It is (was?) a double shot weekend with two overseas shows, one that was on tape delay Friday night and another that’s on mid-morning Eastern time on Sunday. Yeah, tape delays in 2018 and Sunday morning MMA. 2018, everyone.
Now if you’re reading this, you are probably saying, “Hey, I loved the 100th edition of JNPO. That’s it.” Thank you for the compliment, but I should also mention that Bellator 200 was last night so anything you’re reading about that show is posthumous. At times, Bellator feels dead, so I guess that’s fitting.
Some breaking news as of Saturday morning: headliner and local favorite Darren Till missed weight by 3.5 pounds. Stephen Thompson made weight, but he needs to actually accept the fight under the new terms. You’d have to imagine they would financially make it worth his while to do so since Till is the reason they are doing a show in the city. Officials are saying Till had a family emergency so they extended out the weigh-in deadline by one hour.
In any case, here’s some questions and answers for both UFC Liverpool (Sunday, FS1/FS2) and Bellator 200 (DVR, Paramount on demand, in your hearts). As usual, Paul Fontaine and Ryan Frederick are in the car too.
- Darren Till vs. Stephen Thompson
- Neil Magny vs. Craig White
- Arnold Allen vs. Mads Burnell
- Jason Knight vs. Makwan Amirkhani
- Davey Grant vs. Manny Bermudez
- Eric Spicely vs. Darren Stewart
- Claudio Silva vs. Nordine Taleb
- Dan Kelly vs. Tom Breese
- Brad Scott vs. Carlo Pedersoli Jr.
- Gillian Robertson vs. Molly McCann
- Elias Theodorou vs. Trevor Smith
- Gina Mazany vs. Lina Lansberg
Bellator 200 featured fights
- Middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho vs. Gegard Mousasi
- MVP vs. David Rickels
- Phil Davis vs. Linton Vassell
What are you most looking forward to?
Ryan: It’s the main event for the UFC show between Thompson and Till. It is one of the best matchups of the year and has the potential to be a great fight. However, I do think it is too soon for Till. Aside from the knockout of Donald Cerrone, he has been in fights that have gone the distance and were close including a draw with Nicolas Dalby, who is no longer in the UFC. Thompson has a patient style that will work against Till, and I like him better in this fight. The Bellator main event between Carvalho and Mousasi is also an excellent fight.
Paul: I’m looking at “Mr. Finland” Amirkhani on the UFC main card. He’s an incredible personality, has had some exciting fights, and this will be the biggest showcase for him so far, (even though it’s FS1 on Sunday afternoon). He has a star aura about him and Jason Knight is a quality opponent. That fight could steal the show.
Josh: Till vs. Thompson. That fight has the biggest implications with a rising talent vs. a fixture in the division. The issue is that no one wants another Thompson-Woodley title fight, so if “Wonderboy” wins, we don’t get much in the way of something big to look forward to. I would assume a Till win gets him either Kamaru Usman or the loser of Rafael dos Anjos-Colby Covington. That could be Thompson’s path as well.
Anything being overlooked?
Ryan: The UFC card is essentially a one-fight card. It did have a great co-main event between Neil Magny and Gunnar Nelson, but that got scrapped after Nelson suffered an injury. Bellator lost their main event between Roy Nelson and Mirko Cro Cop, but it was a mistake having that as the main event anyways. Both are middle-of-the-road events with great main events, but nothing is really being overlooked.
Paul: Rafael Carvalho in general. He’s the longest-reigning champion in Bellator and hasn’t lost since his pro debut. Most people are looking at it as a foregone conclusion that Mousasi will walk in and take his title, and he very well might, but I think the odds are a little too long in the favor of the older challenger and he could be prime for an upset. Former UFC fighters haven’t exactly lit the world on fire in Bellator.
Josh: The Carvahlo-Mousasi fight simply because it’s a title fight between two fairly evenly matched talents. However, it’s another reason Bellator needs to be smarter when planning out their shows. Less events and on non-UFC weekends would help them avoid being swallowed up news-wise.
Anything not doing it for you?
Ryan: I don’t care for the co-main events on either show. Magny is facing an opponent making his UFC debut on short notice, and it’s really a fight he is way above. This is a no-win situation as a win doesn’t elevate him, and if he loses, he gets knocked way down the rankings. As for Bellator, Phil Davis against Linton Vassel could be a very boring fight. Davis has lost luster since he left the UFC, but he wasn’t an exciting fighter while he was there. He tends to be in a lot of boring fights, and I don’t think this one will be an exception.
Paul: The Davis-Vassel fight is going to absolutely suck. There’s no doubt about that in my mind. Davis may be the biggest waste of natural talent in the history of the sport. I also have a terrible feeling that the UFC main event isn’t going to live up to the hype. It has the potential to be great but so did both Woodley-Thompson fights. I feel that coaches are game planning too much for Thompson which leads to these standoffs where neither fighter will engage.
Josh: Yeah, Davis vs. Vassel is going to be dull. Nothing else raises my ire that much on either show. I think MVP is a little overrated, but he gets a great opportunity to prove me wrong in his first fight after a long layoff.
Any intrigue with these shows?
Ryan: The intrigue is with the UFC due to the main event, and I would say the biggest intrigue with the Bellator card is Michael Page fighting. Page is exciting as it gets, but he doesn’t seem to fight much, so it is hard for him to stay in the spotlight. A win for him and more activity would be nice. The UFC main event makes the show as everything else is filler there.
Paul: It’s definitely Page-Rickels for me. It’s the biggest test of Page’s career and Rickels derailed the career track of one of Bellator’s young guns in Adam Piccolotti in his last fight. Rickels is a wildman and Page’s style leaves him open to getting caught. Of course, he could just as easily KO Rickels in spectacular fashion. It’s time for Page to step it up and live up to the reputation he’s been building for the last 4 years.
Josh: Whether Till is the real deal and how MVP looks after a long layoff. In a sense, the Bellator title fight has some intrigue but with so much weight class jumping in the company, there’s not a strong sense of a deep contender queue.
What will be people talking about most after the show is done?
Ryan: Stephen Thompson is still a top contender, Darren Till wasn’t quite ready for an opponent like Thompson, the Liverpool crowd was one of the best in UFC history, and we are ready for MVP against Paul Daley. I expect all of those to be the stories coming out of this weekend’s big MMA events.
Paul: I think it will be either how badly the main event of the UFC show sucked or Till getting a surprising KO win. Also, the potential big futures for MVP or “Mr. Finland”. The other intrigue, for me anyway, is whether a Sunday afternoon show on FS1 for UFC will outdraw a prime time Bellator event on the Paramount Network. It is interesting that both promotions are running in the UK on the same weekend.
Josh: The potential next fights for both Till and Thompson. Both will get names, win or lose. Who those names are will help guide toward another round of fun welterweight fights.
Darren Till vs. Stephen Thompson
-Thompson: Ryan, Paul
- Till: Josh
Bellator middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho vs. Gegard Mousasi
- Mousasi: Josh, Ryan
- Carvalho: Paul
MVP vs. David Rickels
- MVP: Josh, Ryan, Paul