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UFC 225: Who’s Watching What?

(This post first appeared on MMAFrenzy.)

UFC 225 is going down on Saturday night in Chicago, and the card will feature two championship fights and several, all-star competitors. But, will the event bring in the mainstream masses? And generate some big pay-per-view numbers?

The Fight Pass Prelims

Typically speaking, the Fight Pass prelims are assigned to ‘just the hardcore fans will be watching’ bin. More recently, however, even die-hard observers may have been taking a pass on some of the Fight Pass line-ups.

But, this time around, the Fight Pass prelims feature several compelling bouts. Case in point, #1 ranked flyweight Joseph Benavidez will take on the #5 ranked Sergio Pettis…on Fight Pass. A decision that didn’t sit too well with one of the greatest 125’ers the game has ever known.

Now, in addition to that must-see bout, the Fight Pass stream will feature former light-heavyweight champ Rashad Evans taking on Anthony Smith, and Clay Guida facing fellow vet, Charles Oliveira. So, with a line-up like that, who knows? Maybe some casual fans will be signing up for the service.

The Televised Prelims

The televised prelims includes a bout between strawweight contenders Claudia Gadelha and Carla Esparza, as well as an interesting featherweight fight between contenders Ricardo Lamas and Mirsad Bektic. Those fights probably won’t buzz a lot of part-time, MMA fans, but the feature bout for the prelims probably will. That’s because it will feature decorated heavyweight, Alistair Overeem, taking on the rising Curtis Blaydes. When you consider what Overeem has done throughout his career, and how many high stakes fights he’s been involved in, it would be pretty surprising if the ratings tanked.

The Main Card

UFC 225 is probably on the ‘must watch’ lists of a lot of dedicated fans. After all, it will feature middleweight champ Robert Whittaker taking on Yoel Romero for a second time, Rafael dos Anjos facing Colby Covington for the interim welterweight belt, and the Octagon debut of Megan Anderson, who will battle one of the greatest, female fighters of all time, in Holly Holm.

Not only that, former heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski will face the fast rising, and heavy hitting, Tai Tuivasa. So, it’s hard to imagine too many hardcore fans taking a pass on this event.

But, what could move UFC 225 from a decent selling, PPV, into impressive sales numbers, is the CM Punk – Mike Jackson fight. Yes, because Punk’s first UFC fight was a wash for the pro-wrestling star, you would think there won’t be as much interest in his second bout. But, the guy is still a pretty, pretty big name. So when you factor that in, along with the rest of the line-up, UFC 225 could end up being one of the top drawing cards thus far in 2018.

The post UFC 225: Who’s Watching What? appeared first on Caged Insider.

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UFC 225: Who’s Watching What?

(This post first appeared on MMAFrenzy.)

UFC 225 is going down on Saturday night in Chicago, and the card will feature two championship fights and several, all-star competitors. But, will the event bring in the mainstream masses? And generate some big pay-per-view numbers?

The Fight Pass Prelims

Typically speaking, the Fight Pass prelims are assigned to ‘just the hardcore fans will be watching’ bin. More recently, however, even die-hard observers may have been taking a pass on some of the Fight Pass line-ups.

But, this time around, the Fight Pass prelims feature several compelling bouts. Case in point, #1 ranked flyweight Joseph Benavidez will take on the #5 ranked Sergio Pettis…on Fight Pass. A decision that didn’t sit too well with one of the greatest 125’ers the game has ever known.

Now, in addition to that must-see bout, the Fight Pass stream will feature former light-heavyweight champ Rashad Evans taking on Anthony Smith, and Clay Guida facing fellow vet, Charles Oliveira. So, with a line-up like that, who knows? Maybe some casual fans will be signing up for the service.

