All the fans know the UFC and all the press report on that promotion but where do their fighters come from? What else is going on now? Perhaps most importantly what shows should fans watch to see tomorrow’s stars develop? The Declaration of Independents is a monthly snapshot of what is going on in the non-UFC or “independent” scene.
Five UFC events in one month set the stage for July with several of the independents going head-to-head or squeezing a show in while trying to avoid conflicting with the UFC juggernaut and the annual vacation plans of the public. The CBS Sports Network-broadcast events in particular seem to be vying for attention as TFC which so far has been the only live broadcast on that channel holds a show in the same month with upstarts Fight Time and CFFC. AXS TV on the other hand has LFC this weekend then only RFA in July as far as live events. The international scene is still growing with Shooto Brazil presumed to be webcast on UFC Fight Pass along with Russia’s M-1 Global and Asia’s One Championship, the unknown being Singapore’s Rebel FC which so far still has not announced iPPV plans. WSOF and Bellator seem to be finding peace with each other in slightly different market niches with WSOF still focusing on former UFC mid-rank exiles and Bellator more on drawing the old-school Strikeforce vets and fighters that may pique the curiosity of the pro wrestling crowd. Overall it is an active month despite the vacation season.
Here is a list of confirmed MMA events on TV and the internet for the next six weeks:
June 20th UFC Fight Night – Velasquez vs. Werdum (UFC Fight Pass)
June 26th Bellator 139 (Spike)
June 26th LFC 42 (AXS TV)
June 26th Shooto Brazil (UFC Fight Pass)
June 27th UFC Fight Night – Machida vs. Romero (UFC Fight Pass)
July 3rd RFA 27 (AXS TV)
July 3rd M-1 Global (iPPV)
July 9th Invicta FC (UFC Fight Pass)
July 11th UFC 189 (PPV)
July 12th UFC – TUF 21 finale (Fox Sports 1)
July 15th UFC Fight Night – Mir vs. Duffee
July 17th Fight Time Promotions (CBS Sports Network delayed)
July 17th Bellator 138 (Spike)
July 18th One Championship (iPPV)
July 18th TFC 34 (CBS Sports Network)
July 18th CFFC 50 (CBS Sports Network delayed)
July 18th UFC Fight Night – Bisping vs. Leites
July 25th UFC on Fox 16 (Fox)
August 1st UFC 190 (PPV)
August 1st WSOF 22 (NBC Sports Network)
AXS TV Fights – The inaugural “supercard” featuring promotions LFC vs. RFA went in favor of RFA with Alexandre Pantoja taking the AXS TV flyweight belt. At this time there is no word on a second card but both RFA and LFC promoted this event as the “first” such show.
BAMMA – On June 13th Cheick Kone defeated Andy DeVent for the middleweight belt and Mark Godbeer took the heavyweight title with a defeat of Paul Taylor, both titles being vacant at the time. Now the UK’s biggest event is off until September 19th when Tom Duquesnoy faces Brendan Loughnane in Dublin.
Bellator MMA (Bellator) – Now that the circus of Bellator MMA 138 is over and we are done with Kimbo Slice vs. Ken Shamrock the second-largest promotion can get back to competitive and meaningful bouts. After only one week off Bellator MMA return this weekend with Cheick Kongo vs. Alexander Volkov, David Rickels vs. John Alessio co-headlining.
Cage Fury Fighting Championships (CFFC) – Little was heard in advance of CFFC’s June event in which Sidemar Honorio defeated Lincoln De Sa Oliveira at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, PA. CFFC’s return to the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City, NJ will likely be back to “normal” on July 18th where Anthony Smith faces Tim Williams for the middleweight title while heavyweight champion Plinio Cruz rematches the man who he beat for the belt Azunna Anyanwu. This event takes place the same night not only as UFC Fight Night but also as TFC, no word is currently available on if either would air live on that channel or even if both are still involved with that channel.
Classic Entertainment and Sports MMA (CES MMA) – On June 12th Dominique Steele took the welterweight belt from defending champion Chuck O’Neil in a grinding unanimous decision. At this time there is no word on the next event for New England’s top promotion.
