Mixed Martial Arts fans around the globe can look forward to an active late summer and an even more active fall now that the dead season for many regional promotions is finally coming to a close. While the UFC 151 fiasco robbed the month of September of its biggest fight, there are plenty of other scraps of intrigue left to whet the appetite.
From Brazil and Poland to Canada, the Philippines and many points in between, we use this monthly series to take readers around the globe in an effort to broaden their MMA horizons and showcase the best fights and fighters that might not draw much attention otherwise.
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. Ultimate Fighting Championship, Strikeforce and Bellator Fighting Championships cards are excluded by design.
Georgi Karakhanyan vs. Micah Miller
Tachi Palace Fights 14 “Validation” | Sept. 7 -- Lemoore, Calif.
Tachi Palace Fights has become one of the preeminent feeder shows for the UFC. Ian McCall, Jussier da Silva, Ulysses Gomez and Fabricio Camoes represent the talent drafted by Zuffa after competing under the California promotion’s banner in recent months. Karakhanyan, the TPF featherweight champion, and Miller, a World Extreme Cagefighting veteran, are eager to join the list. They were originally set to collide in March, but an illness to the Armenian upset those plans. With six more months to train, fans can expect a highly competitive five-round battle.
Melvin Manhoef vs. Jae Young Kim
Road FC 9 “Beatdown” | Sept. 15 -- Wonju, South Korea
The times of prosperity seem to be over for former K-1 star Manhoef. Without a win in professional MMA competition in the last 32 months, the man with arguably the most impressive finishing rate in the sport -- 96 percent of his wins have ended via knockout -- appears to have entered the twilight of his career. Still hugely popular in Asia, the 36-year-old Dutchman will take on former Spirit Martial Challenge star Kim at Road Fighting Championship’s latest offering. The Team Tackle fighter likes to use his wrestling background to keep his bouts upright; against Manhoef, that will certainly delight the fans.
Joe Doerksen vs. Kalib Starnes
AFC 11 “Takeover” | Sept. 15 -- Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
It is a surprise that over the course of more than 80 professional MMA fights between them, Winnipeg, Manitoba’s Doerksen and Surrey, British Columbia’s Starnes have not crossed paths before now. Fourteen years into their respective careers, these two old hands of the Canadian fight scene finally collide in this Aggression Fighting Championship main event. “El Dirte” appears to be the fresher of the two fighters, but Starnes -- who originally wanted to call it quits after his last appearance, a second-round technical knockout loss against John Salter -- has certainly not come out of retirement for no reason.
Andreas Kraniotakes vs. Dawid Baziak
Tempel Fight School “Mix Fight Gala XIII” | Sept. 1 -- Frankfurt, Germany
Here is a fight that was three years in the making. Polish-born kickboxer Baziak was the top-rated heavyweight in Germany in 2009-10 but has fallen off the rankings after two consecutive first-round losses. The 27-year-old M-1 Global veteran now faces current number one Kraniotakes inside his home promotion, the Tempel Fight School. “Big Daddy” finds himself on the rebound following a loss to Mike Hayes in a bout for the Cage Warriors Fighting Championship heavyweight crown, but he can point to 11 first-round wins as evidence of his potency.
Caol Uno vs. Shintaro Ishiwatari
Shooto | Sept. 30 -- Tokyo
When Ishiwatari made his MMA debut in 2006, Uno had already won the Shooto title and fought for the UFC championship twice. The beloved Shooto legend now returns to the promotion that saw him become one of Japan’s biggest stars for the first time in more than eight years. In Ishiwatari, he faces the bantamweight King of Pancrase and a man 10 years his junior. The judo ace started his career in Shooto and then switched to Pancrase after a brief stint in Sengoku in 2010. The bout with Uno becomes one of the most important of his career.
Karol Bedorf vs. Karl Knothe
KSW 20 “Fight Symphony” | Sept. 15 -- Gdansk, Poland
Polish fans have waited for years for Bedorf -- a two-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu European champion and former Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships qualifier -- to make a splash in MMA and lend some much-needed credibility to KSW’s heavyweight division. Injury, inactivity and business ventures outside of the ring have to this point kept him from realizing his true potential. In his second appearance this year, the Felipe Costa brown belt will take on Knothe, a well-traveled American. “The Original Son of Punishment” last appeared under the Shark Fights banner in November, when he submitted to a Bobby Lashley keylock.
Rob Sinclair vs. Andre Winner
BAMMA 10 “Sinclair vs. Winner” | Sept. 15 -- London
Despite the loss of its main attraction, Tom Watson, and undefeated light heavyweight prospect Jimi Manuwa to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the British Association of Mixed Martial Arts has put together another formidable card, headlined by the lightweight title clash between champion Sinclair and “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 9 finalist Winner. Many United Kingdom experts believed Sinclair, a powerful wrestler, deserved a shot at the Octagon at UFC 120 or UFC 138. Against the well-rounded Winner, he has a chance to prove their praise was justified.
Russell Doane vs. Masato Sannai
Pacific Xtreme Combat 33 | Sept. 1 -- Manila, Philippines
Doane was one of Hawaii’s best-kept secrets for years, until he dethroned Frank Baca for the King of the Cage 135-pound title in a thrilling five-round affair in July. Now, for the first time in his young career, the 25-year-old knockout artist will fight away from his home island, as he battles sixth-ranked Shooter Sannai at PXC 33. The 30-year-old Gutsman Shooto Dojo export has pieced together a nice little four-fight win streak of his own, including a first-round knockout over former Pancrase contender Seiya Kawahara two months ago.
Pavel Kusch vs. Chris Fields
CWFC “Fight Night 7” | Sept. 1 -- Amman, Jordan
The Cage Warriors Fighting Championship middleweight tournament created a funny triangle between Ukrainian submission specialist Kusch, Irish all-rounder Fields and Welsh knockout artist John Phillips. First, Kusch replaced Fields in the semifinals and heel hooked Phillips in 25 seconds. Then Fields filled in on 10 days’ notice and faced Phillips in an alternate bout in which he was surprisingly submitted. In the craziest turn of events, a hand injury has forced Phillips out of the final against Kusch, and he has been replaced by none other than Fields.
Andre Santos vs. Cassiano Freitas
Bitetti Combat “Paqueta” | Sept. 8 -- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The depth of talent in Brazilian mixed martial arts is only eclipsed by the abundance of professional football players within the South American country. Two examples will go at it at the next installment of Bitetti Combat, as the promotion’s 2011 welterweight tournament winner, Team Nogueira’s “Chatuba” Santos, faces “Tytschyo,” a talented but streaky submission specialist spawned by Chute Boxe. Both men are considered to be among the Top 10 welterweights in Brazil, and the winner would be in prime position to appear on “The Ultimate Fighter” or at UFC 153 in October.
Follow Tim Leidecker on Twitter at @TimLeidecker or contact him at www.facebook.com/Rossonero1.