The Televised Prelims

The televised prelims includes a bout between strawweight contenders Claudia Gadelha and Carla Esparza, as well as an interesting featherweight fight between contenders Ricardo Lamas and Mirsad Bektic. Those fights probably won’t buzz a lot of part-time, MMA fans, but the feature bout for the prelims probably will. That’s because it will feature decorated heavyweight, Alistair Overeem, taking on the rising Curtis Blaydes. When you consider what Overeem has done throughout his career, and how many high stakes fights he’s been involved in, it would be pretty surprising if the ratings tanked.

The Main Card

UFC 225 is probably on the ‘must watch’ lists of a lot of dedicated fans. After all, it will feature middleweight champ Robert Whittaker taking on Yoel Romero for a second time, Rafael dos Anjos facing Colby Covington for the interim welterweight belt, and the Octagon debut of Megan Anderson, who will battle one of the greatest, female fighters of all time, in Holly Holm.

Not only that, former heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski will face the fast rising, and heavy hitting, Tai Tuivasa. So, it’s hard to imagine too many hardcore fans taking a pass on this event.

But, what could move UFC 225 from a decent selling, PPV, into impressive sales numbers, is the CM Punk – Mike Jackson fight. Yes, because Punk’s first UFC fight was a wash for the pro-wrestling star, you would think there won’t be as much interest in his second bout. But, the guy is still a pretty, pretty big name. So when you factor that in, along with the rest of the line-up, UFC 225 could end up being one of the top drawing cards thus far in 2018.

The post UFC 225: Who’s Watching What? appeared first on Caged Insider.

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Bellator 199 vs. UFC 224: Who’s Watching What?

(This post first appeared on MMA Frenzy)

 

It’s not too often that a night features both a Bellator and UFC card, but that’s exactly what’s going down on Saturday. So, can Bellator 199 pull views from UFC 224? Or vice-versa? And who’s going to be watching what?

UFC 224 Prelims

The prelims for UFC 224 will get underway on Fight Pass at 3:15 PM/ET, and most of the folks tuning in will be of the ‘MMA is my life’ variety. One of the more interesting bouts scheduled for Fight Pass will see former middleweight title challenger Thales Leites taking on Jack Hermansson. Alberto Mina will put his undefeated record up against Ramazan Emeev, which is also an interesting scrap.

The FX prelims will begin at 8 PM/ET, and it would be surprising if the line-up grabbed a ton of casual fans. The Cezar Ferreira –
Karl Roberson bout is probably compelling to hardcore folks, and the Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos – Sean Strickland scrap should be as well. But, in comparison to the earlier days of the FOX broadcast deal, the prelims have no mainstream pop… at all.

UFC 224 Main Card

The pay-per-view will be headlined by a bout between bantamweight champ Amanda Nunes and rugged challenger Raquel Pennington. In the co-headliner, Kelvin Gastelum will throw hands with fellow middleweight contender “Jacare” Souza, and the main card will also see Vitor Belfort face fellow Brazilian legend Lyoto Machida.

In addition, the card will feature highly-touted prospect Mackenzie Dern taking on Amanda Cooper, and a potential banger of a bantamweight scrap between John Lineker and Brian Kelleher.

So, will hardcore fans be willing to shell out cash to see this PPV? Ya. You would think a decent amount of them will. But, are any of these ‘I absolutely have to see the fight live – with no spoilers’? Maybe Gastelum – Souza is? Maybe?

When you look at the card via that lens, then it’s hard to imagine that UFC 224 will move truckloads of PPVs. One would think the UFC will be over the moon if it sells over 300,000.

Bellator 199

The televised main card for Bellator 199 will begin airing at 9PM, and that also applies to West Coasters in the U.S. (via delay). Avid fans are likely invested in seeing Aaron Pico’s latest bout, and you can say the same for the Paul Daley – Jon Fitch bout.

The headliner is a fight between light-heavyweight champ Ryan Bader and former Strikeforce champ “King Mo” Lawal. The winner will move on to face Matt Mitrione in the semifinals of Bellator’s heavyweight grand prix. So, even if you haven’t jumped on the grand prix wagon yet, there’s no denying that Bader – Lawal is a compelling bout. After all, it features two of the best light-heavyweights on the planet.

