Worldwide MMA Preview – One FC, Cage Warriors, RFA, Bellator, Rizin

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One FC returns to the Philippines on Friday (12:30pm BST) for a card headlined by champion Ben Askren defending his title against Nikolay Aleksakhin. Askren had a disappointing 2015, his only fight ended in a no contest against Luis “Sapo” Santos and the planned rematch was scrapped at the last minute due to Santos missing weight. Askren is unbeaten with 14 wins, he is a former Bellator champion and beat Nobutatsu Suzuki in 2014 to win the One FC welterweight title. Aleksakhin hails from Russia and has a 17-3 record. He has competed in most of the notable Russian promotions during his career including M-1, ProFC and ACB and is currently on a six fight winning streak since losing to recent UFC debutante Bojan Velickovic. Aleksakhin made is One FC debut in November, choking out Batmunkh Burenzorig in the third round.

Hawaiian prospect Lowen Tynanes will try to continue his march up the lightweight rankings when he faces Japanese veteran Koji Ando. Tynanes perfect 8-0 record includes four wins by submission and two by KO/TKO with four wins inside the One FC cage. His career was stalled for a while due to a contract dispute with KOTC that has now been cleared up allowing him to fight often and progress. Ando bounced back from a defeat to Shinya Aoki with a victory over Roger Huerta. Both of this fighters are well rounded and aggressive and it should be a great fight.

Another prospect to watch out for on this One FC card is Muin Gafurov, he is still somewhat raw but he is a fantastic athlete and is only 20 years of age. Gafurov hails from Tajikistan and scored a huge win in his last fight by finishing former Cage Warriors champion Toni Tauru to bring his record to 10-0. He will fight Australia’s Reece McLaren who beat local boy Mark Striegl the last time One visited the Philippines.

Cage Warriors makes it’s long awaited return on Friday night (6pm BST) in London, England. The main event is a middleweight title fight between Jack Hermansson and Alan Carlos. Hermansson won the vacant title by beating Norman Paraisy and defended it once before Cage Warriors took its hiatus. In the meantime he beat Karlos Vemola with a beautiful armbar and most recently beat Maciej Rozanski at a Venator card in December. Carlos is a Brazilian journeyman who has plying his trade in Scandinavia in recent times, he has a 12-8 record.

In the co-main event rising prospect Paddy Pimblett meets Ashleigh Grimshaw who is a veteran of the British regional scene. Pimblett trains out of Next Generation MMA in Liverpool alongside UFC fighter Danny Roberts and fellow prospect Chris Fishgold (who also competes on this card). Pimblett competed for Cage Warriors numerous times in the past and their break unfortunately came just when he was coming into his own. He headlined two cards in 2015 for Full Contact Contender and choked out two Frenchmen, Miguel Haro and Kevin Petshi. Grimshaw only competed once in 2015, he was beaten by Polish fighter Kamil Lebkowski in September and before that defeat he was unbeaten since 2011.

The MMA action in America this Friday night (3am BST) comes from South Dakota with RFA 37 with two title fights on the card. Topping the bill is a light heavyweight match between Rafael Viana and Devin Clark. Viana is 6-0 and became Shooto Brazil champion in 2014 before defending the belt successfully last year, this will be his first fight outside of Brazil. Local fighter Devin Clark is a former wrestler with a 5-0 MMA record. He has three previous wins in RFA. RFA has been one of the leading regional promotions in America over the last few years so these two fighters know if they put a sustained run of wins together here they will find themselves in the UFC before long.

In the co-main event Leandro Higo and Joey Miolla will compete for the RFA bantamweight title that Luke Sanders left behind to sign for the UFC. Higo trains under the Pitbull brothers in Brazil and has finished both of his fights in RFA, the most recent was a first round stoppage of Melvin Blumer in November. Joey Miolla trains out of Ryan Bader’s Power MMA and has reeled off eight wins since dropping his professional debut.

Bellator make their first trip to Europe for Bellator 152 from Torino, Italy on Saturday (8pm BST). The main event is a lightweight clash between Patricky “Pitbull” Freire and Edimilson “Kevin” Souza. Since losing to Marcin Held in a tournament final Pitbull has beaten Saad Awad and Ryan Couture with a split decision loss to Derek Anderson sandwiched in between. He has been a perennial contender in Bellator’s lightweight division since 2011 but has never managed to claim the belt. Souza came out of Jungle Fight to win three straight fights in the UFC with two finishes but after losing to Chas Skelly he was released from the promotion. Souza felt cheated by the UFC for releasing him with a 3-1 record, and signing for Bellator is a good way of getting back at them.

Italian MMA veteran Alessio Sakara will make his first appearance for Bellator in the co-main event against Brian Rogers. Sakara fought over 10 times for the UFC and since his release he has fought twice for European promotion FFC at events in Austria. Brian Rogers has been competing in Bellator since 2011 with mixed results, he moved up to light heavyweight in his last outing which saw him pick up a submission victory. Most of his wins come via strikes so we should be set up for an exciting fight here.

Elsewhere on the card, young SBG fighter Daniele Scatizzi will look to stop his two fight losing streak when he fights Daniele Miceli and former kickboxer Anastasia Yankova makes her Bellator debut after picking up two wins to begin her MMA career in her native Russia.

Finally, in the early hours of Sunday morning (6am BST) Rizin FF returns for it’s second event, hosted in Nagoya, Japan. In the main event Japanese MMA legend Kazuyuki “Ironhead” Fujita returns against Rizin Grand Prix runner up Jiri Prochazka. Fujita fought some of the best in the world in Pride, and his run included a memorable win over Ken Shamrock but that was all a long time ago. His last fight was a defeat to Satoshi Ishii on New Years Eve 2013. Prochazka beat Ishii in the first round of the Rizin GP last December, he then went on to beat Vadim Nemkov in an excellent fight before being stopped by King Mo in the final. It was a great run from a fighter whose career had mainly been fought in his native Czech Republic previously to Rizin and it staked his claim as one of the best young light heavyweights in the world.

Vadim Nemkov, who lost to Prochazka in the Grand Prix is another young light heavyweight who looks like a great talent. Russia’s Nemkov beat UFC veteran Goran Reljic in the first round of the Grand Prix and he now has a 5-1 record. He will take on Sweden’s Karl Albrektsson who has a 4-0 record and is fighting outside of Europe for the first time.

We can also look forward to former UFC fighter Daron Cruickshank, Bellator’s Hisaki Kato, super heavyweight Chris Barnett and BJJ black belt Gabi Garcia on should be a very fun show.