Worldwide MMA Preview – M1, RFA, Pancrase & more

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With no UFC this weekend it is the perfect time to check out some fights happening elsewhere such as M-1, RFA and Pancrase.

M-1 Challenge 59 comes from Kazakhstan and is headlined by a rematch between Kenny Garner and Sergei Kharitonov. Kharitonov’s long career includes victories over Alistair Overeem and Andrei Arlovski as well current UFC heavyweight champion Fabrício Werdum. Kharitonov’s career has largely taken place at the top level and he has a very impressive 22-5 record. He can definitely lay claim to being one of the best heavyweights outside the UFC. The 40 year old American Garner is more of a journeyman with a 16-8 record; he has tended to struggle against the top competition in Europe at M-1 in recent years. Nonetheless he gave Kharitonov a competitive fight before he was forced to retire due to injury in the 3rd round.

This card gives young Kazakh prospects some much needed exposure.  Shavkat Rakhmonov is a welterweight with a 2-0 record and he takes on a 5-2 Polish fighter Michał Wiencek who is only 21 years of age. Northern Irishman Andy Young will also take on a young Kazakh. Coming off a defeat to Paul Marin at Cage Warriors he will look to improve his 6-6 record when he takes on the 3-0 Sergey Morozov at bantamweight. Ian Freeman is working with M-1 and this could see more fighters from the UK compete there in the future.

Also on Friday, coming from Idaho, United States is RFA 27. The card is headlined by a bantamweight clash between Joe Murphy and Jesse Brock. Murphy’s 8-2 record doesn’t look mighty impressive at first glance but a win over rising prospect Victor Henry last year is a great win. Jesse Brock has a much deeper record of 20-8 and he is currently riding a four fight win streak since tasting defeat against Caol Uno in Japan last year.

The fight I am most looking forward to at RFA is a heavyweight bout between Jan Jorgensen and JR Lugo. Jorgensen is one of those prospects who would probably not be referred to as such in any other weight class but at heavyweight he is one to look out for. He suffered the lone defeat of his 7-1 record last year against Joshua Copeland. Jorgensen is a former college football player and he is a very strong wrestler. Lugo has a 7-1 record of his own and it should be a very interesting contest to see who can take the next step in their career.

Unfortunately Saturday doesn’t have much in the way of MMA action which can be attributed to 4th of July celebrations in America. There are a couple cards in Brazil including a Jungle Fight card but nothing truly interesting.

However, Sunday brings us to Japan. Pancrase 268 will take place in Tokyo and features some interesting contests. Masakatsu Ueda has an 18-4-2 including wins over Eduardo Dantas, Kyoji Horiguchi and Jens Pulver but he is coming off two losses to Bibiano Fernandes and Victor Henry and at 37 he needs to win this fight to prove he is not over the hill. He takes on the Brazilian Luis Nogueira whose last defeat came three years ago to Marcos Galvao in Bellator, Nogueira has a 19-3-1 record.

Two other Japan v Brazil match-ups also look exciting. In the flyweight division 5-2 Hiroki Yamashita takes on 18-2 Rildeci Lima Dias. Despite the lengthy record Dias has yet to beat anyone of note but the flyweight division in Japan is fairly deep so we may see just how good he is if he takes more fights there. In strawweight action the 12-7-1 Daichi Kitakata competes against 7-0 Raymison Bruno. Brazil and Japan are the two places with the most vibrant strawweight scenes right now and it is interesting to observe the talent at that weight class.