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  • Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Tony Rotundo

    The Wrestling Fan's Guide to the MMA Weekend (3/11/22)

    Phil Davis (top) at the 2008 NCAA Championships (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com

    The three biggest MMA promotions in the US are back in action for a stacked weekend of the sport. As always, each event is loaded with former wrestlers competing in the hybrid sports. This weekend will see fighters who spent their college days at Missouri, Penn State, Iowa and other schools across the country.

    Eagle FC 46

    Kevin Lee vs. Diego Sanchez

    Lee joined the club wrestling team at Grand Valley State despite only wrestling two years in high school. In one of his two years wrestling in college, he qualified for the NCWA tournament but failed to reach the All-American podium. Lee signed with the UFC in 2014 after only two years fighting MMA. He fought for the interim lightweight title against Tony Ferguson, but lost via third-round submission. This will be his first fight outside the UFC since 2013. Sanchez is a true veteran of the sport who won the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter” in 2005. He is now 40 years old and has a 30-13 professional record.

    Archie Colgan vs. Dylan Mantello

    Colgan was a two-time NCAA qualifier for Wyoming. As a junior in 2017, he made the bloodround with victories over Jake Danishek (Indiana), Victor Lopez (Bucknell) and Taleb Rahmani (Pittsburgh) at the NCAA tournament. Colgan made his professional MMA debut this past March and has won all three of his fights to date. Mantello holds a 4-1 record and this will be his first fight since losing for the first time as a professional. In his last bout, he dropped a decision against Josh Ramirez at Ring of Combat 74.

    Tyler Ray vs. Thomas Webb

    Ray was a Division III wrestler at Mount St. Joseph. He has been fighting professionally since 2017. In his last fight, he scored an impressive victory over veteran John Howard. That win improved his record to 9-2. Webb will bring a 16-7 record into the cage on Friday.

    Ryder Newman vs. Manny Walo

    Newman spent time in college at West Virginia, the Olympic Training Center and Wyoming. He recently competed on the UFC's reality show, but lost his only fight on the show to eventual finalist Tresean Gore. Newman bounded back this past October with a first-round stoppage over Cole Shafer. Walo currently has a 14-4-1 record and has been fighting as a pro since 2011.

    The entire Eagle FC 48 card will air live via free stream on GoFLX. The event is scheduled to begin at 6:00pm ET.

    PFL Challenger Series 4

    Edwin Cooper Jr. vs. Troy Lamson

    Cooper was an NJCAA champion and Division II runner-up before ever joining the Iowa wrestling program. Once with the Hawkeyes, he was a national qualifier as a senior in 2016 and finished with an 18-11 record. Cooper made his professional MMA debut in 2018 and currently has a 5-1 record.

    This will be an all-Big Ten match as Cooper's opponent was also on the squad at Michigan State. Lamson's best season with the Spartans came in 2014 when he went 15-12 with five falls. He made his professional MMA debut later that same year and has gone 13-4 to date.

    Scottie Stockman vs. Brahyan Zurcher

    Stockman was a six-year member of the Southern Oregon wrestling team. While there, he was teammates with Austin Vanderford and Taylor Johnson, who have also transitioned to MMA. While wrestling for the NAIA school, Stockman took a variety of amateur and toughman fights. He currently has a 3-1 professional record after turning professional last year. Zurcher turned professional last April and has won both of his fights.

    The fourth PFL Challenger Series event takes place Friday night at 9:00pm ET and airs live on Fubo TV.

    UFC Vegas 50

    Terrance McKinney vs. Drew Dober

    McKinney gets a quick turnaround after fighting back on Feb. 26. The two-time Washington state champion split his college career between North Idaho and Chadron State. In 2016, he finished second at the RMAC conference tournament. McKinney made his UFC debut last June and has won both of his fights in the Octagon in under three minutes. Dober has been fighting professionally since 2009 and has a 23-11 record, but he enters this fight after back-to-back losses.

