A quick look at this week’s non-UFC/Bellator events and what to look out for.
Just because this is a holiday weekend in the United States, that doesn’t mean that the international MMA calendar isn’t still busy. In fact, even some American regional organizations decided to get ahead of the holiday, which great news for anyone that wants to get a bit of action in before having to sit with relatives they rarely see (and in some cases mostly hate). It’s also a major boon for anyone that had to cut weight and was hoping to work on a plate of turkey and fixings.
Unless they’re fighting overseas, of course. Which is why we’re starting with ONE Championship: Immortal Pursuit, an apt title for both an MMA event and an early-era Playstation 1 game. The card will be headlined by former Bellator and current ONE welterweight champion Ben Askren (17-0) taking on grappling demigod Shinya Aoki (39-7). Aoki moves up for the bout, against an opponent that has remained dominant behind his wrestling pedigree. Askren has a submission and a TKO in his last two bouts, While Aoki is coming off a brutal TKO loss to Eduard Folayang.
Brazilian Leandro Issa (14-6) will also be taking on Korean standout Dae Hwan Kim (12-1-1 draw) in a bantamweight tilt, while Japanese veteran Mei Yamaguchi (16-10-1) takes on surging talent Gina Iniong (6-2) in a rematch of their 2014 fight. Yamaguchi just won a fight this past June, by submission, against Jenny Huang. And Iniong has found most of her success fighting under the PXC banner en route to joining ONE. She’s also on a three-fight win streak, which includes a submission victory against Vanessa Fernandez Rico and a second round TKO over Hertati Lumban Gaol just two weeks ago at the last ONE event. Immortal Pursuit will start at 7:00am EST on Friday, November 24th.
ACB shows no signs of slowing down either, with a show this Saturday at noon EST. ACB 75: Stuttgart. This foray onto German soil includes welterweight Beslan Isaev (36-9) taking on Strikeforce, UFC, & Bellator veteran Nah-Shon Burrell (15-7).
Isaev has been facing tough opposition and alternating wins and losses since a submission win over Jesse Juarez in May of 2016. Since then, he’s faced Bellator vet Brett Cooper (decision loss), former World Series of Fighting champion Steve Carl (decision win) and Marcelo Alfaya (decision loss), and is coming off a knockout win over former UFC middleweight Elvis Mutapcic.
The co-main event features former UFC fighter Dennis Siver (23-11) facing Martin van Staden (18-9). Van Staden is on a three-fight win streak, all of them TKOs. Meanwhile, Siver was granted a release from the UFC after
decimating the ghost of BJ Penn an incident which we would all choose to forget in the name of decency. Former UFC fighter Joachim Christensen (14-6) looks to snap out of his two fight losing skid when he faces Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov (13-5-1 draw). Yagshimuradov started his career with a draw, but has racked up most of his wins in in Oplot MMA and has won most of his fights by KO/TKO as he now rides a three-fight win streak.
M-1 Challenge 86: Battle in Nazran will be broadcasting a noon (EST) event on Friday headlined by Ivan Buchinger (32-5), who earned himself a submission win in his last fight and now faces Khamzat Dalgiev (9-1). Dalgiev is undefeated after his debut loss with only two of his wins being decisions. Buchinger is an established veteran coming off a win that has wins over Bellator vet Frodo Khasbulaev. He also has wins over current and former UFC talents such as Anton Kuivanen, Mairbek Taisumov and Stevie Ray, as well as losses to Akira Corassani and Conor McGregor. UFC veteran Chris Kelades will be on the card, making his M-1 debut. It’s his third fight since his loss to Sergio Pettis in 2016 that saw him released from the UFC, having won bouts in LFA and Fight Night Medicine Hat. He faces 5-1 Oleg Lichkovakha.
Finally, Japanese organization ZST has Tetsuya Seki vs Hiroki Kitsukawa as the main event, but it’s the co-main that’s the real meat and potatoes. Finishing machine Go Kashiwazaki (17-1-2 draws) faces Shunichi Shimizu (32-18-11 draws!) for the bantamweight title on their ZST 58: 15th anniversary show.