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Monday MMA Round-Up: With Bellator Off Paramount, It’s The End Of An Era

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 12: Michelle Waterson reacts after her victory over Angela Hill in a strawweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on September 12, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Hello, fight fans, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Monday MMA Round-Up. It was a busy weekend for mixed martial arts events with a UFC event and two Bellator events, and a lot of news coming this week. Let’s dive right into thoughts on the week.

Looking Back At A Busy Week

  • With Bellator off Paramount, it is an end of an era as the Paramount Network aired its final mixed martial arts events this weekend with Bellator 245 and Bellator 246. The station, formerly known as Spike TV, has been airing mixed martial arts events since 2005, when The Ultimate Fighter debuted. In fact, going back to the days when the station was known as TNN, combat sports has aired on the network since 2000, when ECW started airing, then followed by WWE from 2001-2005, UFC from 2005-2011, TNA from from 2005-2014, and Bellator from 2013-2020.
  • Bellator now officially moves to the CBS Sports Network, which is available in far fewer homes than the Paramount Network, and is only available on the high-end packages with some cable and satellite providers. So few people watch the station that it actually isn’t tracked by Nielsen for ratings. The shows will be moving to Thursday on a permanent basis, and will be airing live, including their overseas shows, but I don’t see how any of this will be more of a positive than a negative. They have their work cut out for them to get their viewership totals even back to the current low levels they get right now.
  • That word robbery was being thrown around after Michelle Waterson beat Angela Hill in a close fight in the main event of the UFC’s show on Saturday, but it was far from that. It was a really close fight that could have gone either way. Hill has been on the losing end of two fights that were close in her last two fights, but she doesn’t do enough to convincingly win fights, which hurts her in close ones. Waterson fought a smart fight and I had her winning the fight, but it really could’ve gone either way.
  • Ed Herman got away with one. You have to feel badly for Mike Rodriguez as he definitely beat Herman. This was just bad officiating by Chris Tognoni, who has had some bad weeks of late after generally being a competent referee. Herman took a hard knee and sold it like it hit his groin, and Rodriguez ended up being submitted in the third round. Kudos to Dana White for saying they’re going to give Rodriguez his win bonus for that, because he definitely got robbed of a win.

  • Jon Fitch hung up his gloves, announcing his retirement at age 42 after losing to Neiman Gracie at Bellator’s Saturday event. While many will look back at Fitch as being known as a fighter who cures insomnia with his fights, he had a really solid career with a lot of notable wins and notable moments. The capper of it all is that he never missed weight once in his career, even until the end.
  • It is a real shame that the fight between Tony Ferguson and Dustin Poirier fell apart over financial issues with Poirier. If there is a fighter in the sport who deserves a bigger payday, it is Poirier. He brings all of the action and violence inside the Octagon, and does more for people less fortunate than anyone in the sport outside of the Octagon. It is hard to blame him trying to get more considering how much he gives the sport and the fans. Dana White calling the fight unsalvageable is unfortunate, because no fight is ever truly that, but it seems like they want Ferguson on that October 24 card. They say they’re going to get him a new opponent, and if I had to guess, I’d say he ends up fighting Beneil Dariush on that card as Dariush lost his fight with Charles Oliveira for the October 3 card.
  • This upcoming week’s UFC card on ESPN+ is one of the best non-PPV cards they’ve had in quite some time. It is a strong main card, and we could end up with as many as 15 fights on the card, so it will be a long night in Las Vegas.
  • It looks as though Bellator will be the first promotion to have events in front of fans, as they announced that fans will be allowed at their October event in Paris, which will be the first major MMA event to be held in France. I’m not sure if this is a good idea yet, but France is in a better position to hold events with fans than the United States is.
  • Juan Archuleta dedicating his Bellator Bantamweight Championship win over Patrick Mix to Cub Swanson was a very cool moment. Swanson has given his all to the sport and has yet to taste WEC or UFC gold, but is one of the most-liked individuals in the sport, so that was a very noble gesture by Archuleta.
  • It looks like Zhang Weili vs. Rose Namajunas is next for the UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship, and that is a fight I can’t wait for.
  • Dana White’s comments on Mike Chandler, saying that there have been talks and that he “likes the kid” certainly sounds like a UFC contract is coming soon for him. Chandler would be an awesome addition to an already stacked lightweight division.
  • Playing Matchmaker

    Here are the fights I would make following UFC On ESPN+ 35 this past Saturday:

    • Michelle Waterson vs. Claudia Gadelha/Xiaonan Yan winner
    • Angela Hill vs. Felice Herrig
    • Ottman Azaitar vs. Nasrat Haqparast
    • Roxanne Modafferi vs. Alexa Grasso
    • Bobby Green vs. Al Iaquinta

    Coming Up This Week

    The UFC is back on Saturday with their last event in Las Vegas before heading to Abu Dhabi for five weeks for round two of UFC Fight Island events. This card is headlined by a grudge match that is over two years in the making as Colby Covington takes on Tyron Woodley. The rest of the main card is stacked as it sees Donald Cerrone vs. Niko Price, Khamzat Chimaev vs. Gerald Meerschaert, Johnny Walker vs. Ryan Spann, Mackenzie Dern vs. Randa Markos, and Kevin Holland vs. Darren Stewart. The prelims are also strong. The complete show airs on ESPN+, with prelims kicking off at 5 PM eastern time, and the main card starting at 8 PM eastern time.

    Dana White’s Contender Series is back for Week 7 on Tuesday, airing on ESPN+ at 8 PM eastern time. It is the final week of the Contender Series before a brief hiatus, and it will return in November for the final three weeks of this season of the show.

    The only other major MMA event of the week will be Invicta FC 42, which takes place on Thursday, airing on UFC Fight Pass at 8 PM eastern time.

    This Week In MMA History

    DALLAS – SEPTEMBER 19: UFC fighter Vitor Belfort (L) battles UFC fighter Rich Franklin (R) during their Catch weight bout at UFC 103: Franklin vs. Belfort at the American Airlines Center on September 19, 2009 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)

    September 19, 2009 marked the return to the UFC of Vitor Belfort, an early star with the promotion and a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, who had spent several years fighting outside of the UFC. He returned to headline UFC 103 against Rich Franklin in the first UFC event to be held in Dallas, Texas. It was a successful event, drawing 17,428 fans and a pay-per-view buy-rate of 375,000 buys.

    Belfort knocked out Franklin in the first round of the main event, starting a run that would see him get title shots at both the UFC Middleweight and UFC Light Heavyweight Championships over the next eight-and-a-half years. The co-main event saw Junior Dos Santos score a stoppage win over Mirko Cro Cop. Also on the main card was Paul Daley finishing Martin Kampmann in the first, Josh Koscheck scoring a first-round TKO win over Frank Trigg, and Tyson Griffin knocking out Hermes Franca in the second round.

    This was also the first event where prelims were televised, as Spike TV aired one hour of them. This would become the norm for UFC pay-per-view events on Spike TV, which then expanded to where we are now where every fight is televised. This was also the first UFC event to have 13 fights on the card, which is the normal number of fights to this day on cards.

    You can watch UFC 103 on UFC Fight Pass here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/73011?playlistId=1857.

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