10 July Tussles Worth Watching

By Tim Leidecker Jul 2, 2010
It must be July. Heat, beach, surf and … mixed martial arts? Yes, Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin will duke it out at UFC 116, but beyond that box office blockbuster, there are plenty of other matchups to keep us occupied in the middle of the summer season. The latest edition of “Tussles” again takes readers around the globe, with stops on four continents.

As always, the list does not focus on the well-promoted main event bouts you already know to watch but rather on fights from all over the planet that are worth seeing. The UFC, Strikeforce, Dream and Sengoku Raiden Championship are excluded by design.

10. Gregor Herb vs. Dragan Tesanovic
WFC 11 “Bash at the Beach,” July 31 -- Portoroz, Slovenia

A fight 18 months in the making will take place in the beautiful coastal town of Portoroz. Herb, a 32-year-old German standout, will try to bounce back from what many consider a fluke loss -- via cut to Gregory Babene -- as he takes on Tesanovic, an undefeated Serbian striker. “Gagi,” a former soccer player, likes to display his favorite techniques, and WFC uses Pride Fighting Championships rules. The 24-year-old already holds a victory against KSW judo star Antoni Chmielewski, but Herb has no plans to become his next victim.

9. Patricky Freire vs. Jose Carlos
Arena Gold Fights II, July 17 -- Curitiba, Brazil

In one of three super fights within fledgling Southern Brazil promotion AGF, Freire, the older brother of 2010 Bellator Fighting Championships featherweight tournament finalist Patricio “Pitbull” Freire, will take on Carlos, a well-rounded Shooto Brazil product. Freire only has one blemish on his record -- a highly controversial decision loss against Shooto welterweight champion and recent UFC signee Willamy “Chiquerim” Freire.

8. Bruce Connors vs. Micah Miller
XFC 11 “The Next Generation,” July 9 -- Tampa, Fla.

Xtreme Fighting Championships, Florida’s flagship promotion, will feature a featherweight clash between Gracie Orlando’s Connors and American Top Team’s Miller at its 11th event. Unlucky during his 2007-08 run in World Extreme Cagefighting and his 2009-10 stint in Japan, Miller now has his sights set on XFC gold. Connors, the defending champion, already holds a victory over Miller’s teammate, Mike Bruno. XFC 11 will air on HDNet.

7. Rambaa Somdet vs. Hiroyuki Abe
Shooto “The Way of Shooto 4,” July 19 -- Tokyo

In arguably the biggest strawweight fight of 2010, Somdet will defend his Shooto crown against Abe, a K’z Factory submission ace, in a classic striker versus grappler confrontation. The 35-year-old Somdet has been painting Tokyo’s rings red with the blood of his opponents since the late 1990s. Unfortunately, he only has nine professional bouts to show for his hard work, as efforts to promote MMA’s lightest division have only been stepped up in the past three years. Abe earned his shot with a win over wily veteran Atsushi Takeuchi in January.

6. Alexander Sarnavskiy vs. Artiom Damkovsky
M-1 Selection 2010 “Eastern Europe Finals” July 22 -- Moscow

With cornerstone Fedor Emelianenko losing his first professional bout in almost 10 years on June 26, his promotional partner, M-1 Global, will intensify the search for a new Russian star via its M-1 Selection 2010 wing. The 21-year-old Sarnavskiy appears to be a promising prospect. A teammate of 2010 Bellator Fighting Championships middleweight tournament winner Alexander Shlemenko, he has amassed a perfect record, with four wins by knockout and four more by submission. Damkovsky, a Belarusian who pushed Sergey Golyaev to the limit in 2009, will look to steal his thunder.

5. Paul McVeigh vs. Artemij Sitenkov
Cage Contender “McVeigh vs. Sitenkov,” July 24 -- Dublin, Ireland

Billed as the biggest bantamweight fight in European MMA history, Scotland’s McVeigh, a Cage Warriors champion, takes on Lithuania’s Sitenkov. The fight was originally supposed to take place on a Bushido Challenge card in Nottingham, England, but has been relocated 250 miles to the east. Sitenkov, a submission specialist, has been stirring up the European scene in the last 12 months and will finally get his shot at McVeigh. Might the winner be rewarded with a World Extreme Cagefighting contract?

4. Ryan Ford vs. Carlo Prater
TFC 11 “Destiny,” July 17 -- Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ford, a 28-year-old Edmonton native, is viewed by many as the second best welterweight in Canada behind UFC champion Georges St. Pierre. A teammate of Strikeforce women’s titleholder Sarah Kaufman, he owns submission wins over a trio of UFC veterans: Pete Spratt, LaVerne Clark and Tom Speer. “The Real Deal” will take a step up in competition when he faces Prater, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo and luta livre black belt. A “tweener” who has spent time in the 155- and 170-pound divisions, Prater sports a resume that includes significant victories against Carlos Condit, Spencer Fisher and Melvin Guillard.

3. Takafumi Otsuka vs. Koichiro Matsumoto
Deep “48 Impact,” July 3 -- Tokyo

Otsuka, the Deep featherweight champion, will return from a highly controversial split decision loss against Kazuyuki Miyata at Dream 14 and make the first defense of the title he won by unanimous decision over UFC veteran Dokonjonosuke Mishima in August. Challenging the 23-year-old will be Matsumoto, an Imada Dojo prospect who has tested himself against experienced opposition from the beginning. Matsumoto recently knocked out Deep stalwart Yoshihiro “Barbaro44” Tomioka with a barrage of punches in 89 seconds.

2. Jeff Monson vs. Mike Whitehead
IFC “Extreme Challenge,” July 10 -- Mount Pleasant, Mich.

The IFC, one of the sport’s pioneer promotions, had grown quiet in recent years. Its last big hurrah was the fantastic “Global Domination” event in 2003 that featured many of today’s stars, including Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Renato “Babalu” Sobral and Nate Marquardt. Seven years later, the promotion stops in Michigan and brings with it a nifty heavyweight duel between Monson and Whitehead. Both men are outstanding grapplers and wrestlers and have proven difficult to finish. Can one of these seasoned veterans surprise and end the fight before the final bell?

1. Josh Barnett vs. Geronimo dos Santos
Impact FC 1 “The Uprising: Brisbane,” July 10 -- Brisbane, Australia

Less than three months after his glorified squash match against kickboxer Siala “Mighty Mo” Siliga, Barnett returns to action. And for the first time in his 30-fight career, the former UFC heavyweight champion will ply his trade Down Under. Dos Santos will stand across the cage from the 32-year-old catch wrestler, having gone 1-1 since he signed to face Barnett at Impact FC’s inaugural event.
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