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Combat Sports Weekend Preview for November 10-12, 2017

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After last week’s monster of a combat sports weekend, you would think that the follow up would be quiet and allow for recovery, but that is NOT the case. The UFC follows up their incredible UFC 217 pay per view with the best FS1 card of the year, boing goes head to head on HBO and ESPN and Bellator heads to Ireland.

Friday, November 10, 2017

MMA

LFA 27 — Firelake Arena -Shawnee, Oklahoma — 9pm Eastern (AXSTV)

America’s best regional MMA promotion shells out their third card in four weeks tonight, feature a doubleheader of fighters trying to break through to the next level. The main event will feature LFA lightweight champion Robert Watley defending his title for the first time against homeboy Daryl Wilson. Watley has won eight fights in a row since losing his pro debut in June 2014, and won a five-round decision over Thiago Moses to become the first LFA champ in July. Wilson is an Oklahoma bred fighter who has won three fights in a row, including a one punch knockout of Jarrod Card in August. Wilson is a good striker who will carry a four-inch height advantage against the 5’9 Watley, so it will be a very interesting matchup.

The co-feature will feature former Legacy light heavyweight champion and TUF 23 alum Myron Dennis (14-6) facing Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series alum Ryan Spann (11-5). This is a solid matchup between two guys who have flirted with the UFC with the past, but neither has been able to close the deal. Dennis is a former Glory kickboxer who was dominated by TUF 23 champion Myron Dennis in the first round of the tournament, while Spann was Travis Browned by Karl Roberson (who will be making his UFC debut this weekend) in just fifteen seconds in third week main event. Both men need a victory if they want any chance at making the UFC, so we could get some fireworks from these two excellent strikers.

Bellator 187 — 3Arena-Dublin, Ireland — 10pm Eastern (Spike)

Bellator hopes to continue their recent run of quality shows tonight in a country that has become a MMA hotbed since the rest of Connor McGregor. The main event will see A.J McKee (9-0), one of Bellator’s most important homegrown talents, face hometown boy and McGregor teammate Brian Moore (10-5.) McKee is only twenty-two years old and a second-generation fighter is taking this fight on about three weeks’ notice after his rival, James Gallagher, another SBG fighter, dropped out of the main event. McKee hopes to lure Gallagher into the cage and begin his run at the featherweight title by beating Moore. Moore is coming off his first win in the organization, a second round TKO of Michal Horesji, and despite the five losses in his career, Moore has the kind of inside, brawling, mauling style that could neutralize McKee precise, outside kickboxing style. If Moore can get inside, this could be a very interesting fight, and he will have the Irish crowd behind him for sure.

Also on this card, Irish brawler Charlie Ward (3-3) will try to recover from his 0-2 UFC run that last about three minutes against John Redman (7-12). Kevin Ferguson Jr (1-1), the son of the late Kimbo Slice, will make his third run in the cage against Fred Freeman (1-0), and SBG’s Sinead Kavanagh (4-2) will face Maria Casanova (3-5-1) in a women’s featherweight fight.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

MMA

UFC Norfolk — The Norfolk Scope — Norfolk, Virginia — 630 pm ET, Prelims, 10pm, Main Card (UFC Fight Pass/FS2/FS1)

When you think of cities hosting some of the best cards of the year, you thank of New York City, Las Vegas, Anaheim, maybe Toronto or Montreal. But Norfolk, Virginia? But that is the case this Saturday as a card full of UFC fan favorites and surging contenders fill out what on paper, looks like the best televised card of the year.

The main event will feature a battle of lightweight contenders trying to move forward in the organization’s most shark filled division as former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis (20-6, 7-5 UFC) faces Dustin Poirier (21-5, 1 NC, 13-4 UFC). Pettis successfully moved back to the lightweight division after an ill-fated run at featherweight in July, decisioning Jim Miller at UFC 213 and looking more like “Showtime” than he has in years. Meanwhile, Poirier is trying to recover from a bogus no contest against former champion Eddie Alvarez at UFC 211. Poirier was dominating the fight when Alvarez got a brief advantage and nailed Dustin with several illegal knees. It should have been a DQ win. Every win can be a big time in this division, so neither guy can afford a loss and both have exciting styles. Get your popcorn ready!

The co-main is a dream match of action fighters as Matt Brown faces Diego Sanchez. Brown has said that this may be his last fight and Sanchez is moving back up to 170 pounds after years campaigning at 155 and even briefly at 145. These are two of the most legendary brawlers in UFC history and will come down to who has more in the tank. Both are coming off bad knockout losses and having something to prove. My guess is someone will bleed.

