Australian Regional MMA Has A BIG Weekend Ahead
The Australian Regional Scene is Loaded this Weekend
We’re gonna need a bigger post. The Australian regional scene is absolutely loaded this weekend with a staggering four big shows. Accompanying those cards are seven pro title fights and several amateur championships sure to force fans out of their seats. Armed with tremendous fights and bright stars, these promotions are headed for an action-packed weekend.
So, since there’s so much to pour over and so little time, I have decided to do my first super-post. That’s right, i’m breaking down all four cards headed your way this weekend.
From XFC to AFC and Eternal to Storm, everything you need to know about what’s going down will be covered. So hunker down, tell your kids to play with the dog and dig in.
This is what being an MMA fan is all about…
XFC 34: Friday Night Fights
Alright let’s go in chronological order. First up is XFC 34–headlined by “The Arm Collector” Brogan Anderson. The man who challenged Matt Vaile last year for the welterweight title has moved up to middleweight in hopes of capturing his second title on the regional circuit. An XFC title would put quite the stamp on his career and place him at the top of the list for major MMA opportunities. He’s a star in the making, but not the only attraction in Mansfield this weekend.
The first female atomweight champion will be crowned in the co-main event as Brooke Kenrick takes on Kaela Banney. With history between them, this fight is a chance for redemption or domination.
And the #2 ranked amateur featherweight in Australia will put his belt up for grabs Brandon Stowers. With the pro ranks looming, Tom Nolan has one more chance to prove his skill, remain undefeated and move forward. With a win, big things will come…
The Main Event
Brogan Anderson is obviously the draw here and for good reason. At 10-3, he’s one of the more experienced and successful fighters on the regional circuit. And though he has yet to capture a major regional title, he’s got one in his cross-hairs and is ready to take it down.
After riding a five fight win streak all the way to a title shot against Matt Vaile, Anderson found himself on the wrong side of some elbows. The second round loss sent him back to the drawing board, but ultimately produced a shiny new product. His next fight ended in somewhat disappointing fashion as a checked leg kick injured Rick Alchin and ended the fight, but hey…a win’s a win–just ask Chris Weidman. Now in his second fight at middleweight, Anderson will no longer look to break just legs, it’s the spirit he’s after.
The man he’s hunting…Jayden Eynaud.
This isn’t a fun way to get your third pro fight out of the way. Sure a title will be in play for you, but at what cost? It’s a tough spot for the young man, but certainly not one that will faze him. He is after all a former XFC amateur champion and a serious up and comer out of Five Rings Dojo. Eynaud may lack the experience of Brogan, but he’s done all he can to make up for that difference in skill. Fights in muay thai have sharpened his attacks on the feet and based on his last outing, i’d say he’s a bear on the ground as well.
A fight with Brogan will be quite the test. Will he have enough to take down the behemoth? I suppose you’ve got to wait and see.
The Inaugural Women’s Atomweight Title
After a battle on the bjj mats, Kaela Banney walked out up 1-0 on her opponent this weekend. Now, Brooke Kenrick will attempt to even the score–this time, on the canvas.
Despite her relative struggles coming up in the amateur scene, Kenrick has had her fair bit of success in competition and a win this weekend would be payment well deserved. After making her pro debut at XFC 32 in November, Kenrick will make history with the promotion as one of the first two women’s atomweight title challengers. That’s nice. But being the first champion is what she’s after. Armed with heavy leg-kicks, a dangerous striking prowess and a proven submission game, that dream may just come true.
But standing ahead of her is a fighter with the same aspirations and same fire burning inside of her.
Standing at 3-2, Banney’s record may not shock and awe, but her fights sure do. While her technical precision hasn’t been tuned to the level of her opponent; the young contender’s tenacity is what drives her. Unfortunately, she hasn’t been quite as active as many would like her to be. Jiu jitsu has consumed her over the past few years causing a 15 month layoff between fights. However, that hiatus has come to an end thanks to a shot at gold.
When Banney and Kenrick step into the cage at XFC 34, it represents the best in women’s regional MMA. Do not miss the slug-fest that’s bound to come out of it.
