Final Matches Announced For Cage Warriors 58 – Free To View In UK!

Set to take place in the Russian republic of Chechnya this Saturday, Cage Warriors 58 is to be headlined by the meeting of Chechen star Beslan Isaev and Viktor Halmi.

Cage Warriors 58 will mark the promotion’s inaugural visit to Chechnya, with the action scheduled for the Olympisk Arena in the capital city of Grozny.

Isaev (23-6), a Grozny native, is one of Europe’s most highly-regarded welterweights and will be fighting for the 30th time in his professional career.

The 29-year-old has taken all but two of his 23 victories by stoppage – 11 submissions, 10 (T)KOs – and holds notable wins over UFC veteran Xavier Foupa-Pokam and CWFC middleweights Pavel Kusch and Valentino Petrescu.

Halmi (14-5), a 28-year-old Hungarian, also boasts an impressive record which includes 11 submission finishes from 14 career wins.

Elsewhere on the bill for CWFC 58, heavyweight prospects Ion Cutelaba and Michal Andryszak will collide following the clash of rising Ukrainian star Ruslan Abiltarov and top English bantamweight James Brum.

That’s just a small taste of some of the action scheduled for this Saturday’s bill. View the full fight card below.

The Cage Warriors 58 main card will be broadcast live all over the world at 9pm local time (6pm UK, 1pm ET, 10am PT) via the selection of broadcasters listed below, but it’s worth pointing out that the Main Card will be shown online on in the UK, for those of you who don’t have Premier Sports subscriptions.



Premier Sports | United Kingdom
Setanta Sports 1 | Ireland
Fight Now TV | USA
Fight Network | Canada, Portugal, Turkey, Angola, Mozambique
ESPN | Middle East, Africa, Caribbean, Pacific Rim

MAIN CARD LIVE STREAMING BROADCASTERS | USA & Canada | Ireland | Rest of the world


Viktor Halmi v Beslan Isaev
Michal Andryszak v Ion Cutelaba
Ruslan Abiltarov v James Brum
Bakhtiyar Abbasov v Charles Andrade
Ivan Buchinger v Jamal Magomedov
Chris Scott v Pavel Kusch
Matt Inman v Bagautdin Sharaputdinov (replaces the injured Eldar Eldarov)


Mohsen Bahari v Alexander Voitenko
Liam James v Akhad Mammadov
Khusein Khaliev v Mihail Serdyuk
Alex Enlund v Sebastian


Cage Warriors 58 – Chechnya Preview (FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE)

Sat, 24 Aug 2013
Grozny, Chechnya
Olympisk Arena

You know how the UFC have been mumbling about breaking into Russia for years, but have never really tried to do much about it, despite a growing number of top Russian fighters and the fact that the country is home to one of the most effective martial styles (Sambo) and one of the main contenders for GOAT (Fedor Emelianenko) is a national hero.

Well, Cage Warriors beat you to it.

Yeah, that ‘regional’ promotion that so many ‘MMA’ fans think is below their notice. I mean, if you’re not on network TV in the States, how legit can you be?


Anyway, to show how important and ground breaking this venture is, Cage Warriors have elected to make this ‘overseas’ show a proper, numbered CW event, rather than hand it the Fight Night designation we’ve become used to from shows at similar longitude (usually in the Middle East) and the strength of the card reflects that.

Probably taking the main event slot for the benefit of the Slavic home crowd is a Heavyweight contest between Poland’s exciting Michal Andryszak (9-3, 1NC) and undefeated Moldovan Ion Cutelaba (4-0, 1NC).

Both are promising young talents and neither have ever gone to a decision with eight knockouts and eight submissions making up the finishes to their sixteen combined bouts (not counting no contests). This is going to be fun.

Supporting the internationally lesser known but hot local talent are some real Cage Warriors stalwarts, with a host of very familiar names competing against Russian fighters in what promises to be a bevy of compelling matches.

Topping the list is former Middleweight title contender, Pavel Kusch (13-4) looking to rebound from back to back knockout losses when he faces up and coming Chris Scott (6-2) who had been enjoying a five fight win streak before a super narrow decision loss to highly rated Mats Nilsson in April.

