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 holidays are upon us and most promotions are done for the year. Bellator wrapped up December 16th after three shows this month with the 16th being a co-promotion with BAMMA also concluding that English promotion’s year. The final Legacy FC and RFA shows on December 2nd and 9th respectively also meant the end of those promotions as the first combined LFA event takes place on January 13th. Victory FC and WSOF each have one show left this year while the only other significant event for 2016 is the annual Rizin tournament in Japan. 2017 starts off fast with the aforementioned LFA event on the same weekend as Invicta FC and One Championship’s return while the following weekend holds the second LFA card, Combate Americas’ debut in Mexico, and Bellator’s first event of the year. Basically it is slow for two more weeks then two weeks of vacation time before the independent scene goes back to the grind.
Here is a list of the top confirmed MMA events on TV and the internet for the next six weeks:
- December 23rd VFC 55 (UFC Fight Pass)
- December 29th Rizin 3 (Spike TV)
- December 31st Rizin 4 (Spike TV)
- December 31st WSOF 34 (NBCSN)
- January 13th LFA 1 (AXS TV)
- January 14th Invicta FC 21 (UFC Fight Pass)
- January 14th One Championship (iPPV)
- January 19th Combate Americas (UFC Fight Pass)
- January 20th LFA 2 (AXS TV)
- January 21st Bellator 170 (Spike)
- January 27th Bellator 171 (Spike)
BAMMA (not to be confused with BAMMA USA) – In the year-end co-promotion between BAMMA and Bellator it was BAMMA that stole the show. Topping the BAMMA portion Tom Duquesnoy defeated Alan Philpott in defense of the bantamweight title with a rear-naked choke in the second round. At this time there is no word on the next BAMMA event.
Bellator MMA (Bellator) – The second-largest promotion concluded 2016 with the co-promotion with English promotion BAMMA mentioned above. Unfortunately the Bellator side of the card was a bit of a throwaway with Muhammed Lawal earning a lackluster decision over Satoshi Ishii in the main event. The new year kicks off with Bellator 170 on January 21st with Tito Ortiz vs. Chael Sonnen in the main event followed by Bellator 171 on January 27th and Bellator 172 on February 18th.
Classic Entertainment and Sports MMA (CES MMA) – Legacy FC and RFA may have combined forces to form LFA but the “other AXS TV show” doesn’t seem to be taking the same leap forward. For instance the November 23rd was headlined by Nate Andrews vs. George Sheppard, a fight nobody was surprised to see Andrews win. No word on the next show is available at this time.
Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) – With the merger between LFC and RFA complete it is time to establish the inaugural LFA champions. Up first is LFC’s Steven Peterson vs. RFA’s Leandro Higo for the inaugural bantamweight title at LFA 1 on January 13th.
Rizin – the matchups for the 2016 Grand Prix tournament were announced December 19th after Muhammed Lawal defeated Satoshi Ishii in Bellator. The former Strikeforce champion faces 2006 Pride open-weight GP champion and UFC vet Mirko Filipovic. The opening round takes place December 29th while the semifinals and finals happen on New Year’s Eve.
World Series of Fighting (WSOF) – Following the cancellation of two WSOF events it seems WSOF is betting the ranch on the New Year’s Eve show in New York City. Assuming sanctioning issues like expanded insurance in the state of New York and WSOF’s continuing woes with former matchmaker and fighter manager Ali Abdelaziz don’t derail the event the show has three title fights. Headlining the show is Justin Gaethje defending the lightweight title against Joao Zaferino while Jon Fitch defends the welterweight title against Jake Shields and Marlon Moraes defends the bantamweight belt against Josenaldo Silva.
UFC Fight Pass
Cage Warriors Fighting Championship (CWFC) – British pioneers CWFC’ 2016 run of six shows was a welcome return after a year-and-a-half layoff from November 2014 until April of this year. The year was capped by a “studio show” on November 12th where Paddy Pimblett and Chris Fishgold retained their belts with victories over Julian Erosa and Nic Herron-Webb respectively. At this time there is no word on the next CWFC event public or studio.
Combate Americas – Expansion continues for the Hispanic MMA show. CA’s year ended with their debut in New York on October 14th, the first event held outside the Pacific Time Zone. In the main event John Castaneda defeated Gustavo Lopez while Julian Marquez TKO’d Matt Hamill in the co-main event. 2017 is the next such expansion with a debut in Mexico on January 19th.
Invicta FC – On December 1st Yana Kunitskaya’s November 18th win over Tonya Evinger was overturned to a “no contest” by the Missouri Office of Athletics resulting in Evinger retaining the bantamweight title. Up next is Invicta FC 21 on January 14th with Megan Anderson vs. Charmaine Tweet, a fight that isn’t for the featherweight title but should be considering current champion Cristaine “Cyborg” has been occupied with the UFC.
Titan FC (TFC) – Titan’s six-show 2016 held six events, the final one being December 2nd where Jason Jackson took the welterweight title from Diego Lima in a somewhat controversial first-round stoppage. No word is available on the first Titan show for 2017.
Victory FC (VFC) – One of the few promotions that have not concluded for the year VFC hold an event December 23rd. Headlining the event will be a rematch between former lightweight champion Jake Lindsey and UFC vet Dakota Cochrane in a five-round bout while the heavyweight title is on the line between Daniel Gallemore and Derek Bohi.
Other webcast shows
Cage Fury Fighting Championships (CFFC) – Nine show were held by CFFC this year with the final one being CFFC 62 on December 17th. Mike Pope won the vacant lightweight title with a rear-naked choke of Michael Wilkins but the real new was former champion Sean Santella winning an interim flyweight title with a rear-naked choke of Matthew Lozano. February 18th will be the first CFFC event of 2017.
M-1 Global – The year ended for Russia’s legendary promotion on December 9th when Ramazan Emeev successfully defended the middleweight title againt Anatoly Tokov while Magomed Idrisov won a non-title fight against Ivan Buchinger in the co-main event. 2017 starts for M1C on February 18th where light heavyweight champion Rashid Yusupov defends the belt against Stephan Puetz.
ONE Championship – Brandon Vera finally defended the heavyweight title on December 2nd, the final One event of 2016. Eighteen events are already announced for One Championship for 2017, the first of which takes place January 14th with middleweight champion Vitaly Bigdash defending the belt against Marcin Prachnio.
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. February 24th will be the next ROC event, no portion of the card is currently available.