Tom Nolan Returns
I’m a big fan of Tom Nolan and anytime I see him on a card, i’ve got to tune in. Because of the several pro fights on the card, he’s gonna be smack dab in the middle of the show. But to me, it’s just like another main event.
As an undefeated amateur, Nolan has yet to show any signs of slowing down and in fact may have picked up some speed. After three decisions to begin his MMA career, “Big Train” found his first finish over Joshua Francois in the first round of his bout at XFC 32. The win earned him the amateur title he’d been looking for and caused many like myself to think where he’d go next.
Well, this is the answer. Though he has decided to remain in the amateur ranks for the time being, a big win over Brandon Stowers could be just the push he needs to move on to the big leagues. However at just 18 years old, he’s got plenty of time to go pro. For now, he’s focused on growing as a fighter and becoming an unstoppable force.
He’s well on his way…
The rest of XFC 34 is loaded with some fun fights and top talent.
Josh Robson has never known a boring fight an he hopes to drag Nick Skidmore into deep waters this weekend as two pro welterweights clash.
Integrated MMA prospect Jackson Small will look for his second consecutive win as he faces Ray Skellem in a pro featherweight contest. Jackson is an excellent personality in the sport, check out this short chat with Wombat Jones.
The women’s amateur atomweight championship is also on the line for Jessica Lavers-McBain and Sarah Archer.
Amateur flyweight champion Darren Habben collides with Viet Anh Do for a shot at the bantamweight crown and amateur champ-champ status.
Storm MMA: Storm Damage 11
Moving right along…Storm MMA is bringing an excellent show to Braddon and while it’s not the most stacked card of the lot, it’s got some killer features.
The main event pits a debuting bantamweight contender, Billie Gordon, against the defending champion and undefeated prospect, Jarrett Wilbraham. This is one of the very best fights of the weekend and one i’m thoroughly looking forward to. Gordon had great success in the amateur scene where Wilbraham has become one of the best bantamweight prospects in regional mma.
The co-main is just as thrilling. David Morley is a TOUGH dude who brings ferocity to the cage every time he fights. But beyond that, he’s a skilled warrior with a string of first round finishes and a belt to defend. Across from him stands Grant “The Storm” Brechney (fitting I know). Brechney, like Gordon, will be making his pro debut in the form of a title fight after rattling off four straight on the amateur circuit. Quite the way to make an entrance.
This is gonna be a fun card guys, let’s explore it a little further.
The Main Event
If you’re following the Australian regional scene, i’m sure you’re finding it difficult to keep track of everyone. I myself get lost in a sea of champions, contenders and prospects at times. So if your memory needs refreshing, you may remember Billie Gordon from my piece about Adam Assuncao and UFN 14.
Those two squared off back in February to determine the best amateur bantamweight in Australia. Unfortunately for Gordon, “The Joker” was the one laughing in the end. But with that behind him, Billie Gordon has decided to test the pro ranks and has gotten his first fight at Storm MMA.
And it’s a doozy.
A title fight in your first outing is pretty aggressive. Especially when your facing a champion who has been so dominant in such a short amount of time. However with plenty of success at the amateur level including 3 wins and a pair of finishes, Gordon has no shortage of confidence. That coupled with the inactivity of the champ and Gordon has to feel pretty good about his chances.
But Jarrett Wilbraham has another idea. Yes he hasn’t fought in MMA since 2016 and that’s a concern. But with a well earned reputation for violence, the champ has no reason to fear for the safety of his throne. After winning twice at Storm MMA 8 and taking down the belt, his first defense came against the very man he defeated to call himself king. Both times he finished him, both times he broke him. A submission and a knockout allowed Wilbraham to retain his regional title and become a top ranked bantamweight prospect.
Now he returns to reclaim that attention. And he’ll get it…
The Light Heavyweight Championship Co-Headlines
This one is as serious as it gets folks.
David Morley is such a fun fighter to get behind. He leaves it all out there every single time he throws down and this weekend will be no different. Well, I guess there is one difference. For the first time in his career, he’ll be the man defending a crown rather than chasing after it. Sometimes that can be beneficial, other times–it can be catastrophic.
