It should go without saying that Friday and Saturday nights are for the fights. Most every weekend the MMA fan in you can plop down in front of the television and catch a glimpse of either a Bellator MMA or UFC fight card. This weekend is no exception as Bellator will host two nights of fights in Hawaii and the UFC heads to Milwaukee.
It should also go without saying that just because Bellator and the UFC are on major TV networks, they are not the only game in town. On any given weekend you can find 15-20, maybe more, mixed martial arts events taking place throughout the United States, and a handful more overseas.
I wanted to take the time to give a quick rundown of some of the other MMA action you might be able to find this weekend whether you are local to the action and can buy a ticket to attend or if you are able to watch on a streaming service such as FITE, UFC Fight Pass or FloCombat.
Below are five fights that are flying below that radar, yet am highly interested in, and hopefully after you finish reading, you will be too. To keep it fair and spread the love, I only chose one fight from each of the organizations listed, although there are some cards that could easily have more than one nominee.
Top 5 fights taking place this weekend, not in the UFC or Bellator
5. Seo Hee Ham (19-8) vs. Jung Eun Park (4-4-1) – Road FC 51 XX
South Korea’s Seo Hee Ham only found success once while competing in the UFC’s octagon. Her 2015 victory over Cortney Casey was overshadowed by losses to Bec Rawlings, Danielle Taylor, and Joanne Calderwood. Since leaving the UFC, Ham has twice found victory while competing under the ROAD FC banner. One of those victories came over current Invicta FC atomweight champion Jinh Yu Frey, who oddly enough also fights this weekend and also made this list. Ham meets a fellow South Korean fighter in the ROAD FC 51 XX main event as she takes on Jung Eun Park. It will serve as second title defense as the ROAD FC atomweight champion. Most of Park’s experience as a mixed martial arts competitor has come under ROAD FC, having fought there once as an amateur and five times a pro. She is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Tomo Maesawa at DEEP Jewels Impact 21 earlier this year.
4. Felipe Vargas (6-0) vs. Daniel Chavez (8-3) – XFN – Xtreme Fighting Nation 22
South Florida based MMA promotion Xtreme Fighting Nation has paired undefeated Felipe Vargas of Columbia up against “The Columbian Warrior” Danny Chavez. While Vargas is giving up a lot of experience in the bout, promoter Daniel Kay feels every fight on the card is evenly matched. After losing back-to-back fights in 2016, Chavez came back earlier this year to earn a first round knockout win over Leandro Magalhães for Shogun Fights. While Vargas may have fewer fights on his record, he has fought for larger promotions such as Titan FC and Combate. This is a featherweight bout that spells title implications for the victor. You can watch this fight on FloCombat. Tune in on Saturday night.
3. Nate Landwehr (11-2) vs. Andrey Lezhnev (18-7) – M-1 Challenge 100: Battle in Atyrau
The main event of M-1 Challenge 100: Battle in Atyrau pits featherweight champion Nate Landwehr up against Ukrainian title challenger Andrew Lezhnev. Landwehr, a native of Clarksville, Tennessee, captured his title last June at M-1 Challenge 95, when he knocked out defending champion Khamzat Dalgiev in the second round via punches. Lezhnev has been stopped only once in 25 professional MMA fights, by Alexey Nevzorov at M-1 Challenge 73.
M-1 Challenge Battle in Atyrau will be live-streamed from Kazakhstan in high definition on www.M1Global.TV. Viewers will be able to watch the preliminary fights and main card by logging on to register at www.M1Global.TV. Fans may watch all the action on their computers, as well as on Android and Apple smart phones and tablets. M-1 Challenge Battle in Atyrau will also be available on www.FITE.TV (preliminary card is free, $7.99 for the main card).
2. Jinh Yu Frey (7-3) vs. Minna Grusander (6-2) (Rematch)- Invicta Fighting Championships 33
The Invicta FC 33 headlining bout between atomweight champion Jinh Yu Frey and Minna Grusander is a rematch from their fight back in July. Frey won that fight by way of unanimous decision but not everyone was sold on the decision so the rematch was immediately booked. As previously mentioned, Frey’s last loss was earlier this year to Ham but then returned home to Invicta to capture the gold. Before Grusander’s loss, the 29-year old fighter from Finland was on a four-fight win streak. It will be interesting to see if Grusander can make the adjustments to get the win this time around. This fight airs on UFC Fight Pass on Saturday, December 15.
1. Alexander Keshtov (8-0) vs. Nurbergen Sharipov (8-1) – Cage Fury Fighting Championships 71
Not only is this Alexander Keshtov vs. Nurbergen Sharipov fight my favorite one taking place outside the Bellator and UFC shows this weekend, it just may be on paper, the best damn fight of the whole weekend. “AK-47” Keshtov of K-Dojo Warrior Tribe is undefeated as a professional. Fighting out of Krasnodar, Russia, the 31-year old Keshtov is extremely popular with MMA fans as he has a highlight reel of finishes that will leave you looking for more. The man standing opposite him this weekend at CFFC 71 in Atlantic City is however, his toughest test yet. Fighting out of Kazakhstan, Nurbergen Sharipov sports and 8-1 pro record with his only loss taking place two and a half years ago. These two fighters are as evenly matched as you can get at this level. A win here put either competitor on the map for a 2019 signing with the UFC. A lot of eyes will be on this fight as it lands smack in the middle of CFFC’s first fight on UFC Fight Pass which will also see former pro wrestling superstar turned UFC fighter CM Punk work the mic as an event commentator. You do not want to miss this event.
UPDATE: After press time, we were informed that Nurbergen Sharipov is out of the fight against Alexander Keshtov. Keshtov will now face Andrew Bernardo this weekend. Bernardo (8-5) is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Claudio Ledesma at MMA Pro League 1 in September.