10 Fights to Watch in March

By: Keith Shillan
Mar 5, 2020

The ordering process for Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-views has changed: UFC 248 is only available on ESPN+ in the U.S.

Compelling fight cards permeate the month of March. The Ultimate Fighting Championship has put together a four-pack of events, while Bellator MMA features a featherweight grand prix quarterfinals doubleheader in its only offering. Other promotions like Invicta Fighting Championships, Legacy Fighting Alliance and Cage Fury Fighting Championships only add to the intrigue.

Here are 10 fights flying under the radar that are more monitoring:

Julija Stoliarenko vs. Lisa Verzosa
Invicta Phoenix Series 3
March 6 | Kansas City, Kansas

A graduate of Season 28 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Stoliarenko returns to the cage on the heels of four straight first-round armbar submission victories. The Lithuanian will make her Invicta Fighting Championships debut in the Phoenix Series 3 main event, where she will vie for the vacant bantamweight title. At just 26 years of age, the Fighter House export has entered her prime. Verzosa also carries the highly regarded prospect label and flaunts a perfect 5-0 record. The Washington native owns notable wins over Shanna Young, Katharine Lehner and Kerri Kenneson. The UFC has a history of bringing Invicta champions to the promotion, so the Stoliarekno-Verzosa winner could find herself inside the Octagon in the not-too-distant future.

Victor Altamirano vs. Chris Ocon
Legacy Fighting Alliance 83
March 6 | Dallas

Two once-beaten prospects on the rebound will attempt to right their respective ships under the Legacy Fighting Alliance banner. Altamirano, who sports a 6-1 record, suffered his only professional defeat at the hands of UFC veteran Jarred Brooks. Ocon, now 4-1, endured his lone setback on Dana White’s Contender Series, where he fell to Hunter Azure. Both men have shown well-rounded skills and even some flashes of greatness. With the UFC needing to replenish its flyweight roster, the Altamirano-Ocon winner might be on the receiving end of a life-changing phone call.

Deron Winn vs. Gerald Meerschaert
UFC 248
March 7 | Las Vegas

Winn will try to bounce back from his first career loss when the Daniel Cormier steps inside the Octagon with Meerschaert, a crafty veteran who operates out of the Roufusport camp in Milwaukee. Winn’s last appearance was nothing short of an epic failure. The decorated wrestler not only lost to Darren Stewart at UFC on ESPN 6 but also missed weight for the fight. Getting back on the winning track will not come easy against Meerschaert. A quick glance at the “GM3” resume might lead one to see this as a showcase opportunity for Winn, as Meerschaert has lost three of his last four fights. However, many observers believe he deserved to have his hand raised in losses to Kevin Holland and Eryk Anders, meaning he would have won five of his past six bouts had the judging broken his way. Regardless, Meerschaert has shown enough grit and moxie throughout his career to view him as a true test for Winn.

Sean O'Malley vs. Jose Quinones
UFC 248
March 7 | Las Vegas

It has been over two years since O’Malley last graced us with his presence, as the undefeated bantamweight has been sidelined due to injuries and suspensions. “Sugar Sean” is only 25—an age at which fighters are known to make significant improvements from fight to fight. The blue-chip prospect returns to face perhaps the stiffest challenge of his budding career. The Mexican-born Quinones has handled his business in five out of his last six appearances. A well-rounded Alliance MMA product, Quinones will likely exchange with his counterpart on the feet before testing O’Malley’s grappling skills. If the MMA Lab standout can get past Quinones, he could be looking at a Top 15 opponent in his next assignment.

Killys Mota vs. Nate Andrews
Bellator 241
March 13 | Uncasville, Connecticut

Bellator returns to the familiar haunts of the Mohegan Sun Arena with a compelling preliminary encounter between two fighters who call the Northeast home. Mota, who was born in Brazil but trains under Glover Teixeira in Connecticut, has emerged as an intriguing prospect. The 29-year-old suffered his only defeat to current UFC lightweight Austin Hubbard but managed to recover with a technical knockout of Mandel Nallo at Bellator 231. Andrews, a former CES MMA champion, competed in the Professional Fighters League during its 2019 season. He had mixed results with the organization, as he defeated Rashid Magomedov before falling to Chris Wade on two separate occasions. The man who exits this clash with his hand raised figures to be in line for a push from Bellator.