After tearing through three contenders in the first round via a couple of submissions and a knockout, David Morley will take the title he now holds and put it in the middle of the cage (figuratively of course, though that’d be awesome). To maintain his championship level, he’ll have to crush the dreams of the hopeful debutant, Grant Brechney.
Brechney mirrors the aforementioned Billie Gordon in his quest for supremacy. In this his first professional fight, the challenger will be attempting to replicate the prosperity he created on the amateur circuit. With eight bouts behind him, a four fight win streak in tow, and an amateur belt in his past, Grant Brechney has plenty to be confident about headed into this one. The stage may be slightly higher and the lights a bit brighter, but he won’t be any tighter…? (I tried to rhyme the last part, but I think I fucked up). My point is, he’ll be ready.
So David Morley better bring his A-game, this is gonna be trench warfare.
A Featured Clash of Featherweights
I’ll be honest the title fights are spectacular; but beyond them, there’s not much to see. However, there is one more fight i’d like to call your attention to.
Alistair Fleming vs Billy McNabb is what you call a must-watch contest. Not one of these men have been to a decision in their 6 combined fights and with plenty to fight for, I suspect a serious battle here.
McNabb is undefeated through two pro appearances and has dispatched both opponent’s in short order. Alistair Fleming on the other hand hasn’t come out unscathed, but he has inflicted some pain in his time as a contender. Though he has been finished twice, Fleming has also been on the right side of some lop-sided beatings and now has a chance to take down one of the hottest prospects at featherweight.
The winner of this contest could surely steal the show, don’t screw up and miss out on it.
Eternal MMA 32
Now we’re starting to get into some weirdness. Eternal kicks off just one hour after Storm and it also begins at the same time as AFC 22. So when it comes to which fights take precedent. You could determine that for yourself….or you could take a look at the bottom of the post where I have ranked the 5 title and non-title fights for Australian regional MMA this weekend.
With that established, let me run down the card for you.
The main event is a superb featherweight title clash between the returning champion Myles Simpson and challenger Ryan Gray. These two have shared the Eternal ring in the past and will do so once more in Adelaide this weekend. I love a good rematch, especially when a belt is involved. But beyond this fight, we’ve got some names.
Two undefeated welterweights will step into the fire as the co-main event of the evening. Tony Caruso will make his sophomore start under the Eternal banner against a rejuvenated Dishon Ravindran. After taking a long break from the sport, Ravindran is back and looking for glory after winning two straight on the amateur scene. A great fight indeed!
But there’s plenty more where that came from…
Revenge is Best Served….Gray??
Bad, I know. But this fight is nothing like that title.
Myles Simpson has had his ups and downs. But his resolve has pushed him through and his hunger to be the best keeps him hunting for challenges. After taking down the Eternal featherweight title back in 2016, Simpson skipped over to BRACE in hopes of tracking down a title in their lightweight division. Unfortunately for “M-16”, his plans were thwarted in the first round and he finds himself back home.
But what was waiting for him is quite interesting…
In November of 2015, Myles Simpson submitted Ryan Gray in his Eternal debut. In a fight that largely played out on the ground, Simpson defended several submission attempts while in the guard of Gray and eventually smashed his way to finding the back and locking in a rear naked choke finish. The win was quick and impressive. But now Ryan Gray has a chance at revenge.
After the loss, Gray took a bit of a break before hopping back into a fight and being finished once more. Having lost three of four, something had to give. Finally, at Reign Fighting 3, he got his groove back with a first round TKO finish. Now he’s looking to piece together the first win streak he’s had in three years. And who better to do it against than one of the men responsible for the losses. Ryan Gray can get one back this weekend! Will he take advantage of his second chance?
Somebodies 0, Has Got To Go
Standing at 4-0 in the Australian regional circuit is no easy feat. The MMA talent pool is full of sharks and Tony Caruso has swam through it largely without penalty.
