"Fallout" actually doesn't feel right as I reflect on this past weekend for Bellator.
Everyone is marginally familiar with the UFC's sordid beginnings and recent sale to become truly a global company.....but Bellator, ladies and gentelemen....deserves a hand. This weekend, Bellator wasn't just a freakshow. It wasn't just that non-UFC semi-professional MMA event on cable TV. Bellator put on an event at MSG, offered up a PPV, and staged a cable TV broadcast.
I attended the free admission weigh-ins on Friday with some guys with whom I train Jiu-Jitsu. I saw Fedor, Wanderlei, Chael, Larkin, Lima, Chandler, et cetera all in the flesh and do the ceremonial weigh-ins bit. I saw some A and B list MMA celebrities and even ran into Eddie Bravo.
Bader won a belt that I feel was quite the gift of a decision. His face pretty much said it all. A freak accident derailed Chandler's title run/defense, Fedor looked as beatable as he could look in such a short fight. That being said, I think he folds up not super heavy HW's as Mitrione cuts to make 265 I believe. Wanderlei and Chael continued their slide into obscurity and lack of relevance....Larkin and Lima did work and some prospects were showcased and one faltered. Meanwhile in the UFC's offering a Muay Thai champion pooped herself against a fighter with a 12-6 record who complains the UFC doesn't promote her enough. Felice Herrig should win some more fights and beat fighters like Paige Van Zant (whom she lost to) rather than complain about their exposure. Say what you will, but I'll bank on it time and time again, I ENJOY Bellator cards more than UFC ones nearly every time. Which card did I viscerally enjoy more: the UFC's weight-missing former champ Hendricks & Chiesa coming back from a layoff for a year OR Gallagher's stomping of brother Machida, and Bader vs Phil Davis? Easy pick man, easy pick. Bellator won this weekend, and not even by including its PPV.
I've been saying this for awhile...the Bellator cards, for me, have better entertainment value per hour than the UFC has for awhile. The UFC has the moniker and true claim to being the premier organization but for my per hour smiles and enjoyment and thrills....Bellator almost always delivers whereas I can name quite a few UFC's that failed to deliver in terms of wanting some hours of my life back.
I'll never stop rabidly following the UFC, but Bellator proved it is truly a main player, if not an almost competitor with the UFC in a number of ways this weekend.
Bellator's weekend as far as Cable TV can be summed up as: ....a next-gen grappling-centric McGregor picked up a visible win, a boxing import beat a beatable can of an opponent, a prospect beyond hyped learned that weight classes and crafty veterans are both ready to derail the occasional hype train, ......a closely contested LHW belt changed hands....and that was all over by 10pm when the Cable TV broadcast ended. I laid in bed and was thrilled with the card for the Cable TV broadcast....and then came the PPV.
Hardy could barely put a way a fighter with a sub .500 record who didn't levels once. Her opponent had the absolute lack of takedown tools was entirely hittable, and still managed to almost last 3 rounds. Not much of a debut but hey, what do I know? She managed to not get guillotined *ahem* Aaron Pico.
Michael Chandler? The curse of being excited to fight at MSG reared it's head. Caused me to wince every time he tried to plant or turn or pivot on that broken ankle. Thank god they stopped the fight. He still clocked Primus even on a completely busted leg. Rematch dead ahead folks. Wanderlei looked like he hadn't done Jiu-Jitsu in his lifetime. One of my coaches, Neiman thankfully showed Jiu-Jitsu in his fight as it was a kickboxing-centric affair most of the night.