I review M-1 Challenge 52 from Friday night over at the Wrestling Observer
I review Legacy 36 from Friday night in New Mexico at the Wrestling Observer.
Bellator had their worst show of the season Friday night at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs. It was widely regarded as a terrible lineup going in, headlined by former UFC fighters Josh Neer and Paul Bradley fighting at welterweight and Houston Alexander facing Virgil Zwicker, who was taking the fight on short notice, at light-heavyweight.
The show was terribly dull. Neer was making his Bellator debut. Neer seems like a good fit for Bellator, a scrappy brawler who has exciting fights and with a couple of wins could challenge for the Welterweight title. But he was ridiculously bad in this fight, doing nothing but laying on the bottom, unable to get up while being held down by former University of Iowa All-American wrestler Paul Bradley. Neer ended up getting into a terrible argument with John McCarthy, as Neer’s strategy was clearly to stall Bradley as much as possible on the ground in order to get reset and go for the KO. But McCarthy wouldn’t reset them, and that led to cross words between McCarthy and Neer.
Houston Alexander also had a bad fight in the co-main event. He was facing Virgil Zwicker, who has fought in Bellator before, but is largely unknown. Zwicker came in 10 pounds heavier than the 205-pound limit, but that was agreed upon because he was taking the fight on 5 days notice, replacing James Thompson.
The fight was boring, unusual for an Alexander match. Alexander held Zwicker down throughout most of the three rounds, and neither guy had the gas to finish the fight as it wore on. It ended up going to a majority draw that Alexander would have won, but was docked a point in the third round for repeatedly headbutting Zwicker while in Zwicker’s guard.
Bellator’s Live+3 average for this season has been 749,500, slightly behind the tenth season average of 786,000. Last week they did 731,000 viewers Live+3 for a card with a strong main event of Joe Warren beating Eduardo Dantas for the Bantamweight title. Last night’s show didn’t have anything close to that quality of main event, but ratings for Bellator shows don’t vary wildly, so even though this show stunk I wouldn’t expect the rating to be too low.
Joe Vedepo (16-8) vs Davin Clark (5-1-2) at 185 pounds
Vedepo is a UFC veteran who went 0-2. He’s been with Bellator since 2012, going 3-2. Vedepo is also from Iowa. He’s a brawler with a good chin and good ground and pound. Only 4 of his 24 career fights have gone to a decision. Clark was making his Bellator debut, but hasn’t fought anywhere since 2012. His sole loss was by submission via kimura in 85 seconds to Hector Carillo, a guy with a lopsided 5-6 career record.
Clark was inexperienced and looked like he didn’t belong in the cage with a guy at the level of Vedepo, not that Vedepo is a world beater or anything. Vedepo controlled the first two rounds by repeatedly taking Vedepo down before finishing him with ground and pound at 2:27 of the third round. Bellator has a lot of depth at 185, so they could match Vedepo up with a few different guys and make a good fight.
Andre “Chatuba” Santos (36-9) vs James Terry (13-7) at 170 pounds
Even though he’s had 45 pro fights, Santos has never fought in the UFC. He’s also making his debut in Bellator, having fought most of his career in Brazil. Of his 36 wins, 22 have come by way of submission. He’s not a great striker, and 4 of his 9 losses have come via TKO/KO. Terry is a Strikeforce veteran who went 6-4 in that promotion. He’s 0-1 in Bellator. 8 of his 13 wins have come by TKO or KO. He’s been tapped twice, both times by rear naked choke.
This fight was horrible. It wasn’t the worst fight on the card (that distinction goes to the welterweight women’s fight on the prelims — yes, a welterweight women’s fight), but it was the worst fight on the Spike show.
The first round was pretty close, with the two trading in the center. Santos had such weak looking strikes, though. Second round was more of the same. Third round and Santos got a knockdown. Neither of these guys looked like they could survive in a fight against an opponent who actually knows how to kickbox. I was watching this show with my brother and his wife, and we were laughing at how ridiculous Santos’ punches looked. They were like big, looping slaps.
Santos won the UD with 30-27 straight, but I had this fight scored for Terry. Really, it was one of those matches where both guys came away looking like losers. If I were Bellator, I wouldn’t book either of them again.