However, in just over three years he’s managed to fight only once; most recently in March of 2016 at Eternal 15. That may shock you, but he hasn’t been sitting on the sidelines. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. While his MMA career has stalled a bit, Caruso has found success in boxing and has been racking up wins since his last appearance in the Eternal cage. At 4-1-1 inside the ring, his hands have really come together. Although finishes have been elusive, his success in boxing has been impressive. Now he returns to MMA with an opportunity to showcase his talent under a familiar set of rules.
His opponent for the night has been on his own interesting path. Hailing from Sri Lanka, Dishon Ravindran made his MMA debut at a young age back in 2011 and promptly left after two fights. Despite going 2-0, he took a step back and focused on training where he has grown under the watchful eye of Ryan Robertson at MMA 24/7.
Once returning to competition, Dishon suffered an amateur loss due to an unfortunate injury which kept him on the sideline until Eternal 25 in May of last year. A decision victory and a submission later that year put him back on track and in line to make his second pro debut. This time, he plans to make waves.
Well a win over Caruso would certainly do the trick. Now it’s just about the how.
— eternal_MMA (@Eternal_MMA) March 17, 2018
The Rest of Eternal 32
The undercard is pretty stacked, especially for a regional show.
Randall Ray returns after losing his shot at UFN gold against Nathan Reddy earlier this year. He takes a bit of a back step facing off with Phil Ikafanga but with these two big guys slugging it out, anything is possible.
Jessie Medina will fight for the 20th time in his career when he clashes with Alan Hartley. After being knocked out by UFC hopeful Jamie Mullarkey, Medina will look to rebound and earn a shot at the Eternal title.
And we’ve got some amateur heavyweight action where a pair of debuting combatants will face off. Marcin Chalupa and Justin Danielson may not be household names yet, but a highlight-reel KO could help change that.
Australian FC 22
Finally, this is the fourth and final card of the loaded weekend for Australian regional MMA. AFC 22 is a bit top heavy, but when you look at the fights that carry the card–you won’t be disappointed.
We’ll start, of course, with the headlining act.
KMA representative and BRACE welterweight champion Theo Christakos will go for his second regional title this weekend, but the man trying to deny him is a monster himself. Anton Zafir was once the best welterweight in Australia. His capture and defense of the Nitro MMA championship allowed him to book a date on the now infamous UFC 193 card. However, his success at the regional level couldn’t be replicated and after two straight losses with the promotion, he was let go. Now, he looks to regain his status at the top and starts with Christakos.
But hey, that’s not the only title fight we’ve got to discuss. The middleweight title will also be fought for in the co-main event of AFC 22. Stu Dare will attempt to finally get the monkey off his back and earn himself a regional title. His opponent, however, has other ideas.
Glenn Sparv may carry “Teddy Bear” as his nickname, but he’s certainly not cute and cuddly in the cage. A product of the famous Tiger Muay Thai gym Sparv rides a five fight win streak into his second Australian title fight.
Massive Welterweight Title Fight to Headline AFC 22
This one is big.
The Australian MMA scene has gotten massively competitive and its most frightening division of them all may be welterweight. With guys like Kitt Campbell and Matt Vaile having just competed, i’m sure Theo felt a bit slighted by me and my claim that the winner would be the best welterweight on the scene. Well now is his shot to take the spotlight.
With three consecutive wins, all by way of stoppage, Christakos has a chance to add to his belt collection with an AFC strap this weekend. Even better is his opponent was once where he hopes to be soon–the UFC. Well, if he can dispatch Zafir the way he defeated the eight men before him, that talk will get louder and louder. Easier said than done, of course.
Because Anton Zafir didn’t just crash into the big show out of some bit of luck or happenstance. Prior to his debut in the UFC, he fought eight times in Australia and defeated all but current UFC featherweight contender Alex Volkanovski. Aside from that loss, “The Professor” picked up seven wins six finishes and a Nitro MMA title with a victory over Aussie MMA staple, Corey Nelson.
Now that he’s back on the regional scene, he looks as good as ever. The first fight in his return finished in the first round as ground and pound pierced the guard of Hoshi Friedrich and forced a stoppage by the ref,,,well really Zafir himself stopped the beating but that’s neither here nor there.
