After announcing it will join the ever-growing stable of regional promotions broadcasting events on UFC FIGHT PASS last November, Victory Fighting Championship makes its debut on the platform this Friday with an eight-fight card from the Baxter Arena in Omaha, Nebraska, headlined by a pair of fighters with very different levels of Octagon experience.
There are plenty of compelling angles to follow as hometown favorite Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (23-11) steps into the VFC cage this weekend.
The 27-year-old, who dropped his lone UFC appearance to Antonio Braga Neto in June of 2013, enters on a six-fight winning streak that includes a pair of victories over two-time Ultimate Fighter hopeful Tim Williams and a first-round knockout win over Brock Jardine. In addition to trying to extend his winning streak, Smith will also be looking to avenge the last loss of his career as he steps in with grizzled veteran Josh Neer (36-15-1).
“The Dentist” got the better of Smith in their first encounter under the Victory Fighting Championship banner in December 2013, earning a third-round finish by rear-naked choke. A veteran of 15 UFC appearances and more than 50 professional fights, Neer replaces Elvis Mutapcic in the main event after “The King” was called up to compete in the Octagon earlier this month.
Neer has dropped back-to-back contests after starting his most recent post-UFC run with three consecutive wins, the first of which was his victory over Smith. While he’s looking to get back into the win column and start another run of success, his opponent is hoping to push his winning streak to seven and potentially earn another opportunity to compete on the biggest stage in the sport in this five-round battle for the VFC middleweight belt.
Both men are finishers – they have five decision wins from 59 combined victories – with no discernible preference between ending the fight with strikes or a submission. It should be an action-packed contest from the outset and an electric way to end the night in Omaha.
Alonzo Martinez (39-18-1) vs. Jarred Mercado (12-3)
Looking to halt a two-fight losing streak, Jarred “Shutout” Mercado returns to action against regional circuit staple Alonzo “Zo Diddy” Martinez in the co-main event of the evening for the promotion’s bantamweight title.
Mercado, who trains at the MusclePharm facility as part of the Elevation Fight Team, was a bantamweight on the rise prior to his recent struggles, having won 12 of his first 13 appearances after going 2-0 in the amateur ranks.
Two fights back, Mercado squared off with Luke Sanders for the RFA bantamweight title, coming out on the wrong side of a first-round stoppage against the impressive MMA Lab product who knocked out Maximo Blanco in his UFC debut two weeks ago. On the first losing streak of his career, the Denver, Colorado resident looks to right the ship against Martinez in this one.
Scrolling through Martinez’s resume reveals a host of familiar names, including victories over UFC vets Abel Trujillo and Waylon Lowe and setbacks against veterans Yves Edwards and Clay Guida. The 31-year-old has been a staple of the Midwest regional fight scene for more than a decade and has put together an impressive 12-2 mark in the Victory Fighting Championship cage over his career.
Coming off a first-round knockout loss in Grozny, Chechnya in October, Martinez looks to extend his VFC winning streak to eight while picking up the 40th win of his career against Mercado.
Dakota Cochrane (22-9) vs. Jake Lindsey (10-3)
A former Ultimate Fighter hopeful who garnered a ton of buzz with his September 2011 decision win over former WEC champion Jamie Varner, Cochrane has settled in as a perennially tough out on the regional circuit and spent the last five years battling tough competition every time out.
After getting the call to the Octagon with a perfect 9-0 mark, Lindsey returned to the VFC cage last October following three consecutive losses in the UFC, getting back to his winning ways with a second-round submission win over Ian Stonehouse.
Cochrane has won four straight and with Lindsey just recently being let go by the UFC, this is one of those fights that carries “potential call-up” implications, so you can be sure both of these lightweights will leave it all in the cage on Friday night.
Sean Wilson (35-27) vs. Cody Carrillo (10-12)
This is a battle of VFC regulars that fans can count on for excitement, as lightweights Wilson and Carrillo square off in a battle of veterans with a combined 84 fights on their resumes.
Carrillo alternated wins and losses in 2015, ending the year with a first-round knockout win in September, while Wilson began last year with a pair of victories before dropping two straight. They’ve only been to the cards five times combined – Wilson has never gone the distance – so the chances of this one ending before the final horn are extremely high.
Yuri Villefort (7-5) vs. Kenneth Glenn (6-2)
Once considered one of the top young prospects in the sport, Villefort hasn’t lived up to his potential yet, and he now finds himself looking to start over and build some momentum at age 24. Tough as nails, the younger member of the Fighting Villefort Brothers is entertaining, win or lose, and that should be no different here.
After a two-year break that came following back-to-back losses, Glenn has picked up consecutive victories to push his record to 6-2. While he’s been out of action since last February, a victory over a known commodity like Villefort could jumpstart his career.
Grant Dawson (7-0) vs. Bryce Logan (3-1)
An undefeated prospect with seven straight submission wins, this is a showcase opportunity for Dawson. He was supposed to face fellow unbeaten up-and-comer Clay Wimer last fall under the RFA banner, but a pre-fight weigh-cutting incident sent him to the hospital and forced him out of the fight.
Logan has picked up back-to-back wins after suffering the first loss of his career, but with a seven-fight winning streak and six straight first-round submissions, this is a chance for Dawson to show out on a slightly larger stage.
Victory Fighting Championship 47 kicks off with a pair of bouts featuring relative newcomers as bantamweights Demetrius Wilson (1-0) and Ruafeon Stots (3-0) square off in a battle of unbeatens, while Seth Bass (1-0) takes on Nate Flanders (0-1) in a middleweight contest to start the night.
VFC 47: Smith vs. Neer airs live, exclusively on UFC Fight Pass on Friday, January 29 starting at 10pm ET / 7pm PT.