This Weekend’s Warriors: EFM 4, Bellator Gold, and UFC Redemption

This Weekend’s Warriors is a weekly column brought to you by SevereMMA that previews the upcoming Irish MMA action, shining a light on Ireland-based pro MMA fighters competing around the globe on any given week.

After a successful pro debut for Jason Kearns in Dubai last week, the focus in Irish MMA this week shifts to Next Gen N.I.’s Rhys McKee back in UFC action, SBG Ireland’s Pedro Carvalho fighting for Bellator gold, and Mikey McCoy, Dawid Wiśnios, and Kurshed Kakhorov featuring on the EFM 4 card in Poland.

Tuesday 10th November: EFM 4, Poland. 

Fantom MMA’s Mikey “Garou” McCoy (0-0) is set to make his pro debut in a bantamweight fight against Poland’s Marcin Maleszewski (1-0). McCoy will look to build on a 7-fight amateur career as he makes the transition to the professional circuit.

Fantom MMA’s Dawid Wiśnios (1-0) joins teammate McCoy on the card to make his own pro debut in a welterweight contest against Germany’s Paul Saier (1-0). Wiśnios leaves an 8-fight amateur career behind as he makes the jump to pro.

SBG Ireland’s Khurshed Kakhorov (5-0) looks to extend his unbeaten pro record in a bantamweight fight against Poland’s Patryk Chrobak (3-0) in the co-main event. The Tajikistani fighter cut his teeth on the German circuit, going undefeated in five fights under the GMC promotional banner and notching 4 KOs while representing Fight Club Gelsenkirchen. Kakhorov follows teammate Mandy Böhm in making the move to SBG Ireland, whom he will represent for the first time. 

Thursday 12th November: Bellator 252, Connecticut.

SBG Ireland’s Pedro Carvalho (11-3) has the opportunity to become the first Irish-trained fighter since Conor McGregor to win a world title in a major MMA promotion, as he challenges Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (30-4) for his Bellator featherweight crown this week. 

Carvalho’s MMA career began in his native Portugal, where he amassed a 5-3 record but struggled to find momentum. Since moving to SBG Ireland, “The Game” hasn’t lost. Carvalho won the Cage Legacy lightweight title before signing with Bellator, and the 25-year-old Portugese fighter boasts an undefeated 5-0 record under the promotional banner. 

Photo by Bellator MMA.

After dispatching Sam Sicilia in the opening round of the Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix Tournament, Carvalho was chosen by champion Pitbull as the Brazilian’s next title contender. Originally scheduled to fight at Bellator 241 in March, the event was scrapped just hours before as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc. Carvalho will look to become the first SBG Ireland Bellator champion when he and Pitbull finally compete on Thursday night. 

Photo by Bellator MMA.

Standing in the way of Carvalho’s dreams being realised is Bellator’s poster boy and double champion. Patricio Freire is both the best and most experienced opponent Carvalho has ever faced. “Pitbull” rides a 5-fight win streak of his own, which saw him win and defend his featherweight title before moving up to lightweight and knocking out Michael Chandler. 

This is one of the biggest fights Irish MMA has seen in a long time, and if Carvalho can overcome the significant threat Pitbull poses and earn Bellator gold, he can make history as Portugal’s first MMA champion in a major organisation.

Saturday 14th November: UFC Vegas 14, Las Vegas.

Next Generation I.M.M.A.’s Rhys McKee (10-3-1) is in search of redemption on Saturday night, as he takes on Alex Morono in his sophomore UFC appearance. After an impressive welterweight run in Cage Warriors, McKee made his UFC debut on short notice where he was greeted by wrecking ball and rising star Khamzat Chimaev.

It wasn’t the fairytale debut McKee may have hoped for, as Chimaev dominated the action en route to a 1st-round TKO. That fight wasn’t a true reflection of who McKee is as a fighter. “Skeleter” has been widely regarded as the best prospect in Ireland in recent years, and the former BAMMA champion will have a point to prove in his UFC return. McKee has notched stoppages in all 10 of his professional wins, with 7 KOs and 3 submissions to date. The Irishman will be looking to add to that record as he takes on UFC veteran Alex Morono.

Photo by Patrick Sheehan / Severe MMA.

The American Morono (17-6, 1 NC) fights out of Fortis MMA in Dallas, Texas. “The Great White” is a 10-fight UFC veteran, with 6 wins under the promotional banner, and the Houston native has notched 8 first-round finishes to date in his career. Simply put, Morono is never in a boring fight. However, the Taekwondo black belt has struggled to find consistency in the UFC. After amassing a 3-fight win streak across 2018 and 2019, Morono was dispatched in just 27 seconds by then UFC debutant Khaos Williams at UFC 247 back in February. Like McKee, Morono will be looking to bounce back into the win column when the pair enter the Octagon.

This matchup has all the makings of a potential fight of the night.

How To Watch:

EFM 4: Tuesday 10th Nov. 6.30pm (Irish time). www.efmma.tv. (€4)

Bellator 252: Thursday 12th Nov. Prelims @ 8.45pm GMT on Bellator YouTube channel. Main card @ 12am on Sky Sports Mix.

UFC Vegas 14: Saturday 14th Nov. Prelims @ 9pm on UFC FightPass. Main card @ 12am on BT Sport.

Andy is a writer, interviewer, and occasional podcaster. Andy's work features on SevereMMA.com, The Severe MMA Podcast, and EuroMMAHub.com. Andy heavily focuses on the Irish MMA scene. Feel free to reach out to Andy on Twitter @andyste123