LFL 12 Preview; Binder returns, Tiarnan Loughran Debut

Levels Fight League are a promotion based out of Amsterdam who put on very fun shows regularly. Some of the guys who get to the top of European MMA have come through the LFL doors. This Saturday, a lot of talented fighters will line out at LFL 12 ready to make a statement. There will be eleven fights on deck, including two title matches.

Alain Van De Merckt (7-0) is a man every talent scout has near the top of their list. The Belgian is aiming to win the LFL Middleweight Championship this Sunday. The 30-year-old has shown great submission skills, particularly with rear naked chokes and arm triangles. The Brussels man also has power in his hands. Whatever way the fight goes, he’s aiming for a finish. Marcos Silva (8-4) will compete in mainland Europe for the first time. The Brazilian loves mixing it up on the feet and throws with big power, always looking for a knockout. Van De Merckt’s grappling should see him be crowned the new champion.

There will be an interim Welterweight title fight in the co-main event. Donovan Desmae (17-10) is one of the highest profile fighters that LFL have signed to date. The Belgian is a KSW and Cage Warriors veteran, known for his exciting fighting style. “Vegas” is thunderous in his kickboxing and has a slick submission style. Leonardo Blasco (21-7) is a wild man and comes in from the South American scene. The Venezuelan is nicknamed “Blastrigger 5000” due to his ability to spark people. The 28-year-old has an even better submission game and is coming in off a hat trick of tap out wins. My money is still on Desmae due to the big promotion experience.

Pieter Biust (17-8) has been around a long time and made his debut in 2012. The Dutchman has that classic Dutch style where he’s a good kickboxer with a submission game to back it up. The 36-year-old is a One Championship and Bellator veteran and has lost his last four bouts so is desperately looking for a victory. Asilder Badouiev (6-5) matches that four fight skid coming in. The German born competitor is now fighting out of France. Decisions and submissions are how he gets things done. I’m picking Biust due to his experience.

We have a heavyweight bout on the main card. Denis Stojnić (15-3) is a UFC veteran who has looked good on EMC shows in Germany over the last few years. The 44-year-old Bosnian is a well rounded fighter who can wrestle, and ground and pound you into submission. On the feet, you’ll go out if he catches you clean. Ion Grigore (12-7) is a veteran of the Romanian scene and comes from a kickboxing background. Knockouts are his currency and most of his opponents will pay the price. I would fancy a Stojnić win though, most likely via ground and pound.

Andreeas Binder (8-2) is a former LFL Lightweight champion. Weight issues caused him to miss two potential fights under the PFL banner, so he’s back in Holland, up a weight, and looking to start climbing that ladder again. Born in Romania and now calling Ireland his home, the 27-year-old comes from a judo background. The SBG Charlestown man has developed a lovely striking game, stopping half his opponents within the distance. Victor Kunu (14-18-1) hails from Suriname and trains out of Amsterdam. “Tigri” is a vicious kickboxer who goes for the knockout or decision. Binder may secure his first submission victory since 2021 here.

Tycho Brakel (5-5) trains under the great Melvin Manhoef. The Dutchman is a striker who has won his last three. He’s tall and has heavy hands. Morgann Gbolou (3-2) comes in from MMA GP. The Frenchman has a well rounded game with a slight leaning to the grappling. I can see him causing issues in the submission game.

Roland Goedhart (2-0) is a prospect that LFL have been moulding since his amateur days. The tall Dutchman is an action fighter who likes to work quickly. His pro wins so far have been on the feet and a debut kimura win. Patryk Molka (5-6) has lost both his LFL bouts to date. The Pole is a knockout artist who has struggled with submissions in the past. That’s where Goedhart might find the path of least resistance.

Dayche Coeriel (2-1) is a Cage Warriors Academy veteran who won his LFL debut at the last event via decision. The Dutchman usually lets his kickboxing do the talking. Josue Ekedimisseke (debut) turns pro after a less than stellar amateur career. It’s a new chapter and a chance to impress with a clean slate. Coeriel should have too much for him however.

Benita Van Rooij (3-0) is a very promising young professional who looked great at the last show, winning via arm triangle. The Dutch lady is a good submission player who’s won all her pro and amateur bouts with her grappling. She’ll face Laida Flocea (0-1) in a rematch. The young Moldovan lost that fight via submission and will be keen to show her true self here. Lightning will probably strike twice as Van Rooij is far ahead in their development.

Tiarnan Loughran (debut), who is making his professional debut, is looking to follow in the footsteps of his brother Caolan, who competes in the UFC’s bantamweight division. The Fight Academy Ireland man is an incredibly hard worker who has serious strength. The 23-year-old had a stellar amateur career and wants to show his powerful striking and dominant grappling on the professional stage. Ivan Sukhohuzov (0-1) is a young Ukrainian fighting out of Dnipro. He’ll drop down to featherweight following a defeat in his pro debut, a KO loss. Grappling has been his main threat so far, however we haven’t seen much of him. Loughran should get it done due to his experience.

Nick Beukema (1-0) came through the Cage Warriors Academy scene as an amateur. The Dutchman made a statement on his pro debut with an eleven second knockout win. The 27-year-old will fancy his kickboxing against anyone at entry level. Goga Qistauri (1-0) drops down to featherweight after a good debut at lightweight that saw him win via first round guillotine. The Georgian is a good grappler and we haven’t had enough time to see his striking yet. This is a coin toss.

LFL 12 will be live on Sunday from 17:00 Irish time on Viaplay in select markets, and on YouTube in Ireland and everywhere else. 

Seán Denny is a Dublin man who writes mostly on the European scene, with a keen interest in the Irish, UK and Polish scenes in particular. Follow me on Twitter at @DennyRants.

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