10 Non-UFC Fights to Watch in March

Riley Kontek@@BigRIlesMMAFeatured ColumnistFebruary 28, 2014

10 Non-UFC Fights to Watch in March

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    The UFC has a busy month in March. The world's leading MMA promotion hosts four shows from China, the U.K., Brazil and a pay-per-view in Dallas to decide the welterweight champion.

    However, the UFC will not be the only show in town this month. In fact, Bellator returns with its 10th season full of tournaments, Titan Fighting Championship rises from the ashes, RFA continues its string of awesome prospect shows and several other big promotions will put MMA on full display.

    There are so many great fights to watch this month, but here are 10 non-UFC bouts to keep your eye on in March.

Jorge Gurgel vs. Mike Ricci

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    Date: March 1

    Event: Titan Fighting Championship 27

    Where to Watch: CBS Sports

    Titan Fighting Championship has been resurrected with its new broadcasting partner CBS Sports, and it will feature a main event between UFC veterans Mike Ricci and Jorge Gurgel.

    While this is an interesting bout all-around due to Gurgel's tendency to brawl and Ricci's technical prowess on the feet, it may be more interesting to see the show's production value. With CBS producing and some decent talent on the card, expectations should be above par in terms of how the show is presented.

    Either way, the main event should be a fun one.

Maxim Grishin vs. Rodney Wallace

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    Date: March 1

    Event: NAAFS: Driven MMA 1

    Where to Watch: Go Fight Live (gfl.tv)

    There isn't exactly a huge line of light heavyweight prospects that are knocking on the UFC's door. That being said, Russian Maxim Grishin has to be a win or so away from getting the call to join the 205-pound ranks in the company.

    The 16-6 Russian is a straight finisher, putting away 13 of his foes by knockout or submission. He is also coming off the biggest win of his career against UFC veteran Mario Miranda in the Fight Nights promotion in Russia.

    He has another UFC veteran on his plate in the form of Rodney Wallace. He is a formidable opponent, so a win by Grishin could catch the attention of the UFC brass.

Peter Graham vs. Mighty Mo

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    Date: March 7

    Event: Bellator 111

    Where to Watch: Spike TV

    The Bellator heavyweight tournament has a couple of good fighters, but the opening round has an awesome fight in the form of Mighty Mo vs. Peter Graham.

    Both pro kickboxing veterans, these hard-hitting heavyweights are sure to put on a show. Both are incredibly powerful, have concrete chins and will ensure that this fight becomes an exciting striking war.

    Whoever wins has a puncher's chance to win the whole tournament. However, he will have the glory of knowing he won a true battle.

Efrain Escudero vs. Dakota Cochrane

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    Date: March 7

    Event: RFA 13

    Where to Watch: AXS TV

    RFA has carved itself a nice niche as an unofficial feeder to the UFC. It has also put on some great fights with great fighters.

    The main event at RFA 13 pits together The Ultimate Fighter 8 winner Efrain Escudero and TUF 15 vet Dakota Cochrane. Both men are high-level athletes who should put on a technical chess match.

    They would love a call back to the UFC, and it all starts with wins over a big name. That's what they find in each other here.

Pat Curran vs. Daniel Straus

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    Date: March 14

    Event: Bellator 112

    Where to Watch: Spike TV

    A rubber match for the Bellator title is afoot, as former champion Pat Curran looks to take back his gold from Daniel Straus. It is a pivotal matchup, as the loser may stay away from the title picture for a while.

    There is a logjam of contenders at 145 pounds for Bellator right now, so all eyes are on Curran and Straus. Curran took the first encounter in the XFO organization, Straus took the follow-up bout in Bellator, and now we must find out who is the better man of the two.

    The winner has guys like Patricio Freire waiting for him. It's a murderers' row of contenders as of right now.

Damian Grabowski vs. Marcin Tybura

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    Date: March 14

    Event: M-1 Challenge 46

    Where to Watch: Unknown

    The UFC needs some heavyweight depth, so eyes should be turned to Russia very soon. That is because top Polish heavyweight Marcin Tybura is set to meet fellow top Pole Damian Grabowski in the battle of top Polish MMA heavyweights.

    Tybura is undefeated at 9-0, but Grabowski is an impressive 19-1. Both men are well-rounded and could fit in the ranks of the UFC.

    I would be shocked if the winner of this fight did not join the world's largest MMA promotion. In fact, it would be a shame if he didn't.

Emanuel Newton vs. Attila Vegh

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    Date: March 21

    Event: Bellator 113

    Where to Watch: Spike TV

    The light heavyweight title is set to be unified in Bellator, as champ Attila Vegh takes on interim king Emanuel Newton. It's a rematch from a fight last year, which Vegh won via a questionable decision.

    It's been a hellish road for Newton, who should have had a fair crack at Vegh without competing for an interim belt. He had to beat Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal in a tournament en route to a tourney crown and then had to fight him again on the failed attempt at a pay-per-view for the interim belt.

    As for Vegh, he has been unfairly kept on the bench until this bout. We will see if he possesses ring rust, or if he can give Newton a competitive fight.

Michal Materla vs. Jay Silva

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    Date: March 22

    Event: KSW 26

    Where to Watch: Unknown

    KSW in Poland has become a promotion to watch in MMA. It is full of great fights and awesome fighters and has a great production value.

    In March, it puts on a middleweight title bout between promotional star Michal Materla and Brazilian journeyman Jay Silva. The men have split encounters in the past, with Silva taking the most recent fight.

    Materla has all the qualities of a UFC fighter; he just needs to win this rubber match against Silva. His marketability in Poland, as well as his skill, makes him a guy to keep on the UFC's radar.

Kazuhiro Nakamura vs. Ken Hasegawa

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    Date: March 22

    Event: Deep 65 Impact

    Where to Watch: Unknown

    If you ask most hardcore MMA fans which promotion to watch in Japan, many will tell you Deep. It is a good promotion with some good fighters and prospects to watch.

    This month, it hosts an interesting light heavyweight bout between UFC veteran Kazuhiro Nakamura and undefeated Ken Hasegawa. Both men are extremely skilled, although Hasegawa is looking to make a name for himself off Nakamura.

    This could be a fight to keep your eye on. With the UFC expanding into Asia, this bout could decide if one of these men deserves a call for a local UFC show in the area.

Steve Carl vs. Rousimar Palhares

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    Date: March 29

    Event: WSOF 9

    Where to Watch: NBC Sports

    Rousimar Palhares has resurfaced in WSOF. His prize for his ejection from the UFC? A title shot at welterweight champ Steve Carl.

    Carl has beaten some stiff competition en route to his title belt. His upset of Josh Burkman cemented him as a fighter who is worth watching at 170 pounds.

    However, he has a tough opponent in Palhares, who takes home legs with him fight after fight (almost literally). A win for Carl would continue to legitimize him as a top fighter, while a win for Palhares would reverse a tough few months since his expulsion from the UFC.