But, is this a scrap that will pull a lot of casual fans? Not long removed from Bellator 198 and Fedor Emelianenko vs. Frank Mir? It would be pretty surprising if it does.

So, when you consider all the above, could Bellator 199 ding the UFC’s bottom line? It might, somewhat.

If you’re a mainstream fan, who feels like watching fights on Saturday, and you realize you can do that via Bellator 199 for free, instead of coughing up cash for UFC 224, you’ll likely pass on the latter. But, when it’s all said and done, there’s a  good chance neither of these cards will draw droves of fans.

The post Bellator 199 vs. UFC 224: Who’s Watching What? appeared first on Caged Insider.

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After Watching History at UFC 193, Cris Cyborg ‘Knew’ She Was Eventually Going to Face Holly Holm

For the longest time, Cristiane Justino had Ronda Rousey in her sights, but her focus began to shift following one historic November night in Melbourne.
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After Watching History at UFC 193, Cris Cyborg ‘Knew’ She Was Eventually Going to Face Holly Holm

For the longest time, Cristiane Justino had Ronda Rousey in her sights, but her focus began to shift following one historic November night in Melbourne.
Recent News on Sherdog.com

After Watching History at UFC 193, Cris Cyborg ‘Knew’ She Was Eventually Going to Face Holly Holm

For the longest time, Cristiane Justino had Ronda Rousey in her sights, but her focus began to shift following one historic November night in Melbourne.
Recent News on Sherdog.com

After Watching History at UFC 193, Cris Cyborg ‘Knew’ She Was Eventually Going to Face Holly Holm

For the longest time, Cristiane Justino had Ronda Rousey in her sights, but her focus began to shift following one historic November night in Melbourne.
Recent News on Sherdog.com

Donald Cerrone’s message for fans not watching his fight with Robbie Lawler: ‘F*ck you’

LOS ANGELES — The UFC these days is a $ 4B entity broadcast on network television, with all the headaches and controversies that go with sport as a big business.

But all that should be shoved aside on July 8, when Robbie Lawler and Donald Cerrone square off on the main card of UFC 213 in Las Vegas.

This is an old-school fight, with old-school excitement, the sort of throwdown fans used to get excited about back when there was little money in the sport and people watched because of their passion for fighting.

And Cerrone knows it.

“I’m f*cking pumped,” Cerrone said during a UFC 213 press event on Wednesday. “It’s going to be exciting, you know? I don’t even know why they need me to keep selling this fight, it’s already, if you’re not a f*cking MMA fan and watching this fight, then f*ck you.”

This bout was briefly scheduled for UFC 205 in New York last November before Lawler, the former UFC welterweight champion, had to withdraw.

Cerrone went on to knock out Matt Brown at UFC 206, then was finished by Jorge Masvidal in January. Coming off the loss, Cerrone was simply itching to get back into action, so getting that opportunity to fight Lawler which he thought has forever passed was a bonus.

“This is a fight that I think everyone’s going to want to see,” Cerrone said. “It’s like a fighter’s fight, you know? Two old-school boys getting down, I gotta say, my mentality was it doesn’t matter who they give me. I just got my ass whipped, coming off a hard fight, and now I’ve got another one. It’s good, man. It’s awesome. I’m looking forward to it.”

With 45 career finishes between the two of them, Cerrone knows the duo has a reputation to live up to, but he’s not sweating it.

“I don’t think you have to gas this up, Cerrone said. “We’re already full tanks, man. You know, Robbie’s old school. He’s been around forever, so have I. Someone’s going to lose, but I don’t think Robbie looks like at it like and neither do I. …

“I’m going to fight, fight one of the best brawlers in the standup, f*cking throw down and put on a show,” Cerrone added later. “This fight’s for me. This is what I love, there’s no place I’d rather be than in that motherf**ker. And then throwing down with one of the greatest? C’mon. I’m loving it, every minute of it.”

