Recent developments in the MMA world, combined with some exciting upcoming events, are making it an awesome time to be an MMA fan! Despite some big letdowns of the year—Jon Jones’ legal and substance problems, and subsequent suspension and stripping of his title (an unfortunate all-around happening), the admittedly poorly planned and widely criticized Reebok-UFC partnership, as well as the announcement that MMA wouldn’t be legalized in the state of New York this year, got 2015 started and going on a less-than-desirable foundation.
Things have certainly turned around as of late, for the entire MMA landscape! For the UFC in particular, the past couple of pay-per–view events have done better than expected—with one card being one of the best UFC events in recent memory!
UFC 189 was set to feature UFC superstar Conor McGregor challenging Jose Aldo for the UFC Featherweight Title. The press leading up to the fight had been ultra-exciting, and there was a massive amount of anticipation (and, correspondingly, advertising) leading up to the bout as well. Unfortunately, fans would have to wait for the fight, as Jose Aldo pulled out of the contest about two weeks before it was set to occur, and Chad Mendes replaced the champion, and challenged McGregor for the Interim Featherweight Belt. The exciting fight—which ended with a second-round McGregor TKO win—culminated an all-around excellent PPV card in UFC 189 (MacDonald vs Lawler certainly shouldn’t be discounted. It may not have had the immediate draw and anticipation amongst casual fans heading in, but hardcore MMA fans were certainly excited, and rightfully so, as it was one of the best fights in UFC history). UFC 189 cracked about one million PPV buys—and that’s without Aldo, the champion! The unification bout is set for December 12th, at UFC 194 in Las Vegas. Another win for the fans!
The UFC’s recent success was continued as Ronda Rousey demonstrated the magnitude of her celebrity and fighter profile, when she defended her belt and defeated Bethe Correia at UFC 190, by first-round knockout. It didn’t matter that the rest of the main card was relatively weak, or that the vast majority of fighters on the card were Brazilian athletes or even that Rousey was a fifteen-to-one favorite heading into the bout. The previous facts aren’t meant to knock the card, but rather to highlight the drawing power of Rousey. Despite all of the factors pushing against her draw, her PPV, UFC 190, still managed to attract over one million buys—making it the best-selling PPV of the year! Rousey is an exciting and dominant superstar that appears to be setting the bar higher and higher with each fight—in terms of both performance and ratings.
Outside of the UFC, there have been some exciting developments as well. Despite a recent recess from events, Bellator’s last card, 140, saw some interesting developments amongst some of its welterweight stars—most notably in the main event, where Andrey Koreshkov used a dominant, wrestling-based gameplan to smother the Bellator Welterweight Title away from the champion and betting favorite, Douglas Lima.
The future looks bright for the promotion. Their upcoming Bellator 141 event, which is set for August 28th, will feature UFC veteran Melvin Guillard in the main event, against Brandon Girtz, in what should be an exciting bout. Saad Awad vs Patricky Pitbull is in the co-main event, in another explosive lightweight fight with title implications. Raphael Butler and Lorenzo Hood are fighting at heavyweight, and Marloes Coenen has a fight slated for the main card, in exciting appearances that shouldn’t be discounted. Bellator 141 is a solid card, but the most exciting event in Bellator’s immediate future is Dynamite, which is planned for September 19th.
Tito Ortiz is set to take on light heavyweight champion Liam McGreary in the main event. Also on the card is a one-night, four-man Light heavyweight tournament, featuring Emanuel Newton, King Mo, Linton Vassell, and Phil Davis (who’s making his promotional debut). It should be an ultra-exciting and interesting night of light heavyweight MMA action for Bellator.
Glory Kickboxing will also be adding fights to the Dynamite card, and they’ve made it clear that they’re not taking the expectedly high event viewership for granted. Zack Mwekassa vs Saulo Cavalari is (tentatively) at the top of the bill, and should be an incredible fight. Additionally, Paul Daley vs Fernando Gonzalez, an admittedly intriguing kickboxing bout from two fighters that’ve had their last fights in MMA, is on the card, as is Glory Featherweight Champion, Gabriel Varga, as he defends his title against Sergey Adamchuk. Glory is going all-in as well!
Finally, Bellator had some non-event related good news recently, as they announced the signing of former Strikeforce lightweight champion, Josh Thomson. Thomson is an exciting lightweight warrior, who is still ranked in top ten. It’s curious that the UFC would let him go without much of a fight, but there’s no denying that he’s an outstanding and elite addition to the lightweight landscape of Bellator.
The future looks exciting for the UFC as well, as the aforementioned superstar status of Rousey has been confirmed, and a unification date for McGregor vs Aldo has been set for December 12th. Additionally, the most exciting upcoming UFC card is probably UFC 191, which will see Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson attempt to defend his title for the second time against the always-dangerous John Dodson. Andrei Arlovski vs Frank Mir is set for the co-main event, in a bout that should have major title implications. Other exciting fights on the card include Anthony Johnson vs Jimi Manuwa, Paul Felder vs Ross Pearson, and several other bouts. UFC 191 is a solid card.
As was said initially, it’s a great time to be an MMA fan (and fighter). More athletes are testing the free market and finding their true value (a number that’s set to rise as well), and there are a plethora of awesome fights being put on by the top organizations in the world (there wasn’t a section for it, given the overshadowing nature of the Rousimar Palhares incident, but the World Series of Fighting has been on a tear as of late as well—fans shouldn’t miss Justin Gaethje vs Luis Palomino 2 on September 18th at WSOF 23). Enjoy the fights, and the atmosphere, but remember—things are only set to get better from here!
For MMA enthusiasts in the region and Africa, click here to see the upcoming lineup of fights on OSN.