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  • Photo: Sam Janicki

    Photo: Sam Janicki

    The Wrestling Fan's Guide to the MMA Weekend (6/16/23)

    While the MMA world never takes a break the InterMat Guide to the MMA Weekend did take a bit of hiatus since it is usually more important for a wrestling website to cover, you know, wrestling. However, there are too many names recognizable to wrestling fans in action this weekend, so without wasting any more of your time and putting any more miles on my damaged keyboard, let’s get to the fights. If I missed any other names in action this weekend, make sure to poke fun at me in the comments.

    Friday: Bellator 297

    Yoel Romero vs. Vadim Nemkov

    This past April Romero turned 46 years old. He is an Olympic silver medalist, world champion and six-time world medalist in wrestling. After that wrestling career, he turned to MMA where he has gone 15-6 and somehow found himself in title contention again. In the main event of Bellator 297, he faces off against the light heavyweight champion with the chance to add another accomplishment to his resume. 

    Corey Anderson vs. Phil Davis

    Anderson was a Division III All-American at Wisconsin-Whitewater. At one time, he had arguably the best nickname in sports history. When he first came on the scene in MMA, he called himself “Beastin 25/8,” which makes less sense the more you think about it, but he ultimately abandoned the name.

    He takes on Davis, who was a national champion for Penn State. Davis previously held the belt in Bellator, but he has been unable to climb back to the top of the mountain since losing the title to fellow wrestler Ryan Bader in 2017. The winner of this battle between wrestlers likely puts themselves into contention for a shot at the winner of the main event. 

    Kyle Crutchmer vs. Bobby Nash

    Crutchmer was a two-time All-American for Oklahoma State who finished his eligibility in 2017. He turned to MMA the following year and has gone 9-2 as a professional. He needs a win here after dropping his previous fight against Jaleel Willis. “Nashty” Nash went 0-3 in the UFC in 2017 but has since won four fights in a row. Nash was a DI wrestler himself, winning a Michigan state title before heading to Lindsey Wilson, then Michigan State. 

    Archie Colgan vs. Emmanuel Sanchez

    Colgan was a two-time NCAA qualifier for Wyoming and finished his career with over 100 victories. He has gone 7-0 in MMA since turning professional in 2021. Colgan takes a big step up in competition here against Sanchez. He is a veteran of 28 fights and has previously fought for the Bellator featherweight title, but he is currently riding a four-fight losing streak. 

    Alex Polizzi vs. Karl Moore

    Polizzi was a three-time NCAA qualifier for Northwestern. After exhausting his eligibility in 2015, he turned to MMA and ultimately made his professional debut in 2018. Polizzi’s record currently stands at 10-2, and this will be his first fight back since losing against Yoel Romero last year. Moore is 11-2 and 3-0 in Bellator since joining the promotion in 2019. 

    Jordan Newman vs. Matthew Perry

    Like Corey Anderson, Newman wrestled for Division III powerhouse Wisconsin-Whitewater. There he was a two-time champion and a D3Wrestle.com wrestler of the year. Newman signed with Bellator in 2019 and holds a 5-0 record as a professional. Perry earned a legion of fans thanks to his time on the hit sitcom “Friends” where he played the gregarious Chandler Bing. However, he recently has fallen on hard times. Just kidding, this Perry is 5-3 and making his Bellator debut. 

    Mike Hamel vs. Shamil Nikaev

    Hamel spent time at Wyoming before transferring to Grand Canyon and becoming a Division II All-American. He currently holds a 10-5 record. He dropped his first two bouts with Bellator before bouncing back with three-straight wins. Nikav recently won his Bellator debut, which pushed his professional record to 10-0. 

    Cody Law vs. Edwin Chavez

    Law was a three-time Division II champion for Pitt-Johnstown. He signed with Bellator and made his professional debut with the company in 2020. Law won his first six fights with the company and appeared to be a blossoming prospect. He now has work to do to get back to that status after dropping back-to-back decisions. Chavez is also riding a two-fight losing streak and will be making his Bellator debut. 

