Welcome to the second installment of a brand new MMA Plus feature, Under The Radar, which sees us look to the week ahead in the world of MMA and highlight the fights that may have escaped your attention. Every week we will be pulling our selection of “fights to watch” from each corner of the globe and outlining exactly why they deserve your interest.
This week sees a loaded schedule domestically with both major UK promotions, BAMMA and Cage Warriors, holding events over the weekend as well as plenty of action from Asia with ONE Championship and DEEP.
BAMMA 31 – Friday, September 15
Charlie-Boy Howard (0-0) vs. David Khalsa (1-0) – Featherweight (145lbs)
Taking place at the SSE Wembley Arena in London, England, BAMMA 31, or BAMMA London, has a stacked card on offer including the highly anticipated welterweight title grudge match between rivals Nathan Jones and Alex Lahore.
However, our focus this week is on highly touted amateur Charlie-Boy Howard, who makes his professional debut against fellow British rookie David Khalsa in the featherweight division on the evening’s preliminary card. Howard has already built a strong and rabid following during his time on the amateur circuit with his fans, affectionately named “The CBH Army”, turning out in force for his most recent bouts.
Amassing an amateur record of 13-3, with 12 of his wins coming inside the distance, Howard has forged a reputation as an entertainer inside the cage. His stellar BJJ and grappling abilities having resulted in eight wins by submission so far ahead of his pro debut.
Howard has not been handed an easy assignment in his inaugural bout in fellow newcomer Khalsa. The Russell Perks MMA product defeated Irish hopeful Cian Cowley via first round submission on his pro debut at BAMMA 29 and will be confident of upsetting the favoured Howard to mark himself out as the better prospect.
DEEP 79 Impact – Saturday, September 16
“KING” Reina Miura (5-0) vs. Young Ji Kim (0-0) – Openweight (161lbs and under)
Flying the flag for Japanese MMA this weekend is one of the country’s premier promotions, DEEP, who will be in the capital of Tokyo for DEEP 79 Impact this Saturday. Strawweight champion Kanta Sato defends his belt against veteran Haruo Ochi in the evening’s main event however on the undercard is one of Japan’s hottest properties and biggest box office draws, Reina Miura, otherwise known as KING Reina.
At only 21-years-old and with a solid background in judo and sambo, KING Reina burst onto the MMA scene under the DEEP JEWELS banner late last year and quickly picked up a win over Ronda Rousey’s former teammate and ex-UFC fighter Shayna Baszler. A pair of high-profile victories over much larger opponents in professional wrestlers Jazzy Gabert and Lei’d Tapa followed in 2017 under Japanese super promotion Rizin FF.
The pro wrestling pageantry of her obnoxious attitude and trash talk coupled with an outfit of the flowing cloak and crown she wears whilst making her entrance has made her a must-see attraction. Currently undefeated in her five professional fights since her debut last November, Reina faces ROAD FC amateur Young Ji Kim in the latter’s first professional bout. Although it’s expected to be one sided, it’s Reina’s first time in a cage rather than a ring and a perfect time for everyone to become acquainted with Japanese MMA’s newest superstar.
ONE Championship: Total Victory – Saturday, September 16
Stefer Rahardian (6-0) vs. Sim Bunsrun (3-3) – Flyweight (125lbs)
With all the attention being showered on the evening’s flyweight main event between former champion Kairat Akhmetov and Filipino contender Geje Eustaquio, it’s easy to overlook all the local talent on display as ONE Championship: Total Victory sets up in Jakarta, Indonesia this weekend.
In the night’s co-main event, undefeated flyweight Stefer Rahardian is the pick of the homegrown fighters as he looks to keep his perfect record in tact against Cambodian Top Team fighter Sim Bunsrun. The Carson Gracie BJJ brown belt has used his excellent grappling skills to roll over all opposition since his 2015 pro debut and was victorious in the ONE Jakarta Flyweight Tournament Championship in 2016. Another two wins under the promotion since then has seen the Bali MMA product tipped as a future champion in the 125lb division.
Meanwhile, Bunsrun, who’s a Khun Khmer specialist, will be looking to cause an upset and establish himself as he continues to get his career back on track after losing his first three pro fights. Returning after a two-year hiatus in 2015, the Cambodian has won all three of his bouts since and will be confident of continuing his resurgence this weekend.
Cage Warriors 86 – Saturday, September 16
Sam Creasey (8-1) vs. Paul Marin (12-6) – Flyweight (125lbs)
Returning to the UK capital, Cage Warriors 86 will showcase newly-crowned bantamweight champion Nathaniel Wood as the Londoner makes his first defence against undefeated Welshman Josh Reed in the main event and will hope a win can further fuel the rumours of a UFC call up.
Further down the card is a clash between two flyweight contenders that has the potential to rival the main event for “fight of the night” honours. Training out of Elite TC, Sam Creasey will look to put back-to-back wins together as he takes on Cage Warriors veteran Paul Marin, who returns to the promotion for the first time since 2014.
Bedfordshire’s “The Hobbit” bounced back from his first defeat with a quick submission victory over Iuri Bejenari at Cage Warriors 84 and will be keen for another early night after finishing seven of his last eight wins inside the distance.
Meanwhile, his Romanian opponent Marin has finished his last four wins by KO or TKO and his power will be a constant threat throughout. There is also a bit of bad blood between the pair after they were originally scheduled to fight at Almighty Fighting Championships 1 in 2016, however, the bout was called off when Creasey missed weight.