AFL 19: Night of Champions goes down tomorrow from Gran Canaria, Spain and the promotion have put together a card full of veterans, prospects, established pros and a main card made up of no less than five title fights!
I recently previewed the card but here I will highlight a number of fighters you should keep an eye on this weekend at AFL 19 live on FITE.tv.
1. Darwin Rodriguez (7-4)
Light heavyweight is a thin division across the board and prospects are few and far between. However, in Spain I think we have found one of the best prospects at 205 in Europe. Darwin Rodriguez is just 26-years-old and is heading into AFL 19 as the defending champion and on a four-fight-win-streak.
His first outings as a pro were rocky, going 3-4 and struggling to find consistency. However, that all changed last year and Rodriguez won three straight throughout 2018 and then he started 2019 off with another win, coming via TKO. At AFL 19 he will get what every prospect in his position craves – a shot at a UFC veteran and a chance to prove himself against someone who has been there and ‘done it’. On Saturday night he faces Amilcar Alves in the co-main. The Brazilian has competed all over the world from the UFC to M-1 to Road FC and is the last man to beat KSW 47 star Aleksandar Ilic.
2. Raymison Bruno (11-1)/Kevin Cordero (7-2)
At AFL 19 Raymison Bruno will defend his flyweight title against Kevin Cordero in an extremely high level match-up and the winner in this fight could immediately move onto big things, which is why I’ve selected both men for you to keep an eye on.
Bruno came into the spotlight last year with a high profile win over Pietro Menga, who had just been released from the UFC. The 27-year-old has caught the eye of many promotions around Europe and the world but on Saturday he must first beat a young Kevin Cordero who is looking to make a name for himself in this fight.
Cordero is just 19-years-old and already has experience in Cage Warriors and owns a series of submission wins. This will be his 10th professional MMA fight and easily the biggest. Either way, win or lose, the future is bright for this young star.
3. Lionel Padilla (5-1)
A star was born at AFL 14 when Lionel Padilla dominated former UFC fighter Hermes Franca. His popularity in Spain soared and it was easily one of the most talked about fights in the country last year. However, he hasn’t competed since then and now the 33-year-old returns at AFL 19 and will compete for the vacant and newly formed super lightweight title against Serbian veteran Dragan Pesic.
Padilla is featured heavily in the AFL 19 promo (he is the mean looking guy with the dogs) and is a native of Las Palmas, Gran Canaria – the host city of AFL 19 – so he will likely get one of the loudest crowd reactions on the night. His fighting style is also tailored to excite and will surely be in ‘come forward mode’ in order to finish Pesic and lift a shiny new belt.
4. Jose Sanchez (6-0)
When any fighter nears double digits unbeaten then his profile starts to build. Jose Sanchez has a chance to move to 7-0 at AFL 19 when he faces another budding star in Albert Dias.
Sanchez, who just turned 29, made his professional debut just two years ago and has become one of the brightest prospects in the region. So far he has registered four stoppage victories and a win over Spanish veteran Israel Borrego. A victory this weekend and a couple more wins this year could lead to big things for Sanchez.
5. Konrad Iwanowski (7-3)
KSW, Cage Warriors, and Brave are just some of the promotions Irish based Polish fighter Konrad Iwanowski has fought for. The current Clan Wars and MTK Global champion is coming off the biggest and most impressive win of his career – a decision win against Tommy Quinn.
Now training under the guidance of Chris Fields, who is emerging as one of the top coaches in Europe, and training regularly with an insanely strong group of fighters which include Philip Mulpeter, James Webb, and Cathal Pendred, this could be the year for Iwanowski. However, he faces a tough test coming all the way to Gran Canaria to take on Acoidan Duque (10-2) in his own back yard.
A win here would mean a lot for Iwanowski and give him a big push back towards the likes of KSW, Cage Warriors, or even Bellator.
Vacant Featherweight Title
Nicolas Joannes (17-14) vs. Daniel Requeijo (14-7)
Light Heavyweight Title
Champion Darwin Rodriguez (7-4) vs. Amilcar Alves (18-16)
Vacant Bantamweight Title
Thiago Martins (18-10) vs. Zebenzui Ruiz (7-3)
Champion Raymison Bruno (11-1) vs. Kevin Cordero (7-2)
Vacant Super Lightweight Title
Dragan Pesic (17-16) vs. Lionel Padilla (5-1)
Welterweight: Konrad Iwanowski (7-3) vs. Acoidan Duque (10-2)
Featherweight: Alberth Dias (4-1) vs. Jose Sanchez (6-0)
Lightweight: Sebas Santana (5-1) vs. Eris Dano (3-0)
Super Lightweight: Jamie Lester (3-0-1) vs. Tanausu Ruiz (3-2)
Women’s 50kg: Rita Marrero (1-1-2) vs. Elizabeth Rodrigues (2-2)
Lightweight: Simone Bartoli (1-5) vs. Iban Hernandez (3-4)
Bantamweight: Antonio Delgado (2-3) vs. Borja Gonzalez (0-1)
Bantamweight: Jose Rivero (1-0) vs. Jose Carlos Santana (0-1)
AFL 19: Night of Champions will be available to watch around the world on FITE.tv.