    The main card of Bellator 297, which will feature Romero, Anderson and Davis, airs live on Showtime at 9:00pm ET. The undercard with the rest of the wrestlers begins at 6:00pm ET and will air live on YouTube. 


    Friday: Combat FC 4

    Bekzod Abdurakhmonov vs. Derik de Freitas

    Abdurakhmonov wrestled collegiately for Clarion where he became an All-American. He then continued his wrestling career on the international circuit representing Uzbekistan. Along the way, he has claimed a pair of bronze medals at the world championships and claimed another bronze at the 2020 Olympics. Abdurakhmonov made his MMA debut in 2013 and won his first six fights before taking a break the following year. He returned and fought once in 2017, and has been absent from the MMA cages since. De Freitas is 2-5 and is riding a three-fight losing streak.

    The bout will be part of the main card of Combat FC 4, which airs live on UFC Fight Pass at 8:00pm ET. 


    Friday: Cage Fury Fighting Championships 120

    CJ LaFragola vs. Aaron Walker

    During his time at Brown, LaFragola was a three-time NCAA qualifier. He left school in 2019 and turned to MMA in 2021. This fight will be his professional debut, but he previously won five amateur fights. Walker made his professional debut last November and scored a decision victory. 

    Hunter Starner vs. Thomas Picciano

    Like LaFragola, Starner finished his collegiate wrestling career in 2019. He was a multiple-year starter for VMI who went 11-11 as a senior. He made his professional MMA debut last October and has won both of his fights to date. Picciano holds a 3-1 record and is coming off a submission victory. 

    Both of these bouts will be part of the CFFC 120 undercard, which is scheduled to air live on – deep breath – OnlyFans (yes, that OnlyFans) at 7:00pm ET. 


    Saturday: Paradigm Combat Sports 3

    Juan Adams vs. Shelton Graves

    Adams will be the second former VMI wrestler to fight in an MMA cage this weekend. The Keydet won 44 matches over his final two years of wrestling and exhausted his eligibility in 2015. Adams made his way to the UFC in 2018. After winning his debut, he was released following three-straight losses. He has been fighting to get back since. Graves is 9-6 and coming off a loss under the Professional Fighters League banner. 

    Anthony Cassar vs. Juan Torres

    Cassar dealt with injuries for most of his collegiate wrestling career, but in his one full season as a starter at Penn State, he knocked off Gable Steveson and won an NCAA title in 2019. Last December, he made his MMA debut and won via arm-triangle in under four minutes. Torres has recently been fighting mostly in the boxing ring, but the 36-year-old holds an 8-15 record in professional MMA. 

    Geno Morelli vs. Dominic Wiltz

    Morelli started his collegiate wrestling career at Pittsburgh before transferring to Penn State. As a junior in 2016, he qualified for the NCAA tournament and finished with a 21-12 record. He has competed extensively in grappling and went 3-0 in amateur MMA. This will be his professional debut. Wiltz turned professional in MMA in 2019 and holds only a 0-2 record. 

    Streaming details for the PCS 3 show are not currently available. If the news breaks, I will make sure editor extraordinaire, Earl, updates this article or at least retweets me on Twitter. 


    Saturday: UFC Vegas 75

    Pat Sabatini vs. Lucas Almeida

    The UFC show this weekend is relatively light on former wrestlers. However, there will still be representation as Sabatini spent time in college on the Rider team. He holds a 17-4 record in MMA. He signed with the UFC in 2021 and won his first four bouts with the promotion. In his last fight, he lost for the first time in the UFC against Damon Jackson. Almeida is 14-1 with his only loss coming against Daniel Zellhuber on the Contenders Series. 

    The Sabatini fight will be on the main card of UFC Vegas 75, which airs at 9:00pm ET on ESPN. 

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