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.
It still appears fair to refer to the non-UFC events webcast at UFC Fight Pass as independent not only because they are not owned by the UFC but they still function as independents with fighters from Titan FC, Invicta, and Shooto Brazil still able to fight in Bellator or WSOF. “Able” is the keyword there. Being on an event webcast at UFC Fight Pass is no guarantee of getting into the UFC itself, the AXS TV “family” still passes on more fighters for now. The question is will the non-UFC Fight Pass shows pass fighters on to Bellator or WSOF.
It has been a busy month so far for live events with six independent shows last weekend alone. With only six weeks left in the year there is a dramatic slowdown coming with most independents planning one more event for this year and one for January or February. Like it or hate it the big one coming up is Rizin, Japan’s newest foray into New Year’s Eve events leaning more towards pro wrestling aesthetics than MMA but still entertaining.
2016 meanwhile looks to be a year of expansion for both Bellator and WSOF. Bellator recently announced plans to hold events in 2016 in London, Italy, and Israel although no details are available on dates or cards. With the London show airing on Chanel 5 in the UK live and tape-delayed on Spike TV it is unlikely it will be a tent pole event. Same with the Israel show to be aired on Ego Total. WSOF aren’t staying stateside either with two events outside America. Both events are basically franchises akin to WSOF Canada with November 21st WSOF Global Championship China 1, February 7th being WSOF GC Japan 1. At this time no other independent has announced plans to cross borders either outside or crossing into the US.
Here is a list of confirmed MMA events on TV and the internet for the next six weeks:
November 19th TPF 25 (webstream)
November 20th WSOF 25 (NBC Sports Network)
November 20th Bellator 146 (Spike TV)
November 20th ROC 53 (GoFightLive)
November 21st UFC Fight Night 78 (Fox Sports 1)
November 20th WSOF 25 (NBC Sports Network)
November 21st One Championship (webcast PPV)
November 28th UFC Fight Night 79 (UFC Fight Pass)
December 4th Bellator 147 (Spike TV)
December 10th UFC Fight Night 80 (UFC Fight Pass)
December 11th TUF 22 finale (Fox)
December 12th UFC 194 (PPV)
December 16th Combate Americas (NBC Universo)
December 18th WSOF 26 (NBC Sports Network)
December 19th UFC on Fox 17 (Fox)
BAMMA – BAMMA finished their 2015 year last weekend with four title fights. For the vacant lightweight title Martin Stapleton defeated Gavin Sterritt in the main event while Rany Saadeh defended the flyweight title, Shay Walsh won the bantamweight belt, and Paul Craig became the new light heavyweight champion. Up next is BAMMA 24 on February 27th.
Bellator MMA (Bellator) – the next “tent pole” event for the second-largest MMA promotion comes February 19th with Ken Shamrock vs. Royce Gracie in the main event, Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson vs. Dhafir Harris in the co-main event slot. Up next however is Bellator 146 this weekend with Hisaki Kato vs. Melvin Manhoef headlining then Bellator 148 ends the year wit Josh Thomson vs. Pablo Villaseca.
Classic Entertainment and Sports MMA (CES MMA) – The “baby brother” of the AXS TV events family finished the year October 30th with Gil De Freitas defeating Chip Moraza-Pollard for the welterweight title. Considering what winter in Rhode Island can be like it is a bit surprising CES MMA return January 8th, no card is yet available.
Combate Americas – The only Hispanic themed show returns December 16th with John Casteneda vs. Federico Lopez headlining. This is a follow-up to the “Road to the Championship” show in September but no details are available yet on what the “road” is.
Fight Time Promotions – The entire 2016 Fight Time schedule is out but no information on the cards themselves. Starting the year will be a return to Magic City Casino in Miami on February 5th.
Legacy Fighting Championship (LFC) – Texas-based LFC held an event November 13th with Leonardo Leite defending the middleweight title but they aren’t done with the year yet. On December 4th two titles are on the line with Derrick Krantz making the first defense of the welterweight title while Ariel Beck faces Andrea Lee for the women’s flyweight belt.
Resurrection Fighting Alliance (RFA) – On December 11th RFA head to California for their final show of the year. In the main event Adam Townsend takes on Ernest Chavez, Joe Merritt vs. Felipe Fogolin takes co-main event.
Rizin Fighting Federation (Rizin FF) – Love them or hate them Rizin are making news as the resurgent Pride or pro wrestling/MMA hybrid depending on how one looks at it. This promotion takes the traditional New Year’s Eve show in Japan one step further with a three-day extravaganza aimed at pleasing everyone a little bit. The matchups however are tinged with pro wrestling’s “story” appeal more than merit in rankings, the most interesting fight outside the tournament being Kazushi Sakuraba fighting Shinya Aoki.
Cage Fury Fighting Championships (CFFC) – It’s a night of extremes December 4th as CFFC hold title fights at both flyweight and heavyweight. At heavyweight Zu Anyanwu faces Daniel Spohn, at flyweight its Sideco Honorio vs. Louis Gaudinot.
Hard Knocks Fighting – Rodney Wallace is the new light heavyweight champion following his win over Adrian Mile at HKFC 47 on November 13th. At this time there is no word on the next event.
Invicta FC – Due to both fighters missing weight on the first try Tonya Evinger’s defeat of Pannie Kianzad was a non-title bout at Invicta FC 14 on September 12th. No word is currently available on the next event.
M-1 Global – Russia’s biggest promotion wraps up the year December 4th with two title fights. The main event is a rematch for the light heavyweight title with Stephan Puetz facing Viktor Nemkov, Ramazan Emeev vs. Luigi Fioravanti for the middleweight belt takes co-main event.
ONE Championship – Asia’s biggest promotions took some PR hits lately but look to turn that around. Last weekend Ben Askren was supposed to defend the welterweight title against Luis Santos until Santos missed weight leaving Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke’s fight against Yago Bryan Farias De Morais to fill the main event. When One Championship go to China this weekend the world and interim featherweight titles will be unified while Adriano Moraes seeks to defend the flyweight belt against undefeated Kairat Akhmetov.
Ring of Combat (ROC) – Two months ago at ROC 52 Julio Arce suffered his first loss as Brian Kelleher became the new bantamweight champion. Now Kelleher returns to defend the belt against Josh Robinson at ROC 53 this weekend.
Shooto Brazil – Rafael Sobral took the Shooto Brazil bantamweight title November 13th by defeating Luciano Benicio. No word is available on the next event.
Tachi Palace Fights (TPF) – Alex Perez finally makes the first defense of the flyweight title this weekend as he takes on Adam Antolin. See the archives for a preview of that show.
Titan FC (TFC) – One week before Christmas in the US the “other UFC Fight Pass show” finishes the year in Kansas City. No surprise Antony Gutierrez tops the bill facing Andrew Yates, the rest of the card is mostly up-and-comers.
World Series of Fighting (WSOF) – Still holding on to third place in terms of relevance but falling further behind Bellator WSOF hold three more events this year. First up is the one-night eight-man tournament at WSOF 25 to determine the next challenger for lightweight champion Justin Gaethje. The next night WSOF in theory make their debut in China although this event is more akin to WSOF’s Canadian franchise than a full WSOF event. WSOF’s final event of this year takes place December 18th in Las Vegas while the first show of next year is also WSOF’s debut in Japan.
Venator FC – December 12th is closing in fans and there is still no word on if the world outside Italy will be able to see Venator FC 2. The card is not only interesting from the perspective of what is going on in Italian MMA, the card co-headlines Bellator vet Karl Amoussou vs. Simeon Thoresen.