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Five fights to watch in August

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

After a wild month of mixed martial arts action in July, things slow down some in August. And that leave plenty of room for that boxing match you might have heard about to fill the void. So yes, we’ll talk Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor, but also a slate of sneaky good fights.

Kevin Aguilar (12-1) vs. Justin Rader (6-2), LFA 18, Shawnee, Okla., Aug. 4, AXS-TV

LFA returns to action with a card headlined by a featherweight title fight. Aguilar, who was the final LFC 145-pound champ before the company’s merger with RFA, has won four consecutive fights, most recently a third-round TKO of Damon Jackson in the main event of LFA 4 in February. The Longview, Tex. native has 11 stoppage in his 12 wins. Oklahoma City’s Rader figures to have the crowd on his side. He’s nicely rebounded from a two-fight losing streak to win three straight bouts under the LFC/LFA banners and earn the title shot, most recently a decision win over Emmanuel Rivera just a month ago.

Sergio Pettis (15-2) vs. Brandon Moreno (14-3), UFC Fight Night 114, Mexico City, Aug. 5, FS1

Saturday night’s event at Arena Ciudad de Mexico isn’t the deepest card, but the main event should help make a legitimate contender to longtime flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. Pettis (15-2) has come a long way since joining the UFC at age 20, when he was best known former UFC and WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis’ little brother. He’s won five out of his past six fights and three in a row, with the most recent the biggest in his career, a unanimous decision over John Moraga at UFC Fight Night 103. Moreno, a Tijuana native, stunned the MMA world with his submission win over Louis Smolka as a short-notice replacement last October, then went on to prove it was no fluke in wins over Ryan Benoit and Dustin Ortiz.

Sergio Pettis (EL)
Sergio Pettis will main event a UFC card for first time in his career.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Brennan Ward (14-5) vs. Fernando Gonzalez (26-14), Bellator 182, Aug. 25, Verona, N.Y., Spike

Bellator 182’s co-feature welterweight bout is the evening’s most interesting matchup. For Ward, this meeting marks a career gut-check. The highly touted Connecticut native was on the wrong end of a Knockout of the Year contender at Bellator 170, when a wicked flying knee by Paul Daley put him out cold. That was his second loss in his past three fights. Gonzalez, meanwhile, is a longtime grinder who made his career debut at WEC 8 and is finally building the momentum he’s always sought. The Menifee, Calif. native has won six out of his past seven fights, most recently a decision over Brandon Girtz at Bellator 174.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. (49-0) vs. Conor McGregor (0-0), boxing, Las Vegas, Aug. 26, PPV

Is this a mixed martial arts fight? No. Is that going to stop us from listing a fight involving a UFC fighter on the biggest stage a mixed martial arts fighter has ever achieved here. Hell no? Not only will the world be watching, but we’re likely to talk about Mayweather vs. McGregor 40 years from now the way Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki is discussed today. Mayweather is coming out of a two-year retirement and will attempt to top Rocky Marciano’s legendary undefeated record. McGregor is the only simultaneous two-weight-class UFC champion in history and, well, has never had a professional boxing match. To say this is not likely to be a great fight is being kind, but it’s undoubtedly going to be a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle.

You’d be smiling too if you were about to get paid like Conor McGregor.
Esther Lin, Showtime Sports

Livia Renata Souza (10-1) vs. Jodie Esquibel (6-2), Invicta FC 25, Lemoore, Calif., Aug. 31, UFC Fight Pass

Invicta debuts at legendary California fight venue Tachi Palace, which hosted 22 of the first 24 WEC events, with a two-title fight card. With the main event of Yana Kunitskaya vs. Raquel Pa'aluhi for the bantamweight title is fine in its own right, we’re intrigued by the strawweight co-feature. Souza will look to regain the belt she lost via split decision to Angela Hill (who vacated it when she returned to the UFC) in May, 2016. The Brazilian rebounded from her only career loss with a TKO win over Ayaka Hamasaki at Invicta 22. Esquibel, meanwhile, is a JacksonWink competitor who has been competing in both boxing and MMA. She’s won three of her past four MMA bouts, including a split decision over DeAnna Bennett at Invicta 22 to earn her spot in the title fight.

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