Your ordinary fighter might feel intense pressure coming into the Lawler fight. Cerrone’s had 70 pro fights between MMA and kickboxing, is 34, coming off a loss, and already had a title shot. A win over Lawler could put him right back into the mix.

But Cerrone says that if it ever was his motivation, it isn’t now.

“Some people are like born, and their sole purpose is they love the belt, that’s their mission in life,” he said. “Me? I enjoy having fun and doing what I love. Fighting is just something I do, man, it’s not who I am. It doesn’t complete me. So the end of the day if I get the belt, f*cking great. If I don’t, I had such a good run and I love it. There’s literally no place I’d rather be July 8 then in the fucking ring throwing down. I love it. It’s my passion. So for me, it’s the highest pinnacle of my life, It’s my passion, doing what I love every f*cking day. People are like, Cowboy, you should probably quit drinking, you should probably quit partying. I’m like no, f*ck you all, I’m doing it my way. This is what I want to do.”

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Dan Hardy declines Mickey Gall’s callout – ‘I don’t want to beat up a kid that I enjoy watching’

After submitting Sage Northcutt at UFC on FOX 22 inside Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif., (watch highlights here), Mickey Gall continued his tradition of immediately calling out his next opponent. This time around, Gall asked for a bout against former Welterweight title challenger, Dan Hardy, in a fight that would be contested at Lightweight. “The Outlaw” had a brief and comical response via social media, but during a recent stop on “The MMA Hour,” Hardy respectfully declined the call-out … while Gall was on the other line listening.

He explains:

“I almost spat my tea out, it was like four in morning and I wasn’t expecting it. I appreciate the call-out and I appreciate the respect that you’ve shown me, but I have never fought anybody with less than eight fights, not even in my first pro fight. We are at different phases in our careers. I’m not looking at knocking off a future contender that I’m possibly going to be commentating for in the future. At the same time, if I was going to fight, I want to fight a veteran. I want to fight someone that has had 20 or 30 fights and has matured in their game and is sure of their fighting style, not one that is still developing. I like to see the development of these young fighters and I don’t want to interfere with that in anyway. I’m 10 years older and we are at different phases in our careers.”

After getting shut down, Gall responded by saying that he respected his decision and still considers the British brawler a legend of the sport before hanging up the phone. Hardy proceeded to say that if he does return, he wants to face a long-time veteran who he can really get motivated for.

“It just doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t appeal to me and I don’t want to beat up a kid that I enjoy watching. There are a lot more older guys out there that have mature in their style and know their capabilities. There are a lot of fighters out there that I would be motivated to fight. And Mickey is a kid, I appreciate where he is in his career, four fights, and he is an exciting future prospect and I don’t want to play a part in the building of his career in any way.”

And that’s that, though Hardy did say he wouldn’t be opposed to a grappling match with the young up-and-comer down the road. Of course, Hardy’s still unsure that he will even return to the cage anytime soon, as he has one final test to go through in January to see if he is able to sustain the rigors of a training camp and a fight after he was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome back in 2013.

But, just a few months ago, “The Outlaw” teased an MMA comeback, declaring that if and when he does return, he’ll be doing it at 155 pounds. It’s a division filled with plenty of battle-tested veterans who can clearly fit “The Outlaw” criteria of a motivating challenge.

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Dan Hardy appreciates Mickey Gall’s callout, but declines: ‘I don’t want to beat up a kid that I’m enjoying watching’

The last thing Dan Hardy expected to hear in the wee hours of the morning on Sunday was a callout from one of UFC on FOX 22′s big winners.

Hardy was watching the event live from the U.K. when co-headliner Mickey Gall submitted Sage Northcutt with a second-round rear-naked choke. Gall then surprised fight fans by asking for a dance date with “The Outlaw.” The moment was especially unexpected considering that Hardy’s last fight was over four years ago, but the Englishman took it all in good fun.

