When Titan FC blows into the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables, Florida, the mixed martial arts promotion will be doing so with a fight card topped by not one, not two, but three compelling title fights and bolstered by a handful of additional interesting names.
Here’s a look at the championship matchups and a couple of the veterans you need to keep an eye on this weekend when Titan FC 39 hits UFC FIGHT PASS on Friday night.
Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante (19-8) vs. Pat Healy (33-21-1) for the Lightweight Title
These two veterans do battle for the vacant lightweight title in Friday’s main event after Rick Hawn won the title at Titan FC 35 before deciding to hang up his gloves for good 31 days later.
Healy became the inaugural champion last March and successfully held onto the title for nearly 200 days, besting Marcus Edwards in his first title defense before dropping the belt to Hawn in September. “Bam Bam” has since picked up a win over Muhsin Corbbrey to run his record to 4-1 since departing the Octagon, and his grimy, gritty wrestling style makes him a miserable matchup for anyone.
While Cavalcante has been around for quite some time, he hasn’t fought since September 2014 and has been largely inconsistent since his days as a rising star in K-1 Hero’s nearly a decade ago. Still just 33 and working with the elite squad at the Jaco Hybrid Training Center, this will be a home game for “JZ” and a win over Healy instantly makes his recent history of struggles nothing more than a footnote in his story.
Andre Harrison (12-0) vs. Deivison Francisco Ribeiro (26-9) for the Featherweight Title
Harrison is one of the best prospects outside of the UFC right now and is close to celebrating his one-year anniversary as the Titan FC featherweight champion. A powerful wrestler with a penchant for going the distance, “The Bull” is an all-business, no BS (pardon the pun) grinder who puts opponents on their backs, breaks their wills and continues doing it round after round until they’ve just endured a miserable evening in the cage.
Ribeiro enters on a four-fight winning streak, but like Cavalcante in the main event, he’s been out of action since earning a technical knockout victory over UFC vet Waylon Lowe in September 2014. The 27-year-old has 15 stoppages in 26 career victories, with 11 of those finishes being knockouts, so he has shown the pop to put guys down, but he’ll need to stuff a couple dozen takedown attempts in order to have that opportunity.
Dhiego Lima (11-4) vs. David Michaud (9-2) for the Welterweight Title
The last Titan FC event ended with Belal Muhammad collecting a fourth-round stoppage victory over Steve Carl to claim the vacant welterweight strap. Less than 30 days later, the 9-0 Chicago-based upstart relinquished the title after inking a UFC deal, creating this opportunity for Lima and Michaud.
Lima was a finalist on Season 19 of The Ultimate Fighter, falling to Eddie “Truck” Gordon at middleweight before moving back to welterweight, his natural weight class. After picking up a win in his post-TUF debut, Lima was stopped in the first round of back-to-back outings, costing him his place on the roster. He’s since rebounded with a decision win under the Legacy Fighting Championship banner and now steps into his Titan FC debut against a fighter in a similar position.
While Michaud wasn’t on The Ultimate Fighter, he too was let go after a 1-2 stretch in the UFC, only to go out and have a tremendous showing in his first bout back on the regional circuit. The MMA Lab product picked up a first-round submission victory at RFA 37 to remain unbeaten beyond the Octagon.
Others to Watch
Sarah Alpar (6-3) has a chance to really establish herself as Titan FC debuts the women’s flyweight division when she takes on veteran Carina Damm. The 25-year-old Alpar is on a tidy two-fight winning streak, boasts a victory over current UFC fighter Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger and has fought solid competition throughout her career. If she can beat Damm, bigger matchups will be in her future.
Micah Miller (19-8) is the younger brother of UFC fixture Cole Miller and a seasoned vet at the age of 29. The lanky American Top Team featherweight is looking to break out of a rough patch that has seen him go 1-3 over his last four fights in a matchup with Kenny Gaudreau.
Alexis Vila (14-6) is a two-time World Champion and 1996 Olympic bronze medalist in freestyle wrestling who came to the fight game at an advanced age by starting out with a bang, rattling off 10 consecutive victories to begin his career. It’s been tough sledding since and now “The Exorcist” is aiming to start fresh after more than a year on the sidelines in a bout with unheralded 22-year-old Abdiel Velazquez.