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SAT. UPDATE: UFC 185 preview, must-see TNA match, Anthony Pettis on CM Punk, and more

by David Bixenspan | davidbix@wrestlingobserver.com

UFC 185 is tonight live from Dallas, Texas, which Dave will cover live as usual (betting lines listed are from 5dimes):

Prelims on UFC Fight Pass at 6:30 p.m. ET

Germaine DeRandamie (+115) vs. Larissa Pacheco (-125)

Joseph Duffey (-605) vs. Jake Lindsey (+505)

Ryan Benoit (+475) vs. Sergio Pettis (-560)

 

Prelims on FX (NOT Fox Sports 1) at 8:00 p.m. ET

Jared Rosholt (-310) vs. Josh Copeland (+280)

Daron Cruickshank (+105) vs. Beneil Dariush (-115)

Roger Narvaez (+315) vs. Elias Theodorou (-345)

Ross Pearson (-380) vs. Sam Stout (+340)

 

Main Card on PPV at 10:00 p.m. ET

Henry Cejudo (-650) vs. Chris Cariaso (+535)

Roy Nelson (+130) vs. Alistair Overeem (-140)

Matt Brown (+340) vs. Johny Hendricks (-380)

Carla Esparza (-145) vs. Joanna Jedrejczyk (+125) for the women's strawweight title

Anthony Pettis (-485) vs. Rafael dos Anjos (+425) for the lightweight title

 

This is, at worst, the best PPV lineup for quality fights in at least six months. The timing is really bad for it doing well on PPV since the Ronda Rousey fight was just two weeks ago, but UFC has been building momentum, so it's at least theoretically possible this show could benefit.

 

As for the fights themselves, again, it's a really strong card. Dos Anjos is absolutely a deserving challenger, and has a very legitimate shot, but the betting line with Pettis as a strong favorite isn't outrageous at all. They match up really well and it's a great title fight worth of the best division in the UFC. The strawweight title fight is a potential show-stealer; J.J. has stolen the show doing media and in UFC's promotional videos this week, she has a really exciting style, and she has as good a shot as anyone in the division at beating Esparza. Esparza unfairly gets kind of a bad wrap as a boring fighter, but she's really not. If you were to compare her to a male fighter, the best comparison would be Frankie Edgar: Undersized for the division, but makes up for it with great wrestling, speed, cutting angles while boxing, etc. As much of a joy as Pettis is to watch, as is Dos Anjos these days, I'm looking forward to this fight more than anything else on the card.

 

Hendricks-Brown is a main event caliber fight, of course, like all three of the top fights, has fight of the night potential. Nelson-Overeem is a pick-em heavyweight fight that could spell the end of whoever loses, while Cejudo gets a big opportunity in his UFC flyweight debut against gatekeeper Cariaso. Throw in prelims with a bunch of potentially entertaining fights as well as several recognizable names and you get what should be a great night of MMA.

 

Useful reading elsewhere on the site:

 

Josh Nason's main card preview, which also includes the fight picks from our panel.

 

Betting picks from the Secret Psychic Spy.

 

Mike Coughlin's previews of the main event and the other top fights.

 

Not on our site, but as always I have to plug the technical breakdowns of every fight that my friend Patrick Wyman does at Sherdog, which Jon Anik has publicly copped to using for his notes on every UFC card.

 

Also tonight are the semifinals and final of the New Japan Cup, which will air on NJPW World via tape delay sometime tomorrow morning

 

Jushin Liger & Kushida & Jay White vs. Tiger Mask & Ryusuke Taguchi & Mascara Dorada

Satoshi Kojima & Yohei Komatsu vs. Yuji Nagata & Sho Tanaka

Togi Makabe vs. Hirooki Goto in the first New Japan Cup semifinal

Kota Ibushi vs. Tetsuya Naito in the other New Japan Cup semifinal

Katsuyori Shibata & Tomoaki Honma vs. Tama Tonga & Cody Hall

Hiroshi Tanahashi & Captain New Japan vs. Kazushi Sakuraba & Toru Yano

Shinsuke Nakamura & Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi vs. Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows & Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi

New Japan Cup finals

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The newest issue of Figure Four Weekly is up on the site for subscribers (subscribe here) with a look at whatever is going on with NXT, plus notes on the upcoming WWE Jerry Lawler DVD as well as all of the usual reviews and international news.

