Regional promotions are an important part of MMA. It’s the life blood of the sport that continues to bring us new top talent and stars in the sport. That’s why it’s vital to mixed martial arts and its continued success among the masses. It’s also why we must constantly keep our eyes on these promotions, so we can start to plan for the future. That’s what we will do on a monthly basis, so we now turn to Nov.ember to see what fighters to keep an eye on.
Outside of the UFC, Bellator, Invicta FC, ONE Championship and WSOF, what are some of the regional MMA fights that we should watch in the month of Nov.ember? We’ve got you covered:
Leo Leite vs. Danny Mitchell
When: Nov. 4
Where: Fight2Night 1
You can never have enough middleweights in the big leagues, and on Nov. 4, Leo Leite is going to try and make yet another case that he belongs at the top. Leite, hardly a prospect at 38 years old, is 9-0 as a pro. He is a great Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner that can submit anybody he takes to the ground with him. He takes on a UFC veteran in Danny Mitchell in Brazil this month, a name that could add more credibility to his resume. Mitchell is a solid submission fighter himself, but going to the ground with Leite would be a huge risk.
Victor Henry vs. Rafael Silva
When: Nov. 13
Where: Pancrase 282
A veteran of the Pancrase organization, Victor Henry has become a very solid bantamweight prospect. The CSW product has a strong ground game, which makes sense considering where he trains. Other than a decision discrepancy to Shinato Ishiwatari. He takes on Bellator veteran Rafael Silva, who is similarly a ground fighter, though I would call him more of a grinder. The winner of this bout could challenge for the Pancrase bantamweight championship, which makes this such an important bout.
Paddy Pimblett vs. Julian Erosa
When: Nov. 12
Where: Cage Warriors Unplugged
Cage Warriors will host its next card with two title fights at the top of the billing. One of those title fights is the featherweight championship bout, pitting Liverpool native Paddy Pimblett and UFC veteran Julian Erosa. Erosa is a tall, lanky featherweight. In fact, he’s probably the tallest 145-pound fighters most mixed martial artists will have to face. He’s very unconventional and unorthodox, which makes him hard to game plan for. Pimblett has been one of the most improved featherweights in Europe, using his solid ground game to win some consecutive bouts. In fact, he hasn’t lost since October of 2013. The winner gets crowned champion and could jump onto the UFC radar.
Andre Harrison vs. Julian Lane
When: Nov. 18
Where: Ring of Combat 57
When it comes to top prospects, there may be none better outside the UFC than Andre Harrison. A top featherweight, he has proven to be one of the best, running his pro record to 14-0. He does go to a lot of decisions, but that it’s superceded by the fact he’s beaten fighters such as Kurt Holobaugh, Des Green, Steven Siler and Cody Bollinger, among others. He takes on TUF veteran and general recluse Julian Lane, who has failed to capitalize his bad boy image on the reality show to consistency in the pro ranks. It would be shocking that if a win for Harrison would not spell a UFC contract for him.
Alexey Kunchenko vs. Murad Abdulaev
When: Nov. 18
Where: M-1 Challenge 72
Russia has an abundance of great prospects across multiple different weight classes. One of the best fighters they have is undefeated welterweight Alexey Kunchenko, who currently finds himself at 14-0. Kunchenko is a great knockout artist, as most of his fights are finished with strikes. He takes on Murad Abdulaev, who Kunchenko competed with not long ago, competing against one another in April. In that bout, Kunchenko won via corner stoppage in the fourth round. This time around, we should see another fun fight, and if Kunchenko can win convincingly, he could get the call from the UFC.
Cody Gibson vs. Kyle Reyes
When: Nov. 3
Where: Tachi Palace Fights 29: Fall Brawl
There’s nothing like a Thursday night Tachi Palace Fights card on Sherdog, and they come to us this month with a great main event. The bantamweight championship will be on the line in the main event, and will pit UFC veteran Cody Gibson against Guam native Kyle Reyes. Gibson is a brawler that has a good chin and some exciting striking ability. Reyes wins most of his bouts via submission, so this could turn into a striker vs. grappler matchup. Either way, it should be a fun bout, as both men are tough as leather.
Go Kashiwazaki vs. Motonobu Tezuka
When: Nov. 27
Where: ZST 54
It seems that more and more recently, Japan has been producing less top-end prospects. That said, Go Kashiwazaki looks like one of the best prospects to come out of that country since Kyoji Horiguchi. At 16-0-2, he has been an unstoppable force over in his native Japan. He also finishes at a high rate, which makes him not only dangerous, but exciting. He takes on an opponent with the most notoriety to this point in Motonobu Tezuka, a UFC veteran. If Kashiwazaki can score a win with a fighter with UFC on his resume, there’s no way he can be denied access to the highest level of MMA.
Sergey Pavlovich vs. Alexei Kudin
When: Nov. 16
Where: Fight Nights Global 54
There is no doubt about it that one of the best heavyweight prospects in the world, if not the best prospect, is Sergey Pavlovich. At 9-0, Pavlovich has been tearing through the Russian regional scene, taking on increasingly more difficult competition. All but one of his wins come via knockout, showing his big time power and killer instinct. He now takes on respected journeyman Alexei Kudin, who represents a big challenge for Pavlovich. The UFC is in need of good, young heavyweights, and Pavlovich could fit that bill if he wins for Fight Nights yet again.
Rin Nakai vs. Priscila de Souza
When: Nov. 13
Where: Pancrase 282
Despite her lack of success in the UFC, which appears to have been at a weight class above where she should be, Rin Nakai has proven again to be one of the best flyweights in the world. In her return to the Pancrase organization, Nakai destroyed Raika Emiko with a barrage of elbows. She takes on a Brazilian fighter who earned her way into the organization in her native land. At 12-7, she’s shown some inconsistency, but she has taken on some very tough talent. This should be one of the best female bouts of the month.
Larissa Pacheco vs. Rosy Duarte
When: Nov. 19
Where: Mr. Cage 24
When Larissa Pacheco was signed by the UFC, I was confident she’d be a contender within a few years. She’s young and talented. That said, she was two and done with the organization, and now finds herself back at the drawing board in the regionals. At her young age, there is still time to get back to the big show and find herself a potential title challenger in the future. She takes on Rosy Duarte, a regional staple that is underrated. It’s Pacheco’s first fight since leaving the UFC, so we will see how much she’s grown since her UFC tenure.