Both of these guys have ALL their wins via submission, with losses coming by KO or decision. I think something has to give there, probably an arm or a heel, looking at their weapons of choice…

Next up, highly ranked English Bantamweight James Brum (12-2) looks to extend his current six fight win streak (which includes wins over current title hopeful Martin McDonough and top European talent James Saville, Moktar Benkaci and Olivier Pastor) when he faces the insanely active Ruslan Abiltarov (10-3) who will be competing in his NINTH pro fight of 2013 (he’s 6-2 for the year so far.)

We’re not even half done yet 🙂

Much travelled Ivan Buchinger (22-4) returns to Cage Warriors looking to build on his win over Jason Ball when he faces Jamal Magomedov (5-1). Buchinger is 10-2 over the past few years with the losses coming to Conor McGregor (you might have heard of him?) and Antonio Kuivanen, so he’s a MASSIVE step up in competition for Magomedov.

Of course, this is MMA, so you know how that can go…

Rounding out the card, we have familiar and reliable faces Matt Inman (11-5), Mohsen Bahari (5-1), Liam James (7-5) and Alex Enlund (7-2) facing local (well, localish. Russia is pretty big after all) talent Eldar Eldarov (5-1), Alexander Voitenko (9-3), Akhad Mmedov (4-1) and Sebastien Romanowski (7-1).

You might not know the names, but I trust in Ian Dean’s matchmaking to have provided us with quality matches and names that will be worth remembering after Saturday night.

As usual, it’s a grand card, which will be supported by the fantastic commentary of John Gooden and Josh Palmer and the usual cadre of excellent referees, such as Marc Goddard and Neil Hall.

This is THE MMA card of next weekend, check it out on the following outlets…


Premier Sports | United Kingdom
Setanta Sports 1 | Ireland
Fight Now TV | USA
Fight Network | Canada, Portugal, Turkey, Angola, Mozambique
ESPN | Middle East, Africa, Caribbean, Pacific Rim

MAIN CARD LIVE STREAMING BROADCASTERS | USA & Canada | Ireland | Rest of the world (excluding the UK) | United Kingdom (subscription required)
ESPN | Brazil (subscription required)

Announced card, more fights to be added…

• Michal Andryszak vs. Ion Cutelaba
Ruslan Abiltarov vs. James Brum
Ivan Buchinger vs. Jamal Magomedov
• Pavel Kusch vs. Chris Scott
• Eldar Eldarov vs. Matt Inman
• Mohsen Bahari vs. Alexander Voitenko
• Liam James vs. Akhad Mammadov
• Alex Enlund vs. Sebastian Romanowski

MMA Monday – 19th August 2013

In which Chris picks five things from this last week’s MMA to talk about…

– Matt Brown

On Saturday night, Matt ‘The Immortal’ Brown advanced his record to 18-11 and increased his live streak to 5-0 with an awesome first minute KO of veteran Mike Pyle.

To put that in context, Pyle has an 8-4 UFC record (25-9-1 in total) with the losses coming in his debut to then-promising Brock Larson and top level fighters Rory MacDonald, Jake Ellenberger and now Matt Brown.

Beating Mike Pyle is a big deal. He’s slammed the door to the top ten in the face of John Hathaway, Ricardo Almedia and Rick Story and before he was in the UFC he scored wins over legit guys like Dan Hornbuckle and Jon Fitch.

So Brown now has the most impressive win streak at 170lbs by anyone not named GSP or Johny Hendricks. That makes him next, right?

Not yet. He’s not yet beaten a bona fine top ten guy and I’d like to see him face the winner of next week’s Carlos Condit vs. Martin Kampmann fight.

C’mon, don’t tell me you don’t wanna see that fight?

The winner of that bout would join Rory MacDonald and the winners of the upcoming Demian Maia vs. Jake Shields and Dong Hyun Kim vs. Erick Silva bouts in genuine title contention.

Tasty times at 170lbs.

– Conor McGregor

Also on Saturday, ‘the Notorious’ Conor McGregor had his sophomore outing in the UFC and I can safely say, I’ve never felt such a surge of justified hype for a fighter. As those of us who enjoy being Cage Warriors fans have known for a while – he’s gonna be a big star.

His opponent, Max Holloway fought gamely, but Conor stylishly out struck him in the first round and then spent the remainder of the bout in near total top control, earning a dominant 30-26 win on my scorecard.

