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Fans of mixed martial arts should love the month of October, which is loaded with high-level action. The month features several of the top promotions putting on shows, including the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Bellator MMA, Professional Fighters League and One Championship. Here are 10 can’t-miss scraps for October, which continue to fly under the radar without much recognition from media and the public.
Professional Fighters League 7: 2019 Playoffs 1
The PFL 2019 playoffs kick off this month with events being held in the fight capital of the world. The 2018 breakthrough star for the PFL, Cooper has had a mixed results so far through the sophomore season. The Hawaiian fighter ran through his distant cousin, Zane Kamaka in his first regular season bout and showed why he entered the season as one of the favorites. His hype train ran off the track after his second regular season bout, as he was knocked out by longtime veteran John Howard. Cooper comes into the playoffs as the sixth seed and is not viewed with as much excitement as he was a year ago. The 2018 finalist is still an explosive athlete with some big power in his hands. The knockout artist is also a four-time Hawaiian state champion wrestler who can take the fight to the canvas and dispatch some devastating ground-and-pound. Like Cooper, Sy went 1-1 in the regular season. The former middleweight crushed David Michaud with a powerful kick to the body, ending the fight in just 17 seconds. He then had a back-and-forth contest against Glaico Franca but dropped a decision after being outgrappled by the Brazilian. The Swedish fighter is an enormous welterweight who stands 6-foot-3 and has an 80-inch reach. He is a decorated kickboxer and likely the deadliest striker in the welterweight field. The European fighter does well at picking his opponents apart from distance with his long limbs and can end the fight with one single flashy blow, especially spinning attacks. Sy will have to shore up his weak takedown defense, but if he finds a way to do so, he has the standup skills to win the $1 million prize. The winner of the bout has a strong chance at becoming the 2019 welterweight champion.
One Championship Century, Part 1
As the One Championship atomweight titleholder, Lee is one of the most popular fighters in the organization but has endured a difficult 2019 campaign. The previously undefeated star challenged Xiong for the flyweight title in March but ended up losing by fifth-round TKO in a back-and-forth affair. “Unstoppable” was unable to rebound from the setback, as she dropped a unanimous decision to Michelle Nicolini in July. Lee is dropping back down to atomweight to defend her championship, but this time, it will be Xiong looking to become a two-division titleholder. The first encounter between these two was nothing short of outstanding. Lee, who is known for her judo throws and aggressive grappling, was close to submitting Xiong via armbar, but the Chinese fighter found a way to survive. Xiong did her best work by pressuring Lee with combinations of power punches. She stayed on the accelerator throughout the contest until Lee finally succumbed to her body kicks. If there second encounter is half as good as their first, this bout will be another classic.
Professional Fighters League 8: 2019 Playoffs 2
To keep with the theme of rematches, the PFL playoffs kick off with the second installment of a great bout from the regular season, as Wade faces Andrews once again. In their first encounter, Wade was a -290 favorite but was given all he could handle in a close bout. The Long Island native managed to eke out a decision with his superior wrestling but had to battle back from a fast start from Andrews. A former CES MMA champion, Andrews showed why he should not have been overlooked in the field of 12 battling for the $1 million prize, when he upset 2018 finalist Rashid Magomedov in his second PFL bout. Being that the rematch is only two rounds, Andrews gains an advantage based on arguably winning the first round of their matchup; his chances increase based on the opening round being the tiebreaker on who advances to the semifinals if the quarterfinal is ruled a draw. Andrews’ improved long-range striking and high-level grappling makes him a serious threat to get his revenge on Wade. However, if Andrews has not patched up the flaw in his wrestling defense, Wade should be able to cruise onto the season’s semifinals.
UFC on ESPN 6
Bochniak returns to fight in front of his hometown fans in need of a win. If “Crash” does not end his current skid, it might be the last time he entertains a UFC crowd. The Gloucester, Massachusetts, native holds a 2-5 record in the UFC and has dropped his last two bouts. Over the course of his three years in the promotion, Bochniak has been involved in some action-packed bouts against Charles Rosa and Zabit Magomedsharipov while also taking part in some lackluster matches with Enrique Barzola and Brandon Davis. It is hard to believe the 32-year-old will get another chance if he disappoints again. Woodson pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Dana White’s Contender Series history, as he took a fight against the highly touted Terrence McKinney on just five days’ notice. Despite suffering through a tough weight cut, Woodson knocked out McKinney with a perfectly timed flying knee to earn a contract in the premier MMA organization. The undefeated fighter is a gigantic featherweight, standing 6-foot-2 with a 78-inch reach. He uses his high-volume and long-range striking to pick apart his opponents. His jab and body work are already some of the best in the UFC. If he can pick apart a veteran like Bochniak in his hometown, he will prove himself as one of the most talented combatants spawned by DWCS.
