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 “independent” scene from major events on Spike TV to smaller non-UFC events webcast at UFC Fight Pass.
The year is starting off busy for most promotions but so far the year hasn’t seen much change from last year. Bellator and LFA continue to be the big news as both expand with Bellator continuing to book big names from years gone by while LFA crank out fighters that move on to the UFC seemingly as soon as they win a belt. Web platforms UFC Fight Pass and FloCombat haven’t added any significant promotions over the holidays while Alliance MMA have added promotions but to date haven’t done much as far as distribution beyond GoFightLive, an iPPV website not really competitive in these days of subscription web “channels”. The rest of February is packed with multiple promotions each weekend while March looks to drop off a little, at least based on schedules available at this time.
The only significant story among independent promotions this month is the news that a group of investors purchased 60% of WSOF for $25 million, a dubious figure considering the financial difficulties WSOF has faced including cancelling two events in 2016 and their first event for 2017. Around the same time Marlon Moraes vacated the bantamweight title while David Branch vacated both the middleweight and light heavyweight belts to pursue other options raising questions of if WSOF will have the talent to expand any further or for that matter carry on. The March 18th event is still on in New York but at this time future plans for the company are uncertain.
Here is a list of the top confirmed MMA events on TV and the internet for the next six weeks:
- February 16th Combate Americas (UFC Fight Pass)
- February 17th LFA 4 (AXS TV)
- February 18th Bellator 172 (Spike)
- February 18th CFFC 63 (GoFightLive)
- February 18th CWFC 80 (UFC Fight Pass)
- February 24th BAMMA 28 (Spike TV UK)
- February 24th Bellator 173 (Spike)
- February 24th ROC (GoFightLive)
- February 24th LFA 5 (AXS TV)
- March 3rd Bellator 174 (Spike)
- March 4th CWFC 81 (UFC Fight Pass)
- March 10th LFA 6 (AXS TV)
- March 25th Invicta FC 22 (UFC Fight Pass)
- March 31st Bellator 175 (Spike)
BAMMA (not to be confused with BAMMA USA) – “Spike’s UK show” BAMMA return for a live event on February 24th. On that card Ronnie Mann faces Damien Lapilus for the vacant featherweight title while Andy Young fights Dominique Wooding for the interim flyweight belt.
Bellator MMA (Bellator) – The second-largest promotion already hosted two events this year and has eight more shows scheduled. On the 18th the legendary Fedor Emelianenko makes his Bellator debut as he takes on UFC vet Matt Mitrione while six days later Liam McGeary fights Chris Fields.
Classic Entertainment and Sports MMA (CES MMA) – AXS TV’s “other show” held an event on January 27th with Matt Bessett defended the featherweight belt for the first time by defeating Kevin Croom. No word on the next show is available at this time.
Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) – Two titles are on the line for LFA 4 as Kevin Aguilar faces Damon Jackson at featherweight while Andrea Lee takes on Heather Bassett for the women’s flyweight title. LFA have two more events planned already with the most intriguing fight so far being the return of Mackenzie Dern on March 10th as she faces Katherine Roy.
Rizin – The descendents of Pride are so far following their 2016 schedule with their last show being a multi-day NYE extravaganza, their next event being in mid-April, this year being April 16th. No confirmation is yet available on if it will air on Spike TV as the NYE event did while the individual fighters have mostly been confirmed if not official matchups.
World Series of Fighting (WSOF) – Following the NYE debut in NYC the most-hyped promotion rescheduled their February 28th show for March 18th. Three titles will be on the line at the next show with Blagoy Ivanov defending the heavyweight title in the main event against Shawn Jordan.
UFC Fight Pass
Cage Warriors Fighting Championship (CWFC) – British pioneers CWFC hold two events in the next 90 days with CWFC 80 on February 18th and CWFC 81 on March 4th. The February show features Matt Inman vs. Karl Amoussou for the vacant welterweight title, the March show headlines Karl Moore vs. Josh Clarke for the vacant light heavyweight belt.
Combate Americas – 2017 started off for UFC Fight Pass’ Hispanic promotion with a debut in Mexico City where Christofer Ramirez defeated Heriberto Tovar in the main event. The second event of 2017 for the Hispanic show takes place February 16th with Kyra Batara vs. Vanessa Rico Fernandez headlining.
Invicta FC – At Invicta FC 22 reigning bantamweight champion Tonya Evinger faces Yana Kunitskaya in a rematch of their controversial Invicta FC 20 bout which was overturned to a “no contest” (see archives). Also on that card atomweight champion Ayaka Hamasaki returns to strawweight to face Livia Renata Souza.
Titan FC (TFC) – UFC Fight Pass’ second-largest independent was busy at the turn of the year with an event on December 2nd and one on January 21st, the second show being the one where Jose Torres defended the flyweight title against Pedro Nobre. Rumors are circulating about the next event being in March or April but at this time there is no confirmation.
Victory FC (VFC) – The last “main” VCF show was December 23rd where Dakota Cochrane defeated Jake Lindsey in the main event. The February 18th event is a “secondary” card which will not webstream at UFC Fight Pass, no word is available on the next “main” card.
Other webcast shows
Cage Fury Fighting Championships (CFFC) – Nine show were held by CFFC last year with the final one being CFFC 62 on December 17th where Mike Pope won the vacant lightweight title with a rear-naked choke of Michael Wilkins. New Jersey’s legendary promotion returns this weekend with CFFC 63 where Ahmet Kayretli challenges reigning bantamweight champion Nick Pace.
ONE Championship – So far this year One held two events, January 14th in Indonesia and February 10th in Malaysia. Next up Asia’s biggest promotion head to Thailand for an event March 11th, details are yet to be confirmed.
Ring of Combat (ROC) – On November 18th Julio Arce took the featherweight title from Frank Buenafuente while Ruslan Melikov made a successful first defense of the middleweight title with a defeat of Willie Hosch. On February 24th Arce defends the title is a rematch against Buenafuente.