On Friday, fans will gather at Edmonton’s River Cree Casino for a host of exciting match-ups, courtesy of Unified MMA 41. The event will also be hosted live on UFC Fight Pass at 10:00 P.M. ET / 7:00 P.M. PT.
Here are some of this author’s thoughts on five of the most important matchups that will feature on the main card.
Shane Campbell (19-8) vs Mike Hill (11-6-1)
Super-Lightweight Title Bout
Having won his first nine fights in the Unified cage, Shane “Shaolin” Campbell is taking on Mike “The Mercenary” Hill for the vacant Unified MMA Super-Lightweight Championship.
Campbell went 1-5 in the UFC before returning to the Canadian national scene, where he began winning with more consistency. In the four years following his exit from the UFC, he has won 5 of his 9 fights by TKO or submission.
His opponent also has experience on the global stage, having made it to the third round of The Ultimate Fighter’s 16th season. He is competing against Campbell after two consecutive losses.
Christian Larsen (5-2) vs Grayson Wells (5-2)
Heavyweight Title Bout
In the Co-Main Event, Christian Larsen will defend his Unified MMA Heavyweight belt for the first time. After his recent first round knockout loss at BFL 67, he will look for a return to form against top contender Grayson Wells.
All of Larsen and Wells’ wins in the Unified cage have come by way of stoppage, and neither of them have ever gone to a judge’s decision in their combined 15 fights.
This will undoubtedly make for an explosive matchup that is likely to be decided on the feet.
Tim Smith (14-11) vs Behrang Yousefi (8-7)
Former Unified MMA champ Tim “Shady” Smith has lost his last three fights in the very first round, but on Friday he will attempt to change his luck against the long-time super-lightweight contender Behrang “B-Tang” Yousefi.
Both of these fighters have had long and tumultuous careers inside the cage, and both are looking for an emphatic return to the win-column. Yousefi’s last fight was in 2018, when he submitted to Neal Anderson via Guillotine.
How will the 34 year old fighter have developed his game over the last 3 years?
Ali Charkie (1-0) vs Chris Chapman (3-2)
Just one month ago, Charkie won his pro debut inside the Unified Cage. He is now returning to face a more experienced opponent in Chris Chapman, attempting to cement his status as a high-level contender. Chapman has never fought for Unified MMA before, but he has racked up some big wins in both Havoc and Triumph FC. Keen to finish his fights early, Chapman has earned three quick stoppages in his career so far, ending bouts on the ground and standing up.
In contrast, Charkie utilised his wrestling in a dominant fashion during his debut, and grasped a decision win. The result of this fight will likely depend on who is able to control the other on the ground.
Phil Engeroff (1-0) vs Dylan Schellenberg (0-1)
Kickboxer Phil Engeroff is returning to MMA after a 6 year hiatus, having won his last bout via triangle choke at Unified MMA 29. On Friday, he will face Schellenberg- a fighter who has endured mixed results throughout an extensive amateur career.
This is a classic example of experience and tenacity versus dynamism and skill. It will be interesting to see what changes Engeroff has made to his game after more than half a decade away from the sport.