Virgil Zwicker (12-4) vs Houston Alexander (16-10) at 215 pounds
Alexander, 42, fought in UFC years ago, going 2-4. He’s had two fights in Bellator, going 1-1, including a decision loss to Vladimir Matyushenko last year. The peak of his career came when he knocked out Keith Jardine in UFC back in 2007. He also lost to Kimbo Slice in UFC in 2009. 11 of Alexander’s 16 wins have come by KO/TKO.
Zwicker fought in Strikeforce, going 1-2 in that promotion. He’s 1-1 in Bellator, including a loss to Linton Vassell, who is challenging for the promotion’s Light-Heavyweight title next week. 9 of his 12 career wins have come by TKO/KO and only 3 of his 16 career fights have gone to a decision.
This was another terrible match. Instead of going for the knockout, Houston kept taking Zwicker down throughout the match. Neither guy had any gas, so the fight got slower and slower as the rounds wore on. Houston was warned early in the bout for an illegal headbutt and told he would have a point taken away if he did it again. So, obviously ahead on the cards, Houston decides to headbutt Zwicker again in the third. He loses a point and the fight went to a majority draw.
Zwicker didn’t look like someone Bellator should bring back, but there isn’t a lot of depth at light-heavyweight, so I would imagine he’ll be back with the promotion. Houston stunk, too, but he still has a bit of name value and might be a good matchup for someone like Tito or Quinton on one of Bellator’s big shows next year in a battle of former UFC names.
Paul Bradley (21-6) vs Josh Neer (34-13-1) at 170 pounds
Both Neer and Bradley are from Iowa. Neer is a gritty brawler who likes to throw down. He also isn’t afraid to get hit. He has been in and out of the UFC since 2005, going 6-9 in UFC. He had three ‘fight of the nights’ in UFC against Melvin Guillard, Nate Diaz, and Mac Danzig. UFC most recently cut him in 2013 after three straight losses. He’s only fought once in Bellator, losing to Eddie Alvarez via technical submission in 2010.
Bradley is a UFC vet who went 0-2 and appeared on the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter. He’s 1-2 in Bellator. He was a two-time All-American at the University of Iowa.
Bradley won every round, taking Neer down and holding him there. Neer obviously had no way of stopping Bradley’s takedowns and had no means of getting back up. Neer kept jacking at McCarthy to get a stand-up. You could hear them audibly arguing during and after the fight, with McCarthy telling Neer that this isn’t kickboxing.
Neer was a major disappointment here because he is a guy who can brawl and is the type of fighter that Bellator likes to promote. But he had no game at all against Bradley, looking out of his league. Neer might be a good pick to fight Michael Page next and Bradley could wind up in line for a Welterweight title shot.
If you thought Bellator 129 was bad, you should’ve seen the prelims.
The promotion held 7 fights that aired on Spike’s web site. of those 7, only 1 wasn’t at catchweight. Two of the catchweight fights were actually planned that way ahead of time, although just planning catchweight bouts ahead of time doesn’t exactly make it come off as any more professional. Five fighters on the prelims missed weight. In the case of Jozette Cotton, it was by 15 pounds.
Someone needs to make a WrestleCrap tape of Bellator fights, because there is a lot of material to work with.
Most of the 14 fighters who appeared on the prelims were fighting out of the midwest, mainly Iowa and Nebraska. This is part of Bellator’s strategy of going into certain areas and giving local fighters a chance on the prelims, to see if they can find any diamonds in the rough. The problem is that a lot of these fighters were terrible, some with lopsided records, and others career journeymen who were just never able to make the big leagues. The point of trying out local fighters on the prelims is to try and find people that can actually fight, as opposed to using washed up veterans from the local indie scene.
The problem with Bellator allowing so many fighters to miss weight is that it sends the message that there is no point in cutting weight if you’re going to fight in Bellator as long as you aren’t fighting for a belt. If I were a fighter scheduled to fight in Bellator and I was 10 pounds over, I wouldn’t bother cutting because Bellator will just move the fight up to catchweight at my weight, giving me an advantage over my opponent.