Fight Time Promotions – Fight Time’s May 29th event where Rafael da Silva Alves defeated Frank Carrillo was a bit of changing gears as the Florida-based promotion now has three more events scheduled for 2015 with July 17th followed by September 18th and November 13th. Surprisingly the event date of July 17th is confirmed through Ticketmaster but no card is available.
Legacy Fighting Championship (LFC) – The AXS TV Fights megashow wasn’t LFC’s finest hour in terms of results but LFC showed their fighters can compete. Next up LFC 42 goes head-to-head with Bellator on June 26th with LFC headlining Anthony Njokuani vs. Josh Quayhagen while Valentina Shevchenko makes her return against Carina Damm.
Resurrection Fighting Alliance (RFA) – After defeating LFC at AXS TV Fights RFA are now off until July 3rd. So far the biggest news from that show is it will be the first nationally televised event in the state of Idaho. Headlining the card is Joe Murphy vs. Jesse Brock while co-headlining is Czar Sklavos vs. Nick Burgos.
Titan FC (TFC) – Like CFFC it is unconfirmed if the next Titan FC event will air live on the CBS Sports Network as previous events or if it will be broadcast as a tape delayed event as Fight Time and CFFC. This is especially relevant as Titan FC 34 takes place July 18th, the same night as CFFC 50. Headlining Titan FC 34 Pat Healy defending the lightweight belt against Mike Ricci.
World Series of Fighting (WSOF) – Bantamweight and welterweight titles are on the schedule for August 1st at WSOF returns to Las Vegas. In the main event middleweight champion Rousimar Palhares defends against Jake Shields, in the co-main event bantamweight champion Marlon Moraes fights Sheymon da Silva Moraes. This is a pretty good follow-up to the June 5th WSOF event in Canada where Lance Palmer defended the featherweight belt and Blagoy Ivanov took the heavyweight title.
Invicta FC – On April 24th Livia Renata defeated Katja Kankaanpaa to take the strawweight belt. Next up on July 9th is a supposed step up as the all-women’s promotion make their debut in Las Vegas finally crossing the “rock star line”. Three titles are on the line but all eyes will be on Cristiane Justino who defends the featherweight belt, interesting because the UFC require Justino to fight at least once at bantamweight before setting up a fight against defending UFC champion and all-out cash machine Ronda Rousey.
M-1 Challenge – A superfight rematch headlines Russia’s M-1 Challenge on July 3rd as Kenny Garner faces Sergei Kharitonov in Kazakhstan. This follows only one month after Murad Abdulaev defeated Marcelo Brito for the then-vacant welterweight title June 5th.
ONE Championship – On June 20th Timofey Nastyukhin defeated Yusuke Kawanago to extend his win streak to twelve in a row in the main event of One Championship 28. Next up on July 11th reigning bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes defends the belt against 10-1-1 Toni Tauru in Malaysia.
Ring of Combat (ROC) – The schedule for New Jersey’s longest-running independent is slowing with only two shows so far this year, one in January and one in June, and no live events scheduled at this time. The June event was headlined by Julio Arce defending the bantamweight belt while Oluwale Bamgbose defended the middleweight title and Randall Brown took the welterweight strap.
Shooto Brazil – May 17th was a historic card more for Shooto Brazil making their webcast debut at UFC Fight Pass than for Felipe Froes defeating Thiago Silva for the Shooto Brazil featherweight title. Shooto Brazil follow up with another event June 26th.
Tachi Palace Fights (TPF) – Such a legendary promotion can be forgiven for holding their annual Cinco de Mayhem card on May 7th instead of Cinco de Mayo May 5th especially when Chidi Njokuani made the first defense of the welterweight title. At this time there is no word on the next event.
Rebel FC – It is difficult to know what to make of Rebel FC, an upstart out of Singapore. Last August Rebel FC 2 looked like it would break new ground with an iPPV featuring the quarterfinals of a featherweight tournament with former WEC champion Miguel Torres and UFC vet Will Chope among others. No event in ten months however means the semifinals are taking place this weekend at Rebel FC 3 with Torres fighting Chope in the co-main event. This event however is not advertised as an iPPV at this time, no word is available on if plans for last-minute distribution will work out.