UFC 193 happened last week on Saturday, November 14. Over a million people bought the show and saw Holly Holm pull off the biggest upset in MMA history. Ronda Rousey lost badly, very badly. Since then, hundreds of articles have been written about Rousey, Holm, and their confidants. People, like Chael Sonnen, have called Rousey a “fraud” and “overrated.” Even Donald Trump and Lady Gaga took to Twitter to diss Rousey. Edmund Tarverdyan, Rousey’s coach, has been criticized for giving Ronda awful coaching advice between the first and second round. Holm has been accused of using performance enhancing drugs. Writers have described Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn as geniuses. Memes, music videos, and podcasts revolving around Rousey and Holm have been produced at breakneck speeds. At this point, every angle has been covered and it’s been fun, but enough is enough.
It is time to move on. Media and fans alike have forgotten; dozens of fighters, who train really, really hard are fighting this weekend on cable television. They will all be trying to execute their game plans and make names for themselves. There are three, count them, three major league MMA shows over the next two days. Let’s take a quick look, shall we?
Bellator 146- Friday, November 20 @ 9:00 PM EST on Spike.
The company that is bringing us Ken Shamrock vs. Gracie next year, is back this weekend, with Melvin Manhoef vs. Hisaki Kato headlining. Manhoef is pushing forty years old and is 2-3-1 over his last six fights. So, in other words, he is a perfect fit for Bellator’s senior cicuit. He still has knockout power, but has lost some quickness and has a questionable chin, losing by knockout in his last two fights. Clearly, his better days are behind him. His opponent, Hisaki Kato is coming off a spectacular knockout win over Joe Schilling in his Bellator debut. Relatively unknown, Kato has fought primarily in Japan and only has six career fights. This matchup will help to answer a lot of questions about both guys. Does Manhoef have anything left? Was Kato’s win over Schilling a fluke? Either way, someone is likely getting knocked out in this one.
In the semi-main event, heralded prospect Bubba Jenkins returns to fight Jordan Parsons in a featherweight fight. Jenkins won the NCAA Division 1 wrestling championship at 157 lbs in 2013 and quickly made his transition into MMA. With his wrestling pedigree, Jenkins has been somewhat underwhelming throughout his brief MMA career. His career record is 9-2, with losses against Georgi Karakhanyan and LaRue Burley. The biggest win of his career came against journeyman Poppies Martinez back in 2014. When facing stiffer competition, he has not risen to the occasion. Friday night will be an interesting test for Jenkins; Parsons is 2-0 in Bellator, but has never faced a wrestler anywhere near the caliber of Jenkins. Oddsmakers have Jenkins as 2-1 favorite, which seems fair. It will be interesting to see if Jenkins can take another step forward in his development as a complete MMA fighter or if Parsons can pull off the upset and really make a name for himself.
In addition, on the undercard, there are a few names to look out for. The younger brother of Anthony Njokuani, Chidi makes his Bellator debut. Also, the 43 year old, 16-12-1, Houston Alexander returns to Bellator coming off back to back losses. He won two fights in the UFC back in 2007 and has been on a skid ever since, but again he fits into the Bellator marketing campaign of 2015 perfectly; he is old, but has a recognizable name.
World Series of Fighting 25- Friday, November 20 at 11:00 pm EST on NBC Sports Network
This is one of the bigger shows in WSOF history. The card features a poorly planned, dated eight man lightweight tournament. They have been promoting this thing hard for months. The winner of the tourney will face Lightweight Champ Justin Gaethje at a time to be determined. There are definitely some solid fighters in the tourney, including: Mike Ricci, Luis Palomino, Brian Foster, Islam Memedov, and Brian Cobb.
Despite the solid lineup, there are several major problems with this show. First, it actually begins at 11:00 pm EST!!! One would think the sun would be rising around the time the show ended. Fortunately, the live broadcast of the show will only feature the semifinals, finals, and an additional non-tournament bout of Jason High vs. Estevan Payan. So, that would really only be four fights, but the 11:00 pm start time is a killer. In addition, most tournaments end up being disasters; with fighters getting injured and having mostly boring fights. We have mocked this extensively, but if you loved the UFC tournaments that never worked out in the mid-90’s; WSOF 25 is the show for you!
UFC Fight Night- Saturday, November 21 at 10:00 pm EST on Fox Sports 1. (The “Early Prelims” air at 6:30 on Fight Pass and the real “Prelims” air on FS1 at 8:00)
This show is not particularly deep, but it’s free and on FS1. It’s also taking place in Monterrey, Mexico. What do you want?
In the main event, Neil Magny faces Kelvin Gastelum. Magny is stepping in on short notice for an injured Matt Brown. Magny has been the most prolific UFC fighter in recent times. This will be Magny’s tenth UFC fight since February of 2014. During that run, he has gone 8-1, only losing to Demian Maia. He is tall and lanky, but has really come into his own over the last couple years. Ultimate Fighter winner Kelvin Gastelum, on the other hand, has had a rocky UFC career. Gastelum is young, with tons or potential, but has missed weight twice trying to cut down to welterweight. UFC executives made him fight at Middleweight once, where he was victorious over the aging Nate Marquardt. Look to see if Gastelum can comfortably make his return to170 pounds and if Magny has bitten off one too many fights this year.
The semi-main event features the return of Diego Sanchez. The Nightmare will be fighting at featherweight (145 lbs.) for the first time. This will be Sanchez’s fourth weight class and the lowest weight that he has ever competed. Even though he is only 33 years old, Sanchez is the last fighter remaining in the UFC from the very first Ultimate Fighter series. Unfortuntely, with most of his contemporaries retired, he has not looked good the last few years. His wars with Karo Parisyan, Gilbert Melendez, Martin Kampmann, Jake Ellenberger, BJ Penn, and Clay Guida are legendary, but did little to lengthen his career. Sanchez will square off with Ricardo Lamas, the fourth ranked featherweight in the world. Lamas is younger, quicker, and less beat up than Sanchez, but this is MMA and anything can happen. Even Rowdy Ronda lost, right?
The undercard features mostly Mexican fighters from TUF: Latin America series. Clearly, the most recognizable name on the undercard is Henry Cejudo. He will be facing Jussier Formiga in a fight that will likely determine the number one contender for Flyweight Champ Demetrious Johnson. Cejudo won gold in amateur wrestling at the 2008 Olympics and is being positioned as Johnson’s top threat. Formiga is no easy task though. Going 4-2 in the UFC, with his only losses against Joseph Benavidez and John Dodson, Formiga will help determine how good Cejudo really is. This will easily be Cejudo’s toughest test to date.
So, there you have it. Three major league shows this weekend. Some good, some bad, and some sad, but at least we can stop talking about Ronda for a bit. YAY!!!!!