After a tumultuous two weeks away from the cage, MMA fans’ attention turns to the fights themselves this weekend. Friday night, 24 hours before the UFC’s 2023 schedule of cards begins with a restructured UFC Vegas 67 main event, Urijah Faber’s A1 Combat kicks off its itinerary for the new year with A1 Combat 7 from Wheatland, CA’s Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Sacramento.
Dubbed A1 Combat 7: Night of Champions, Friday"s event (main card 10 pm ET/ 7 pm PT, UFC Fight Pass) was originally scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 14. Once the UFC"s slate for the first quarter of the new year was announced, however, A1 Combat moved up this card by one day so as to not conflict with this week"s UFC Fight Night.
As of now, barring any late postponements between now and Saturday night, A1 Combat 7 features nine fights with a six-fight main card. Three of the fights scheduled for this weekend are for vacant championship gold.
Vacant Welterweight Championship Begins Title-Fight Trifecta
To begin the championship tripleheader on Saturday, the Vacant A1 Combat Welterweight Championship will be at stake. Ozzie Alvarez (9-9 MMA, 1-1 A1 Combat) tries to secure his second victory in a row when he takes on undefeated Tyson Miller (4-0 MMA, A1 Combat promotional debut), a veteran of both the LFA and Bellator MMA.
Back on Sept. 3, A1 Combat offered up its welterweight championship to the winner of the fight between Jeff Creighton (6-2-1 MMA, 0-0-1 A1 Combat) and Lamar Reed (9-5-1, 1-0-1 A1 Combat). After three rounds, however, the judges" scorecards produced a draw.
Thus, the promotion is still in search of its first-ever champion at 170 lbs. since its 2022 rebrand from Firepower MMA. Atypical of other promotions, this title fight will be a maximum of three rounds at five minutes per round.
A1 Combat Welterweight Championship Fighter Comparison
Entering Friday"s battle for the belt, Ozzie Alvarez stands as the taller man at 5-foot-11, compared to the 5-foot-9 frame of Tyson Miller. In addition, Miller owns a 71 1/2-inch reach, with no such information accessible for Ozzie Alvarez.
Ordinarily, at this point in the breakdown, we"d mention which of the two fighters is favored by the oddsmakers. No betting odds have been released at press time. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening this weekend, please wager responsibly.
Ozzie Alvarez Looks to Build Off Knockout Win This Friday
A universal storyline for this welterweight championship fight is that these two fighters had been going in opposite directions of late. Ozzie Alvarez has posted a 1-4 record in his last five fights, but he snapped a four-fight losing streak back in September with a first-round knockout of Mikey Gonzalez (7-3 MMA, 0-1 A1 Combat.)
Originally, Alvarez was to have fought the aforementioned Jeff Creighton for the welterweight strap, but the latter withdrew from the fight before the show for undisclosed reasons. Having a change in opponent is never an easy thing for any fighter.
How much, if any, will the switch from Creighton to Miller affect Alvarez as the fight draws closer? Can he win his second fight in a row? Tune into Fight Pass on Friday night and find out.
Tyson Miller Aims to Become Champion in Just Fifth Pro Fight
In the other corner, Tyson Miller has posted a 4-1 record in his last five fights dating back to amateur competition and is undefeated so far in his professional MMA career. Most recently, he scored a first-round knockout against Emmanueli Adzoh (3-2 MMA) on July 29 during LFA 137.
Counting amateur fights, Tyson Miller has gone 7-1 thus far in his young career, having turned pro in September of 2019. Not long after he began as a professional, COVID-19 hit, resulting in a lengthy gap between fights.
Since resuming his career in the spring of 2021, Miller has fought with more regularity. He"s already had a taste of major MMA in Bellator.
Could winning the welterweight championship provide him with the road back to the big stage? Only time will tell.
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction
The A1 Combat Welterweight Championship seems to be a toss-up. Both of these men have been known to get victory by way of knockout inside the first round.
However, the edge in this title fight goes to Tyson Miller. He"s just 25 years old, whereas Ozzie Alvarez is 37 years of age. Will experience conquer over youth this Friday?
Ozzie Alvarez Can Use Ground and Pound to Set Up the Win
Though wins for Ozzie Alvarez have been few and far between of late, he has been known to use the ground game advantageously, as he did versus Gonzalez last summer. Mikey Gonzalez took Ozzie Alvarez down early on in the first round and looked to set up a submission, but Alvarez fought it off and eventually worked his way to the top mount.
From there, it was all Ozzie Alvarez, all the time, landing punches to Alvarez"s ribs while staying in the closed guard. Later on in the round, he mixed up his shots with hammer fists.
His relentless shots eventually forced Gonzalez to submit to his strikes while giving the latter hematoma on his right eye. As long as Alvarez can put Miller on the ground, the welterweight championship will be his.
Tyson Miller Has One-Punch Power
In the other corner, three of Tyson Miller"s four wins to begin his professional MMA career have been either scored by knockout or TKO. All three of those wins have come inside or at the end of the fight"s opening round.
His July 29 victory in the featured LFA 137 postlim against Emmanueli Adzoh was no exception to his run of lightning-fast knockouts. Although this swing bout was advertised for a maximum of three rounds at five minutes per round after the main event, Miller needed all of 47 seconds to get the job done.
Adzoh began the fight by throwing a few kicks at Miller, including a kick to the body. Miller then responded with a few kicks of his own. From there, the fighters exchanged feints as they waited for the right moment to strike.
Miller absorbed a couple of punches before going in for the kill, landing a vicious left hook to send Adzoh down. He then added an exclamation point with a brief burst of ground and pound shots, though by that point, the referee had seen enough and called off the fight in under a minute.
Watch for Tyson Miller to land the left hook. If as little as one of those hooks is on target, it could be lights out in a hurry.
Just like the ONE on Prime Video 6 main event on Friday, the battle for the A1 Combat Welterweight Championship could also be over quickly. Make your fridge run before the fight starts. You might not have much time during the bout.
Prediction: Tyson Miller by First-Round TKO.
main image credits: Getty Images