Jeremy Horn (left) and Thales Leites hit their marks Friday. | Ryan O’Leary/MMAViking.com
STOCKHOLM -- All fighters in attendance were on weight for Superior Challenge 7 “Rise of Champions,” set for Saturday at Hovet arena.
Thales Leites and Jeremy Horn were cleared to fight for the first Superior Challenge middleweight title, as they both weighed in slightly below the 185-pound mark at Friday’s official weigh-in. The former UFC title contenders will face off in the event finale in one of three title bouts on the card.
“This is special fight for me because it’s for a Superior Challenge title and I get to fight Jeremy Horn, an MMA legend,” a respectful Leites said. The Brazilian is returning to Sweden, a place he says “feels like home” and where he last fought and defeated Swedish prospect Tor Troéng at Superior Challenge 6 in October.
The attention of the weigh-ins, however, belonged to another featured attraction between Reza Madadi and Rich Clementi.
Round one of the lightweight title bout started at the weigh-in, as Madadi immediately went to get in Clementi’s face after hitting the scales at 154 pounds. Clementi responded with an attempted head butt, forcing officials to stop a scuffle from becoming something more.
“He’s not scaring me with any antics,” said Clementi in an attempt to shrug off a popular local fighter known for his intimidating talk, posing and grand entrances. “He’s one of the best guys in Europe. This fight really got me up, and I haven’t had one in a while to do this.”
“I swear I’m going to show you so much love tomorrow,” a stone-faced Madadi said. The hot prospect from Sweden will look to extend his five-fight win streak, as he finally gets his shot at the lightweight belt. His last outing at Superior Challenge was slated for a belt, but with Carlo Prater failing to make the contracted weight, title implications were off the table.
“Can I take my belt home now?” Madadi asked.
While all fighters in attendance made weight, one matchup from the planned 12-bout card was scratched at the last minute. Swede David Bielkheden and Japan’s Yuya Shirai were set to meet in a welterweight bout, but word broke Wednesday that Bielkheden had been pulled from the card, allegedly in connection with the banned substance Methylhexanamine. While Superior Challenge CEO President Babak Aghavali has yet to issue an official statement, the Swedish MMA Federation, which is sanctioning the event, wrote on its website Friday that Bielkheden faces a two-year suspension.
The event will also feature a welterweight title bout, as Daniel Acacio will defend the belt he earned with a controversial decision over Bielkheden at Superior Challenge 6. He will face Diego Gonzalez, who looked to be drained from making the 170-pound limit. Gonzalez is returning from knee knee surgery. The Swede will look to start a new win streak, as his eight-fight streak over a three-year span ended when he was defeated by veteran Akihiro Gono at Sengoku Raiden Championship 12.
Superior Challenge 7 will be the first sanctioned event in Sweden for use of the Unified Rules. With the Bielkheden and Shirai fight in jeopardy, it would leave only Leites vs. Horn and Gonzalez vs. Acacio approved for the newly granted rule set. Junie Allen Browning was scheduled to fight against Swede Carlos Prada, but the fight was called off last week when the promotion was unable to make contact with Browning to confirm his participation in the event. Browning was defeated by Madadi at Superior Challenge 5 and was slated to fulfill the second fight in his three-fight contract.
Superior Challenge 7 “Rise of Champions”
Saturday, April 30
SC Middleweight Championship
Thales Leites (184.4) vs. Jeremy Horn (184.6)
SC Lightweight Championship
Reza Madadi (154.0) vs. Rich Clementi (154.7)
SC Welterweight Championship
Diego Gonzalez (169.4) vs. Daniel Acacio (169.4)
Matti Makela (204.6) vs. Hector Ramirez (203.5)
Assan Njie (184.6) vs. Beslan Isaev (180.4)
Tor Troeng (183.9) vs. Robert Jocz (184.8)
Bruno Carvalho (184.8) vs. Kyacey Uscola (184.8)
Farshad Farsiani (169.2) vs. Mohsen Bahari (168.5)
Sirwan Kakai (135.7) vs. James Doolan (136.0)
Lina Eklund (132.0) vs. Kristina Talvosaite (130.5)
Andreas Stahl (169.2) vs. Johan Vanttinen (168.7)