Of the fighters who appeared on the prelims, there were a few who Bellator could probably bring back, but none who looked like they have lot of potential. Victor Moreno (170), Anthony Smith (185), Martin Brown (maybe 145 or 155), Michael McBride (155), Eric Howser (145 or 155), and John DeVall (135) all won their fights and could reasonably be brought back. Of the losers, I thought only Bryan Corley (145 or 155), who was knocked out by Brown, could be brought back, but has only 4 pro fights and needs a bit more experience in his ground game. I wouldn’t bring back anyone who misses weight.
Victor Moreno (33-21) vs Marcos Marquez (5-3) – 177 pounds catchweight
Moreno, 30, made his Bellator debut in April with a submission loss to Anthony Smith. He’s one of these guys who has been around forever on the indie scene (since 2003), but has never really made it anywhere. Of his 33 wins going into this fight, 16 were by KO/TKO and 12 by submission. 18 of his 21 losses were by submission, so that might be something he should work on. He’s from Iowa.
Marquez is making his Bellator debut. He’s fighting out of Omaha. Marquez missed weight by over 7 pounds. Moreno made weight. Moreno had a 9 inch reach advantage.
They started the first round standing in the center and Moreno threw some good punching combos. Low kick by Marquez. Slow round, with not much being thrown. Spinning back kick by Moreno and then a big low kick. Marquez is having a hard time getting on the inside of Moreno. I had the round 10-9 Moreno, but it wasn’t impossible to give it to Marquez, but unlikely. Dull round.
Second round was slow, too. They stood in the center and traded combos. Marquez landed some low kicks and was able to get inside a bit more this round. Marquez is throwing punching combos and finishing them with low kicks. Moreno landed a head kick. Moreno feinted a couple of switch kicks. Another super dull round. I would go 10-9 Moreno, but this one was closer than the first round and could have gone either way.
Third round, Moreno tried a flying knee. Moreno hit a hard low kick. Marquez is bleeding from his mouth, and is cut outside of his left brow. Marquez hit a low kick to Moreno’s thigh. Moreno looked like he was hit with a low blow, but didn’t want to stop. Flying switch kick by Moreno, probably the most exciting thing in this fight. Moreno hits a stiff left jab. Moreno 10-9, so Moreno 30-27. All three judges had it 30-27 for Moreno, too.
Anthony Smith (18-11) vs Brian Green (31-19) – 185 pounds
This is the only prelim where both fighters actually made weight. Smith, 26, is a UFC and Strikeforce vet. In Strikeforce he went 2-2 and his only fight in UFC was a loss via kneebar to Antonio Braga Neto last year. Smith has finished 16 of his 18 wins, but of his 11 losses 6 were by KO/TKO and 5 by submission. He’s also fighting out of Omaha.
Green, 29, from Iowa, but is fighting out of Nicaragua, where his wife is from. He’s been fighting in MMA since 2003. 26 of his 31 wins are by way of submission. He’s been stopped or knocked out 9 times and submitted 7 out of his 19 losses.
They stood in the center and traded. Smith landed some hard body kicks and a big knee to the head. Smith missed a spinning back fist. Smith was landing lots of punching combos and knees. Green was getting in virtually no offense at this point and was cut over the left eye. Smith missed another spinning back fist. Smith tripped green and ended up in his full guard. Smith backed off and allowed Green to stand. Green got him against the cage and landed some punches, but Smith came back with some knees and moved away from the fence. Green ended that fight with some big punches to the body with Smith covering up. Smith 10-9.
Green had loose tape on his foot to start the round and didn’t want the ref to cut it off, but the ref made his corner cut it off anyway. Green eats a jab and is cut from the bridge of his nose and is bleeding everywhere. Green slips and Smith ends up in his closed guard. Smith is landing elbows. Green is spitting out globs of blood. If you were watching the Spike broadcast of Bellator 129 and you were wondering where the blood stains on the canvas came from, this is it. Smith is landing big elbows in the guard. They ended up in a position where Green’s ass was in Smith’s face and Smith spanked him and then rubbed his ass and smiled. Round was all Smith, 10-9.