Jussier Formiga vs. Brandon Moreno
UFC Fight Night 170
March 14 | Brasilia, Brazil

The UFC flyweight division appears to be in shambles. After former champion Henry Cejudo vacated the championship, Deiveson Figueiredo missed weight for his title fight with Joseph Benavidez at UFC Fight Night 169. Ineligible to win the belt, the Brazilian then knocked out Benavidez—a result that left the 125-pound weight class without a champion and without a clear path forward. As such, the battle between Formiga and Moreno takes on added importance. Formiga entered the UFC primarily as a grappler but has since developed into an adequate striker. The 34-year-old has rattled off four wins in five outings and holds a key victory over the aforementioned Figueiredo. Like Formiga, Moreno wields well-rounded skills, and at 26 years of age, some view him as a champion in waiting. He has pieced together a 2-0-1 record across his past three appearances, with wins over Kai Kara-France and Maikel Perez offset by a draw with Askar Askarov.

Connor Dixon vs. Yohan Lainesse
Cage Fury Fighting Championships 82
March 21 | Atlantic City, New Jersey

The Renzo Gracie affiliate in Philadelphia will aim to keep its momentum going after a breakout year in 2019. Competitors like Paul Felder, Sean Brady and Jeremiah Wells blossomed with the gym’s backing, and Dixon appears to be next in line. He has not yet tasted defeat, and in his first two pro bouts under the Bellator flag, he managed to submit both of his opponents. “The Caveman” heads back into the cage against a fellow undefeated prospect in Lainesse. The Canadian owns a 3-0 record, with two of his wins having come by knockout. Lainesse leans heavily on his boxing, which should make for an interesting confrontation with the submission-minded Dixon.

Marc Diakiese vs. Jai Herbert
UFC Fight Night 171
March 21 | London

Diakiese arrived in the UFC with plenty of hype surrounding him, armed with a perfect 8-0 record as the former British Association of Mixed Martial Arts lightweight champion. He lived up to expectations by winning his first three fights in the UFC, but the “Bonecrusher” struck a bit of a rough patch, lost his next three bouts and began to look like a bust. Diakiese reminded everyone of his potential in his two most recent appearances, as he scored back-to-back victories over Joseph Duffy and Lando Vannata. Herbert path to the UFC almost mirrors that of Diakiese. The 31-year-old compiled a 10-1 mark during his rise through the regional ranks and currently rides a six-fight winning streak. Herbert’s striking skills have drawn the most attention and helped bring him the Cage Warriors Fighting Championship lightweight crown.

Jose Torres vs. Matheus Nicolau Pereira
Brave Combat Federation 35
March 28 | Santa Catarina, Brazil

When the UFC flirted with the idea—it later reversed course—of dissolving its flyweight division, Torres and Pereira were two of the casualties despite being highly regarded and accomplished talents. Prior to joining the UFC, Torres amassed a perfect amateur record, went 8-0 as a professional and captured Titan Fighting Championship titles in the flyweight and bantamweight divisions. He went 1-1 inside the Octagon, pairing a win over Jarred Brooks with a defeat to Alex Perez. Pereira won two of his three fights in the UFC, his victories over John Moraga and Louis Smolka counterbalanced by his setback against Dustin Ortiz. Neither Torres nor Pereira has tasted defeat since being cut by the UFC.

Aspen Ladd vs. Julianna Pena
March 28 | Columbus, Ohio

The UFC women’s bantamweight division has been hollowed out by Amanda Nunes and finds itself in desperate need of quality challengers for the Brazilian “Lioness.” The battle between Ladd and Pena could provide one. Ladd has been viewed as a rising star since she joined the UFC, as the 25-year-old has put together a 9-1 record as a pro that includes four wins in five outings in the UFC. Victories over Tonya Evinger, Sijara Eubanks and Yana Kunitskaya bolster her resume. Ladd suffered her lone defeat to former UFC featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie. Pena has fought at a high level since she won Season 18 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series. “The Venezuelan Vixen” boasts a 5-1 UFC record, a submission loss to current women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko her only blemish. Pena has already beaten Jessica Eye, Cat Zingano and Nicco Montano, and a victory over Ladd would certainly strengthen her claim as a possible No. 1 contender for Nunes’ throne. Advertisement

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