Weekend Preview for October 19-22: B.A.D Returns, TLC, Bellator, UFC & more
It is another LOADED combat sports weekend as October marches on with all three major sports being represented across four busy days. We start with what should be an entertaining night of boxing a Thursday, a loaded MMA Friday, a long day of fights on Saturday, and closing out with the WWE’s latest big event on Sunday. Hope y’all have your popcorn ready!
Thursday, October 19, 2017
Gabriel Rosado (23-11, 13 KO’s) vs. Glen Tapia (23-4, 15 KO’s) — (10 rounds, Middleweights) ESPN 2, 11pm ET — Monte Carlo Resort and Casino-Las Vegas, Nevada
The latest Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN card features two middleweights who badly need a win to stay relevant in their careers. The Philadelphia based Rosado, who played Leo “The Lion” Sporino in Creed, has fought pretty much anyone who has been relevant over the last seven years in the 154 and 160 pound divisions. He’s always competitive, has been robbed on several occasions, and has pulled several upsets. He’s lost two in a row to Willie Monroe Jr and Martin Murray, but you could argue he’s deserved the decision in both fights. His opponent, known as the Jersey Boy, Glen Tapia was one of the highest regarded prospects in boxing several years ago, until he got in the ring with a close to his prime James Kirkland and was ruined. He won three fights after, but was knocked out after by Michel Soro and David Lemieux. But in his last fight against Jay Quigley in May, Tapia fought very well and showed a lot of heart, and I thought he deserved a decision, but well, you know.
Rosado is the more versatile fighter and has looked good in some training videos I’ve seen lately, and this fight is probably just what he needs to get back on track. Tapia may have pulled a rabbit out of the hat against Quigley, but I think he comes empty against Rosado.
Friday, October 20, 2017
Bellator 185 — Mohegan Sun Arena — Uncasville, Connecticut (Spike TV, 9pm ET)
The latest entrée from MMA’s second biggest promotion comes from the famous Mohegan Sun and features the Bellator debut of Gegard Mousasi (42-6-1), the latest big name to jump from the UFC. Unlike many of those big names, Mousasi comes into Bellator with significant momentum, having gone 9-3 in the UFC, including five consecutive wins. His opponent will be former Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko (50-12), one of the few fighters in MMA who actually has more pro fights (62) than Mousasi (50). Shlemenko has won six a row, but before then was choked out in the first round by Tito Ortiz, then lost his title in just thirty-five seconds by submission to Brandon Halsey. So, while this a fun and even battle on the feet it seems, Shelmenko is vulnerable on the ground, and a veteran like Mousasi is sure to be aware of this. I expect that to come into play as Mousasi makes his debut.
In the co-feature, the latest of the Gracie legacy, Neiman Gracie, nephew of Renzo Gracie, hopes to keep his undefeated record against late replacement Zak Bucia, who will be stepping in on a week’s notice. Bucia is 18-8 and has been a pro for ten years, fighting in some of the best promotions in the country. He is making his promotional debut and looks to be a decent challenge to the twenty-eight-year-old Grace, who is fighting in only his seventh professional fight.
Also on the main card, former boxing champion Heather “The Heat” Hardy makes her second appearance in the cage against Oklahoma’s Kristina Williams, who is making her pro debut. Hardy looked excellent in her debut in June, winning by knockout.
LFA 25 — Ralston Arena — Omaha, Nebraska (AXS TV)
The latest LFA card features a very interesting welterweight main event, as former Ultimate Fighter contestant and Bellator veteran Dakota Cochrane (29-12) fights for the fifth time in 2017 against Brazilian powerhouse Ciro Rodrigues (21-6). Cochrane has rebounded from two losses to start the year with two straight wins and will hope to make it three in a row in front of his hometown crowd. Standing in his way is Rodrigues, who fights out of Brazil’s world famous Nova Uniao gym, and in his American and LFA debut at LFA 19 in August, knocked out David Michaud in the first round. Even though, he’s in his home arena, Cochrane will have his hands full come Friday.
Saturday, October 21, 2017
UFC Fight Night Gdansk — Ergo Arena-Gdansk, Poland (UFC Fight Pass, 3pm ET Main Card, 11:45 am ET Prelims)
The MMA Leader returns to Poland for a show main evented by longtime contender Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone facing Darren Till. A more detailed preview of this card is available at right here.
Wrestlecircus’ CircusMania — Texas Power Athletics — Austin, Texas (Twitch.com, 6pm Central)
One of the countries best independent wrestling promotions presents their first anniversary show, which like most WrestleCircus shows, in loaded with top talent from around the country. WrestleCircus has had a very successful first year, becoming the first wrestling company to broadcast on the popular video game service Twitch and their shows at 800 Congress in downtown Austin becoming sellouts of 700 plus every month. At the same time, the promotion has generated their fair share of heat in the industry, seemingly due to innovative (and sometimes way out there) ways of advancing their wrestling company. But along with several other promotions (including my hometown VIP Wrestling), they have ignited the wrestling scene in the state of Texas in a way that hasn’t existed in decades.
The main event will see Shane Strickland defend the Ringmaster Championship against former champion Brian Cage, in a rematch of Strickland cashing in a MITB like title shot on Cage several months ago. The co-main will see PWG co-founder and recent ROH debutee Scorpio Sky take on twenty-three-year-old Texas phenom Sammy Guevara, who has recently made waves in PWG and Mexico’s the Crash promotion. Guevara has become the unofficial face of the promotion, to the point he was dubbed Mr. Wrestle Circus by the fans. Also, Tessa Blanchard defends the Sideshow Championship against Desmond Xavier and Johnny Nitro/Morrison/Mundo/Impact and Taya Valkyrie face Joey Ryan and Candice LeRae.
