Fedor Emelianenko aims to end his three-fight losing streak on Nov. 20. | Photo: Dave Mandel
The stars will come out in November.
Dream welterweight champion Marius Zaromskis, Bellator Fighting Championships lightweight titleholder Eddie Alvarez, former flyweight king Shinichi Kojima and the incomparable Fedor Emelianenko all will return to action.
In our monthly “10 Tussles” series, we take you around the globe in an effort to broaden your MMA horizons, showcasing the best fights that might not get much attention otherwise. Fasten your seatbelts and hang on for a unique ride throughout world MMA.
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 and Dream are excluded by design.
Ruan Potts vs. Andrew van Zyl
Extreme Fighting Championship Africa 11, Nov. 10 -- Johannesburg, South Africa
Two undefeated heavyweights will collide in EFC Africa’s return to South Africa’s largest city. Potts, the promotion’s heavyweight champion, has compiled an impressive 13-0 record on the regional circuit and captured the EFCA title from Norman Wessels with a flurry of punches from back mount late in round three of their June clash. The previous two champions did not manage to defend the belt a single time. Will Potts become the first to break that cycle? Robust challenger Van Zyl, a powerful and durable puncher, has other plans.
Bobby Lashley vs. Dave Huckaba
Shark Fights 21, Nov. 11 -- Lubbock, Texas
The MMA career of former World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Lashley hit a snag when retired on his stool against Chad Griggs in August 2010. While it was apparent from the beginning that he did not possess the fast learning curve of a Brock Lesnar, there was still hope that he would be able to develop into a legitimate threat in the heavyweight division. Lashley returned in August with a decision win over journeyman John Ott and will now face his most experienced opponent to date in former Gladiator Challenge champion Huckaba. The 37-year-old knockout artist took the fight on four weeks’ notice.
Tomasz Drwal vs. Gary Padilla
MMA Attack, Nov. 5 -- Warsaw, Poland
A lot of fans were shocked when Polish stars Drwal and Maciej Jewtuszko were released from the UFC. “Irokez” has since resurfaced for KSW, while the “Gorilla” has signed with new organization -- MMA Attack. The promotion is challenging the longtime top dog for domestic supremacy, booking its home venue, Warsaw’s Torwar Hall, and even renting the official UFC cage for its first event. Drwal will fight former Alliance MMA teammate Gary Padilla in the main event of the card’s MMA lineup. Fellow UFC veteran Peter Sobotta and former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez are also fighting on this European mega card.
Rich Clementi vs. Ronnie Rogers
Victory Promotions “Clementi vs. Rogers,” Nov. 12 -- Lowell, Mass.
Another fledgling promotion will pop up, but this time in the Northeastern United States. Victory Promotions has put together a 17-fight card for its inaugural event at the 6,500-seat Tsongas Center, usually the home of the NCAA Div. I University of Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks hockey team. The card’s main attraction is a lightweight tilt between nine-time UFC veteran Clementi and the versatile Rogers. “No Love” is battling through the worst year of his career from a results standpoint, while “Bam Bam” has already snatched two wins over UFC veteran Diego Saraiva in 2011. Will we see another upset here?
Shamil Abdurahimov vs. David Olivia
ProFC 37, Nov. 9 -- Ufa, Russia
Abdurahimov, the king of the one million dirham Abu Dhabi Fighting Championship tournament, returns after a long and complicated injury break. The man from Makhachkala in the mountains of Dagestan rose to prominence in 2010, when he beat Jeff Monson and former Pride Fighting Championships standout Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou in back-to-back; Abdurahimov clinched the ADFC tournament victory in March.
In his comeback fight, the 30-year-old all-around fighter will take on KSW heavyweight tournament champion Olivia. The unbeaten Chicagoan last fought in July 2010 at a regional show in Milwaukee.
Matt Horwich vs. Michal Materla
KSW 17, Nov. 26 -- Lodz, Poland
KSW, the Polish flagship organization, looks to underscore its ambitions of becoming the number one event in Europe with perhaps the strongest card of its eight-year existence. Even though its three stars -- Mamed Khalidov, Mariusz Pudzianowski and Jan Blachowicz -- are all fighting, the most intriguing bout on the card comes in the form of the middleweight title eliminator between KSW 6 tournament champion Materla and former International Fight League champion Horwich. “Cipao” has struggled with injuries for a long time but is finally healthy and looking to pass the biggest test of his career.
Marius Zaromskis vs. Bruno Carvalho
Rumble of the Kings, Nov. 26 -- Stockholm, Sweden
The eyebrows of the experts were raised when top European middleweight Carvalho announced he would drop down to welterweight to take on Dream champion Zaromskis. The 29-year-old Swedish Brazilian, a regular training partner of Alistair Overeem, is known to walk around in excess 220 pounds between bouts. “Whitemare” Zaromskis has had a quiet 2011 so far, bouncing back from a decision loss to Jordan Mein in Canada to beat Eiji Ishikawa in Dream over the summer. The winner of this European super fight could have a future under the Zuffa LLC umbrella.
Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler
Bellator 58, Nov. 19 -- Hollywood, Fla.
Bellator has done its homework and put together some compelling matchups this month, including tournament finals between Douglas Lima and Ben Saunders and middleweights Alexander Shlemenko and Vitor Vianna. Their killer fight of the month, however, is the lightweight title fight between defending champion and Top 5 lightweight Alvarez and undefeated Season 4 tournament winner Michael Chandler. Alvarez has dominated the Bellator lightweight division during his time in the promotion, stopping five of his six opponents. However, he has yet to face an opponent with the wrestling pedigree of Chandler, an NCAA All-American.
Shinichi Kojima vs. Kiyotaka Shimizu
Shooto “Shooto the Shoot 2011,” Nov. 5 -- Tokyo
How long can one be away from the game and remain a force? Kojima was once considered the premier flyweight fighter in MMA, but he was sidelined for more than two years with a torn anterior-cruciate knee ligament. The 32-year-old submission specialist returned in August with a close decision win over Masaaki Sugawara. Looking to stay busy, the Yokohama, Japan, native will now square off against reigning King of Pancrase Shimizu. The next generation star has defended his crown three times and now crosses over to Shooto to challenge Kojima.
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Jeff Monson
M-1 Global “Fedor vs. Monson,” Nov. 20 -- Moscow
Despite 37 career bouts, Russian hero Emelianenko has never fought in the capital of his home country. That will finally happen under the M-1 Global banner. Emelianenko will take on two-time Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission World Championships gold medalist Monson, who, despite turning 40 in January, is still going strong, with nine wins in his last 10 fights. The clash of heavyweights will serve as a trend-setting fight for “The Last Emperor” and will undoubtedly impact the future of Russia’s leading promoter.
Follow Tim Leidecker on Twitter at @TimLeidecker or contact him at www.facebook.com/Rossonero1.