Conor has now fought twice in the UFC, with a first round knockout and solid all round performance against opposition that cannot be discounted as ‘cans.’ Add in his charisma and the sheer weight of public affection for him and he’s on a fast track to the top of the featherweight division.

Depending on timescales, I’d love to see him face someone like Charles Oliveira or Darren Elkins or maybe even Akira Corassani on the next Sweden card (assuming his potential knee injury keeps him out until early 2014).

I have no doubt that Conor will fight for a UFC title before the end of 2015 but there’s no need to rush the boy. He’ll be ready.

– Pedro Munhoz

At RFA9 on Friday, Pedro Munhoz took a split decision win over veteran Jeff Curran, lifting the RFA Bantamweight belt and retiring Curran at the same time.

Still undefeated at 9-0 and now with a win over a well known and much respected fighter as well as holding gold in a promotion which prides itself on developing talent by challenging them, Munhoz can legitimately be seen as one of the top 135lb fighters outside of the UFC.

It seems like a matter of time till he’s on the big show, but he won’t be rushed or have his record spoon fed to him by RFA in the meantime. I’d love to see him on a Cage Warriors card at some point too…

You have to expect that the next stop for him is a defence against his originally scheduled opponent this weekend, Keoni Koch (5-0) in a much anticipated fight, now twice postponed. I wanna see that.

– Heavyweight Stoppage

The heavyweight co main event of UFC Boston on Saturday featured an all action first round where Alistair Overeem first had Travis Browne on the back foot, knocking him down and landing over a dozen shots before Browne lurched to his feet. Overeem kept up the pressure and landed something like another 30+ unanswered shots before Browne managed to bully his way free of the cage.

Should the fight have been stopped?

Given that Browne then managed to knock Overeem down with a sweet front kick and followed up with two HEAVY shots on the ground that drew the stoppage.

Some folks have said the fight should have been stopped when Overeem was winning and some say Overeem should have been given more time to recover, as Browne took three hits to win the fight, while Overeem landed dozens.

For my money, the stoppage was good. Browne took a lot of shots at the start of the fight, but kept moving, working his way to his feet and at no point did he look glazed or did his legs tremble. He also ate an illegal knee from Overeem that the referee let slide, possibly giving Travis a little longer than he otherwise would to improve his position on account of that.

When Browne levelled Overeem with the kick, his first follow up blow snapped the Dutchman’s head off the canvas and his arms came up in what looks (to me at least) like an involuntary spasm, such as you’d make when you were knocked out, however briefly.

So, good reffing – apart from the fact that the match should have been stopped when Browne took the illegal knee and restarted in the middle of the cage. Browne managed to get there himself in the end, so no harm done.

– Chael Sonnen

Lastly, Chael Sonnen put in a great performance, subbing Shogun Rua in the first round. It was classic Sonnen, going for the takedown from the start and sticking with that plan, even when Shogun initially got back to his feet.

Rua’s ground game is much underrated and Sonnen controlled him excellently. The eventual guillotine submission was indisputable and unexpected – if anyone bet on a Sonnen victory via submission in the first round, I would have expected the odds to be rather good.

Sonnen breaks his losing streak and has already called out Wanderlei Silva – I’d pay good money to see that fight, and it fits nicely into my concept of the UFC Masters Division where well established fighters who shouldn’t really be anywhere near a title shot at this point face off for their ego gratification and our entertainment. I’m sure there’s money involved the somewhere too.

Shogun loses back to back fights for the first time in his UFC tenure, and while his popularity and legend remain undimmed, he’s a long way from a return shot at his title at this time. I’d love to see him fight someone like James Te Huna or Fabio Maldonado, that would be fun to watch but also give Shogun a chance at someone who is behind him in the rankings, as much as behind him in name power.

UCMMA Declares Independence From SAFE MMA

It emerged today that following several non-SAFE MMA sanctioned bouts taking place at UCMMA 35 at the start of this month and SAFE MMA’s resulting sanctions, that UCMMA has withdrawn from the panel and will no longer submit to SAFE MMA oversight.

I have included releases from both UCMMA and SAFE MMA at the foot of this article in the interests of allowing both sides to get their stories across, however what follows immediately below is my two pence worth from the sidelines.

