MMA and Boxing fans, what a tremendous time it has been! PBC Boxing has been a rip-roaring success, many recent cards have been terrific,and Mayweather/Pacquiao is less than a month away, as is one of the most stacked MMA cards of all time!
On top of all that, this is yet another weekend which is loaded with action, from beginning to end. Just two weeks after Bellator and WSOF held their most recent events, both will be returning tonight, at 9/8c. The WSOF card may be riddled with injuries and odd exits, turning the once promising card into a mere shell of itself. However, the Bellator 136 card is looks like it will wind up being nothing short of spectacular.
Lightweight Champion “Ill” Will Brooks will look to defend his title against submission ace Dave “The Fugitive” Jansen (20-2), who has won all seven of his Bellator fights, and earned his title shot back in March of 2013, before besting Rick Hawn last year. Also on the card, electrifying Kickboxer Joe Schilling (2-3 MMA, 18-7 Kickboxing) will take on knockout artist Rafael Carvalho (10-1), while Lightweight submission specialists Marcin Held (20-3) and Alexander “Tiger” Sarnavskiy (30-2) will face off for a potential title shot. To kick off the main card, knockout artist Alexandr Volkov (24-4), who has vanquished 17 opponents in that manner, will partake in a Heavyweight battle against up and coming Tony Johnson (8-2).
Even the prelims for Bellator 136 are loaded, as UFC veteran Joey Beltran (15-11, 1NC) will take on longtime Bellator staple Brian Rodgers (11-7). Then, Saad Awad (17-6) will look to win his third straight bout when he takes on Ron Sinclair. Also, a pair of submission specialists will take the cage, as Judo black belt Fabricio Guerrero (20-3, 1NC) will take on John Teixeira (17-1-2) All of these prelim bouts will air on spike.com, as well as various MMA sites at 7:30/6:30c.
Later tonight, RFA 25 will take place with one of it’s better events to date, at least on paper. In the headlining bout, former UFC fighter and TUF 15 contestant Justin Lawrence (6-2) will look to defend his Featherweight title against undefeated Sam Toomer (9-0). Also on the card will be the Flyweight debut of longtime MMA journeyman Abel Cullum, and a matchup between prospect Gabriel Checco (8-1), who has never seen the third round, and Francisco France (11-3-1). The rest of the card is chock full of South Dakotan MMA prospects, making it quite a card for any of the people who will show up to the promotion’s second event in that state. The main card will air at 10/9c, on AXS TV.
Then, tomorrow morning, the UFC puts on its second straight early card. This one, however, will take place on UFC Fight Pass. There are very few well-known fighters on the card, which would be an abomination on any format, other than Fight Pass. For a foreign card on that platform, especially since it was riddled with injuries, however, it is passable, to a degree. There will be a lot of UFC newcomers on display (10, to be exact), and some of the fights look fairly promising.
The prelims, which will kick off at 11:45/10:45 a.m.Central, will showcase the likes of heel hook specialist Marcin Bandel, a pair of female Strawweight debutantes Alexandra Albu and Izabela Badurek, Heavyweight submission specialist Daniel Omielanczuk, as well as UFC mainstays Yaotzin Meza, Sergio Moraes and Seth Baczynski. These fighter may not scream “must watch” to many, but the prelim portion should yield at least some positive results.
In the main card, which will begin around 3/2c on Fight Pass, will begin with the return of Women’s Strawweight contender Joanne Calderwood, as she takes on the debuting Maryna Moroz. Then, Pawel Pawlak will return to the octagon nearly 11 months after losing his unbeaten status to Peter Sobotta last May, to take on TUF: Nations runner up Sheldon Westcott.
The co-main event of the card will feature the one bout that every UFC fan should consider viewing, as former KSW (the premier MMA promotion in Poland) Light Heavyweight Champion Jan Blachowicz will return to the octagon six months after vanquishing Ilir Latifi, to take on Jimi Manuwa. This fight could, and likely will result in fireworks.
In the main event, MMA and Kickboxing legend Mirko Cro Cop will return to the octagon, to take on the man whose high kick began the Croatian legend’s downward spiral nearly eight years ago. Prior to Gabriel Gonzaga’s kick, Cro Cop was viewed as one of the best fighters outside of the UFC, with fans clamoring about him getting to the UFC to take on the UFC Champion, whether it be Tim Sylvia, or Randy Couture. He won his UFC debut against Eddie Sanchez, before losing the title eliminator to Gonzaga at UFC 70’s main event. The bout garnered notoriety for its irony (Cro Cop, the head kick specialist, got knocked out in that manner) and shock value. The knockout caused many to wonder if Cro Cop was washed up, or if the fight should have ever taken place.
It began a stretch for Cro Cop that saw him follow that loss with a loss to Cheick Kongo. He then left the UFC, and went 3-0 with a no contest, before returning in mid 2009. He won three of his first four bouts after returning to the UFC, but lost three straight thereafter, resulting in a 14 month retirement. He has won three of four since returning to MMA, earning him a return to the octagon. It may not be the most graceful or flashy main event, but for fight pass, it’s at least better than Marquardt vs. te Huna.
For Boxing fans, there will be action worth checking out, as well. Tonight, ESPN2 will host yet another of its patented “Friday Night Fights”. But, top cap off the stellar while PBC Boxing will return tomorrow on NBC. Just a few weeks after the blockbuster return of boxing on NBC, 30 years after it had stopped, the network will air its second PBC broadcast. The first one, which showcased Adrian Broner in an easy win over the clearly overmatched John Molina Jr, before Keith Thurmond won a thriller against Robert Guerrero, garnered rave ratings.
Tomorrow night, Middleweight Champion Andy Lee (34-2, 24 knockouts) will take on the man who previously vacated that title, undefeated Peter Quillin (31-0, 22knockouts). It was supposed to be a title fight, but has now been overturned into a non-title bout.
In the main event Danny Garcia (29-0, 17 knockouts) will be taking on Lamont Peterson (33-2-1, 17 knockouts). Both men are titleholders, but no belt will be on the line. However, considering the level of fighting that will be on display for fans to view, the lack of belts on the line would likely be viewed as a small price to pay. The three champions keep their belts, and put their pride on the line instead, with fans coming out as the biggest winners. That in itself makes this a must watch card for all fans of the “sweet science”.
All in all, it is a loaded combat sports weekend. Hopefully, it lives up to expectations.