Fighter's Planet weekend recap
One of the most anticipated fights in the history of the UFC is finally upon us as it is officially fight week for Conor McGregor v. Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC lightweight championship.
This fight needs no introduction as anyone that even loosely follows the sport knows the history of these two before they meet in Las Vegas at UFC 229.
While most of the talk has been on the main event and rightly so, the card itself is loaded with intriguing match-ups, especially the co-main event, which features former interim champion, Tony Ferguson against former champion, Anthony Pettis.
Ferguson (23-3) was the original opponnent for Murmagomedov before a fluke injury forced him out of the fight at UFC 223. Nurmagomedov went on to defeat last-minute replacement Al Iaquinta to claim the championship that was stripped from McGregor for inactivity.
Another press conference awaits along with the usual media appearances, but for the most part, the talk is over. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the two superstars make it into the cage and we see a classic bout that deliveres on the enormous hype.
But before we look ahead to this massive event, let’s take a look at this weekend’s action in combat sports.
COMBATE AMERICAS: CAMINO A COPA
Combate Americas made it’s return to the Los Angeles area with a card from The Pyramid in Long Beach on Friday, Sep. 28. The two main fights on the card were to determine who would represent the countries of Mexico and the United States in the second Combate Cup which features a $100,000 prize for the winning fighter, who must compete three times in one night.
Both fights were held in a new format for MMA, in which both fights were for only one five-minute round to determine the winner.
Erick “The Ghostpeper” Gonzales (8-3) went up against Andres “The Bullet” Quintana (15-2) for the privillege to represent the United States.
Quintana dominated from the opening bell and almost secured the submission earlier in the fight, but Gonzalez was able to escape before eventually succumbing to another chokehold and being submitted at 2:41.
The main event featured Alejandro Flores (13-1) vs. Pablo Sabori (8-5) with the winner going on to represent Mexico in the Copa Combate tournament.
Sabori was able to land some strikes on Flores in the opening minutes of the fight but Flores eventually took control of the bout and was able to edge out a victory via unanimous decision.
The highlight of the night might have been the flush liver shot that Mely Martinez landed to finish off Francis Hernandez. Hernandez might have been leading on the scorecards before Martinez landed a liver shot that echoed in the arena.
While the one-round ploy didn’t exactly deliver on the promise of non-stop action, it did fuel a sense of urgency for both fighters. It will be interesting to see if Combate decides to do another one-round fight in the future as most of the fighters didn’t particuarly care for it.
Bellator 206 featured what many consider the organizations biggest and best card so far and it delivered a night of good action and strong fights.
MMA phenom Aaron Pico (4-1) continued his rise as he scored another impressive first round TKO victory over Leandro Higo (18-5).
Former welterweight champions Douglas Lima (30-7) and Andrey Koreshkov (21-3) opened up the welterweight gran-prix with a first round match-up that also doubled as a trilogy bout for the former champions. The bout was a back and forth affair that seemed destined to go to the scorecards before Lima was able to pull off a submission win in the final round. Lima will go on to face the winner of the Paul Daley vs. Michael Page bout.
In a fight for the nostagic fan, MMA superstars Rampage Jackson (38-13) and Wanderlei Silva (35-14-1) produced an exciting bout that gave the fans exactly what they wanted. Not much technique, but back and forth heavy shots landed by both fighters. Jackson ultimately connected with a right-hand to the chin that dropped Silva before finishing him off with strikes in the second round. Talk of a fifth fight have already begun.
The main event didn’t materlize into the full on war that many anticipated, but it was a dominating performance from the current Bellator middleweight champion, Gegard Mousasi (45-6-2) over current welterweight champion, Rory MacDonald (20-5). Mousasi was able to use his weight advantage to stifle MacDonald and eventually ended the fight in the second round by ground and pound strikes.
The event should be deemed as a success for Bellator with the only issue being the UK broadcast that was ended before the main event because of local laws regarding violent content on the DAZN broadcast, it’s first for a Bellator event.
Callum Smith knocked out George Groves in the seventh round to win the World Boxing Association super middleweight championship and claim the Muhammad Ali trophy as the winner of the World Boxing Super Series final in Saudi Arabia.
Smith (25-0, 18 knockouts) is the younger brother of Liam Smith, a former World Boxing Organization super-welterweight champion.
Jose Uzcategui (28-2, 23 KOs) scored a unanimous decision victory over Ezequiel Maderna in a non-title bout shown on ESPN+ from the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California setting up a fight with Caleb Plant, an International Boxing Federation mandatory challenger.
Jorge Linares (45-4) returned to action after his knockout loss to Vasiliy Lomachenko earlier this year and was making his debut at junior welterweight and impressed with a dominant win over Abner Cotto for a Golden Boy boxing card from Indio, CA. The fight was shown on Facebook watch. Linares dropped Cotto, cousin of Miguel Cotto, twice and finished the fight in the third round.
Brandon Figueroa (17-0, 12 knockouts) landed an uppercut in the 10th round to score the win over Oscar Escandon in the main event of a PBC card on a rare Sunday night in Ontario, CA. The original main event between Victor Ortiz and John Molina Jr. was cancelled earlier in the week after Ortiz was charged with sexual assualt.