The Kindle edition for non-subscribers isn't up yet, but you can still get the February 6th issue, featuring a a eulogy for the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Almanac and Book of Facts (which Kappa Publishing announced it is no longer producing) as well as all of the usual reviews and international news. It's available on the AmericanUK/IrelandCanadian, and Australian Amazon Kindle stores, as well as various other regional Kindle stores that I'm probably forgetting. 

Also, now available for the first time on Kindle (meaning Kindle devices and anything with the Kindle app) is Fall Guys, the seminal 1937 book that has been described as being like the 1930s version of the Wrestling Observer. It was surprisingly not on Kindle already, so we put together a nice version with a full table of contents w/ chapter marks, proper formatting on everything, etc. Right now it's available from the AmericanCanadian, and Australian Amazon/Kindle stores OR you can also buy it from anywhere in the world on PayHip, who will provide you with both Kindle and ePub (every other e-reader) format files, and you can either sideload them to your device or have them email it to your Kindle. 

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Bill DeMott's resignation, what led to it happening, incidents that are claimed to have taken place and a rundown of developmental, is the headline story in the March 16 double issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.  We also have an update on what is going on with Brock Lesnar and Vince McMahon, the WrestleMania card, more on Rampage Jackson's Bellator contract and what was in it, Al Haymon's attempt to bring boxing back to the mainstream and how this relates to wrestling and MMA, Coverage of the New Japan Cup and a look at PWG.

The latest issue of the observer Mar. 16, 2015 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Bill DeMott resigns from WWE, Brock Lesnar-WWE impasse continues, PWG live report

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The lead story looks at Bill DeMott's tenure as head trainer for WWE developmental.  We look at how he got started as a trainer, We look at the history of the WWE developmental program, why it was a surprise at first that DeMott was made head trainer, more on the complaints regarding DeMott, the claimed language used and how this relates to what pro wrestling was.  We look at injury issues in developmental, why cameras were put on all practices, if there was a feeling DeMott was a time bomb, and why WWE handled this the way it did.

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We look at the unique Rampage Jackson Bellator contract, where he said they breached, notes on the Bellator PPV, his guaranteed fight money and bonuses.

We also look at Connor Michalek and the WWE Hall of Fame, WWE signs book deal, Notes on this year's SummerSlam as well as the 2016 version, Daniel Bryan talks his return, the Rumble and his Mania match, current WWE value, Pat Patterson talks career to Chris Jericho, Patterson talks the first WrestleMania and Royal Rumble creation, John Cena honored, rundown of NXT shows and activities in Ohio, as well as a look at the WWE house shows and business notes from the past week.

We also look at the attempt with the Premier Boxing Championships to take boxing mainstream, and look at the debut show on NBC.  We compare the ratings and the difference in audience makeup to that of UFC.  We look at the PBC plans for 2015, and how they compare to what Vince McMahon did in 1984 and what the UFC did in 2005.  We look at upcoming events, what the goal is, decisions, talent pay and overall economics related to the show.

We update the New Japan Cup, with the next iPPV lineup, early notes on the Invasion Attack show along with coverage of the first two events.

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We also have complete win-loss records of all TNA talent in 2014.

We also look at WWE business for January in several categories, including live attendance and television ratings.

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--CMLL lineup for its first major show of the year

--What CMLL is doing for fans who watch Dos Leyendas at the movie theaters

--Tournament final to crown new NWA light heavyweight champion

--Finals of the incredible partners tournament

--Update on Alberto Del Rio injury

--AAA iPPV show this week ad notes on how to order

--A look at AAA's TV tapings this past week in Mexico City

--A look at the debut of Brian Cage in AAA

--Keiji Muto loses W-1 title belt and a look at the singles and tag titles in the promotion, plus the cruiserweight tournament

--A look at this week's Dragon Gate iPPV show

--Early notes on the next major Dragon Gate shows

--Notes on the 2015 Champion Carnival tournament

--First real big test of the new NOAH booking

--Notes on future of New Japan World

--New Japan stars headed to U.K.

--Shoot tournament to crown a pro wrestling world champion starts in April

--Special perks for Observer readers over WrestleMania weekend

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--Update on the first New Japan PPV, how it did, as well as an update on the future of Global Force Wrestling

--Notes on Northeast Wrestling doing an indie show that did more than 2,000 fans

--A look at Tommy Dreamer's House of Hardcore show

--Notes on the wXw 16 Carat Gold tournament

--Major Lucha Libre stars headed to he U.K.

