Rumina Sato (above) meets Masakatsu Ueda on July 19. | Photo: Daniel Herbertson/Sherdog.com
Most years, the month of July provides a mid-summer break for mixed martial arts -- and understandably so, as the last six weeks have given fans one significant event after another. Nevertheless, Sherdog.com dug deep to showcase 10 fights MMA enthusiasts should not miss. Fasten your seatbelts and hang on for another unique ride.
As always, the list does not focus on the well-promoted main event bouts from major organizations 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.
Joseph Duffy vs. Francis Heagney
Cage Warriors Fighting Championship 43, July 9 – London, England
Although he came up short during his bid to win the 12th season of “The Ultimate Fighter”, losing to eventual semifinalist Kyle Watson in the elimination round, Ireland’s Joseph Duffy continues to try and make it to the big leagues through evening classes at the UK’s most traditional event series, Cage Warriors. Taking out all of his opponents in the first round, Sherdog’s top undefeated European prospect of 2010 will now take on former UCMMA lightweight champion Francis Heagney. The 30-year-old London Shootfighter is a very well-rounded opponent who can knock out and submit.
Mei Yamaguchi vs. Seo Hee Ham
Jewels “15th Ring,” July 9 -- Tokyo
Leading female promotion Jewels has a stacked lineup featuring legendary submission fighters Yuka Tsuji and Megumi Fujii in separate bouts. The most highly competitive fight from a sporting perspective promises to be the clash between Valkyrie featherweight champion “V.V” Yamaguchi and hard-hitting Korean Ham. The 24-year-old kickboxer has already put away Jewels mainstays Mika Nagano and Saori Ishioka and will now threaten Yamaguchi’s six-fight undefeated streak in this evenly matched 115-pound showdown.
Myung Ho Bae vs. Rodney MacSwain
Legend Fighting Championship 5, July 16 -- Cotai, Macau
Legend Fighting Championship, one of the top promotions in Asia, moves from Hong Kong to the island of Macau for its fifth event. In the headliner, New Zealander MacSwain will make the first defense of his LFC welterweight strap against Dream veteran Bae. “Hot Rod” botched his final rehearsal bout against Australia’s Manuel Rodriguez in May, but he still has never been knocked out or submitted in 15 professional bouts. “Wolverine” wants to change that with his dangerous arsenal of chokes.
Travis Briere vs. Chris Clements
Professional Fighting Championships “Border Wars 1,” July 16 -- Windsor, Ontario
Two of the best Canadian 170-pounders will lock horns in the inaugural event for fledgling promotion Professional Fighting Championships. Clements faces Briere, a young up-and-comer from Lethbridge, Alberta. It will serve as a battle of youth against experience, as Clements takes on a man eight years his junior. “The Menace,” a teammate of Mark Hominick and Chris Horodecki at Team Tompkins, made national headlines when he knocked out nine-time UFC veteran Jonathan Goulet in November.
Efrain Escudero vs. Mike Rio
Championship Fighting Alliance 2, July 23 -- Miami, Fla.
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 winner Escudero’s comeback trail hit a snag when he lost a unanimous decision to fellow UFC veteran Fabricio Camoes in May. Escudero will now take on Floridian Rio in the CFA 2 co-headliner. The 30-year-old Zen Jiu-Jitsu representative has an undefeated record and a legitimate wrestling background, three national titles at the collegiate level. “The Wolverine” took out American Top Team’s Mike Bruno in September and will look to do the same to Escudero.
Claudio Henrique Da Silva vs. Matt Ewin
World Fighting Championships 2 “Bad Boys,” July 9 -- Cheshunt, England
Fledgling U.K. promotion World Fighting Championships has served up a tremendous card for its sophomore effort. The sirloin piece is its middleweight title fight between London-based Ricardo Vieira black belt Da Silva and the well-traveled Ewin. “The Hardest” recently came out of retirement to win a unanimous decision over UFC vet Ivan Salaverry under the British Association of Mixed Martial Arts banner. Da Silva, meanwhile, turned more than a few heads when he submitted his way through an eight-man, single-night middleweight tournament inside the Elite Fighting Championship promotion in September.
Matt Horwich vs. Jake Rosholt
Shark Fights 17, July 15 -- Frisco, Texas
When UFC veterans Horwich and Rosholt danced for the first time in November, “Suave” stopped the three-time NCAA Div. I wrestling champion on strikes. Unfortunately for Horwich, only a couple of hundred people saw his handiwork, as the fight was not televised. Shark Fights capitalized on the situation and asked the two middleweights to do it again in the headliner of its fourth show of 2011. Texas’ own Rosholt, unbeaten in his last five appearances, did not have to think twice. He undoubtedly wants to avenge his only defeat outside of the UFC in front of a partisan Texan crowd.
Pat Curran vs. Ronnie Mann
Bellator Fighting Championships 47, July 23 -- Rama, Ontario
In the semifinals of Bellator’s Summer Series featherweight tournament, Season 2 lightweight tournament winner Curran will take on Shark Fights featherweight champion and Sengoku veteran Mann. Mann is still just 24 years old despite fighting as a professional for almost eight years. The English grappler made the jump across the pond last year after fighting in Japan in 2009. Curran, the younger cousin of former WEC featherweight contender Jeff Curran, fought five rounds with Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez in April but lost a lopsided decision.
Marcio Cruz vs. Glover Teixeira
Clube da Luta, July 20 -- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Brazilian organization Clube da Luta, headed by former UFC champion Murilo Bustamante, has come out of nowhere to put together what may be the event of the year under the Sugarloaf Mountain. Besides two stacked tournaments in the lightweight and welterweight divisions, the show features three highly compelling non-tournament fights. “Pe de Pano,” one of the best pure jiu-jitsu players in MMA today, will take on Teixeira, a longtime Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach and sparring partner for UFC hall of famer Chuck Liddell. Teixeira, a two-time Abu Dhabi Combat Club Brazilian trials winner, has won 10 straight fights and only went the distance once during that span.
Rumina Sato vs. Masakatsu Ueda
Shooto “Shootor’s Legacy 3,” July 18 -- Tokyo
There are few fighters in the history of MMA who are loved as passionately by their fans as Japanese icon Sato. The fact that Sato, one of the best lightweights in the sport in the late 1990s, never managed to win a world title only added to the unparalleled passion of his supporters. “Moon Wolf” will take on former Shooto 132-pound world champion Ueda in a special attraction on the stacked “Shootor’s Legacy 3” card. The Paraestra Tokyo fighter is an outstanding wrestler with stifling top control and has lost only once in 15 fights.
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