(INVICTA FC 7 – Road to Honchak vs Smith via Invicta FC)
With the UFC putting on an event practically every weekend nowadays, it’s getting harder and harder for even the most hardcore fan to keep up with all the action, let alone the great fights transpiring under lower-level banners like WSOF, Invicta FC, Cage Warriors, and the like. So while most of the MMA world will remain focused on Fight Night 33: Hunt vs. Bigfoot (which is a relatively stacked card, all things considered) this Friday, we’ve decided to highlight a handful of lesser-known-yet-equally-intriguing bouts for you Taters to keep an eye out for this weekend. And here you thought we weren’t MMA fans anymore.
World Series of Fighting 7
Georgi Karakhanyan vs. Lance Palmer
Thanks to a last second toe injury, the originally scheduled (also, cursed) main event between Mike Kyle and Anthony Johnson was recently scrapped from WSOF 7, shuffling the co-main event matchup between Armenian powerhouse Georgi Karakhanyan and undefeated grappler Lance Palmer into the spotlight. And quite honestly, it’s a far more compelling fight in our opinion — Karakhanyan has scored 8 straight victories (5 finishes) since being released from Bellator back in 2011, including a first round submission over UFC veteran Waylon Lowe in his WSOF debut. Prior to that, the current Tachi Palace featherweight champion put the stamp on another, more well known UFC vet, Din Thomas, at Legacy FC 19.
While Karakhanyan has proven himself to be a well-rounded fighter — he balances 12 submission victories against 4 knockouts — he’ll be facing a stiff test in late replacement opponent Lance Palmer. Currently 7-0 as a professional, Palmer is a hard-nosed grappler fresh off a tough split decision win over Jared Downing at RFA 8. Given the relative lack of pressure being placed on Palmer’s shoulders, we could be in for a huge upset should “The Party” (eesh) be able to take Karakhanyan to the mat early and often.
Our history with Nick Newell has been extensively documented, but that doesn’t change the fact that “Notorious” will be facing one of the biggest tests of his career this weekend. On the heels of another successful first round ass-kicking in his own promotional debut (his 9th in 10 fights), Newell will be squaring off with British Columbia native Sabah Fadai, a 7-2 fighter who has finished all of his victories by either TKO or submission. While Fadai has been out of action for over a year now, a win over a rising star like Newell would more than make up for his lost time.
To refresh your memory, here’s a video of Newell kicking some dude’s ass at XFC 19 last December:
Invicta FC 7
If you’ve been following the WMMA scene at all over the past few years, chances are that you’ve heard of Leslie “The Peacemaker” Smith, an Invicta and Bellator veteran known for her tough-as-nails demeanor and penchant for putting on wild slugfests. MMAFighting’s Chuck Mindenhall recently wrote an excellent profile on Smith, who has fought on 5 of the 6 Invicta cards (and who holds a record of 3-1-1 in the promotion) and holds victories over Kaitlin Young and TUF 18 semifinalist Raquel Pennington. We’d highly recommend that you check it out to learn a little more about the fan-friendly fighter, who recently earned her shot at flyweight champion Barb Honchak with a FOTN-earning unanimous decision victory over Jennifer Maia in her flyweight debut at Invicta 6.
Speaking of Honchak, we’d be remiss if we did not sing the praises of the current champ in the days prior to her first title defense. Although her career got off to a bumpy 1-2 start, Honchak has put together 7 straight wins including 3 under the Invicta banner since 2011. A fierce counter striker with solid boxing mechanics, Honchak has been criticized (by Young, amongst others) for being a “points fighter,” so it will be interesting to see how she responds to the criticism in her biggest fight to date. And that’s saying something for a woman who holds victories over Roxanne Modafferi, Vanessa Porto, and…
Felice Herrig vs. Tecia Torres
We might have irked Herrig with our recent criticism of the TUF 18 Finale, but we only did it out of love. And the truth is, aside from being a dynamic, intelligent, and visually-striking woman who knows how to market herself, Herrig is also a legitimately talented fighter who is a surefire poster girl for the UFC’s upcoming strawweight division. Currently 4-1 in her last 5 and coming off back-to-back decision wins in Bellator, Herrig’s extensive Muay Thai/kickboxing background has been coupled with an ever-improving ground game under the tutelage of Jeff Curran and has led her to victory over the likes of TUF 18 finalist Jessica Rakoczy and Patricia Vidonic (twice).
Looking to steal some of Herrig’s thunder, however, will be 3-0 Tecia Torres. Perhaps one of the more overlooked fighters in strawweight division, “The Tiny Tornado” is no stranger to halting hype trains, as she is fresh off a decision victory over our own “Thug” Rose Namajunas at Invicta FC 6…
If Torres is able to knock off Herrig this weekend, she will more or less become the female Lawrence of Arabia of the strawweight division (confusing analogy much?), so keep an eye out for this matchup, Taters.
Legacy FC 26
Leonard Garcia vs. Kevin Aguilar
While Leonard “Bad Boy” Garcia was known for putting on Fight of the Year contenders in the UFC, he wasn’t known for actually winning fights at the end of his second tour of duty (as for the fights he “won,” well…). However, since being mercifully released from the promotion in April following five straight losses, Garcia has managed to both put on entertaining fights and walk away with his hand raised. Since signing with Legacy Fighting Championships, Garcia has scored back-to-back stoppage victories over Rey Trujillo and Nick Gonzalez at LFC 21 and 23, respectfully. A big win over undefeated “Angel of Death” Kevin Aguilar could easily see Garcia reinstated in the UFC for another run.
Aguilar, on the other hand, is no slouch. Currently 8-0, this Bellator veteran has gone the distance just once in his professional career and has balanced 5 TKOs against 2 submissions. Could he be the man to bring Garcia’s resurgence to a halt? FIND OUT THIS WEEKEND. It’s kind of the point of this article.
Finally, we have a potential barnburner of a scrap taking place between two always entertaining, if inconsistent, fighters in Ulysses Gomez vs. Neil Seery. Transpiring under the London-based Cage Warriors banner, Gomez vs. Seery will serve as the main event of Cage Warriors 62 and promises to be one for the ages. Despite going 0-2 in the UFC, Gomez is an incredible grappler who has previously secured both the flyweight and bantamweight titles while fighting for Tachi Palace Fights back in 2010-11. In his 9 professional victories, Gomez has claimed all but two of them by submission.
After trading wins and losses for the majority of his career, Seery has been on a roll as of late, scoring 4 straight wins over the past year. Seery and Gomez share a common opponent in current UFC fighter Phil Harris, who has defeated them both by way of UD, but we’ll be tuning into this fight solely to see how a guy who calls himself “2 Tap” will hold up against a ground wizard like Gomez.
Are there any other lower-level fights taking place this weekend that warrant a mention? Let us know in the comments section.