Talent is everywhere. Great fight camps and gyms are popping up in every region and great fights are not hard to come by.
The future stars of the UFC, Bellator, One Championship and many more had to start somewhere. If you’re willing to look, you’ll be able to catch many of these future stars early in their careers. If you’re an avid MMA fan looking to get a fight fix beyond the aforementioned UFC, Bellator, and One Championship, upcoming regional and mid-tier combat promotions are a great place to curb your appetite for combat.
With that being said, let’s look at the weekend ahead as I highlight five great fights beyond mainstream MMA to keep your eye on.
Without an official UFC card this weekend, Cage Warriors looks to take center stage with two full events this weekend: Cage Warriors 135 this Friday followed by Cage Warriors 136 this Saturday. Friday’s card is headlined by a high-profile Welterweight showdown between Daniel Skibiński and Justin Burlinson.
Daniel “SKIBA” Skibiński (18-6) is the 2nd ranked Welterweight in Poland according to Tapology, and trains out of Poznań, Poland. Skibiński had been on an absolute tear before dropping his last fight to Tahir Abdullaev at UAE Warriors 24. Prior to his loss to Abdullev, he found himself on a 12-fight win streak, and hadn’t lost in over 5 years. Skibiński looks to avenge his recent loss with a big win Friday night.
Justin Burlinson (6-1) is the 17th ranked pro Welterweight in the UK according to Tapology, and fights out of Sunderland, England. His one loss came at the hands of Yohan Lainesse during the Contender Series. Burlinson also boasts a 2-0 stint in the Bellator cage. A win here could put him on the fast track to another shot at a UFC or Bellator contract.
This Friday night clash showcases some high-profile talent and shouldn’t be missed. Catch it all live or on demand on UFC Fight Pass.
Billy Goff vs Justin Sumter – CES 67, Friday April 1st at 8 PM EST
Friday night also sees the return of Eastern region staple CES as their Middleweight belt is up for grabs at CES 67. Billy Goff will look to defend his title against Justin Sumter, who’s looking to redefine his fight career after a recent rough patch against some top-level opposition.
Billy Goff (6-2) is the 65th ranked pro Welterweight in the US according to Tapology. He is the pride of Dexter MMA in Groton, Connecticut and is looking to cap off a four-fight win streak with a title defense Friday. Sporting a 2-0 record in Bellator, Goff might be looking for a return to the promotion with a decisive win here.
Justin “The Fort” Sumter (8-4) has faced a slight rough patch as of late: dropping 3 of his last 5 fights. However, this was no easy stretch: facing off against Ian Heinisch and Maki Pitolo both in the Contender Series, as well as the undefeated Romero Cotton at Bellator 254. In terms of strategy, Sumter is almost always looking to finish the fight. In his 12-fight pro career, only 2 have gone the distance.
This should be a hard-fought clash for the CES Middleweight strap and can be seen live on UFC Fight Pass.
Djati Mélan vs Christian Leroy Duncan – Cage Warriors 136, Saturday April 2nd at 12:00 AM EST
The 2nd leg of the Cage Warriors double header features a Middleweight title fight between Djati Mélan and Christian Leroy Duncan with major implications on both sides. Both fighters are undefeated and look to keep their zero intact.
Djati Mélan (8-0) is the 10th ranked pro Middleweight in the UK/ Ireland region according to Tapology and brings an impressive undefeated streak into this showdown. He’s looking to defend his belt after a unanimous decision win over Matthew Bonner at Cage Warriors 131.
Christian Leroy Duncan (5-0) is also riding an undefeated streak heading into this title showdown and is ranked at the 7th pro Middleweight in the UK/ Ireland region according to Tapology. He’s finished 4 of his last 5 fights, and looks to add the Cage Warriors belt to his impressive resume.
This is a showdown with high upside and major implications for Cage Warriors and the overall MMA landscape. Catch it live or on demand on UFC Fight Pass.
John Dodson vs Francisco Rivera Jr – XMMA 4, Saturday April 2nd at 7 PM EST
John Dodson: perhaps the most well-known name on this list headlines a stacked XMMA 4 card which features multiple UFC veterans. He faces off against fellow UFC vet Francisco Rivera Jr in a fight which could easily be featured on more mainstream promotions.
John Dodson (21-13) is a former UFC title contender who has earned some impressive wins over the likes of TJ Dillashaw, Tim Elliott, Pedro Munhoz and Nathaniel Wood. He is a longstanding member of the world-class Jackson Wink MMA and his credentials speak for themselves. A recent string of losses against names like Marlon Moraes, Petr Yan, and Merab Dvalishvili led to his departure from the UFC, however he looks to establish the next chapter in his career with a victory on Saturday.
Francisco Rivera Jr (14-8) is another UFC veteran with some impressive wins over the likes of Alex Caceres and Edwin Figueroa. He never gained much traction in the division after losses to the likes of Urijah Faber, John Lineker, and Brad Pickett. He now looks to make a statement late in his career with a win over Dodson.
This card promises plenty of UFC-level action from former fighters and can be seen live on UFC Fight Pass.
Kyle Bochniak vs Carlton Minus – XMMA 4, Saturday April 2nd at 7 PM EST
Kyle “Crash” Bochniak (10-5) is best known for his thrilling war against Zabit Magomedsharipov back at UFC 223. He immediately gained an influx of fans for his gladiator-like fight style and willingness to ‘stand and bang’. One would expect that same exciting style against a similarly aggressive Carlton Minus.
Carlton “Clutch” Minus (11-3) had a rough start to his UFC career, dropping his first (and only) 2 fights against Matt Semelsberger and Christos Giagos. Being only 28, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Minus return to the UFC at some point. A win Saturday over Bochniak would be a great start.
This fight promises more UFC-level action and can be seen live on UFC Fight Pass.
Which fight are you most looking forward to this weekend? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured image credit to XMMA