One cannot understand how stacked this card is. The main card will opened by Clay Guida facing Joe Lauzon, two of the most popular lightweights in the history of the UFC. Then Rafael Assuncao, one of the best bantamweights in the world, will face prospect Matthew Lopez, the third straight fight when Assuncao is matched with a young gun trying to knock him off. Also at 135, John Dodson faces Marlon Moraes in the prelim headliner on FS2, a battle of two of the more underrated fighters in the division. If you the big boys, this card has Junior Albini, who won the fight world’s hearts when he flattened Timothy Johnson in one round in July, and buying his daughter the first toys of her life with the Knockout of the Night business. He will be facing former champion Andrei Arvoloski, who could not need a win more badly.

The women will have a strong presence on the FS2 prelims, as TUF 23 winner Tatiana Suarez returns from a long layoff to face undefeated Brazilian Viviane Pereira, and Angela Hill faces Nina Ansaroff. This card will also feature one of the first Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series contract winners to debut, as Karl Roberson, who won on Week 3 of the show, faces Darren Stewart. Roberson is also a former Glory kickboxer.

It is a seriously one of the best cards of the year, and I wouldn’t miss it.

Boxing

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN — Save Mart Center, Fresno, California — 10:30 pm Eastern (ESPN)

Top Rank heads out to Fresno for its latest ESPN card, which will be headlined by Artur Beterbiev, once the hottest prospect in boxing, facing Enrico Koelling of Germany (23-1, 6 KOs) for the vacant IBF light heavyweight title. The Russian French Canadian Beterbiev is a massive puncher with a ridiculous amateur background who in 2015 was considered the hottest prospect in boxing after knocking out former champions Gabriel Campillo and Tarvaris Cloud. But mismanagement at the hands of adviser Al Haymon slowed him down and kept him out of a fight with Sergey Kovalev. But when Andre Ward retired and vacated all his belts, Beterbiev got his shot at the title he’s been number one contender for two years. Koelling is currently on a seven-fight winning streak, but is a very light puncher. This is just the fight Top Rank wants to restore Beterbiev and it shouldn’t last too long.

In the co-main, the man who brings Top Rank to Fresno, Jose Ramirez, a 2012 US Olympian from nearby Avenal, California who has emerged as the hope to the local Mexican American population and has three fights at the Save Mart Center have drawn more than 14,000 people. Ramirez is 20-0, 15 knockouts and has knocked out his last three opponents. Now he is fighting Mike Reed, an undefeated fighter from Maryland in a WBO lightweight title eliminator. This will be the people’s main event and Top Rank badly needs him to win. It should be quite the scene.

HBO Boxing After Dark — Nassau Coliseum — Uniondale, New York — 10pm Eastern (HBO)

HBO continues its busy end of year schedule, and will be going up against Top Rank on ESPN for the first time, much as they have been going up against Showtime for years. They will do it with a tripleheader from Eddie Hearn’s British based Matchroom Sport, which is one of the promotions stepping forward to fill the void left by Top Rank.

The main event will be former WBA middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs (32-2, 29 KOs), from nearby Brooklyn, fighting for the first time since his loss last spring to Gennady Golovkin, facing Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Luis Arias (18-0, 9 KOs). This is also Jacob’s first fight since surprising the boxing world by signing with Matchroom and HBO, but it is a smart move considering HBO’s investment in the middleweight division. Jacobs is certainly talking a lot about GGG and Canelo, and is ignoring Arias, but Arias a solid fighter with good technique and fundamentals and trains with Sergey Kovalev’s former trainer, John David Jackson. Arias, the USBA middleweight champ, is coming off the biggest win of his career, knocking out Russian Arif Magomedov in five rounds in July. Arias is taking a huge step in class and has never fought someone with the power and speed of Jacobs, but if he can get pass the early storm, Arias might have a chance to do some things.

The co-main will feature to massive heavyweights as undefeated American Jarrell Miller (19-0-1, 17 KOs), another recent HBO signee, will face Poland’s Mariuz Wach, a former world title challenger. Miller is 6’5 and has tipped the scales as high as 290 pounds and has the mouth to match. His opponent, Wach will have a significant height advantage, is he runs about 6’8 and weight around 265 pounds. Wach has more experience, but has folded when the lights were the brightest against Wladimir Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin. Miller, meanwhile, has run through steadily better opposition and has stopped eight consecutive opponents.

The card will be opened by Long Island’s own Cletus “The Hebrew Hammer” Seldin (20-0, 16 KOs) making his HBO debut against Mexico’s Roberto Ortiz (35-1, 26 KOs). Seldin is a Jewish American fighter who has built a massive fan following at the Paramount Theatre in Long Island and will be looked to draw a significant part of the crowd. Ortiz has only fought outside of Mexico once before, when he was knocked out by Lucas Matthiessen in the second round in July 2014.

Lots of fists will be flying over the next two days and fight fans should have plenty to cheer about. It should be interesting.

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