Green started the round with five cuts on his face. Smith took him down and went into Green’s closed guard. He passed Green’s guard into side control and then into a north-south position and then back into side control. On the mic you could overhear Green asking Smith to get back to their feet and fight and then Smith calling him a bitch. Green reversed and got mount, pounded a bit, but Smith posted and then took Green down with a body lock and ended up back into guard. Green looked at the ref and pointed to the ceiling wanting the ref to stand it back up, but Smith was active and there was no reason to reset. Green pointed to the ceiling again. This was a weird fight. Green fought like shit. At the end of the fight Green turned to the camera, took his mouth piece out, and said that Smith was a kickboxer who laid on him the whole fight. 30-27 for Smith who got the UD.
Jozette Cotton (4-0) vs Holly Lawson (0-0) – 168 pounds catchweight
I have no idea what the point of this fight was. Cotton weighed in at 167.7 and Lawson, who had never fought before in MMA prior to this bout, weighed in at 163.1. 168 is a weird catchweight, because 170 is welterweight and 155 is lightweight, so I’m really not sure what weight division they were shooting for with this one. And not only has Lawson never fought in MMA before, she’s 36. Cotton is 26. Lawson is 5-2 as a pro boxer, and is Canadian, but fighting out of Los Angeles. Cotton is from Omaha. This isn’t the kind of fight a major league group should be promoting. If Cotton were 30 pounds lighter she might be able to make a career. Not that she is skilled, but she’s at least charismatic.
Round one, they stood in the center and traed combos. Cotton was landing more, both combos and body kicks. Cotton was taunting Lawson, the latter of whom had nothing to offer as a fighter. Cotton was counterpunching quite a bit and Lawson wasn’t getting much damage in. 10-9 Cotton.
Round two, Cotton landed more combos and was messing up Lawson’s left leg with low kicks. Lawson didn’t even attempt to check the kicks and was having a problem putting weight on the leg as the fight wore on. Cotton was taunting her all round, shimmying her shoulders. 10-9 Cotton.
Round three, Cotton slipped and Lawson didn’t follow up, so Cotton just got back to her feet. Cotton pushed Lawson against the fence and took her down into full guard. Cotton stood up and let Lawson back to her feet. Wheelock said Cotton’s clowning was like “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Cotton kept backing off on Lawson, not being aggressive when she could have done more to try and finish. Lawson was limping at this point, having not checked a single low kick. Cotton put both her hands behind her back at the end of the round, teasing Lawson. She then danced in front of John McCarthy. Smith: “All I can say is that I’m glad that’s over.” I am not making this stuff up. Wheelock and Smith thought Cotton’s conduct was unsportsmanlike. Cotton won the UD, with two 30-27s and one 30-26.
Martin Brown (7-2) vs Bryan Corley (2-1) – 150 pounds catchweight
Brown, 30, is from Mississippi, fights out of Tampa, and this was his third fight in Bellator. Corley, 34, is from Nebraska and was making his Bellator debut. He has a loss via submission to Benson Henderson on an indie show back in 2007.
This was fought at a catchweight of 150 pounds. The catchweight provision was decided upon before the fight, so technically neither guy missed weight.
They start by trading kicks. Brown slips, but snaps back to his feet. Brown was being nailed with outside kicks, so pressed Corley against the fence. Back in the middle and Corley is landing more low kicks to Brown’s left leg. Brown pressed him against the cage, and then took Corley down with a bodylock. Brown ended up in Corley’s full guard. Corley was able to stand, but ate some right hands in the process. They ended up standing back in the middle. Corley landed more low kicks and missed a spinning back fist, but connected with another low kick. Brown took him down with a bodylock and an outside trip. Corley got against the fence and posted, but Brown took him down again into guard. I would give the round 10-9 to Corley, but it wouldn’t have been unfair to give it to Brown, either. Smith gave the round to Brown.
Corley came out with some more low kicks, but ate a right hand and Brown pressed him against the fence and took him down into side control. Brown moved into full mount and knocked Corley out with a one punch knockout on the ground with a short right hand followed by a combo of punches at 0:42.