The point is, he’s back. And if he wants to stay on top, he’ll have to get by one of the brightest stars in Australia.
Theo Christakos was super impressive in taking out Abdullah Hamdan back at AFC 20 and has such has locked in a Welterweight Title fight with Anton Zafir in Perth.https://t.co/q0mnwBGzHY pic.twitter.com/w99YX0AAzy
— AFC (@AFCMMAFighting) February 6, 2018
Can Sparv Continue His Run? I Dare him to Try…
Look i’ve been writing for hours and hours now. Cut me some slack with these puns.
Glenn Sparv has been destructive over the past four years. At 10-1 in his last eleven, Sparv will look to continue his Finnish-ing ways at AFC 22. (He’s from Finland,,,get it). After back to back knockouts in a pair of Asian promotions, he’s now become the #1 southeast Asian middleweight in MMA. But he’s not stopping there. No…he wants to conquer the entire eastern hemisphere before hanging the gloves up and a win over Stu Dare would certainly help him towards that goal. While he’s already won an Australian title; this time his opponent is a true Aussie contender. One that’s been around the cage a time or two.
Stu Dare may be named the “Tumblewed”, but it’d take more than a gust of wind to send him on his way. With 13 professional bouts on the regional circuit, he’s taken on the very best opponents out there and lived to tell the tales. When you look at his record, there’s not much room for him to make mistakes in the cage.
Check this: his last three losses have come to, in order, Jake Matthews, Callan Potter and Israel Adesanya. Talk about a murderers row. And his last three wins?
Kitt Campbell, Ben Kelleher and Ryan Biglar. My god, there’s not many men alive who’d run that gauntlet, but Dare did so with a smile on his face. That’s nice and all. But what would really get him grinning from ear to ear would be an AFC title. He’s got his chance, now he’s got to do something with it.
John Hyon Ko from Kumite Radio and @MMATodayNews caught up with Stu "Tumbleweed" Dare as he prepares to face @GlennSparv for the AFC Middleweight Title at AFC 22 on April 7. Check it out:https://t.co/rj6rXxVGP5 pic.twitter.com/iyaE6wSOTW
— AFC (@AFCMMAFighting) March 12, 2018
What Does the Rest of AFC 22 Have for Us?
Aussie MMA legend, Steven Kennedy returns AFC cage at welterweight facing Arben Escayo. Kennedy is the former Hex, AFC, SFA and Bragging Rights champion and UFC welterweight. This one’s big.
Caitlin McEwan will step into the cage for the first time against someone not named Jess when she meets Anthea Paton. McEwan stands tall with an undefeated three win career and three knockouts.
And here’s a fun one to watch out for…
Powerlifter, Alex Simon makes his AFC debut this weekend as he takes on heavy-handed Lio Ilalio. The heavyweights are always can’t miss!
One Final Wrap-up of the Weekend
That’s it. We’ve covered all four Australian cards headed your way this weekend and it’s time to say goodbye…almost.
As I mentioned before, Storm MMA, Eternal MMA and AFC will all take place at roughly the same time. So in order to alleviate some stress you may have, I figured i’ll throw out my personal rankings of those fights and perhaps give you an idea of what you should be choosing to watch.
Let’s Do it…
(Note, this doesn’t apply to XFC since that’s the day before)
The Title Fights:
#5 David Morley vs Grant Brechney at Storm Damage 11
#4 Jarrett Wilbraham vs Billie Gordon at Storm Damage 11
#3 Glenn Sparv vs Stu Dare at AFC 22
#2 Myles Simpson vs Ryan Gray at Eternal 32
#1 Theo Christakos vs Anton Zafir at AFC 22
The Non-Title Fights
#5 Alistair Fleming vs Billy McNabb (Amateur) at Storm Damage 11
#4 Alan Hartley vs Jesse Medina at Eternal 32
#3 Tony Caruso vs Dishon Ravindran at Eternal 32
#2 Randall Ray vs Phil Ikafanga at Eternal 32
#1 Steven Kennedy vs Arben Escayo at AFC 22
NOW we’re done. Enjoy the hostilities!