Worldwide MMA Preview – Legacy, Akhmat, M-1 and TEF

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Atlanta, Georgia will host Legacy FC 53 on Friday night (2am BST) and the main event will see welterweights Dhiego Lima and Antonio Trocoli square off. Lima is an Ultimate Fighter finalist but his subsequent run in the UFC was unsuccessful. This is first fight since losing to Jingliang Li and being released from the UFC last summer. Brazilian prospect Trocoli won nine fights in a row in his native country, the last of which was against UFC veteran Wendell Oliveira. He then arrived stateside to fight Jacob Volkmann and he was handed the first loss of his career.

In the co-main event 9-1 prospect Cody Wilson will fight Dave Vitkay. Wilson has rattled off nine straight wins since losing his debut and trains out of Revolution MMA alongside Sara McMann. Vitkay has a mixed record but he is on a six fight winning streak at the moment.

Last month Akhmat Fight Show held the first round of their Grand Prixs at 125, 135, 145 and 155 and on Saturday (3pm BST) Grozny will host the first round of the tournaments at 170, 185, 205 and 265. Much like last month’s offering the tournaments feature a mixture of established veterans and rising prospects from both Russia and the wider world.

At welterweight, the star name is Paulo Thiago who had a long UFC tenure. He is on a bad run at the moment and is without a win since 2013. Jim Wallhead who is a legend of the British scene will also be competing. On the prospect side there is Abubakar Vagaev who is 12-1 and fights the aforementioned Thiago. Also Beslan Ushokov who is 10-2 following a recent defeat to Steve Carl fights 8-0 Brazilian Josue Vieira.

In the middleweight tournament the UFC veterans are less well known, Delson Heleno and Xavier Foupa-Pokam as while they made it to the big show they didn’t win there. 21-0 Vagab Vagabov is the favourite at this weight. He has been winning in Russia since 2006 and his only fight in America was a victory in WSOF. The local fighters from Grozny at middleweight are Aslambek Musaev who is 7-1 and Salamu Abdurakhmanov who is 5-1.

At light heavyweight the favourite for the tournament would have to be Maxim Grishin who has a professional record of 21-6. His last defeat came at heavyweight in 2011 and since then he has racked up nine wins in a row. Former UFC and Bellator fighter Rodney Wallace will fight 7-0 Saparbek Safarov while former Ultimate Fighter contestant Dan Spohn will fight 23 year old Magomed Ankalaev who has a 5-0 record.

Finally we come to heavyweight, the star attraction is Thiago Silva, who was released from the UFC after legal troubles and his career has almost fizzled out. Veterans from all over the world will be competing, including Stav Economou, Geronimo Dos Santos and Dion Starling. In a fight between prospects 9-1 Canadian Tanner Boser will battle 5-1 Kazbek Saidaliev.

Staying in Russia but moving to St. Petersburg now for M-1 Challenge 65 (4pm BST). The main event sees Ramazan Emeev fight Maiquel Falcao at middleweight with the winner set to fight Alexander Shlemenko. Emeev had a very good 2015, he began by avenging a defeat to Vyacheslav Vasilevsky and followed that up by beating Luigi Fioravanti and his record now sits at 13-3. Brazilian Falcao also had some success last year. He finished Jesse Taylor and Brett Cooper but was stopped himself by Aziz Karaoglu at KSW in November.

In the co-main event the welterweight title will be on the line in a fight between Murad Abdulaev and Alexey Kunchenko. Abdulaev is the current champion and he has a 15-3 record that includes a win over UFC talent Albert Tumenov. Abdulaev will be the grappler in this fight, the unbeaten Kunchenko has won 10 of his 12 fights by KO/TKO. This is a really interesting fight between two talented fighters, could be a good shout for best fight of the weekend.

Closer to home now for TEF 1 which will take place in the National Boxing Stadium in Dublin on Saturday (6pm BST). Croation fighter Luka Jelcic who trains out of Straight Blast Gym will fight Poland’s Piotr Niedzielski in the main event. Jelcic last competed at Akhmat Fight Show in March 2015 where he lost a unanimous decision which dropped his record to 6-2, we could see a whole new Jelcic on Saturday after taking a year out. Niedzielski has never fought outside of his native Poland before so this will be a whole new experience for him. He is 6-1 but he has yet to fight a very high level of competition.

The co-main event also features an SBG student who has not fought in a while. Claudio Conti will take on Ronan McKay at middleweight having not fought for over a year. Conti will be desperate for a win here, his last two fights have been draws and you have to go back to March 2013 for his last win. McKay has experience going in there against SBG students as his last fight was a win against the highly touted Paul Byrne.

Elsewhere on the card Blaine O’Driscoll will meet Adam Caffrey, Charlie Ward will fight Claudio Conti and there will be a full amateur card.