ARES FC 9 Preview; Lapilus vs Ayoub

France’s leading MMA promotion returns on Thursday, November 3rd. The action will go down in front of a packed crowd at the Dôme de Paris on the banks of the River Seine, an arena they’ve made their home since coming back from the pandemic. They’re offering up a mouth watering twelve fight card, including one for an ARES championship.

The vacant ARES Lightweight Championship is on the line in the main event of the evening. French stallworth Damien Lapilus (20-14-2) and Amin Ayoub (16-6) will rematch after a doctor stoppage ended their first encounter back in June, with Lapilus coming out on top. The MMA Factory man has an extensive history at the top of the European scene, fighting for the likes of Cage Warriors, BAMMA, ACB and Oktagon. He was one of the most memorable fighters on the inaugural ARES card in Senegal, beating Łukasz Sajewski by TKO. Boxing is his strength and he uses his footwork well to press the action forward. It’s been a while since he’s submitted someone, however he does have it in his locker, most memorably snatching a rear naked choke on Jack McGann at BAMMA 23. Ayoub is another man with top European experience in his pocket. The Frenchman has won titles for Brave CF and UAE Warriors. From a skill perspective, he’s got a lovely guillotine and armbar in his arsenal, along with heavy hands that have ended nights early in the past. It’s Paris vs Nantes in this French derby and both men are the type to put on a show.

Italian MMA has hit a purple patch of late, and Pietro Penini (10-3-1) has been one of their most promising talents. The Verona man had a notable decision victory over Charlie Ward at a Bellator London event. The 33 year old has struggled to string a run together, averaging only a fight a year since 2018. He carries knockout power on the feet and is very good at taking arms home with him in the submission game. Robert Valentin (7-3) returns to the ARES cage looking for his first promotional win. The Swiss is stronger in the grappling arena, with a good guillotine and adept back takes. “Robzilla” has shown improvements on the feet as of late with a pair of TKO wins. This should be a competitive scrap wherever the fight takes us.

Jacky Jeanne (2-0) is a promising up and comer. The Frenchman has won both his pro bouts to date. The light heavyweight is looking to cap off a perfect 2022 with a third win. He looked good against Hugo Guillon last time with a first round ground and pound win. Virgil Augen (2-0) is a late stand-in for this fight after the original opponent fell out due to injury. The Frenchman is an IMMAF veteran and predominantly uses boxing in his fights, but can wrestle as well. Somebody’s 0 has got to go.

Laureano Staropoli (10-5) makes his sophomore appearance in the ARES gloves. The Argentinian went 2-4 in his UFC spell. The 29 year old has most success on the feet, earning a reputation for early knockouts. The Buenos Aires man can also hang for fifteen minutes so no need to panic if he doesn’t win quickly. Leonardo Damiani (11-4-1) is another lad that has been flying Italy’s il Tricolore proudly at Europe’s top table. The Aurora MMA man is a good wrestler with a great back take and rear naked choke. He’s coming in hot off a good debut decision win against Muslim Tulshaev. Two of Europe’s welterweights lock horns.

Darya Zheleznyakova (7-0) made a statement in her ARES debut, beating ex-UFC Liana Jojua by decision. The St. Petersburg native is a hard hitting striker with four finishes on her resume. Melissa Dixon (4-0) is a former IMMAF silver medalist and is cut from a similar cloth. The Englishwoman notched a big win against Rizlen Zouak last time out. She is also a heavy punching gladiator so we should see some sparks fly here.

Ibrahim Mané (10-4) is back for his second ARES fight after beating Magomed Ayskhanov in June. The Gambian has fought for Brave CF and EFC in the past. The 33 year old has a nicely balanced game with good submissions and one shot stopping power. Yassin Najid (9-3) is coming in from UAE Warriors. The Moroccan has a very good guillotine to watch out for. The 37 year old is no easy man to beat and we can expect a gnarly battle in this one.

Iony Razafiarison (7-3) will kick off the main card. The Frenchwoman holds a win over Sinead Kavanagh at an early Bellator Dublin and has also fought for UAE Warriors and Superior Challenge. The 37 year old is a grappler who likes to grind out the decisions. Rizlen Zouak (6-5) holds a victory over Leah McCourt at Cage Warriors 85. The Moroccan was an Olympian judoka at the 2012 London Games. The 36 year old uses those skills to wear down opponents and tries to kill them off with strikes. Two veterans go into battle.

Turpal Younousov (2-0) headlines the prelim section of the card. The Frenchman had a spectacular debut at ARES 6 in May, beating Kenzi Khouadra within a minute with a head and arm choke. That came hot on the heels of a first round knockout win on his pro debut in January. Jakub Kaczmarski (debut) makes the switch to pro after an extensive amateur career. The Pole is mainly known for his submissions, particularly his armbar.

Leopold Goi (5-1) is looking to bounce back from his first career defeat last time out. The Frenchman is a submission specialist with a big box of tricks. He’s a quick starter, with four of his five wins coming in the first round. Mehdi Saadi (4-1) might be familiar to Irish viewers after his win against Eric Nolan at CW86. He is also a quick starter with his main weapon being an armbar. The Frenchman has one knockout victory on his record. We might get some fun scrambles in this one if Saadi is brave enough.

Youssouf Binate (debut) is a French Muay Thai fighter making the switch to MMA. He’ll face Israeli kickboxer Michael Peynaud (debut). This should be a striking battle between two debutants.

Soslan Gagloev (1-0) got off to a good start as a pro with a ground and pound win in October 2021, as did his opponent Pavlos Ntatidis (1-0), who won via knockout in July 2021. Some fresh blood added to the ARES roster.

Temerlan Azizov (2-0) will open the card and is another MMA Factory prospect. The Frenchman is more comfortable in the kickboxing exchanges, however has a submission win on his record. Jawany Scott (1-0) is a GB Top Team guy. The Englishman has a very impressive record on the Cage Warriors amateur scene and has shown some good well rounded displays to date. He’ll be comfortable wherever the fight goes.

ARES FC 9 is live and exclusive on UFC Fight Pass on Thursday, November 3rd. The action will kick off at 19:00.

Seán Denny is a Dublin man who writes mostly on the European scene, with a keen interest in the Irish, UK and Polish scenes in particular. Follow me on Twitter at @DennyRants.