Titan Fighting Championship 57
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Graves had three fights in the UFC without tasting defeat. “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 21 veteran beat Vicente Luque and Randy Brown, then fought to a draw with Bojan Velickovic. He appeared to be making a journey towards the Top 15 rankings, until he was released from the promotion after being arrested for domestic violence. He took his talents to Fights Night Global but lost and fought to another draw in his short two-fight stint with the organization. The controversial fighter joined Titan Fighting Championship, where he has since won his last two fights while winning the promotion’s interim welterweight title. He was set to unify the title against champion Uros Jurisic, but the Slovenia native had to withdraw from the contest due to injury and was stripped of his title. He was replaced by Magomedov, an undefeated fighter who has won all seven of his bouts by first-round stoppage. The Russian is a veteran fighter who fought in the Fights Night Global promotion. The 28-year-old is a well-rounded fighter who is a threat on the feet and the ground. The southpaw stalks his prey to land a bone-crushing blow or create a scramble to sink in a submission. His aggressive style makes him one of the most entertaining fighters on the regional scene. The winner of this scrap could find himself getting a promotion to one of the major MMA organizations.
Berkut Young Eagles 10
Rostov on Don, Russia
Russian organization Berkut Young Eagles returns for its 10th installment featuring two of the top young fighters from the region in Rasulov and Kilaev. Both fighters are undefeated and ready to use the other as a springboard to a high-level promotion. Rasulov is 26 years old and has won six of his eight bouts by way of stoppage, while Kilaev is only 19 years old and has stopped four of his five opponents. These two have not fed on low-level fodder, either, as their opponents had a combined 61-42 record when they faced them. They have displayed skills on the feet and in the grappling department, making this an intriguing matchup.
Nogueira entered the Bellator featherweight division with many believing she would one day hold the promotion’s title. After she ran through Amanda Bell in her Bellator debut, she earned a chance to challenge Julia Budd for the 145-pound crown. Unfortunately for the Brazilian, she was not ready for the step up in competition and was taken out by Budd via third-round TKO. Prior to the loss, “Treta” had finished all seven of her opponents, five of them via submission. Despite already losing to the champion, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt only needs one or two victories to be right back in the mix in a shallow division. Miele, who is making her Bellator debut, should have the crowd on her side, as she is fighting in her home state of Connecticut. The veteran fighter sports an 8-3 record and has won three fights in a row, including victory over UFC veteran Elizabeth Phillips. “The Widowmaker” is not the decorated grappler, but she holds a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and showed some destructive ground-and-pound against Kylie O'Hearn at CES 54 in January. Miele is a nice addition to the Bellator women’s featherweight division.
UFC Fight Night 162
Despite his small-sample-size 4-0 record, Gane has the look of the next big thing in the UFC heavyweight division. The 6-foot-3 Frenchman wields a massive 83-inch reach, moves like a lightweight and hits like a truck. He slides in and out of range with his elusive footwork, working behind a crisp jab and a bone-crushing right hand. “Bon Gamin” has a large arsenal of kicks, knees and punches, along with a powerful clinch game. Already in his short career, he has battered fellow top prospect Adam Dyczka and submitted Raphael Pessoa in his UFC debut. Gane will be getting the toughest test of his career when he gets matched against Mayes, who will be making his UFC debut after three stints on Dana White’s Contender Series. “Kong” is a massive heavyweight who stands 6-foot-6 and tips the scales at 265 pounds. He is not a technically sound striker but makes up for it with brute strength. If one of his haymakers catches his opponent’s chin, the lights are likely to go out. Mayes displayed his power with his knockout of Ricardo Prasel in his most recent bout. With his recent improvements in cardio, Mayes has the physical tools to steal some of the hype away from Gane.
Douma came into his heated all-New England rivalry match with Mike Kimbel as more than a 3-to-1 underdog at Bellator 215 in February. The Rhode Islander managed to cling to a triangle choke after being slammed by the Hard Knocks 365 export and prompted a tapout from Kimbel. The Tri-Force MMA team member wants to show that his win was not a fluke and that he was the prospect Bellator should have been promoting from the beginning. Douma is a well-rounded fighter who has shown some good boxing and slick grappling skills. While his 4-1 professional record lacks depth, he did capture multiple titles as an amateur. Lugo has won both of his professional fights by first-round submission. The CES MMA veteran also amassed an impressive an impressive 5-1 amateur record. While Douma stole some shine away from Kimbel, Lugo will be looking to do the same to him.
Professional Fighters League 9: 2019 Playoffs 3
After reaching the light heavyweight final of the 2018 Professional Fighters League playoffs, Magalhaes’ 2019 campaign got off to a rough start. The Brazilian was knocked out by Emiliano Sordi in his first regular-season bout. He submitted Rakim Cleveland in his next appearance to secure a place in the playoffs and also showed why he entered the season as one of the favorites in the field. The Xtreme Couture team member is one of the greatest grapplers in all of MMA. He is a multi-time no-gi world champion in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Over his 19 wins, he has 15 submissions. If he can get an opponent to the canvas, he will likely find a way to secure a fight-ending hold. Magalhaes’ opponent also entered the season as one of the favorites. Yusupov defeated Mikhail Mokhnatkin in the opening round but fell short to Viktor Nemkov in a contentious split decision. The Russian might be the most technically sound striker in the PFL light heavyweight division and works behind a precise jab. The former M-1 Global champion is a strong wrestler and can get takedowns from the clinch and from outside. His takedown defense, however, is truly sensational, and he will need to rely on it to keep the fight against Magalhaes standing, where he should have a distinct advantage. This fight is going down in the opening round of the PFL playoffs but easily could have been the showdown in the final.