Worldwide MMA Preview – Bellator, Venator, Top & Akhmat

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This week includes action from America, Italy, South Korea and Russia as other promotions look to capitalise on a rare weekend without a UFC show.

Bellator 155 comes live from Boise, Idaho on Friday night (2am BST) and is headlined by a middleweight title fight between Rafael Carvalho and Melvin Manhoef. Carvalho won the title last year against Brendan Halsey to go 3-0 in Bellator after wins against Brian Rogers and Joe Schilling got him a title fight. Carvalho is unbeaten since his professional MMA debut and has 10 KO/TKO wins in his 12 fights. Manhoef has over a decade more experience in MMA and has fought all over the world in promotions including Cage Rage, Dream, Strikeforce and One FC. Manhoef is currently coming off a first round KO victory over Hisaki Kato.

The co-main event features two fighters jostling for position in the featherweight division. Former champion Pat Curran lost his title to Patricio Freire in 2014 and followed it up with a disappointing decision loss against Daniel Weichel. He bounced back in June with a win over Emmanuel Sanchez and another win here will put him back in the title picture. Georgi Karakhanyan was scheduled to challenge Freire for the title in in 2015 but a knee injury ruled him out. In his return he lost to Daniel Weichel. Whoever wins here could be next in line to challenge new champion Daniel Straus.

Elsewhere on the card, former Strikeforce bantamweight champion Marloes Coenen takes on Alexis Dufresne at featherweight and on the preliminary card two men who are looking to bounce back from losses to Will Brooks, Marcin Held and Dave Jansen will meet.

Italian promotion Venator FC have a much discussed card on Saturday ( 8pm BST) which features plenty of international experience and controversial fighters. BJJ badboy Rousimar Palhares will take part in the main event despite being subject to suspension in America. He was reprimanded for eye gouging and holding his submission too long against Jake Shields at WSOF. Palhares is one of the most aggressive submission hunters in the sport. Of his 18 wins, 15 are by submission and his current four fight winning streak are all submission finishes. Palhares will fight Norwegian welterweight Emil Weber Meek, he has been competing on the European regional scene and has a 7-2 record.

The co-main event descended into shambles at the weigh in. Troubled fighter Jason “Mayhem” Miller missed weight by a massive 24 pounds, even missing the light heavyweight limit for a fight that was supposed to be a middleweight title fight Luke Barnatt. Barnatt will now defend his belt against Romanian Stefan Croitoru who was preparing for a middleweight fight further down the card.

Overall there are eight UFC veterans on the card including Matt Hamill, Sokoudjou, Cody McKenzie and Che Mills.

Korean promotion Top FC and Chinese outfit Kunlun fight are presenting a joint card in Seoul, South Korea on Sunday morning (8am BST). The main event sees Korean prospect Kwan Ho Kwak take on UFC veteran Alptekin Ozkilic in what will be a big step up in competition for the young Korean. Kwan Ho Kwak is bantamweight champion in Top FC and Philippines based promotion PXC having won the Top title against Han Bin Park in 2015 and the PXC championship in a close fight with Kyle Aguon in January. Aguon’s aggression caused some problems for Kwak in the fight but he was unable to sustain it, Kwak will have to be much sharper to see off Ozkilic. Ozkilic competed at flyweight in the UFC, he won his first fight but then lost to Louis Smolka, John Lineker and Ben Nguyen and this will be his first fight outside the promotion.

UFC and Pancrase veteran Takenori Sato takes on young Korean Kyung Soo Park and the rest of the card features many Korea v China match ups.

Akhmat Fight Show, the Russian promotion backed by Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov hosted the first round of some stacked grand prix tournaments earlier in the year. Unfortunately a reduction in prize money means that some of the international fighters have chosen not to come back but there is still a strong contingent of local fighters on their show this Sunday afternoon (4pm BST)

The brightest prospect on the card is flyweight Magomed Bibulatov. He is the current WSOF champion after a victory over Donavon Frelow although it is unknown whether or not he plans to ever defend it. In March he saw off Irmeson Oliveira at Akhmat and he also has victories over Taylor Lapilus, Said Nurmagomedov. He will take on Brazil’s Giovanni da Silva who was a 16-1 record and once competed on TUF: Brazil. Since his lone professional loss coming in his professional debut Silva has had success on the regional scene in Brazil with a decent mixture of wins coming via strikes and submissions he has a well rounded game but will be at a wrestling disadvantage against Bibulatov.

Other fighters on the Akhmat show to keep an eye on include: Bellator veteran Frodo Khasbulaev, UFC veteran Valmir Lazaro, 14-1 Khusein Khaliev, 11-1 Salman Zhamaldaev and 17-3 Rakhman Dudaev.