    Damon Jackson vs. Kamuela Kirk

    Jackson became an NAIA All-American in 2012 after finishing fifth for Missouri Valley College. He made his professional MMA debut later that year and now has a 19-4-1 record. He last fought in October, where he won over Charles Rosa by unanimous decision. Kirk will bring an 11-4 record into the cage after defeating Makwan Amirkhani in his UFC debut last June.

    Cody Brundage vs. Dalcha Lungiambula

    Brundage was a two-time NCAA Division II qualifier for Newberry College. He finished his career in 2017 with 96 wins, which ranked seventh in program history. Brundage is 6-2 as a professional. He made his UFC debut last September and dropped a decision against fellow wrestler Nick Maximov. Brundage faces off against another seasoned grappler here, as Lungiambula was a member of the Congolese judo team before switching to MMA in 2014. He has an 11-3 record.

    UFC Vegas 50 takes place Saturday night in Las Vegas. McKinney will be part of the main card, which kicks off at 7:00pm ET. Jackson and Brundage are part of the preliminary card set to start at 4:00pm ET. Both editions will air live on ESPN+.

    Bellator 276

    Phil Davis vs. Julius Anglickas

    Davis was an NCAA champion, two-time finalist and four-time All-American for Penn State. He finished his eligibility in 2008 and made his professional MMA debut later that year. Davis won the Bellator light heavyweight title in 2016, but lost it in his first defense against former Arizona State wrestler Ryan Bader. In his last fight, he scored a decision victory over Olympic silver medalist Yoel Romero. Anglickas has a 10-2 record and challenged Vadim Nemkov for the Bellator title in his last fight but fell via fourth-round submission.

    Johnny Eblen vs. John Salter

    Eblen spent multiple years in the starting lineup for Missouri. As a senior in 2015, he qualified for the NCAA tournament and picked up wins over Tanner Weatherman (Iowa State) and Andy McCulley (Wyoming) before being eliminated. Eblen turned to MMA in 2017 and has started his career with 10-straight victories.

    Salter won an NAIA title for Lindenwood University in 2007. He made the transition to MMA in 2009 and quickly made his way through the ranks. Salter earned a shot at Bellator middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi after three-straight wins in the promotion. However, in his title fight, he was stopped in the third round. This will be Salter's first fight since losing to Mousasi last August.

    Alex Polizzi vs. Jose Augusto Azevedo

    Polizzi was a three-time NCAA qualifier for Northwestern. As a senior in 2015, he went 26-12. Polizzi made his professional MMA debut in 2018 and won his first seven fights before dropping a decision against Anglickas. Since that defeat, he has bounced back with a pair of victories. Azevedo is currently 7-3 and coming off a second-round knockout at the hands of former UFC title challenger Anthony Johnson.

    Romero Cotton vs. Freddy Sandoval

    Cotton was a three-time NCAA Division II champion for Nebraska-Kearney, while also competing on the football team. He made his MMA debut in Bellator in 2017 and has won all five of his fights inside the promotion. Sandoval has a 5-6-1 record and has not fought MMA since 2009. He had a boxing match last October but lost via third-round knockout.

    Diana Avsaragova vs. Kyra Batara

    Avsaragova reportedly finished third at the 2015 Russian Cadet nationals. She has been fighting since 2017 and has an undefeated 4-0 record. She joined Bellator last year and won a pair of fights over Gabriella Gulfin and Tara Graff. Batara has won four fights in a row after dropping a decision against Asian Championships gold medalist Kanako Murata in 2016. Her record now stands at 8-4.

    Cody Law vs. James Adcock

    Law started his wrestling career at Penn State before transferring to Pitt-Johnstown. At the Division II school, he became a two-time All-American and won the NCAA title at 157 pounds in 2018. Law signed with Bellator in 2020, and he has won his first five fights, all with the company. Adcock lost three of his first five fights, but he has since recovered and will bring a 7-4 record into the cage.

    Bellator 276 goes down Saturday night in St. Louis. The preliminary card, which features Polizzi, Cotton, Avsaragova and Law, airs live on YouTube at 6:00pm ET. Eblen, Salter and Davis are part of the main card, which will begin at 9:00pm ET on Showtime.

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