Worldwide MMA Preview – Alash, FCC, Cage Kings, WSOF, Shooto, RXF

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There is a packed schedule of MMA this week that brings us to Kazakhstan, Brazil, Romania and Cork.

The first action of the weekend is in Kazakhstan with Alash Pride FC: The Golden Horde. Rasul Mirzaev is in action again as he takes on local man Arman Ospanov. Mirzaev has featured frequently in these pieces in recent times as he builds his record and he was last seen beating Kevin Croom in the co-main event of Fight Nights: Dagestan last month. He has an undefeated record of 13-0 but previous legal troubles make it unlikely for him to get a UFC contract anytime soon. Also expected to compete on the card is Artemij Sitenkov, who has been a frequent thorn in the side of Irish MMA. Sitenkov holds victories over Conor McGregor and Neil Seery but Paddy Holohan has defeated him to avenge his compatriots. He will take on Kairat Akhmetov whose 21-0 record has been built almost entirely in Kazakhstan.

There are two MMA events taking place in England this Saturday. Full Contact Contender 14 suffered a setback when Paddy Pimblett was forced to pull out of the main event. A bout between Dez Parker and Matt Inman for the welterweight title will now anchor the event. Rise of Champions which is part owned by UFC fighter Brad Pickett will hold its inaugural card. The event has Irish interest in the form of Brian Moore who is looking to recover from two consecutive losses when he faces Daniel Crawford.

There is action even closer to home on Saturday with Cage Kings presenting a mixed card of Muay Thai and MMA from Cork.  The highly anticipated professional debut of SBG’s highly regarded prospect James Gallagher is one of the standout fights from this card. Gallagher built a strong reputation on the amateur circuit which culminated in a trip the amateur MMA world championships in Las Vegas this summer. He was successful in his first fight before being forced to withdraw due to injury. Gallagher was recently in Bahrain working with KHK MMA Team which is an MMA team is being put together by Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and includes MMA luminaries such as Khabib Nurmagomedov and Frankie Edgar. Gallagher will take on Denis Ahern, the two previously met as amateurs with Gallagher coming out on top with a guillotine victory so it will be interesting to see how both have developed in the meantime. Also on the same card is Gallagher’s team mate Blaine O’Driscoll taking on Dylan Sheehan in the main event.

The biggest card of the weekend is undoubtedly World Series of Fighting 24 which is headlined by a welterweight tussle between two former UFC title challengers Jon Fitch and Yushin Okami. Fitch is extremely experienced at the top level with 18 fights in the UFC which included two attempts at the welterweight title. Fitch came up short when he attempted to win the WSOF welterweight crown against Rousimar Palhares and he was suspended for a positive PED test after the fight. Okami competed at middleweight in the UFC and this will be his debut at welterweight following his defeat to Dave Branch last year. Fitch and Okami are both very talented grapplers and a fight with fellow grappling ace Jake Shields will be the prize for the victor.

The co-main event is a heavyweight title fight between current champion Blagoi Ivanov and challenger Derrick Mehmen. Bulgaria’s Ivanov gained fame when he beat four time World Combat Sambo champion and MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko on his way to winning the 2008 iteration of that competition. Ivanov also has a strong Judo pedigree which gives him a well-rounded game with particularly strong grappling. Ivanov has built up a 12-1 record since transitioning to MMA with his only defeat coming to Alexander Volkov. He overcame that setback by capturing the WSOF heavyweight title with a submission victory over Smealinho Rama in June. Mehmen is somewhat of a journeyman but he put together the best run of his career in WSOF which included victories over Rolles Gracie and Dave Huckaba until he was stopped by Smealinho Rama. Mehmen was last seen defeating Brett Rogers in Abu Dhabi in March. Due to Ivanov’s history with Fedor he could potentially make for an interesting opponent for “The Last Emperor” should he continue to impress.

WSOF will crown a flyweight champion on this card when 9-0 Russian Magomed Bibulatov battles Donavon Frelow. Nobody is giving Frelow much of a chance here as Bibulatov is very highly rated but the American sports an undefeated 5-0 record and should provide a good test for Bibulatov’s American debut. Bibulatov’s biggest victory to date is over current UFC fighter Taylor Lapilus which came early in both men’s careers. This card can boast exceptional depth with Matt Hamill, Vinny Magalhães, Nick Newell, Colton Smith and Pat Walsh all set to compete. This is one not to miss.

Sunday’s Shooto Brazil 58 will be broadcast live on UFC Fight Pass from Rio de Janeiro. The event features a rematch for the women’s bantamweight title between Priscila de Souza and Luciana Pereira. Both women are coming off defeats in their last outing but it is interesting to note that in the time since the two fought each other in April de Souza has competed four times, although with only one victory.

This card is notable for the number of UFC veterans who will be competing. Luiz Dutra Jr and Luis Ramos are looking to impress after less than stellar performances in the octagon caused them to be released by the promotion. Roberto Amorim was eliminated at the first hurdle on TUF: Brazil 2 and he will compete for the first time since 2013 as he looks to improve his 7-1 record.

Finally, in Romania on Monday kickboxing star Rico Verhoeven will make his MMA debut at RXF 20. The Dutchman is the current Glory heavyweight champion and he holds victories over fighters such as Gokhan Saki, Daniel Ghita and Peter Aerts in kickboxing. It is always exciting when a high level combat sports competitor transitions to MMA and at only 26 years old Verhoeven has time on his side to make a real impact in MMA.