HBO Boxing After Dark — Turning Stone Resort and Casino — Verona, New York (HBO, 10pm ET)
HBO’s B.A.D returns with an interesting tripleheader of fights as the ol’ “Heart and Soul of Boxing” starts to ramp up a surprisingly busy schedule to close out the year. In the main event, WBA Super Featherweight Champion Jezreel Corrales (22-1, 8 KOs) defends his title for the third time against undefeated Puerto Rican prospect Albert Machado (18-0, 15 KOs). Eighteen months ago, Corrales was just an unknown boxer from Panama, but then he went to Japan and scored the Upset of the Year, needing only two rounds to end the six-year, eleven defense title reign of undefeated Japanese superstar Takashi Uchiyama. After defeating Uchiyama in a rematch in December, he made his United States and HBO debuts in July, going down twice before rallying to defeat Robinson Castellanos by technical decision. It wasn’t the prettiest debut by any means, but Castellanos is the type of opponent that can make anybody look bad.
This is a very interesting fight, because on paper, the 5’10 Machado is much bigger than the 5’6 Corrales and has the reach and style to find the openings in Corrales’ wild, wide open style, but the big question in does he have the experience? This is Machado’s first twelve round fight and while he has fought better opposition than guys like Terrell Gausha and Erickson Lubin, guys who crashed and burned in title shots last week did, he’s still probably not as ready for this kind of shot as he should be. Corrales throws punches from all sorts of angles and his style is very hard to predict. While logic tells you that it will be someone like Machado who beats Corrales, the question is will it be Machado himself…
In the co-main, former US Olympian and two-time 154-pound titlist Demetrious Andrade (24-0, 16 KOs) returns to the network for the first time in three years versus the unheralded Alantez Fox (23-0-1, 14 KOs). Andrade is moving to middleweight for the first time and is fighting the first fight of three fight deal with HBO. Andrade is a super talent who is often been his own worst enemy, with issues with promoters and networks leading to a series of long layoffs. But if he wins here, he puts himself right in the mix of the talent rich middleweight division and in position to make some serious money. Fox is an undefeated guy from Maryland who doesn’t have many notable names on his record. Strictly a showcase for Andrade.
The broadcast begins with a tape delayed broadcast from a very interesting fight from Belfast, Ireland as hometown boy IBF bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett (17-0, 9 KOs) faces WBA bantamweight champion Zhanat Zhakyanov (27-1, 19 KOs) in a unification match between two unexpected champions. In June, Burnett upset Lee Haskins over twelve rounds, dropping the defending champion twice in route to winning the title. Meanwhile, Zhakyanov got up from two first round knockdowns to upset American Rau’shee Warren to win his title belt in April.
This probably the most interesting fight of the entire weekend for several reasons. First, it’s an interesting style match as Burnett has a very modern style. He stands in front of you with his hands down, moves in and out, switches stances a lot, and catches you with punches from all sorts of angles. Meanwhile, Zhakyanov has an aggressive, in your face style like his trainer-former world champion Ricky Hatton. What makes this fight more interesting as that when Burnett started his career, Hatton was his trainer and promoter! They split due to Hatton’s business troubles several years ago. The fight is in Burnett’s hometown but this probably won’t bother Zhakyanov at all, who has fought in a ridiculous thirteen countries throughout his career. It’s a fantastic matchup that I am really glad HBO picked up. It’s seems like it’s going to be well worth the watch.
Sunday, October 22, 2017
WWE Tables, Ladders, and Chairs — Target Center — Minneapolis, Minnesota (WWE Network, 8pm ET, Pre-Show, 7pm ET)
The latest Raw brand PPV comes from the land of Lesnar this Sunday. It would be nice if the Universal Champion, you know, actually defend the title at the show, but that is apparently too much to ask…
But WWE is making up for that in the main event as the reunited Shield faction (Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns) will return to the event they made their in-ring debut in a handicap match against The Miz, Braun Strowman, Sheamus and Cesaro, and somehow, Kane, who made an even more ridiculous return than usual last Monday on Raw. I am a huge fan of the Shield and I am actually pretty happy with how their reuniting has gone so far. This should be a fun spectacle of a match and hopefully the WWE continues to protect the act of the Shield, which is the best thing they’ve created in the past decade.
Otherwise, it’s the ladies taking center stage at this show, as Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss defends her title against six-time champion Mickie James, after what has been a well-executed, if highly unoriginal storyline. Also, we finally saw the Raw brand debut of Asuka, the undefeated former NXT Women’s Champion, against Emma, who is a perfect first opponent for her. The WWE will have to work very hard to screw up Asuka, and while they will probably try, this first night should be fun to watch.
BREAKING NEWS: In case you haven’t heard, a viral meningitis outbreak has struck the WWE locker room, and several top Superstars have been effected…including Roman Reigns. Now stepping in him for him in the main event will be KURT ANGLE, who will be wrestling for the first time in the WWE in eleven years in the main event. And as if this show needed to get any more interesting…
Bray Wyatt is also out with the virus and what is hopefully a mercy killing for this rushed angle, he will be replaced by AJ STYES! That’s right, it will be Finn Balor vs AJ Styles for the first time in WWE, and very well be for the first time ever. It is a little unfortunate that this match is going to happen cold, with no build, but let’s get over that real quick and appreciate that we are going to have an international dream match this Sunday, and LET’S GO!!!
It’s going to be a long, full, and fun weekend for Fight Fanatics, and there’s even more of something for everything here. Plus, the way things shaped out with the UFC, WrestleCircus, and HBO, you can fill up your Saturday without overlap if you so wish. I mean, who needs college football when people are getting punched in the face…
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