10 February Tussles Worth Watching

By Tim Leidecker Feb 4, 2010
February will be a month of extremes as far as this list goes. The lightest and heaviest weight classes are featured almost exclusively, with no welterweight bouts and just one middleweight contest in between.

Reminder: This list does not focus on the bouts you already know to watch but rather on fights from all over the planet that are worth seeing. Fights from the major promotions -- UFC, Strikeforce, WEC, Dream and Sengoku -- are excluded by design.

With that in mind, let’s start a tour around Europe, Asia, North and South America for a list of bouts to watch you won’t find anywhere else.

10. Issac de Jesus vs. Nam Phan
TPF 3 “Champions Collide,” Feb. 4 -- Lemoore, Calif.

Both de Jesus and Phan are coming off of losses, but at 23 and 26 years of age respectively, these two California-based featherweights have considerable potential. They face off Thursday at Tachi Palace Fights 3 for the promotion’s 145-pound championship. The matchup pits de Jesus’ control and wrestling-based approach against Phan’s experience and explosive striking.

9. Nick Penner vs. Chris Price
MFC 24 “HeatXC,” Feb. 26 -- Enoch, Canada

The Canadian fight scene is gaining more and more international relevance, particularly with the UFC now promoting north of the U.S. border. One promising Canadian light heavyweight prospect is former 230-pounder Nick Penner out of Blumenort, Manitoba. The 29-year-old kickboxer has lost just once in his professional career and will take on two-time UFC veteran Chris Price on the main card of Maximum Fighting Championships 24. The fight, which will be streamed live on www.maximumfighting.com, promises to be a standup war.

8. Kenneth Rosfort vs. Franco de Leonardis
Fighter Galla 12, Feb. 6 -- Odense, Denmark

Denmark may not have caught the attention of the international fight community as much as neighboring countries Finland or Sweden, but it does have a couple of excellent fighters. Kenneth Rosfort is one of them, and he is considered among the top 10 155-pound fighters in Europe. The EVT vet will face a true European in Franco de Leonardis, a German-Italian kickboxer who was also recently promoted to a black belt in BJJ by Gracie Barra’s Aldo Caveirinha. De Leonardis will try to snap Rosfort’s four-fight win streak in his home country.

7. Geronimo dos Santos vs. Edson Franca
Jungle Fight 16, Feb. 27 -- Vila Velha, Brazil

Brazilian vale tudo legend turned promoter Wallid Ismail recently claimed that his event series Jungle Fight is the Brazilian launching pad to the UFC. That may very well be the case for heavyweights Geronimo “Mondragon” dos Santos and Edson “Conterraneo” Franca. The well-rounded Mondragon boasts wins over Pride veterans Zuluzinho and Assuerio Silva. Conterraneo is strong on the ground, though, and will try to derail Mondragon’s progression toward a U.S. deal.

6. Paul Reed vs. Alan Omer
BAMMA 2, Feb. 13 -- London, England

The second installment of fledgling promotion BAMMA will pit seasoned Welshman Paul Reed against German whiz kid Alan Omer in the main event for the vacant BAMMA featherweight title. Reed was originally scheduled to take on Englishman Mark Adams, who had to cancel due to the swine flu. Omer has jumped at the chance of going five rounds with Reed, who is ranked fourth in Europe at 145 pounds and accepted the challenge on two weeks’ notice. Which will prevail, youth or experience?

5. Jason Day vs. Jesse Taylor
Aggression MMA 2, Feb. 5 -- Edmonton, Canada

Two UFC veterans will headline the bill at AMMA’s sophomore show. The well-rounded Day climbed high on the MMA ladder when he co-headlined UFC 85 against Michael Bisping, but he was ultimately released from the promotion following two straight losses. His opponent on Friday, Taylor, looked like a solid prospect on the seventh season of the “Ultimate Fighter,” but his immature behavior ruined his chances of winning the competition. Both men are in desperate need of a win after subpar performances as of late.

4. Travis Wiuff vs. Mike Kyle
King of the Cage “Vengeance,” Feb. 12 -- Mescalero, N.M.

KOTC’s new partnership with HDNet will guarantee a larger number of high-profile fights for the long-running regional show. They kick it off in New Mexico with a card that features three title fights and a clash between Wiuff and Kyle that, given the history of both fighters, is unlikely to be anything but brutal. Both men have been hot and cold in recent years, with fairly significant wins as underdogs (over Ricco Rodriguez in Wiuff’s case and over Rafael Cavalcante in Kyle’s) and then losses as favorites. Watch it on HDNet.

3. Takafumi Otsuka vs. Takeshi Yamazaki
Deep “46 Impact,” Feb. 28 -- Tokyo

Hiroyuki Abe student Otsuka is considered one of the brightest young talents in all of Japanese MMA. The 23-year-old jiu-jitsu player showed great maturity for his age when he beat former King of Pancrase Shoji Maruyama and Deep featherweight champion Dokonjonosuke Mishima to win the promotion’s 145-pound title. That belt will not be on the line as he returns from a six-month layoff to take on fellow Dream veteran Takeshi Yamazaki. The Grabaka fighter has been luckless as of late, but he is still seen as a durable competitor and a good test.

2. Jorge Masvidal vs. Luis Palomino
G-Force Fights “Bad Blood,” Feb. 4 -- Miami

Florida seems to have become a new hotbed for MMA in the U.S. With Shine Fights, the XFC and G-Force, the state has three promotions consistently putting on good cards. The crown jewel in G-Force’s latest effort is the “Battle of Miami,” as American Top Team’s Jorge Masvidal takes on Team Nogueira’s Luis Palomino. Masvidal, long tipped for greatness by many experts, has plenty of talent but has also slacked off in supposed lower-profile matchups in the past. Bellator vet Palomino is no pushover, though, and has the hand speed to make for an interesting bout.

1. Glover Teixeira vs. Jeff Monson
Bitetti Combat 6, Feb. 25 -- Brasilia, Brazil

This is a fight that was supposed to happen last December, but it had to be scrapped when Monson was denied entrance into Brazil due to visa issues. Now the “Snowman” has properly dealt with his paperwork, and the long-awaited confrontation with “The Pit” BJJ head coach Teixeira can go ahead. The 30-year-old Brazilian holds first-round victories over compatriots Jorge Oliveira and Leonardo Lucio Nascimento as well as a big knockout over Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou back when that still meant something. He’ll try to add another quality win to his résumé against Monson, a former UFC heavyweight title contender.
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