My View
(As if anyone cares, but I feel it is important to separate this from the official releases included below)

Basically what this boils down to is UCMMA not being willing to live up to their side of the SAFE MMA agreement. All they and their fighters had to do was to make sure that blood samples, from within the six month time frame were submitted.

They failed to do this. That is as much the fighter’s fault, as it’s not so fucking hard to set a calendar reminder on your phone saying ‘need new bloods taken by this date or cannot fight in UK’. However, it’s incumbent in UCMMA, as a signatory to SAFE MMA to at least check that their fighters have submitted valid bloods, if only to protect their own card.

What really went wrong after this slip, was that UCMMA let the offending bouts go ahead, basically saying ‘its too late, they’ve trained, they’ve sold tickets…’

It is also a mealy mouthed way of saying ‘we’ll lose money and look like two different kinds of dick.’

As if to stick a middle finger up to SAFE MMA, UCMMA then added another fight that SAFE MMA had neither sanctioned or even been informed of.

Classy. Try pulling that shit with an Athletic Commission over in the US, or even Sweden.

SAFE MMA then acted exactly as they said they would in their published constitution and fixed to ban fighters and promotion for a set period.

UCMMA of course threw the toys out of the pram, resigned and make some half assed story about not being able to be part of SAFE MMA out of concern for fighter’s livelihoods.

Are you telling me, that performers on a regional UK show derive their main income from fighting?


At this level, you train because you want to and any purse you get from fights will likely barely cover your travel expenses or maybe some new gear. It’s not going to feed you for three months. That is a sucky state of affairs, it’s true and I wish it weren’t so, but it is.

If you’re someone who only fights in the UK, chances are you’re day job – whether its entirely unrelated or you’re lucky enough to get to be in and around them all day – is what pays you’re rent and food and gym memberships.

If you can take more lucrative bookings overseas, then a SAFE MMA ban isn’t going to affect you much. It will just stop you competing in credible UK organisations until you learn to fulfil your responsibilities.

For Dave O’Donnell to admit culpability on one hand, then try and make SAFE MMA look unreasonable, indeed UNCARING towards fighters is hypocritical and laughable in the extreme.

Basically, UCMMA liked the positive publicity when it wasn’t compelling them to do anything proactive, like pull a fight or amend their usual poking practise in any way.

Of course, this is the promotion who regularly books appalling mismatches, who attempted to ‘revolutionise’ MMA with the genius idea that was ‘Ultimate Ball’ and generally seem most immured in the lads culture, lowest common denominator aesthetic that puts me in mind of nothing more than 1980s Darts broadcasts or World of Sport pro wrestling.

UCMMA are NOT the future of UKMMA, hell they’re not even the present. They are a throwback, revelling in the fading glory of Cage Rage and promoting every negative stereotype that most credible MMA organisations are trying to get away from.

Could the whole thing have been handled a bit better by SAFE MMA? Yes, probably it could. Perhaps an official note to promoters a week, ten days or even a fortnight before fight time if any of their fighters remain uncleared?

On the day if weigh ins IS a bit late, but then perhaps they just assumed that the fighter was a grown up and was going to submit a valid sample?

Just my thoughts. Read the below statements and make up your own mind.

Today’s UCMMA Press Release

(Friday 16th August 2013 – London, UK) Dave O’Donnell – It has been a long hard struggle with Safe MMA which I have backed all the way, but I have never seen goalposts moved so much. I personally have helped fighters pay by giving free tickets for those who cannot afford costs which is a massive struggle for most young fighters.

Cage Rage and UCMMA have always operated to the highest safety standards with an exemplary record and have been an example to other promotions across Europe. One could argue that Cage Rage in fact, set the standard.

Under the safe MMA banner I was getting more complaints than ever saying calls were not being returned, web sites going down and it was difficult for fighters to proceed with the necessary checks. Operating away from Safe MMA will alleviate these issues and mean that fighters will ‘fight safe’ with lower costs and easier logistics.

