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CFFC 117 Main Event Breakdown: Gunnison vs. Kamchybekov

The second act of Cage Fury Fighting Championships‘ title fight four-pack to begin the promotion’s itinerary for 2023 takes place on Friday. After the promotion’s heavyweight championship is awarded during the CFFC 117 co-main event, the CFFC 117 main event sees the CFFC Interim Lightweight Championship at risk.

All told, Friday night’s card will feature (absent of any postponed fights between now and then) will feature 10 total fights. The evening begins with the prelims at 7 pm ET/ 4 pm PT on the Cage Fury YouTube channel. Main card action follows at 9 pm ET/ 6 pm PT on UFC Fight Pass.

Capping the evening’s activities will be the battle for supremacy at 135 lbs. in the CFFC 117 main event. More on the championship lineage in just a moment.

Kamchybekov Fights Gunnison For Interim Lightweight Gold in CFFC 117 Main Event

Zulk Kamchybekov (6-2 MMA, 5-2 CFFC), who fought on the landmark CFFC 100 in September of 2021, will return to the MMA cage for the first time in 54 weeks when he battles Cedric Gunnison (5-1 MMA, 1-1 CFFC) in the latter’s return to the Cage Fury banner after two years away in Lou Neglia’s Ring of Combat. The CFFC 117 main event will be an advertised maximum of four rounds at five minutes per round to close the show.

As always, should this championship main event produce a draw on the scorecards, which has happened only twice before in promotion history, the first of which occurred almost exactly two years ago in CFFC 94, the fight will be decided in a fifth and final round. Will it happen for the third time in as many calendar years?

CFFC Lightweight Championship Lineage Ahead of CFFC 117 Main Event

Should Zulk Kamchybekov win the CFFC 117 main event, it would be his second reign as CFFC Lightweight Champion, having previously held the permanent strap in the spring of 2021. If Cedric Gunnison wins, he will become the 16th different man, counting interim reigns, to hold the lightweight strap.

Most recently, Lloyd McKinney (16-8 MMA, 1-0 CFFC) captured the interim lightweight championship on July 14. That night, he defeated Santo Curatolo (6-4 MMA, 6-3 CFFC) by unanimous decision for the title.

CFFC 117 Main Event Fighter Comparison

Heading into the CFFC 117 main event on Friday night, both Zulk Kamchybekov and Cedric Gunnison stand level in height at six feet even. No reach advantage information was available for these fighters at press time.

Usually, at this point in the breakdown, we would mention who has the advantage as per the oddsmakers in this fight. Betting odds had yet to be released for CFFC 117 as of early Monday evening. If you plan on placing a bet on this or any other fight happening over the weekend, please wager responsibly.

Zulk Kamchybekov Returns After 54-Week Layoff

Zulk Kamchybekov has posted a record of 4-1 in his last five MMA fights. In March of 2022, he defeated Dean Hancock (4-5 MMA, 0-1 MMA) by unanimous decision in CFFC 106 on St. Patrick’s Day. For Hancock, it was his first MMA fight in roughly three years.

While Kamchybekov didn’t have that long of a layoff between last time and this time, the facts are there: Zulk Kamchybekov has not fought in 54 weeks. During that MMA hiatus, the former champion made an appearance in Cage Fury’s sister grappling promotion, Fury Pro Grappling, on Dec. 30.

Before his successful championship bid in 2021, he was interviewed by Cage Fury’s website. Kamchybekov owed his success to his work ethic.

“I’m happy for the title shot, but it’s the same gameplan,” Kamchybekov said at the time. “Hard work, that’s it. Nothing special.”

Hard work got him the championship bid two years ago. Two years later, that same hard work finds him in the familiar spot of another title fight. Will he win the title for a second time here in the CFFC 117 main event? Tune in and find out.

After Three-Fight Winning Streak in Ring of Combat, Cedric Gunnison Back in CFFC for CFFC 117 Main Event

Cedric Gunnison has gone 4-1 in the other corner over the last five fights. Currently, he’s on a three-fight winning streak.

Last September, he knocked out Lenny Rufati with a knee strike during round one of their fight in Ring of Combat 77. The win gave Cedric Gunnison the ROC Lightweight Championship.

About a month ago, Gunnison was a guest on the MMA Interesting Prospects podcast. He views the CFFC 117 main event like it’s business as usual.

“At this point, after you get a few of them it does kind of feel like it’s just another fight,” Gunnison began. “It’s not really any different. The belt does mean a lot, but at the end of the day, it’s just another fight. You’ve got another guy going out there. It’s whoever really wants it more, and I want it more every single fight. It doesn’t matter if there’s a title on the line, it doesn’t matter if it’s for no money back when it was the amateur days, I wanted to win every single fight.”

Cedric Gunnison has the drive to win, but once the cage door shuts, nothing else matters. Can he add another championship to his mantle?

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

Stylistically, the CFFC 117 main event looks to be a toss-up. Although Zulk Kamchybekov is a striker, both men have been known to get the stoppage. Whose strength will prevail on Friday night?

Zulk Kamchybekov Has One-Punch Power

Much like his amateur debut under the CFFC banner in December of 2016, even though it doesn’t happen quite often, just one punch can spell a successful night’s work for Zulk Kamchybekov. Richard Brooks was on the receiving end of the knockout a week before Christmas Eve in 2020.

During the second round of a scheduled three, after Kamchybekov very nearly locked up a rear-naked choke in round one, he connected with a right-handed punch and peppered Brooks with high kicks. Upon misfiring on another right hand, Kamchybekov stalked Brooks and ended things with a three-punch combination, punctuated by a third right to knock him out.

If Zulk Kamchybekov throws the right-handed punches on target, he can end the CFFC 117 main event.

Cedric Gunnison Slick With Submissions

In the other corner, just as Zulk Kamchybekov is adept with striking, Cedric Gunnison is just as great when it comes to grappling. Nick Olson knows this firsthand. During the second round of a scheduled three in the featured prelim of the same CFFC 90 that Zulk Kamchybekov fought on, the action was temporarily halted by ice being spilled onto the cage mat.

Gunnison, feeling the Christmas spirit, helped clean the errant ice cubes up. Once the fight got back underway, it didn’t stay underway for very long. About 40 seconds into the period, Olson secured a takedown, but Gunnison reversed position.

From there, he applied the torque on a mounted guillotine choke, leaving Olson no choice but to tap out. If Cedric Gunnison secures a dominant position on the ground, it could be the opening he needs to secure the win.

Final Thoughts

This is a satisfying title fight. Will the interim champion go on to challenge for the permanent belt later on in the year? The quest starts on Friday in the CFFC 117 main event.

Prediction: Zulk Kamchybekov by Unanimous Decision.

Featured Image Credit

Liz King
179 days ago
This was actually for the regular champion belt as Blake Smith moved on to Bellator. Cedric Gunnison is our new 155lb champ and he is ready for all the spotlight. Keep an eye on this star.
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