“I almost spat my tea out of my mouth when I was watching it,” Hardy said in a joint interview with Gall on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “It was like four o’clock in the morning when I was watching, and I just wasn’t expecting it. I appreciate the callout. I appreciate the respect that you’ve shown me. But I’ve never fought anybody with less than eight fights, not even in my first pro fight. It’s just, we’re in different phases of our careers.

“I’m not looking at knocking off a future contender that I’m possibly going to commentating for in the future. And at the same time, if I was going to fight, I want to fight a veteran. I want to fight someone who’s had 20, 30 fights, who’s matured in their game and is sure of their fighting style, rather than someone who’s still developing. I like to see the development of these young fighters and I don’t want to interfere with that in any way. I’m 10 years older.”

Gall has made a name for himself for a string of UFC callouts in 2016, starting with his bout against CM Punk and leading into his prime-time tilt against Northcutt. The strategy has paid major dividends for him over the course of the year — his high-profile placement on UFC on FOX 22 despite his relative inexperience is proof of that — but in this case, Gall took his declined invitation in stride.

“He has a right to feel that way,” Gall said to Hardy in response. “I respect that too. That’s cool. You’re a legend. It would’ve been an honor to fight you. That’s cool, man. I love you, Dan.”

Hardy, 34, used to be one of the more popular figures in the UFC welterweight division, however these days he is more of a media figure than an active fighter, working as both an analyst and color commentator under the UFC umbrella.

The switch from a fight life to the one he lives now was forced in 2013, when Hardy was diagnosed with the heart condition Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. That diagnosis forced his hand and made Hardy look elsewhere for opportunities outside the cage, though he has always remained steadfast in his desire to return to professional fighting.

Hardy is actually scheduled to undergo two final days of testing in January to determine once and for all whether fighting is a viable option for him, so in that regard, Hardy understands where Gall was coming from and appreciates the 24-year-old’s willingness to take a chance.

“I think he’s realistic,” Hardy said. “He said in the post-fight press conference that it was a bit of a haymaker, a bit of a wild callout, and I appreciate that. It surprised me, but I appreciate that. It was very respectful of him. I don’t think it was done in bad taste in any way. I wasn’t offended by it. But you know, there’s 100 guys on the UFC roster who would be much better opponents for him right now.

“I don’t want to beat up a kid that I’m enjoying watching,” Hardy added. “There’s a lot of older guys out there who have matured in their style, they know their fighting style, they know their capabilities, and there’s a lot of fighters out there that I would be motivated to fight. And Mickey is a kid. I appreciate where he is in his career. He’s had four fights and he’s an exciting prospect for the future. I don’t want to play a part in that, being a burden in his career in any way.”

Of course, Hardy is also an analyst — and a terrific one at that — so he couldn’t help but play a little fantasy matchmaker of his own.

Gall said this past weekend that Hardy’s title fight against Georges St-Pierre at UFC 111 was the first UFC event he ever attended live. Hardy’s own first UFC event that he attended live was UFC 85, which featured a headlining bout of Thiago Alves vs. Matt Hughes. And so he figured that if Gall was in search of a veteran opponent with a known name, Alves may fit the bill.

“That’d be a great fight for him,” Hardy said of Alves-Gall. “That’d be really fun, if he wants to fight a veteran. A guy struggling to make 155. I think we should introduce a 162 weight class. Have those two guys pioneer that. … 160 is five pounds over lightweight and 10 pounds under welterweight, and I think 162, the extra two pounds, it’s a better meeting ground.

“We need more divisions. We’ve got fighters to make the divisions, there’s no doubt about it. The sport is growing. We’re having more shows every year. There are more places in the world that are producing fighters, that want shows. We need more weight classes. Fifteen pounds is a big jump. If you look at boxing, we’re not close to 15-pound jumps. And we’ve got room. A light welterweight weight class at 162 would be great, maybe add a 178 in as well at some point.”

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