On UCMMA 35 Przmyslaw Mysiala meds where out of date but this was told to us on day of weigh in both fighter’s had trained for 10 weeks paid all ticket money ECT so for me to cancel the fight would have been a saving for me but anyone who knows me knows fighters always come first and Kingslow and his management did not want to cancel fight, they were happy to fight Misiek without his Safe MMA so The fight went ahead. I have today heard that Safe MMA wish to ban Mysiala for one year because of this situation and I know he has a family with mouths to feed I do not agree with this so for this reason myself and UCMMA will NOT be supporting SAFE MMA and have removed our self from the panel.

I work hard with gyms around the UK and pushed to have gyms sign up for free but I was out voted most fighters and gyms do this for the love of sport and scrape a living but enjoy what they do.

I will continue to run blood test for fighters and make it a safe environment as I have always done and I will ban fighters when they do wrong as I have always done but I will NOT stop fighters and gyms earning a living, long live MMA.

This does not reflect on Harley Street or Dr Jack as I have up most respect for them.

The Full SAFE MMA Release

(London.16th August 13) Safe MMA voted that UCMMA should be temporarily suspended after holding 3 bouts that had not been medically cleared on UCMMA 35 on 3rd August.

Fighters Przmyslaw Mysiala and Tom Richards flouted their medical obligations to UCMMA as a Safe MMA promotion, yet UCMMA took the decision to allow the fights to go ahead. Neither fighter was a replacement and both Przmyslaw Mysiala and Tom Richards were listed on the original UCMMA 35 Fight Card submitted to Safe MMA on 18/06/13. Despite promoter Dave O’Donnell paying for Tom Richard’s registration on 9/7/13, Richards failed to provide sufficient blood results and undergo a doctor medical. Mysiala requested ‘foreign fighter’ status, which requires the submission of bloods only, but supplied blood results that were out-of-date according to Safe MMA stipulations on 2/08/13. Both fighters are banned from Safe MMA shows for a year, which sets a precedent for fighters failing to compete their professional medical obligations for Safe MMA shows.

Following communications on 2/08/13, in which UCMMA was informed that Mysiala and Richards were not safe to fight, Dave O’Donnell contacted Safe MMA to say but because of logistics and cost, nothing further could now be done. Instructions were given to UCMMA regarding how to safe guard the rest of the card on the night.

A third fight that had not been medically approved was also added to the card on the Saturday night between Safe MMA fighter, Jason Radcliffe and another fighter, Marvin Campbell, who Safe MMA had not been notified of and holds no medical records for.

Detailed information was provided by the record keeper at 76 Harley Street and circumstances surrounding the incident have been discussed in detail by the Safe MMA board. The incident was weighed up against the administrative processes in place, a changeover of systems and staff at 76 Harley Street, the level of support that UCMMA had received and the strong commitment UCMMA has made to Safe MMA over its first 6 months. Based on clauses in the Safe MMA Agreement and in the promotions contract outlined below, an anonymous vote was cast over whether UCMMA should receive a warning or a suspension.

The vote was put to the following available people/groups on the board: Dr. Mike Loosemore, Rosi Sexton, Marc Goddard, John Gooden, Dr. Maeve Rogers, Dr. Paul Drake, Quest Fighting (1 vote), Cage Warriors (1 vote), BAMMA (1 vote). The decision to suspend UCMMA was reached by majority decision.

2. The Promotions Agreement states:


1. Promotions must adhere to the principles of Safe MMA, and that is to use only fighters that are cleared to fight under the ‘green light’ system. Should any promotion be discovered to use a fighter that is not medically cleared to fight, they shall be prohibited from using the SAFE MMA logo and its association. Furthermore, there will be no refunds on membership and should the promotion desire to reapply, they will be required to submit a membership application and annual fee after a 6 month period has elapsed

2. Promotions will do everything reasonable to ensure that their organisation and their fighters complies with the code of conduct for SAFE MMA

2. The Safe MMA Agreement document ( Question 30, page 24) available on 76 Harley Street website states:


SAFE MMA stipulates a code of conduct. It is the responsibility of members to uphold this
code. Any error or misconduct will go before the Safe MMA board to be reviewed and a
democratic decision will be made on a case by case basis. The member will be issued with
one of the following:
• a notice of poor practice
• a warning of misconduct
• a suspension for serious misconduct or to be stuck-off the register – that can be temporary or even permanent.
Every error and its verdict will be publicly available to view. The verdicts will be based on
how severe the error and how constructive the member is being. These processes are in line with the disciplinary proceedings of the General Medical Counsel of Great Britain.