Michael McBride (6-1) vs Kevin Morris (4-3) – 158 pounds catchweight
McBride is from Iowa. This is his Bellator debut. Morris is from Milwaukee and is also making his Bellator debut. Morris missed weight at weighed in at 158. McBride made weight. Morris is 5’6″ and McBride is 6’1″, so there is a huge height difference here.
Morris took McBride down when the latter threw a low kick. He ended up in McBride’s closed guard. McCarthy told them to work. Morris tried to move to side control and ended up in half-guard, and then a near-side cradle position. Morris went for a guillotine and McBride stood up and pushed Morris against the fence. McBride took Morris down and was able to pull Morris’ back off the fence and against the canvas. McBride passed into full mount and Morris gave up his back. McBride pounded him with some weak punches and then locked in the rear naked choke for the submission at 4:32.
Eric Howser (6-2) vs Tim Bazer (14-16) – 150 pounds catchweight.
This was catchweight of 150 pounds, which I guess was decided upon ahead of time, so technically neither guy missed weight here. Howser, 26, is from Iowa and was making his Bellator debut. Bazer, 28, is from Omaha and had a lopsided record of 14-16 before the match. 10 of those losses came by way of submission, but he also had 9 submission wins. The day before at the weigh-ins the two prayed together on stage. Bazer is a promoter in the mid-west who staged his 100th MMA show in August.
Howser pressed Bazer against the cage and Bazer put him in a side headlock, and then took him down with the headlock. Howser took his back. Bazer turned and was able to get into Howser’s full guard. Howser went for a triangle choke, and hit Bazer with some elbows and Bazer simply gave up at 4:11. I haven’t seen a guy submit due to strikes on the ground when his opponent was on the bottom on a major show in years.
John DeVall (8-6) vs Chris Lane (11-12) – 140 pound catchweight
This was suppose to be at bantamweight, but Lane came in 4.5 pounds over. DeVall, 29 and from Iowa, was making his Bellator debut. Lane, 28, is also from Iowa and came into this fight with a lopsided record, losing all of his matches via TKO/KO or submission except one.
DeVall has a pink mohawk. Smith mentioned he also has pink fingernails. DeVall has a low, stopping stance. Lane took him down into closed guard. Lane tried to powerbomb DeVall, but DeVall let go of his arm. Smith talked about how in his first day of training he was powerbombed by Quinton Jackson. DeVall got a triangle choke with thirty seconds in the round. Lane claims he didn’t tap, but the camera caught him obviously tapping the mat.
I have a review of One FC Roar of the Tigers from Friday night posted at the Wrestling Observer
Over at the Wrestling Observer, I have a preview of tonight’s Bellator show.
Tonight’s show being a weaker lineup doesn’t matter so much. Bellator mostly draws numbers from people just looking to watch some fights on Friday nights. Bellator’s TV ratings don’t vary wildly, as their fan base tunes in fairly consistently no matter what kind of lineup Bellator puts out.
|Event||Date||Main Event||Buy Rate|
A few weeks back, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported that UFC 117 received 125,000 buy on pay per view. The show was headlined by TJ Dillashaw defending the Bantamweight title against Joe Soto, who was a last minute replacement for former champion Renan Barao. It is the second lowest buy rate for UFC of 2014, just ahead of the 115,000 buys that UFC 173 did in May, headlined by Demetrious Johnson defending the Flyweight title against Ali Bagautinov.
Apparently some people felt the buy rate for UFC 117 was a success considering the last minute change to the main event and the inclusion of an unknown fighter challenging Dillashaw, who is essentially as much of an unknown champion as possible at the moment. Dillashaw’s previous pay per view headline, when he defeated Barao for the title at UFC 173 in May, drew a below-average 215,000 buys. But Dillashaw himself simply defending the title doesn’t mean anything at all for buy rates, and the Bantamweight title isn’t over enough so that a Bantamweight title defense will draw on pay per view based on that fact alone.
