sacramento, California will host West Coast FC 16 on Saturday night for a card that has a few UFC veterans competing. West Coast’s welterweight champion Max Griffin will fight David Mitchell in the main event. Griffin competed in season 16 of The Ultimate Fighter and has an 11-2 record. Mitchell had a longer tenure in the UFC but was also unsuccessful, going 1-4 in the promotion before his release. He is 7-1 since his UFC stint and a few more wins on the regional circuit could see him called back up.

Team Alpha Male prospect Josh Emmett will fight Christos Giagos in the co-main event. Emmett is a former college wrestler which is typical of Team Alpha Male fighters and he is a perfect 8-0 in his career so far. This will be the first defence of his West Coast lightweight title. For Giagos, this is first fight since leaving the UFC, where he had a 1-2 record. Overall he has an 11-4 record and will be looking to use his experience to slow the speedy rise of Emmett.

Elsewhere on the card former UFC and Strikeforce fighter Scott Smith will make his comeback. Smith last fought in 2013, also in West Coast FC. That fight was his first victory since beating Cung Le in 2009, he lost four subsequent fights in Strikeforce. His opponent will be Justin Baesman who has experience in Bellator but is a quintessential journeyman for the most part.

Also from America on Saturday night is WSOF 27 from Memphis, Tennessee. An injury to Mike Ricci caused a reshuffling of the card. The main event is now a light heavyweight clash between Shamil Gamzatov and Teddy Holder. Gamzatov is a 9-0 Russian fighter who will be making his North American debut. Holder is 9-2 with two previous appearances in WSOF. His first was a victory over Thiago Silva and his second was a defeat to Dave Branch.

In the co-main event Caros Fodor, who was originally due to fight Mike Ricci will take on Luiz Firmino. Fodor is 10-4 with a substantial Strikeforce career and one UFC fight behind him. Most recently he competed in One FC. This will be his first fight back in North America since that sole UFC fight in 2013 when he lost a split decision to Sam Stout. Firmino, also known as Buscape is an experienced Brazilian fighter from Blackzilians. He competed for them on the team season of TUF and this will be his first fight since. He has an 18-6 record and wins over Luis Palomino and Imanari