It’s been a fun weekend of MMA. The UFC visited Poland, where Donald Cerrone was TKOd by Darren Till and lost his third fight in a row, possibly signaling a changing of the guard. Friday Night in Connecticut, we saw Gegard Mousasi’s Bellator debut nearly soured by a tough former champ in Alexander Shlemenko, who closed Mousasi’s right eye early and, in general, kept one of the best middleweight’s in the world on his toes for nearly fifteen minutes. Both shows were fun, but Bellator’s seemed a little more important.
Over the last few years, Spike’s Bellator MMA has plucked big names from the UFC little by little, and it feels like we’re finally seeing the fruits of their labor pay off as both promotions amp up their event schedule through the end of the year. Aside from a Thanksgiving break for both companies (thoughts and prayers to the fighters who have to cut weight while the holiday rolls on through), the UFC will put on shows in ten of the next eleven weeks, and Bellator has six shows in the next eight weeks. That’s a lot of MMA. Possibly too much.
Thankfully, this fall seems to be where the war between Bellator and the UFC truly begins — right when we need things to heat up. Thus far, we’ve only experienced proxy battles, but now, the campaign for MMA supremacy truly kicks off. Bellator’s stacked Madison Square Garden show was a tap on the UFC’s shoulder — “Hey, we can put on big shows too,” and Bellator main events seem to always have more compelling fights or fighters. Of course, the UFC is still King (or maybe Conor McGregor is king and he just happens to be under UFC contract), but looking at the cards coming up, outside of a few, massive marquee fights like GSP-Bisping, Bellator and UFC don’t seem to be as far apart as they used to be. Seeing Machida back is cool, but does anyone really care about Derek Brunson? Does The Ultimate Fighter finale matter anymore? Swanson vs. Ortega?