The world of the fight game is back in a big way this weekend when both major MMA organizations, as well as the bare knuckle community, engage in fisticuffs as they do quite frequently. Fights are in abundance this weekend, and Shawn Bitter and I focus in-depth on five fighters, or prospects, to take a closer eye on from Combate Americas and Bellator MMA’s respective events this weekend.
5. Women’s Strawweight: Desiree Yanez (4-1) vs. Paulina Vargas – Combate 40
Still young in her career, Yanez is now on a current three-fight win streak. Her sole loss is to a good prospect in Itzel Esquivel. The 29-year-old trains out of Blitz Sports MMA. Still green with not much experience, Yanez holds a lot of power in her hands and has some solid wrestling to fall back on. She fights Pauline Vargas, who is 4-0. A tough fight, and an important fight for both ladies.
4. Welterweight: Alfie Davis (5-0) vs. Jorge Kanella – Bellator 223
Likely seen from your favorite YouTube highlight reel knockout compilation, Alfie Davis brings an 11-3 pro record with a 2-0 stint inside of the Bellator cage into this weekend’s contest with Jorge Kanella. Davis, while lacking a tad bit in progressive development over his 14 fight career, is very well-rounded and incredibly diversified on the fight. Watch out for a flash knockout any time this guy enters the cage.
3. Middleweight: Mike Shipman (13-1) vs. Costello van Steenis – Bellator 223
One of Bellator MMA’s best secrets, Believe it or not could very well be facing off against one of their other in the middle eight division when England’s Mike Shipman takes on Dutch stand out Costello van Steenis. I was fortunate enough to see both of these guys fight on the same Bellator card in both of their respective last outings at Bellator 210 in Thackerville, Shipman a d’arce choke submission over Scott Futrell, and van Steenis a narrow decision victory over Chris Honeycutt. It’s incredibly possible that the winner of this fight etches their name on the shortlist of top contenders for Gegard Mousasi’s middleweight title.
2. Featherweight: Ricky Palacios (11-1) vs. Cooper Gibson – Combate 40
Ricky Palacios fought on the Contender Series, competing last summer. He fought Toby Misech and won a decision. As it wasn’t a finish he still had a solid performance but did not leave with a contract. “El Gallero” is a banger who is very fun to watch as he loves to stand and trade and put on a show. Palacios can be wild at times but he is technical with good boxing as he has a solid jab and heavy leg kicks as well. He’s solely a striker who will test the chin of any of his opponents and has an iron chin himself. He fights Cooper Gibson who is 9-2.
1. Middleweight: Fabian Edwards (7-0) vs. Viviane Pereira – Bellator 223
While he is relatively farther away from a title shot than the two men previously mentioned given his lack of overall experience, another fighter looking to make waves of his own in Bellator’s middleweight division is Fabian Edwards. For those still somehow unaware, Fabian is the brother of UFC welterweight contender Leon Edwards, and he shows the same level of promise as the welterweight standout. He’s farther away from a middleweight title shot than his talent could suggest, but I see it forecasted in his future sooner rather than later.