Another weekend, another set of thrilling bouts for the martial artist in all of us to enjoy. Provided your electricity is on and your cable is working after that witch Sandy rolled through the town; there is enough free fight programming this weekend to keep all of us that dressed up as Tank Abbott for Halloween happy.
The lame-duck Season Seven of Bellator continues on Friday night on MTV2. The card was supposed to feature Paul ‘Semtex’ Daley, but his tilt was scrapped due to visa concerns. The unusually lackluster Bellator 79 card features two tournament semifinals, a heavyweight booking between Richard Hale and Thiago Santos and a featherweight fight showcasing Mike Richman and Shahbulat Shamhalaev. You can expect Bellator cards to be a little more star studded when they eventually switch to broadcasting on MMA stalwart SpikeTV in early 2013. Also going down on Friday is the oddly named Resurrection Fighting Alliance 4 card. Notables on the card are Sergio Pettis, Chidi Njokuani, and Dakota Cochrane. The event is topped off by a scrap between Tyson Griffin and Efrain Escudero, both former UFC contenders. Both Escudero and Griffin’s careers seemed to stall out when they went up against elite competition, so it will be interesting to see what happens when these two collide tonight. Saving the best for last, the UFC will be premiering the Primetime: GSP v. Condit series on FX tonight at 11 PM, I will certainly be tuning in for GSP’s accent alone.
I am all sorts of amped up for the debut of the World Series of Fighting on Saturday night. While last week’s baseball World Series was a snoozer and this week’s World Series of Poker was a bore-a-thon reminiscent of a Nyquil overdose, this World Series of Fighting card engineered by President Ray Sefo and Co. promises to electrify. For an upstart promotion, WSOF is offering up a legitimate card from top to bottom on. The preliminary card (aired for free on Sherdog.com) reminds me of recent Strikeforce MAIN cards and would be a passable card for any regional promotion. Notable names that will be partaking in good ol’ fashioned fisticuffs are UFC-vets Dustin Jacoby, Gerald Harris, Dave Branch, TJ O’Brien, and Ronys Torres. Also featured will be DREAM product and Blackzillian trained JZ Cavalcante. When I look into my crystal ball, I can see UFC contracts in the near future for Ronys Torres and Gerald Harris if they pull off convincing wins on Saturday.
Now the mystery investors involved in WSOF and Ray Sefo have really pulled out all of the stops for this Main Card. They have bought out a time slot on the NBC Sports Network (formally Versus) to debut their product to the public. This is quite the risk considering the exorbitant amount it costs to rent out a primetime timeslot on the network. Though, the gamble could pay off because the WSOF 1 card is absolutely loaded with talent and big names.
Finallyyyyyy! No, the Rock has not come back to Monday Night Raw… Tyrone Motherflippin’ Spong’s MMA debut is upon us!
In case you don’t stay up until 4 AM to watch crappy streams of kickboxing events in abandoned warehouses in Eastern Europe like I do, you may not know how talented this dude truly is. Imagine if you ran Alistair Overeem through a Xerox machine at .75 size, your end result would be Tyrone Spong. Spong has unmatched Dutch Kickboxing skills, enough KO power to light up the entire Eastern Seaboard, and a physique only the finest laboratories could create. And you are telling me that tomorrow night he is fighting in a cage on free television? Sign me up!
Gregor Gracie, half-brother of Igor and Rolles, takes on Canadian submission artist Tyson Steele in the second tilt of the night. Ray Sefo basically said that they are putting Gracie on the main card to attempt to draw fans with the heralded Gracie name. I expect the fans that tune in solely to see Gracie fight are the same ones that pay to watch Frank Stallone movies…
The WSOF of fighting made a splash when they signed UFC cast-off Miguel Torres. At one time, Torres was one of the most exciting fighters in the sport, regardless of weight class. He could just never transfer the excitement from his WEC days to his UFC run. Torres will look to rebound against young gun, Marlon Moraes, and I expect that he will do so with a his typical punch now, ask questions later approach.
Also around the time that Torres was enjoying WEC success, Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson had all the makings of becoming a welterweight version of Jon Jones. Then came the weight-cutting issues… Johnson could not get his massive frame to shed the pounds required to hit the mark for the welterweight division, or later even the Middleweight division…
After Dana White got fed up with the weight antics, Johnson was jettisoned from the UFC. Johnson has now embraced his size and devoted himself to a career at Light Heavyweight, which makes sense for a guy that is 6’2 and has shoulders as broad as a barn. Johnson is now training with the Blackzillians in Florida and has looked impressive since he joined the 205 pound division, earning two TKO victories. He may be using the WSOF as a stepping stone to earn another call into the big show, but he has to prove that he can make weight and perform in the cage before that happens. His opponent tomorrow is DJ Linderman, a Light Heavyweight/Heavyweight tweener. On talent alone, I don’t see any reason why Rumble would have an issue with Linderman, and Johnson should be one step closer to rejoining the UFC ranks.
What better way to make a promotional debut than to throw Andrei Arlovski in the Main Event, am I right???
You wan’t a straight up brawl that will likely end in a flash KO? Call up The Pitbull! Arlovski isn’t the same fighter he was during his early UFC days, mauling the likes of Ian Freeman and Paul Buentello. His chin is suspect at best and he is obsessed with fighting Tim Sylvia for some god-forsaken reason. He has earned KO wins in two of his last three fights, but it looks like those “opponents” may have been pulled from a barstool and thrown into the ring against the Belarusian brawler. Tomorrow night, Andrei will be scrapping it up against Devin Cole. Cole is likely more famous for his legal troubles than his exploits in the cage. His most notable recent win is over LSU football player, turned punching bag Shawn Jordan. This fight is tailor made for Arlovski to get a highlight reel KO and hopefully get the highlights plastered across the MMA blogosphere, likely with WSOF logos prominently featured.
Regardless, I am looking forward to kicking back and checking out how this newborn promotion goes about business. Their production value and show-running ability will be factors that will determine if the World Series of Fighting can have longevity in a crowded MMA market. Enjoy the fights!