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  • Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Tony Rotundo

    The Wrestling Fan's Guide to the MMA Weekend (9/2/21)

    Shawn Bunch at the 2009 World Team Trials (Photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

    As always there are plenty of top wrestlers competing in a variety of MMA shows across the globe. This week has a bit more international flavor as the preview features shows from Asia, the Middle East, Europe and, of course, Las Vegas.

    The MMA weekend gets off to an early start with the main card of ONE Championship: Empower airing live on YouTube at 8:30am ET. On the card, Ritu Phogat of the famous Indian Phogat family takes on Bo Meng. Phogat had an extensive freestyle wrestling career before transitioning to MMA. She picked up a gold medal at the 2016 Commonwealth Championships, a bronze at the 2017 Asian Championships and a silver at the U23 World Championships. Her cousin, Vinesh Phogat, recently represented India at the 2020 Olympics and holds a World bronze medal.

    Phogat has gone 5-1 in MMA and bounced back from her only career defeat this past July. This Friday, she takes on Bo Meng. The Chinese fighter holds a 17-5 record and has not lost since 2017.

    Shawn Bunch, who was a two-time All-American at Edinboro and a member of the 2009 U.S. freestyle World team, will headline UAE Warriors 22. The card takes place at 9:00am ET on Saturday. In the main event, Bunch will face Rany Saadeh.

    Bunch is now 38 years old and holds a 9-5 record in MMA. Last year he finished a second stint in Bellator with a 2-2 record. Saadeh fights out of Berlin and holds a 12-3 record as a professional.

    Polish promotion KSW is back with their 63rd card on Saturday, which features the colorful name "Crime of the Century." In one of the featured bouts, Greco Roman wrestler Damian Janikowski will take on Pawel Pawlak. The main card airs live on internet pay per view at 2:00pm ET.

    Janikowski competed extensively for Poland on the Greco scene. He holds an Olympic bronze medal from 2012, a silver from the 2011 World Championships as well as a pair of medals from the European Championships. The 32-year-old fighter made his professional MMA debut in 2017 and has built a 6-3 record. Pawlak went 1-2 in the UFC back in 2014-2015. Since leaving the promotion, he has gotten back on track with a 7-1-1 run.

    It seems like there is a UFC event every Saturday, and that is likely because there is a UFC event almost every Saturday. In the main event of this weekend's show former UNC Pembroke wrestler Derek Brunson is back in action against Darren Till. The card is an unusual day time show with the main card airing live on ESPN+ at 4:00pm ET.

    Brunson was a three-time Division II All-American for the North Carolina school. He has strongly relied on his wrestling background in the UFC. In his last fight, he attempted 12 takedowns and landed six against Kevin Holland on the way to an upset victory. In the fight, he held control positions for 16:55 of the 25-minute fight. On this card, he takes on Till who fought for the UFC welterweight title in 2018 and came up short against Tyron Woodley. Since that fight, Till has gone 1-2 with his line win coming over Kelvin Gastelum.

    Also on the undercard of the UFC event Liudvik Sholinain will make his official UFC debut after competing on the recent season of "The Ultimate Fighter." Sholinain has claimed he was national champion in his native Ukraine, but he does not have a record in the UWW database. He takes on Welsh fighter Jack Shore.

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