In an effort to bring more attention to the global stage of mixed martial arts, this list does not focus on major North American-based promotions like the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Bellator MMA.
A familiar face awaits Mateusz Gamrot in his bid to remain on the Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki throne at 155 pounds.
The undefeated Pole will put his perfect 13-0 record and lightweight championship on the line in a rematch with Norman Parke in the KSW 40 co-main event on Oct. 22 at 3Arena in Dublin. This serves as a follow-up to their KSW 39 encounter in May, which resulted in a unanimous decision for Gamrot before 57,776 fans in Warsaw, Poland. The 26-year-old remains one of the bright young stars in the European sky, with other notable victories against Mansour Barnaoui, Marif Piraev and Andre Winner.
The loss to Gamrot snapped a modest two-fight winning streak for Parke, a judo black belt who has gone the distance in 11 of his past 12 bouts. “The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes” winner compiled a 5-3-1 record under the Ultimate Fighting Championship flag before parting ways with the promotion following a February 2016 defeat to Rustam Khabilov. Parke, 30, boasts 16 finishes among his 23 professional wins, 12 of them by submission.
The Gamrot-Parke sequel is but one under-the-radar matchup worth monitoring during the month of October. Here are nine more:
Oct. 8 | Tokyo
Mainstays on the Japanese MMA scene for years, Hioki and Takaya will square off in a rematch 14 years in the making. They met for the first time inside the Shooto organization in July 2013, as Takaya walked away with a two-round unanimous decision. Hioki went on to become one of Japan’s most accomplished fighters, capturing titles in Shooto, Sengoku and TKO Major League MMA before competing in the UFC. The 34-year-old last appeared at Pancrase 287 on May 28, when he was on the receiving end of a 14-second knockout loss against Hiroshige Tanaka. Takaya, 40, will enter the match on a three-fight losing streak.
Legacy Fighting Alliance 24
Oct. 13 | Phoenix
Stock in Dern continues to rise, as the 2015 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist and multiple-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion has touched off her mixed martial arts career with three straight wins, the latest coming in a three-round unanimous decision against Katherine Roy at LFA 6 in March. Dern, an MMA Lab export who has twice failed to meet the strawweight threshold, will move to more favorable waters at 125 pounds for her battle against Polk. The 32-year-old Polk has not fought since she saw her three-fight winning streak snapped in a technical knockout loss to Katy Collins under the Resurrection Fighting Alliance flag on Dec. 9.
Absolute Championship Berkut 72
Oct. 14 | Montreal
Makovsky did not necessarily enjoy his time in the UFC, as evidenced by the 3-4 mark he posted inside the Octagon. The former Bellator MMA and Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion has found a new home in Absolute Championship Berkut, having made his promotional debut with a guillotine choke submission on Josiel Silva in May. Makovsky, 34, will take aim at a second consecutive victory when he faces the unbeaten Sherbatov in the ACB 72 main event. The 29-year-old Sherbatov appeared on Season 24 of “The Ultimate Fighter” and owns a 6-0-1 record, a majority draw with Tyson Nam in April 2016 the lone blemish.
Rizin Fighting Federation World Grand Prix 2017
Oct. 15 | Fukuoka, Japan
In the twilight of an outstanding career that is now 49 fights deep, Kawajiri will make one last run at something meaningful when he collides with de Oliveira for a wild card berth in the 2017 Rizin Fighting Federation bantamweight grand prix. The winner will be entered into the next round of the tournament on Dec. 29. Kawajiri, 39, threw the brakes on a career-worst three-fight losing streak at Rizin 5 in April, when he took a unanimous decision from Anthony Birchak in Yokohama, Japan. The former Shooto champion has delivered more than half (22) of his 36 professional victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission. Twelve years Kawajiri’s junior, de Oliveira has raced out to a 9-0 record to start his career.
Cage Fury Fighting Championships 68
Oct. 21 | Atlantic City, New Jersey
The undefeated Brady will defend the Cage Fury Fighting Championships welterweight crown for the first time when he locks horns with Grant at the Borgata Hotel and Casino. Operating out of a Renzo Gracie affiliate in Philadelphia, the 24-year-old Brady improved to 5-0 and captured the vacant CFFC championship on May 20, when he submitted Tanner Saraceno with a first-round guillotine choke. It was his third finish in five professional outings. Grant, who represents the star-studded American Kickboxing Academy camp, will enter the cage on a run of six consecutive victories.
Oct. 22 | Dublin
Nothing touches off rampant rubbernecking quite like a train wreck. Case in point: the KSW 40 main event between Pudzianowski and McSweeney. A five-time winner of the World’s Strongest Man competition, Pudzianowski has parlayed his notoriety on that front into a successful and lucrative mixed martial arts career. The 40-year-old Polish powerhouse has compiled an 11-5 record that includes victories against Bob Sapp, Sean McCorkle, Oli Thompson, Pawel Nastula and Rolles Gracie. A semifinalist on Season 10 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series, the well-traveled McSweeney has lost four of his last five fights.
M-1 Challenge 84
Oct. 27 | St. Petersburg, Russia
Two of Russia’s best-kept secrets square off in the M-1 Challenge 84 headliner, as the undefeated Kunchenko risks his M-1 Global welterweight championship against Romanov. The 33-year-old Kunchenko carries with him a perfect 16-0 record that includes a pair of wins over Murad Abdulaev. He last competed at M-1 Challenge 75 on March 3, when he picked up a unanimous decision against Maksim Grabovich in Moscow. Kunchenko has 12 finishes on his resume, 11 of them by knockout or technical knockout. Romanov, 27, suffered his only pro defeat in January 2014. He has rattled off 10 straight wins since.
Cage Warriors Fighting Championship 88
Oct. 28 | Liverpool, England
The fate of the Cage Warriors Fighting Championship lightweight title will hang in the balance when Fishgold defends his 155-pound crown against Jacobsen at the Echo Arena. Fishgold has won six fights in a row, five of them finishes, since his September 2015 showdown with Ryan Roddy resulted in a majority draw. He last appeared on Nov. 12, when he retained his championship in a five-round unanimous decision over Nic Herron-Webb. A promising Norwegian export who has thrown out his anchor at the Rumble Sports camp in Denmark, Jacobsen will enter the cage with the wind of an eight-fight winning streak in his sails.
Grandslam MMA 6
Oct. 29 | Tokyo
A forgettable five-fight stint in the Ultimate Fighting Championship now in his rearview mirror, Tanaka returns to his native Japan to collide with Astra Fight Team’s Silva in a Grandslam MMA bantamweight showcase. The 26-year-old Tanaka went 2-3 in the UFC, his wins over Roland Delorme and Joe Soto offset by losses to Kyung Ho Kang, Rani Yahya and Ricardo Lucas Ramos. He had competed in Shooto and captured a Pacific Xtreme Combat championship prior to joining the UFC roster. Silva has won six of his past seven bouts, a May 28 decision defeat to Pancrase champion Shintaro Ishiwatari his only misstep.