For the first time in 2024, the weekend schedule for MMA extends to a Sunday afternoon. This week, Texas-based Fury FC returns to live action for its opening show of the year, Fury FC 85. Houston’s Imagen Venues is the site of a packed 17-fight card.
Live coverage of Fury FC 85 kicks off Sunday at 2:30 pm ET/ 11:30 am PT on YouTube before shifting to UFC Fight Pass at 5:30 pm ET/ 2:30 pm PT with the main card. Any swing bouts held following the main event of the evening will also be streamed on YouTube.
Featherweights Clash in Fury FC 85 Main Event
At the top of the bill is a collision at 145 lbs. in the Fury FC 85 main event. Michael Aswell (7-1 MMA, 7-1 Fury) returns to the Fury FC cage for his ninth professional appearance when he faces Josh Altum (5-2 MMA, 2-1 Fury), a veteran of Cage Fury Fighting Championships, in an all-Texas showdown.
As is the case throughout most MMA promotions, this nontitle fight is an advertised maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round to headline the show.
— Fury FC (@FuryFightingTX) January 17, 2024
Fury FC 85 Main Event Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds
Heading into the Fury FC 85 main event this Sunday evening, Josh Altum stands as the taller man at 5-foot-9, compared to the 5-foot-8 frame of Michael Aswell. Aswell owns a 70-inch reach, with no such information accessible for Altum at press time.
As of Friday afternoon, the oddsmakers have Michael Aswell installed as a -350 betting favorite on the money line, while Josh Altum counters as a +240 underdog. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening this weekend, please wager responsibly.
Michael Aswell Took a Different Path to Combat Sports
Michael Aswell enters Sunday evening’s main event having gone 4-1 over his last five fights. Most recently, “The Texas Kid” saw a two-fight winning streak snapped thanks to Yadier DelValle (5-0 MMA, 3-0 Fury FC) by way of unanimous decision on June 25 during Fury FC 80 on UFC Fight Pass from Escapade 2001 in Houston.
A year ago, Aswell sat down to record an interview with Jason Flood of The MMA Report, where he discussed the road he traveled to get to the world of competitive violence.
“I played a lot of sports growing up,” Aswell said. “I was kind of an all-around athlete. I just loved competing, really. This one year, I didn’t play football, it was my eighth-grade year, and there [were] these cheerleaders that cheered for my little league football team that I played with, and they told me ‘Hey, we do jiu-jitsu at this place’, it was Metro Fight Club in Houston. They were like, ‘You should try it. You’re not playing this year. We think you’d be pretty good at it.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, sure, you know, stay in shape, keep me in shape for football going into high school.’”
Although Michael Aswell got submitted by a purple belt on his first day of instruction, he enjoyed the individual aspect of competition, eventually parlaying it into a career in MMA after a stint on his high school wrestling team. This is a man who jumped from an airplane on his 21st birthday.
Will he be able to take that next step toward the Fury FC Featherweight Championship? Watch on Sunday and find out.
Can Josh Altum Stay in the Win Column?
In the other corner, Josh Altum has posted a mark of 3-2 in his last five fights. Back on Sept. 1, he returned to victory lane with a split decision win over Gabriel Macario (8-8 MMA, 3-6 Fury FC) during Fury Challenger Series 6’s main event on the UFC Fight Pass Facebook and YouTube channels. This fight was a contracted catchweight at 150 lbs.
Josh Altum has had an up-and-down stretch of late inside the cage. To find his last sustained winning streak, you’d need to go back to the start of his professional career when he went 3-0 between Aug. 12, 2017 and Dec. 14, 2018.
During that stretch, he recorded two wins by submission. Sunday’s Fury FC 85 main event is his second straight headlining appearance under the Fury FC promotional banner. Another win here likely keeps him in the main event spotlight next time out.
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction
Expect a ground war in the Fury FC 85 main event on Sunday evening. Both of these men are known grapplers, with Josh Altum having submitted Melvin Guillard in a grappling tournament in 2021.
Look for Michael Aswell to Work Quickly Against Josh Altum in Fury FC 85 Main Event
Although Michael Aswell has a jiu-jitsu background and was a former high school wrestler, he’s got great striking ability and can earn his paycheck in a hurry. One need look no further than his undercard fight against Cristian Lopez in 2021.
During the first round of a scheduled three, Aswell absorbed a kick from Lopez before moving into throw a couple of feints. From there, Aswell and Lopez stalked each other as they waited to land the big shot.
Michael Aswell seized the momentum of the fight, landing punches to Lopez’s face, bloodying his nose in the process. Upon putting Lopez in the clinch, Aswell took him down and immediately capitalized with a barrage of ground and pound strikes. With Lopez unable to intelligently defend himself, the official wisely stepped in and put a stop to the bout in a minute and 37 seconds’ time.
If Michael Aswell can dump Josh Altum just once, he can take control of the fight and win it in the Fury FC 85 main event.
Josh Altum Can Work Quickly, Too
In the other corner, just as Michael Aswell can make short work of his opponent with punches, so can Josh Altum with submissions. A textbook example of this happened in his bout in August of 2017 versus Zikica Krsmanovic.
Right after the opening bell, Altum moved in on Krsmanovic with a knee strike, taking him down. It was all over but the shouting at that point.
Altum tried to lock up a guillotine choke before transitioning to an armbar, locking it up in only 37 seconds. If he’s able to knock Michael Aswell down in the early going, this fight is his.
With the Texans playing in Saturday’s AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Baltimore Ravens on the road, this is an exciting weekend for the Houston sports scene. Because the Fury FC 85 main event is the only game in town as far as MMA goes on Sunday, you might as well tune in.
Prediction: Michael Altum by First-Round TKO.