Medically Safe MMA will be unable to support a promotion if something goes wrong from not following the rules and the promotion will not be able to claim it was not in the know.

Promoter, Dave O’Donnell of UCMMA apologised in a phone call and admitted culpability.

He also stressed that he would like to continue to work with Safe MMA moving forwards.

76 Harley Street have outlined the terms of the suspension lasting 6 months, which bans UCMMA from marketing itself as a Safe MMA show and from the PR and liability protection support offered by Safe MMA. UCMMA will also lose its vote in in the forming of new agreements and at the AGM. However, UCMMA and its fighters can continue to use the medical and databasing service provided by 76 Harley Street. If UCMMA continues to register its fighters and uphold Safe MMA guidelines under supervision, it may be reduce its ban to 4 months. Safe MMA will work to troubleshoot the issues that lead to the incident and provide support and guidance to aid UCMMA to find resolutions.

The fighters may also reduce their ban from 1 year to 6-8 months if they have bloods once every six months during the ban, either through 76 Harley Street or they must supply their blood results to Safe MMA. Blood test results are required for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.

The Ultimate Fighter 18 Cast Revealed


The 18th incarnation of the main ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ season is just around the corner and is already guaranteed to make UFC history as it is the first to not only feature female coach’s, but also female contestants.

Recent season’s of TUF have not been without their critics, with many being turned off by the repetitive nature of the format and a perceived lack of talent due to constantly using the same old weight divisions season after season.

The UFC are hedging their bets this season though, coached by UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey and no. 1 contender Meisha Tate, by making it the first ever co-ed season, featuring both male and female contestants. Those cast members have been announced today and are as follows:


    • Shayna Baszler (15-8), 33, Sioux Falls, S.D.
  • Revelina Berto (3-1), 24, Winter Haven, Fla.


  • Jessamyn Duke (2-1), 27, Richmond, Ky.


  • Tonya Evinger (11-6), 32, Lake St. Louis, Mo.


  • Laura Howarth (4-0), 26, Hove, East Essex, England


  • Tara LaRosa (21-3), 35, Albuquerque, N.M.


  • Valerie Letourneau (4-3), 30, La Prairie, Canada


  • Bethany Marshall (4-1), 25, Newport News, Va.


  • Sarah Moras (3-1), 25, Kelowna, Canada


  • Peggy Morgan (2-0), 33, Nashua, N.H.


  • Gina Mazany (3-0), 25, Seattle


  • Roxanne Modafferi (15-10), 30, Pittsfield, Mass.


  • Julianna Pena (4-2), 24, Spokane, Wash.


  • Raquel Pennington(3-3), 24, Colorado Springs, Colo.


  • Jessica Rakoczy (1-3), 36, Las Vegas


  • Colleen Schneider (4-3), 31, Las Vegas



    • Chris Beal (7-0), 28, Somis, Calif.
  • Cody Bollinger (14-3), 22, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.


  • Louis Fisette (6-1), 23, Winnipeg


  • Rafael Freitas (6-0-1), 29, Albuquerque, N.M.


  • Davey Grant (8-1), 27, Bishop Auckland, England


  • Tim Gorman (9-2), 30, West Des Moines, Iowa


  • Anthony Gutierrez (4-0), 22, Lee’s Summit, Mo.


  • Emil Hartsner (4-0), 23, Luberod, Sweden


  • Josh Hill (9-0), 26, Binbrook, Canada


  • Chris Holdsworth (4-0), 25, Woodland Hills, Calif.


  • Patrick Holohan (9-0-1), 25, Dublin


  • Sirwan Kakai (9-1), 23, Coconut Creek, Fla.


  • Danny Martinez (18-4), 28, San Diego


  • Matthew Munsey (4-1), 26, Hollywood, Fla.


  • Lee Sandmeier (9-0), 30, Knoxville, Iowa


  • Michael Wootten (6-0), 24, Liverpool, England


It only takes a quick glance at the Women’s contestant’s list to see a number of recognisable names from the world of WMMA and I think it is fair to say that they could potentially deliver some of the more exciting fights in recent TUF history.

