Fighter's Planet weekend recap
Bellator makes quiet statement with two solid cards on back to back nights.
In a rare situation for MMA, Bellator held not one, but two fight cards on back to back nights to highlight a weekend of combat sports.
Bellator 207 was held at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT and featured a main event between Matt Mitrione and current light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader to claim a spot in the finals of the heavyweight gran prix final.
Bader completely dominated the fight with his superior wrestling rendering any of Mitrione’s offense mute. The crowd didn’t seem to particularly enjoy the lack of action, but Bader controlled the entire bout and walked away with a unanimous decision in his quest to become Bellator’s first “champ champ”.
Roy Nelson, another defector from the UFC suffered a rare knockout loss in the co-main event at the hands of Sergei Kharitonov. Nelson has just two wins in his last ten fights and what was once his trademark, a granite chin, might be finally catching up to him at the tail-end of his fighting career.
Lorenz Larkin gained an alternate spot in Bellator’s welterweight gran prix with a unanimous decision victory over last minute replacement Ion Pascu.
The second card of the weekend for Bellator switched over to Long Island, New York and the main event between MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko and trash-talking innovator Chael Sonnen would determine the opponent for Bader in the final of the heavyweight gran prix. While Bader grinded out a less than thrilling victory, Fedor made quick work of the American Gangster with some ground and pound to end the bout in the very first round. A final of Fedor vs. Bader is intriguing as Fedor can close out his career with another championship or Bader can become a simultaneous champion since his move to Bellator from the UFC.
On the undercard, Cheick Kongo, who surprisingly was not named as a participant in the heavyweight tournament has used that as motivation and picked up his seventh win in a row.
Benson Henderson, who was one of the more high-profile fighters to make the jump from the UFC to Bellator claimed a win in his last fight on his current contract. It will be interesting to see if Bellator chooses to resign him after a somewhat shaky tenure in the organization.
Former six-division boxing star Amanda Serrano, who recently announced a move full time to mixed martial arts, picked up her first victory in La Juala in Tucson, Arizona with a submission win over Erendira Ordonez in the first round. Serrano was elevated to the main event after the fight between former UFC fighter Erik Perez was cancelled after an injury suffered to his opponent, John Casteneda. Serrano fought to a tough draw in her debut earlier this year against Corina Herrera at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.
While the UFC didn’t have an actual card this weekend, the drama continues in the aftermath of the skirmish after the McGregor vs. Nurmagomedov fight at UFC 229 and is still the talk of MMA. Both fighters have been suspended by the Neveda State Athletic Commission until a hearing scheduled for Oct. 24 as an investigation continues. Nurmagomedov has stated he will walk away from the UFC if his teammate, Zubaira Tukhugov, is released by the UFC. Tukhugov has already been removed from his fight with McGregor’s teammate, Artem Lobov, who will now face Michael Johnson. Nurmagomedov has also been engaging in a social media battle with boxer Floyd Mayweather, while McGregor was seen at a Cowboys game in Dallas socializing with Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones. This saga is far from over.
The biggest fight over the weekend in the sport of boxing highlighted one of it’s very best when Terence Crawford returned to his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska to defend his World Boxing Organization welterweight title against unbeaten Jose Benavidez, Jr. This fight for whatever reason didn’t carry much buzz until a confrontation at the final weigh-ins on Friday when Benavidez shoved Crawford who took a swing and narrowly missed landed a flush shot to the jaw. Many didn’t give Benavidez much of a chance heading into the fight, but Benavidez was game and gave himself a decent showing before Crawford sealed the deal with a brutal knockout in the 12th. Crawford once again drew a good crowd and scored good TV ratings for ESPN, plus collected a nice payday of 3.5 million in the process, but it’s time he starts fighting outside of his home state. One of the best fighters in the world deserves to showcase his tremendous skills to a bigger market.