Can Bellator keep up the momentum after a strong Spike debut last week? Who’s the fastest flyweight in the world? Can UFC get a bang for its marketing buck, particularly with a main card that would stack up quite well against some of the recent pay-per-views?
BELLATOR (main card 10 p.m. ET Thursday on Spike)
Ben Askren (champion) vs. Karl Amossou (tournament winner), welterweight title fight: You can hear Bellator and Spike execs now, praying that this will not be a lay-and-pray win for Askren. The former world-class wrestler has won six straight decisions.
King Mo Lawal vs. Przemyslaw Mysiala, light heavyweight quarterfinals: Winner gets Emanuel Newton. King Mo also has some Spike exposure in his side job as a “pro wrestler,” and he’s the only name left in the 205-pound bracket. A Mysiala win might lead to some weeping.
– Ben Saunders vs. Koffi Adzisto
– Douglas Lima vs. Michail Tsarev
UFC on FOX (main card 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Fox; prelims at 5 on FX)
One of the deepest free-TV cards in history …
Demetrious Johnson (champion) vs. John Dodson (top contender), flyweights: Certainly the most hyped flyweight bout ever, and Dodson usually brings the excitement.
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (lame-duck veteran/former champion) vs. Glover Teixeira (contender), light heavyweights: Will Rampage even show up for his last UFC appearance? I don’t mean physically — I’m sure he will walk out to the cage and participate — but does he even care?
Anthony Pettis (top contender) vs. Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (top contender), lightweights: Two guys who’ve had classic fights with champion Benson Henderson. Surely the betting favorite for Fight of the Night.
Erik Koch (top contender) vs. Ricardo Lamas (top contender), featherweights: Koch was actually signed to fight Jose Aldo for the title at one point, and Lamas was close. Winner should be next up for the Aldo-Edgar winner if everyone stays healthy and sane.
T.J. Grant (contender) vs. Matt Wiman (contender), lightweights: Might be stretching to put Wiman on the contenders’ rungs, but not if he beats the surging Grant.
Clay Guida (contender) vs. Hatsu Hioki (contender), featherweights: Guida often headlines free-TV cards. Now he’s on the prelims. The UFC must have really hated his last fight against Gray Maynard, or maybe they’re not sure how he’s going to fare at featherweight. Both guys are on the line between contender and veteran, and given their mileage, a loss here probably means a title shot is never coming. But aside from ladder impact, this should be a terrific fight. Guida looked dull against Maynard, but it takes two to make a snoozer.
Ryan Bader (contender) vs. Vladimir Matyushenko (veteran), light heavyweights: Again, two guys who could easily be on a pay-per-view main card. Each guy needs a couple of wins to get into serious contention. Bader’s young enough to do it but needs this win just to stay put on the ladder.
Mike Russow (contender) vs. Shawn Jordan (newbie), heavyweights: Jordan lost his last one to Cheick Kongo. Can he hang with Russow?
Mike Stumpf (newbie) vs. Pascal Krauss (newbie), welterweights: I neglected to include these guys on my welterweight ladder. Stumpf is 0-1 in the Octagon. Krauss, from Germany via Roufusport, has a solid 10-1 overall record and is 1-1 in the UFC.
Rafael Natal (prospect) vs. Sean Spencer (newbie), middleweights: Natal gets a fighter making his debut on short notice.
Simeon Thoresen (newbie) vs. David Mitchell (newbie), welterweights: Two more guys I forgot on the ladder. Mitchell‘s interesting — came into the UFC with wins over War Machine and Bobby Green, then lost his first two UFC bouts, the second against Paulo Thiago. So he’s probably fighting for his UFC spot against a Norwegian who is 1-1 in the UFC and was KO’d by Seth Baczynski last time.