--70s star resurfaces after winning battle over cancer and wrestles his first match in 24 years

--Another former UFC fighter now training for pro wrestling

--Notes on the next ROH PPV show

--Notes on the ROH shows with New Japan

--More on the Samoa Joe vs. Jay Briscoe ROH title match

--The biggest threat to ROH right now

--Lineups for this week's ROH house shows

--Matt Sydal injury notes

--A look at the next month of ROH television

--Changes in TNA television

--TNA tag team title notes

--Wrestler to debut this week with TNA

--New TNA TV contract

--Notes on this week's UFC show 

--Thoughts on the new Johny Hendricks

--UFC to have a four hour live show on FOX

--New UFC fights

--Pay records for the last Invicta show

--More on PPV potential of Rousey vs. Cyborg

--More on Burt Watson quitting UFC

--Watson talks about his departure

--A look at UFC's debut in The Philippines

--Next Bellator lineup featuring former star from Japan

--Renzo Gracie pleads guilty to assault charges

--Jason Miller arrested again

--Former UFC fighter tracks down robber

--Next Ben Askren fight

--Chael Sonnen returns to combat

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Saturday Daily Update

-- If you didn't see last night's episode of Impact, you need to go out of your way to watch the main event, which was EC3 vs. Rockstar Spud in a hair vs. hair match. This was the best match and overall presentation on TNA programming in a really, really long time. It was a great, super heated match with incredible drama, a hot crowd in the palms of their hands, and even in 2015, I have to say that the blood helped put it over the top, though it was already a great match. When I saw how TNA was promoting the match, I wasn't sure what to think. It's 2015, nobody really blades in major league pro wrestling and the last time TNA brought blood back, the fans didn't react well to it. As much as the visual adds to the drama of a great match, it just doesn't feel like it's worth it anymore.

Once Spud came up bleeding and the heat kept on building, I kind of forgot about the real world consequences, but only because I was so drawn into the match. Taking some distance from it, I still don't like the idea of it, but I'm glad that if TNA was going to bring back blood for a match, it was the sympathetic home country babyface in a long-term story bleeding in a TV main event of what will probably be their biggest card of the year, as opposed to Abyss doing his shtick, or anyone considering a double juice match. I don't want anyone cutting themselves, but the visual of blood, in and of itself, really does add to the type of match that Spud and EC3 had. It would be nice if there was some other way that actually worked in a pro wrestling environment.

-- The first legal MMA card in a cage (only rings were allowed beforehand) in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia took place today. The recent law change in Victoria opened up Melbourne for the UFC, who has a huge show booked for later in the year.

-- Steven Muehlhausen of The Sporting News interviewed Anthony Pettis about CM Punk and tonight's fight. When asked if Punk's attitude surprised him, he said "Yes for sure. I just didn't know what to expect. You see him on TV. I met him a couple times. You really don't know what to expect from anybody. He came into the gym, you come into the practice room and you have two world champions on the floor, you have CM Punk, you have one of the most Olympic level wrestlers and everybodies is just training together. Everybody blends in and there's no superstar. There's no one person who gets more attention. Its just a team full of guys that all want to get better."

-- The last episode of UFC 185 Embedded went up today. This one focuses on the weight cuts of the fighters in the top fights on the card and the weigh-ins. I've always found it interesting and kind of refreshing how open UFC is about the weight cutting process. You'd almost expect it to be treated as a dark secret.

-- Jesse Hernandez’s EWF runs tonight at Sierra Vista High School in Baldwin Park, CA with a 7:00 p.m. start time. The card is a fundraiser for the school’s baseball team.

-- PCW Road To Glory Night 1 results from last night in Preston, England (Sold out crowd of 800):

El Ligero b Ricardo Rodriguez, Sha Samuels vs Dave Mastiff ended in a double countout, Bubblegum b Ashton Smith, Viper won a musical chairs segment also featuring Eugene, Dave Rayne, Charlie Garrett, Noam Dar, and Richard Parker, Matt Hardy b Rampage Brown, T-Bone b Carlito, John Morrison b Will Ospreay, Martin Kirby b Christopher Daniels, and Lionheart b Joey Hayes.

-- Pro Wrestling Eclipse runs "April Anarchy" on April 12th in Oshawa, Ontario at Royal Canadian Legion (471 Simcoe St. S). Will White defends PWE title against RJ City, Chip Chambers defends PWE Cruiserweight title against Buck Gunderson, Kaitlin Diemond defends Flame (woman's) title against Miss Danyah, plus Cody Deaner and PWE tag team champions the Flatliners will be in action.