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July Tussles Worth Watching



In an effort to bring more attention to the global stage of
mixed martial arts, this list does not focus on major North
American-based promotions like the
Ultimate Fighting Championship
and Bellator
MMA
.
***


Boston
Salmon
vs. Ricky
Turcios

Dana White’s Contender Series 1
July 11 | Las Vegas


Salmon and Turcios are two of the more intriguing talents to sign
up for Dana White’s Contender Series, as the UFC president widens
his prospect-mining operations. Salmon has spent his entire career
competing under the Resurrection Fighting Alliance flag, having
amassed a 5-1 record with the now-merged organization. The Xtreme
Couture rep has not fought since he wound up on the wrong side of a
disputed split decision against Zac Riley in
September. Turcios, 24, has won all eight of his fights since
turning pro in 2013, capturing a Fury Fighting Championship title
along the way.
Yuki Kondo vs.
Ikuhisa
Minowa

Pancrase 288
July 2 | Tokyo


Two of Japan’s most prolific martial artists have been booked
opposite one another at Differ Ariake. Kondo and Minowa have 210
mixed martial arts bouts between them, with a cumulative record of
119-74-17. That their paths have never crossed seems like something
of a miracle. A former three-division Pancrase champion, the
41-year-old Kondo will enter the match on a three-fight losing
streak, as he seeks his first win since November 2015. Minowa, also
41, won the 2009 Dream Super Hulk grand prix and was a semifinalist
in the 2005 Pride Fighting Championships welterweight grand prix.
He finds himself on the rebound following consecutive defeats to
Yuya
Shirai
, Zilong Zhao
and Justin
Morton
.
Rhys McKee
vs. Richie
Smullen

British Association of Mixed Martial Arts 30
July 7 | Dublin


The former British Association Mixed Martial Arts lightweight
champion, McKee will attempt to bounce back after suffering his
first professional defeat in a technical knockout loss to Tim Barnett
in February. “Skeletor” touched off his career with five straight
finishes, four of them of the first-round variety, before stubbing
his toe against Barnett at BAMMA 28. Yet another promising prospect
operating out of the SBG Ireland camp, Smullen has raced out to a
3-0 start since debuting in July. The 25-year-old last fought under
the Shinobi War banner on Feb. 25, when he disposed of Jonny
Saville
with first-round punches in Liverpool, England.
Rousimar
Palhares
vs. Alexei
Ivanov

Fight Nights Global 70
July 7 | Ulan-Ude, Russia


The mercurial Palhares makes the next stop on his European tour as
the star attraction for the Fight Nights Global organization. A
powerhouse Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with a long history of
questionable behavior inside the cage, “Toquinho” has followed a
four-fight winning streak with back-to-back losses to Emil Weber
Meek
and Michal
Materla
. Palhares owns submission victories over Jake Shields,
Jon
Fitch
and David
Branch
, the erstwhile World Series of Fighting champion holding
a special affinity for heel hooks, kneebars and other leg locks.
Ivanov, 30, saw a run of seven straight wins grind to a halt in
December, when he submitted to a Gennadiy
Kovalev
guillotine choke at Fight Nights Global 57.
Jinh Yu
Frey
vs. Ashley
Cummins

Invicta Fighting Championships 24
July 15 | Kansas City, Missouri


Though her bid to unseat Invicta atomweight champion Ayaka
Hamasaki
proved unsuccessful due to a second-round cut, Frey
did nothing but raise her profile in the Sept. 23 defeat. The
32-year-old Mohler MMA rep will take her first step towards a
rematch with Hamasaki when she confronts Cummins in a three-round
battle at 105 pounds. Cummins, who appeared on Season 23 of “The
Ultimate Fighter” reality series, enters the cage on the strength
of a two-fight winning streak, having subdued Nicole
Smith
and Amber Brown
in back-to-back outings.
Weili Zhang
vs. Ye
Dam Seo

Top Fighting Championship 15
July 22 | Seoul


The vacant Top Fighting Championship women’s strawweight crown will
hang in the balance when Zhang toes the line against Seo at the KBS
Sports World Arena. Zhang has surfaced as one of China’s top
exports and one of the top prospects in the sport at 115 pounds.
The once-beaten 27-year-old has won 13 fights in a row, 12 of them
finishes. Zhang last competed at a Kunlun Fight event on June 1,
when she was awarded a three-round unanimous decision over Aline
Sattelmayer
. Seo has won her first two fights as a pro, taking
a unanimous verdict from Yoo Jin
Jung
before cutting through Ji Yeon Seo
with a volley of third-round elbows.
Thiago
Silva
vs. Batraz
Agnaev

Absolute Championship Berkut 65
July 23 | Ontario, California


A blue-chip talent at 205 pounds, Agnaev will take the next step in
his development in an Absolute Championship Berkut main event. The
29-year-old Russian improved to 3-0 and raised some eyebrows in the
process on March 11, when he needed a little more than two minutes
to take care of business against the highly regarded Max Nunes at
ACB 54. Agnaev has finished all three of his opponents inside one
round. The well-traveled Silva has quietly pieced together a
three-fight winning streak, with victories over Jared
Torgeson
, Rameau
Thierry Sokoudjou
and Stav
Economou
.
Dylan
Andrews
vs. Priscus
Fogagnolo

Australian Fighting Championship 20
July 28 | Melbourne, Australia


Andrews returned to the MMA scene from a two-year sabbatical on
April 1 and did so in spectacular fashion, as “The Ultimate
Fighter” Season 17 semifinalist captured the Superior Challenge
middleweight championship with a highlight-reel head kick knockout
of Papa Abedi in Sweden. The victory snapped a three-fight losing
streak for the 37-year-old New Zealander and breathed new life into
his career. In his latest assignment, Andrews locks horns with
Fogagnolo for the vacant Australian Fighting Championship
middleweight crown. Fogagnolo has won five fights in a row, all of
them finishes.
Kyoji
Horiguchi
vs. Hideo
Tokoro

Rizin Fighting Federation 2017 World Grand Prix
July 30 | Saitama, Japan


In a battle that promises to be nothing if not entertaining,
Horiguchi tackles Tokoro in the first round of the 2017 Rizin
Fighting Federation bantamweight grand prix. Signed away from the
UFC as a high-profile free agent, Horiguchi made his promotional
debut at Rizin 5 on April 16 and picked up a unanimous decision
over Yuki Motoya.
The 26-year-old former Shooto champion has rattled off four
straight wins since his failed bid to unseat UFC flyweight
titleholder Demetrious
Johnson
in 2015. Tokoro has 65 professional bouts under his
belt, including victories over Rumina Sato,
Yoshiro
Maeda
(twice), Masakazu
Imanari
and Brad
Pickett
.



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