The Men’s list is not nearly as familiar, however this could prove to be to their credit. if the records are anything to go by then the majority of these gents are still in earlier part of their career’s and could see TUF as the perfect springboard. It is also good to see a few names from UK & European MMA in there for both sexes.

All in all I think this could prove to be an interesting season and not for the reasons people may have thought before hand. I sincerely hope that the contestants that get into the house do not let it descend into a place where who may or may not sleep with who is getting more attention than the fights. It may not make the best telly, but I would love to see everyone represent themselves as top dedicated athletes and give their all in the fights.

Add to that the fact the rivalry between Rousey and Tate seems to have heated up even more during filming and this could be one of the best performing seasons for a while. I for one am at least looking forward to it.

If you too want to check it out then it starts on the 4th September on Fox Sports 1 in the states and on BT Sport here in the UK, although date and time is to be confirmed. Elsewhere check your local listings.

As always let us know what you think of this upcoming season and the revealed cast.

Ross Stevenson

All That Could Have Been – A Eulogy For Bellator

For years, I’ve been a fan of Bellator Fighting Championships, for their tournament format, for their underdog status, for their steadfast refusal to not make the mistakes that so many MMA organisation have, of promoting washed up former top tier stars over their own products, of not trying to run before they can walk.

No more. It’s over.

It’s not one thing that’s led them here. It’s a lot of things. In no particular order…

Repeatedly trying to load tournaments so that their preferred fighters get the W – which finally worked out as Muhammed Lawal won the reduced Summer Series Light Heavyweight crown.

Doing what they always accused the UFC of doing and attempting to low ball fighters while strong arming them into staying with them or doing as they wanted – see Eddie Alvarez, Tyson Nam and others…

Having their (real) fighters involved with the (scripted) TNA Impact Wrestling show on a regular basis.

Upon deciding to embark on a pay per view experiment despite generally weak ratings for their televised shows, they break their code of promoting, young exciting talent to sign two past it guys best known for being UFC fighters who are each on 0-3 streaks in the UFC and promoting them as a bigger deal than all the guys they’ve been building up through their tournaments.

Then, the final straw…

Having forced Eddie Alvarez to extremis by dragging out the litigation between themselves and Alvarez over how Bellator CANNOT match the UFC’s contract offer, effectively removing him from paid employment for a year, they break their company’s one truest unique selling point…

‘Where Title Shots Are Earned, Not Given.’

… and hand a title shot to a non-tournament winner.

Sure, Alvarez is on a two fight win streak, over quality fighters Shinya Aoki and Patricky Freire which makes him easily ‘next’ in any promotion that doesn’t have an established tournament format. Two wins isn’t enough, it has to be two (or ideally three, in a full sized tournament) TOURNAMENT wins in order for the company to not make themselves massive hypocrites.

On the cuff booking is fine, hell it’s what the UFC do and what most other smaller promotions do out of nothing more than expedience. Bellator’s whole selling point was their tournaments.

Their broadly understandable, credible way of deciding who earned a title shot, with the persistent implication that here, almost alone in all of high profile MMA was a company where merit and merit alone got you to the top of the card. Where a loss could be redressed by a streak in the next tournament, where your card position was more about your fighting ability than your ability to self promote.

After all, this is Mixed Martial Arts, not pro wrestling!

Funny then, that the rot set in with almost direct proportion to Viacom’s (owner of TNA Impact and Spike TV) stake in and control over the company?

Funny that Bellator’s long game, interest in credible, sustainable growth became less and less important the more money was involved, the more that folks with their eye on bright lights and bottom lines, rather than the good of the sporting side of things came to the fore.

Bellator have more money, more exposure and more opportunity to really see through all the promise they one had, but they’re short term thinking and a lack of appreciation for what makes MMA so appealing as a sport has stripped them of so much I once found appealing.

Once upon a time, Bellator were poised to be an alternative to UFC in the mid to long term.

Lets remember that they invested airtime and money in WMMA and the lighter weight classes long before the UFC.

It seemed that Bellator could become top flight MMA organisation that offered something tangibly different to the Dana Fucking White show, an organisation that could co-exist with the UFC but not be wholly outshone by them, a true ‘other’ MMA organisation for fighters who’s face didn’t fit in the UFC or who’s mere existence would improve the bargaining position of free agents in both camps and elsewhere.

Competition that would be good for both companies and the sport.

