Lots of notable veterans return to the cage this weekend, especially on the international circuit.
With a break from both Bellator and the UFC this week, there’s some breathing room to pay attention to some other great MMA action from around the world. It’s a particularly interesting stretch for fans looking for under-the-radar action, with plenty of prospects and notable veterans returning to the cage.
Beginning on Friday night with LFA 47, where former UFC fighter Damon Jackson (15-2-1) faces an extra-tough prospect in Roufusport’s “Nasty” Nate Jennerman (12-3) for the interim featherweight title. Jennerman’s made some waves with his devastating submission game, and has refined it to notch three straight wins. His last loss was against Bobby Moffett, whom viewers just saw do great work on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. Jackson has been 6-1 since his UFC departure, and has also made the most of his time sharpening his submission game while cleaning up some of his striking defense and movement. This fight should deliver on the competitive and action fronts.
Levi Mowles (9-3) also comes in with a hot hand, behind three straight wins, when he faces Charles Cheeks III (13-6). Cheeks had two straight wins before a loss to Damon Jackson, but rebounded with two more wins, using his overall athletic style and veteran composure. Despite principally working a submission game, Cheeks can do a fair amount of everything in the game, which should make Mowles cautious. That said, Mowles has a handful of great submissions, including a twister against Jake Norsworthy in 2015.
Ramiz Brahimaj (6-1) looks to improve his record against UFC vet William Macario (9-3). Fans should probably get acquainted with Ramiz, since he looks poised to do big things down the road. His approach is aggressive, and his submission threats come out of nowhere. He’ll have some difficulty with the striking, durability, and physicality of Macario, who earned back to back victories since leaving the UFC. Macario’s takedown defense is still better than average, and his right hand is reliable as ever.
Also on the card, former UFC fighter Sean Spencer (12-6) will be stepping in against Bilal Williams. Williams is on a three-fight losing skid, including consecutive losses to the aforementioned Brahimaj, as well as World’s Tallest Featherweight Will Chope. Spencer will be returning to MMA after his UFC release, which came as a result of his own three straight losses against very tough opposition.
LFA 47: Jackson vs Jennerman takes place at The Bomb Factory in Dallas, TX and airs exclusively on AXS TV. The festivities begin at 9:00pm EST.
Early birds rejoice! Rebel FC has a breakfast special on the way with their latest offering, Rebel FC 9: Battle for the Kingdom. Headline honors go to former Strikeforce and UFC fighter (and former Elite XC heavyweight champion) Antonio “Bigfoot“ Silva (19-12) fighting against Chinese vet “The Big Show“ Wenbo Liu (11-7-1). Liu is mostly a puncher, but he does have some submission skills, even without much patience or the proper setups. He’s all about latching on at the right moment after hurting someone standing. Silva’s... well, he’s Bigfoot. Still on a five-fight losing streak, he’s a big hitter with almost no capacity to take a shot from a harder striker. All but one of his recent losses in this run have been by vicious knockout. Make of that what you will.
Former UFC fighters Guangyou Ning (5-4-1) and Takeya Mizugaki (22-13-1) are also on the card. The former WEC title challenger, Mizugaki, is coming off a win over Pietro Menga at ACB 87. Fellow former UFC fighter Hacran Dias (24-6, 1 draw) faces Russian finisher Gadzhi Rabanadov (8-3-2). Dias is looking for his second straight win, after beating Mauricio Machado at Shooto Brazil 84. And the Rebel middleweight belt is on the line as Sai Wang (23-6-1) steps up against 16-3 Adriano “The Rock“ Balby.
The event streams free and live on FITE.tv, starting at 6:00am EST on Saturday morning.
South Africa’s EFC sets up some action with the lightweight title at stake, as brutal striker Martin Van Staden (19-9) steps in against Xtreme Couture’s Dave Mazany (16-7). Mazany is 5-1 under the EFC banner, and is the spouse of UFC fighter Gina Mazany. Dave seems to thrive in situations where he can be a savage, landing first and doing damage. He’s got a great overall game, but loves to strike, which makes this likely to be a standing shootout.
EFC Worldwide 72 starts Saturday at 9:00am EST.
Former World Series of Fighting prospect Matthew Frincu (13-3) will be fighting Joel Champion (4-1) at RUF 27 in Tucson, Arizona for their welterweight title. Former Bellator fighter Ed West (23-10) fights Mexico’s Daniel Soto for the featherweight belt.
RUF MMA begins at 6:00pm EST this Saturday. No streaming information is available for this card.
Kentucky’s Premier MMA brings us another battle between UFC vets, as Justin Edwards (9-6) faces Carlo Prater (33-19, 1 draw). After losing to Tom Gallichio in the Ultimate Fighter’s Redemption season, he lost to Devonte Smith in March, leading to Smith’s appearance on DWTNCS. Prater snapped a six fight losing streak to rack up two straight: a decision against Evan Samad and an arm triangle choke win over Eric Scallan in LFA back in January.
Premier MMA Championship: Edwards vs Prater starts at 8:00pm, streaming live on FITE.tv.
Finally, Virginia’s Spartyka MMA has a benefit show this Saturday, the aptly named TKO for the Ta-tas. The amateur featherweight and welterweight titles are up for grabs, and the event also streams live on FITE.tv.