If you aren’t spending your weekend at the largest agricultural fair in Connecticut, then kick back the Laz-Z-Boy and grab yourself some pork rinds because there is a whole heck of a lot of great MMA to watch this weekend. Fans were almost treated to three great cards, but Saturday’s Strikeforce card, featuring a Lightweight title bout between Gilbert Melendez and Pat Healy was scrapped when it was revealed Melendez had to pull out due to a sparring injury. Once learning of Gilbert’s inability to compete on the card, Showtime decided against putting on the event without Melendez’s drawing ability. Many fans are now speculating about the future of Zuffa’s pet promotion.
Friday Night: Bellator 74
Broadcast on MTV2 and Spike.com
Friday night’s Bellator card will feature the opening round of the Season 7 Welterweight Tournament. The Quarter Finals feature eight fighters looking for a shot at Ben “Nyquil” Askren’s title. The Bellator Welterweight division may not have many household names throughout its ranks, but a few of the guys fighting on Saturday have rock solid resumes. After winning his trilogy bout with Waachiim Spiritwolf, the always exciting Marius Zaromskis will be taking on Tristar gym product Nordine Taleb. A guy from Tristar taking on a guy who has been in the ring with Sakuraba and Nick Diaz? Sign me up! Also, look out for undefeated Russian prospect Andrey Koreshkov taking on Jordan Smith. Koreshkov has not lost in 10 professional fights and has finished every opponent foolish enough to step in front of him. Jim Wallhead will be taking on the inaugeral Bellator Welterweight Champ Lyman Good in the final fight of the night. Wallhead holds noteworthy wins over Che Mills, Frank Trigg, and Joey Villasenor.
Saturday Night: UFC on Fuel TV: Struve v. Miocic
Live from Nottingham, England
We all know that with the recent rash of injuries in the sport, you can’t plan on seeing a fight as scheduled until the fighters actually touch gloves and a middle aged man screams some variation of ‘Let’s get it on!”. Luckily, Saturday night’s card has remained relatively untouched by the injury bug and is chock full of solid matchups. The undercard is loaded with English fighters to appeal to the local market, while the Main Event of the night features two Heavyweights with other notable European connections.
The aforementioned Che Mills starts off the Fuel broadcast against fellow striker Duane ‘Bang’ Ludwig. Both athletes will throw haymakers with reckless abandon and are surely going to put together an early front runner for Fight of the Night honors.
Brit Paul Sass will look to use his patented ‘Sassangle’ to tap Matt Wiman in a captivating lightweight booking. Wiman has never been submitted in twenty career fights, but I have a feeling Sass will be able to pull off his signature submission in front of his countrymen.
When this card was announced, there was little doubt that Dan Hardy would be on it. He will trade blows with Amir Sadollah on Saturday. Both guys have had rough runs as of late Octagon, but the home crowd will be fanatically supporting Hardy and I expect him to earn a decision victory.
The Main Event of the night is a seriously intriguing Heavyweight bout. Stefan ‘Skyscraper’ Struve takes on Stipe Miocic in a fight that is near impossibly to pick. The guys in Vegas have Miocic as the favorite, but when you check out their respective resumes, it is tough to discern who comes out ahead. Struve certainly has size to his advantage, his 6 foot 11 frame makes him a nightmare to attempt to emulate in a training camp. The massive Dutchman can also rely on his experience against Stipe, as Struve has 29 career fights (losing just five), compared to Miocic’s 9.
Though, the Croatian-American Miocic can boast that he is undefeated in those 9 bouts, even so, the guys that Struve has lost to (Notably Roy Nelson, Christian M’Pumbu, Travis Browne, and Junior Dos Santos) don’t exactly suck… After consulting my Magic 8 Ball to pick a winner, I am going to have to side with the oddsmakers on this one though. Miocic is a hell of an athlete. He has a substantial amateur resume to draw from, including a Golden Gloves Championship, NCAA Division 1 Wrestling, and a solid college baseball career that drew interest from MLB Scouts. Miocic will be able to utilize his athleticism and powerful striking to overcome Struve’s size advantage and earn a late round TKO.
Enjoy the weekend of fights and look forward to more Weekend Fight Watch’s in the future! Don’t forget to set your DVR for The Ultimate Fighter: Fridays on FX as well!