As it is, Dana and the Fertittas must be watching Bellator’s increasingly desperate moves with nothing short of amazement. For a while there, it looked like we might have a fight, but no more.

I do not enjoy saying this – in fact it pains me. I want to see Bellator succeed, I want to see recently signed British fighters like Rob Sinclair and Michael Page given a chance to succeed in a truly credible and forward thinking organisation. I want to see the likes of Pat Curran, Michael Chandler and Ben Askren given their due credit as amongst the very best in their weight class.

I want MMA as a sport to be a competitive, varied scene, for the benefit of all involved.

However, every time I see ‘Bellator superstar appears on TNA Impact’ or Tito Ortiz headlining a PPV in 2013 ahead of Michsel Chandler, that dream died a bit.

It won’t be overnight, indeed Bellator will likely be with us for years, probably making greater and greater missteps as their paymasters despite to recoup their investment in the face of increasing failure grows more desperate, but as of right now, their notional place as a credible alternative to the UFC is void.

Look instead to Cage Warriors, Invicta and Resurrection Fighting Alliance. That’s where the future is.

Postscript –

I see now that Bellator have released Jessica Eye, Jessica Aguilar and Felice Herrig. Releasing popular, top ten ranked, young fighters in a division which is undoubtedly on the up is never a good sign.

UFC Fight Night 26: Shogun vs. Sonnen Preview

Sat, 17 Aug 2013
Boston, Massachusetts

The first time I wrote a preview for this, it ran to over 3000 words and I ran out of positive adjectives long before I’d finished covering the main card. It lost all impact, so I’m trying again.

Let me put it simply. This is one of the most stacked MMA cards ever put together, never mind limiting it to free TV or the UFC.

All it lacks is a title match (or two) and when it features five legitimate former world champions, a further two fighters who have competed for UFC gold, a clutch of TUF winners and finalists and is composed almost entirely of fighters known for their entertaining fighting style, that seems like a small thing to be missing.

Five of these fights could easily produce the next no.1 contenders in their respective divisions, three fighters here can already account themselves as legends in the sport with half a dozen more either well on the way or certainly with the potential to do so.

I don’t even have the will to break the matches down individually. It’s more than my tiny heart can bear. We have fighters who are notionally strikers and grapplers, but what EVERYONE on this card is, is a damn warrior.

If anyone here embarks on a lay n pray game plan, it will be DEEPLY out of character.

Look at the names below. Shogun Rua. Chael Sonnen. Alistair Overeem. Urijah Faber. Matt Brown. Joe Lauzon. I’m sold already. The real competition is gonna be which one of these studs takes home the most hotly contested Fight of the Night award in living memory…

Let’s not forget that John Howard, Mike Pyle, Uriah Hall and Travis Browne are all well known for bringing it, even if casual fans might struggle to mark the names.

Hell, even the PRELIMINARY card features the best Bantamweight in Europe, Brad Pickett against the last no.1 contender for that division’s title, Michael McDonald.

There’s also the small matter of Connor McGregor’s sophomore UFC box against the impressive Max Holloway, with awesome matches featuring former WEC champ Mike Brown against Steven Siler and TUF winner Diego Brandao facing Daniel Pineda.

It’s even starting a bit earlier than usual, which means there’s a fair chance that a UK fan like me might not pass out midway through the co-main event.

You want stats, background all that usual stuff? Nope. Check on Sherdog if you must but for this card, I just want to sit back and let the sheer joy of being a fan wash over me.

If you ever have a UFC party at your house, if you ever want to nudge a pal or family member to get into this sport – get them in front of the TV for this card.

It is going to be biblical. I guarantee it.

• Mauricio Rua vs. Chael Sonnen
• Travis Browne vs. Alistair Overeem
• Yuri Alcantara vs. Urijah Faber
• Matt Brown vs. Mike Pyle
• Uriah Hall vs. John Howard
• Michael Johnson vs. Joe Lauzon

• Michael McDonald vs. Brad Pickett
• Max Holloway vs. Conor McGregor
• Mike Brown vs. Steven Siler
• Diego Brandao vs. Daniel Pineda

• Manny Gamburyan vs. Cole Miller
• Cody Donovan vs. Ovince St. Preux
• Ramsey Nijem vs. James Vick