Worldwide MMA Preview – Bellator 145, RFA 32, ProFC 58

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A busy weekend of MMA is ahead with a stacked Bellator card and solid regional action from America and Russia.

Bellator are bringing one of their big quarterly events to St. Louis, Missouri this Friday. Bellator 145 will see the featherweight and lightweight titles on the line and thing have really heated up between the respective champions in those bouts. There was a hotel scuffle involving Will Brooks and the Pitbull brothers and both parties have come out on twitter and accused the other of provoking things.

Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire will headline the event against Daniel Strauss for the featherweight title. Pitbull has previously defeated Strauss twice inside the Bellator cage but the ever improving Strauss will be confident that he can make it different this time. Pitbull is coming into the fight off an incredible comeback victory against Daniel Weichel, the German had Pitbull hurt and backed up against the cage when Pitbull unleashed a fight ending punch out of nowhere. That win extended his streak to seven fights. After the January defeat to Pitbull, Strauss bounced back with a submission victory over Henry Corrales to put himself back in contention. Strauss will look to use his wrestling to grind down Pitbull who will counter with his incredibly aggressive Muay Thai game.

In the co-main event Will Brooks will defend his lightweight crown against Marcin Held. Brooks proved himself as one of the best lightweights in the world with two upset victories over Michael Chandler and he consolidated his place at the top of the Bellator lightweight ladder by beating Dave Jansen in April to extend his record to 16-1. The lone defeat was a 2013 bout against Saad Awad which he has since avenged. The challenger is 23 year old Polish submission ace Marcin Held. Held is a leg lock specialist with victories via heel hook and toehold, with his last fight being a kneebar submission over Alexander Sarnavskiy. Brooks all action style and explosive wrestling game against Held’s unusual brand of submission grappling is an exciting stylistic clash and makes for a fascinating fight.

Also on the card is a heavyweight rematch between Bobby Lashley and James Thompson. The two met in India in 2012 with Thompson coming out victorious. Lashley transitioned from professional wrestling to MMA in 2008 and has built up a 13-2 record although his level of competition could be called into question. His last fight was a TKO victory against Dan Charles in June at Bellator 138. He was originally meant to fight Thompson that night but Thompson was forced to withdraw through injury. Thompson is high level journeyman who has competed in Pride, EliteXC and KSW in his long career. Despite being in the twilight of his career Thompson is currently unbeaten in six fights with his last loss coming to Yusuke Kawaguchi in 2010. His last victory came over a year ago when he defeated Eric Prindle in the first round.

The next challengers at featherweight and lightweight could be decided on this card when Michael Chandler takes on David Rickels at lightweight and Justin Lawrence fights Emmanuel Sanchez at featherweight. It is good to see Bellator emphasising their home grown talent on one of their big events rather than some of the freak show fights that have graced them in the past.

There is another strong card in America on Friday night, RFA 32 from Minnesota. The main event will see bantamweights Leandro Higo fight against Melvin Blumer. Higo made his stateside debut in August at RFA 29 and he got a late submission victory to extend his record to 15-2. The Team Nogueira representative is only 26 years old and is currently on a five fight winning streak. His opponent Blumer is a local who will have the crowd behind him; Blumer has won six straight fights and has a 12-2 record. His last fight was his debut for RFA and he knocked out veteran Jeff Curran with a backfist. The winner of this fight is expected to take on bantamweight champion Luke Sanders next.

The action on Sunday is in Rostov, Russia for ProFC 58. Swedish middleweight and light heavyweight Max Nunes will compete on the card against Artur Astakhov. Nunes has been a strong competitor on the European scene for a number of years but he seems to come unstuck just when it looks like he can make the move to a big show. His 16-3 record features nine KO/TKO finishes and five submissions which proves he has a well-rounded skillset. He fought in Abu Dhabi last month where he got a quick victory over Brazilian Fabricio Monteiro. Astakhov will be no pushover though; he holds an 11-3 record with 10 finishes and has competed in many noteworthy Russian promotions such as Fight Nights and M-1. This fight is for the vacant ProFC light heavyweight title.