MMA weekend: Jan. 17-19

You may have noticed that I’ve just finished creating “ladders” for each weight class: flyweight, bantamweight, featherweight, lightweight, welterweight, middleweight, light heavyweight, heavyweight and women’s bantamweight. The ladders draw a bit from SB Nation’s meta-rankings, but rather than rating fighters’ skills and other things I’m not qualified to do, they’re basically guesses at where fighters currently stand. We think. Only Dana White, Joe Silva and company know for sure.

Some ladders are more detailed than others, in part because I was rushing to get it done before this weekend, when we have two MMA cards.

That’s a big MMA showdown itself. Bellator isn’t at the UFC’s level and wouldn’t claim to be. But Spike certainly think it’s still the home of MMA, and you can imagine the clatter if Thursday night’s card on Spike does comparable ratings to Saturday’s UFC card on FX.

The stakes in Bellator are nice and straightforward:

– Lightweight championship: Michael Chandler defending against Rick Hawn.

– Featherweight championship: Pat Curran defending against Patricio Pitbull. Yes, they’re making his nickname his last name.

– Light heavyweight tournament quarterfinal: Renato “Babalu” Sobral vs. Mikhail Zayats. Winner faces the winner of the Seth Petruzelli-Jacob Noe fight, which will be online earlier in the evening.

Also earlier and online is another tournament quarterfinal: Emanuel Newton vs. Atanas Djambazov. The winner of that one faces the winner of the Mo Lawal-Przemyslaw Mysiala fight, which they’re saving for next week.

On to Saturday’s UFC card, live on FX from Sao Paulo, Brazil …

– Middleweights: Michael Bisping (top contender) vs. Vitor Belfort (top contender). Bisping definitely gets a title shot with a win. If Belfort wins, the Earth will spin off its axis and we’ll be flung into space. Well, no, but the UFC may be scraping to find a challenger for Anderson Silva that he hasn’t already beaten.

– Middleweights: Daniel Sarafian (newbie) vs. CB Dollaway (veteran). TUF Brazil finalist, who missed that final due to injury, gets a debut against a veteran he might be able to beat.

– Heavyweights: Gabriel Gonzaga (veteran) vs. Ben Rothwell (veteran). Not likely to affect the ladders in the long run but a good matchup of experienced guys.

– Lightweights: Thiago Tavares (veteran) vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov (prospect). Tavares is on a decent run, but he looks like he’s in a gatekeeper role against the unbeaten sambo star from Dagestan.

The prelims on Fuel …

– Featherweights: Godofredo “Pepey” Castro (newbie) vs. Milton Vieira (newbie). TUF Brazil finalist takes on “the Godfather of the anaconda choke,” who drew in his UFC debut. Sounds fun.

– Middleweights: Ronny Markes (prospect) vs. Andrew Craig (prospect).  Both guys are 2-0 in the UFC. Some excitement building around this one.

– Featherweights: Diego Nunes (veteran) vs. Nik Lentz (veteran). Longtime lightweight Lentz is testing the lower weight class. Nunes has a strong 18-3 record.

– Lightweights: Edson Barboza (prospect) vs. Lucas Martins (newbie). Only one loss between them. Barboza has five UFC fights, Martin none.

– Bantamweights: Yuri Alcantara (prospect) vs. Pedro Nobre (newbie). Alcantara is listed at featherweight but is apparently moving down to bantamweight and was supposed to be fighting George Roop, who would slip through a crack in the floor if he cut to 135. So I don’t get this one at all. In any case, Nobre is getting a shot to show what he can do on short notice.

– Light heavyweights: Wagner Prado (newbie) vs. Ildemar Alcantara (newbie). Prado has a no-contest against Phil Davis, followed by an actual loss to Phil Davis. Alcantara is debuting just before his brother fights.

And one they’re saving for Facebook:

– Lightweights: Francisco “Massaranduba” Trinaldo (newbie) vs. C.J. Keith (newbie). TUF Brazil alum is 1-1 in the UFC; Keith lost for the first time in his UFC debut.

 

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