The trailing twelve months average for UFC buy rates sits at 376,250. The only pay per views during that period above average were UFC 167 (St-Pierre-Hendricks), UFC 168 (Silva-Weidman), and UFC 175 (Weidman-Machida). The 2014 average buy rate is 277,500. Every other UFC pay per view broadcast in the past twelve months has fallen below the trailing twelve months average. That average, though, is skewed by the 1,025,000 buy rate for UFC 168. Taking that fight out of the equation, the trailing twelve months average is 317,273. That puts UFC 166 (Cain-JDS), UFC 170 (Rousey-McMann), and UFC 172 (Jones-Teixeira) above the trailing twelve months average, too.
The fighters in headline spots on pay per views that drew above average buy rates during the preceding twelve months include Cain, JDS, GSP, Hendricks, Anderson, Weidman, Rousey, Miesha, McMann, Lawler, Jones, Teixeira, and Machida. As far as drawing cards go, McMann and Teixeira can be excluded because it was the star power of Rousey and Jones respectively that drew those numbers. For fighters who headlined more than once on pay per view during the past twelve months, the list includes (with average buy rate in parentheses): Jones (330,000), Hendricks (465,000), Weidman (785,000), Barao (222,500), Rousey (636,667), and Dillashaw (170,000). There aren’t numbers yet for UFC 178, but Demetrious Johnson will join that list once the buy rate for that event becomes public.
Weidman’s and Rousey’s respective numbers are misleading. Weidman’s number skews high because of his UFC 168 fight against Anderson. Rousey’s numbers are also skewed by being on UFC 168 and being in a weak co-main event against Alexis Davis on UFC 175, so far the strongest UFC pay per view of 2014. Hendricks’ number is also skewed by fighting against GSP on UFC 167.
With the above issues in mind, a somewhat accurate measure of the typical buy rate of the major UFC stars with multiple main event fights in the past twelve months would probably put Jones at 330,000; Hendricks at 300,000; Weidman at 545,000; Barao at 222,500; Rousey at 340,000; and, Dillashaw at 170,000. That means only Jones, Rousey, and Weidman can draw buy rates above the trailing twelve months average of 317,273 (the figure that does not include UFC 168 in its calculation). Among stars who only fought once in the past twelve months, Cain (330,000) is probably the only draw that could command above average buy rates. That obviously excludes Anderson and GSP, the UFC’s two biggest drawing cards. Thus, it would seem that apart from Anderson and GSP, the only draws on pay per view the UFC currently has are Jones, Rousey, Weidman, and possibly Cain. Johny Hendricks might join that list before year’s end, too.
The base audience for a UFC pay per view ranges between 100,000 to 150,000 buyers. The lowest pay per view buy rate of the year was 115,000 for UFC 174. UFC 177 came close to the bottom, though, with only 125,000 buys. No other show dipped below 200,000 buys. The floor for UFC buy rates is the number of people that will buy a UFC pay per view no matter how bad the lineup looks, simply because the pay per view is UFC branded.
The promotion has three more pay per views remaining this year. In October, they have Jose Aldo defending the Featherweight belt against Chad Mendes. In November, it is Cain Velasquez returning from injury to defend the Heavyweight title against Fabricio Werdum in Mexico. In December, it is Hendricks vs Lawler II for the Welterweight title with a co-main event of Anthony Pettis defending the Lightweight title against Gilbert Melendez.
I suspect that the Aldo-Mendes pay per view will do around 200,000 to 250,000 buys. Aldo isn’t a strong name and neither is Mendes as an opponent, despite being top ranked. But Aldo isn’t as unfamiliar to audiences as TJ Dillashaw. But it is a fight in danger of slipping below 200,000 buys again. The Cain-Werdum fight should do around 300,000 to 350,000 based on Cain’s past performance on pay per view and this being his first fight back after a long layoff. It should be a draw in Mexico.
The December pay per view is the toughest to predict and UFC is probably anticipating it being the biggest pay per view of the year. It would have to beat the 545,000 buys that the Weidman-Machida fight gleaned from fans, which isn’t a high number for biggest UFC buy rate of the year compared to the great numbers the promotion has drawn in past years. The first Hendricks-Lawler bout only did 300,000 buys. The rematch seems to have some heat behind it, so I think it will top 300,000 buys, but even if it does, it is difficult to say by how much.
The return match might have more anticipation and the addition of Pettis-Melendez may help, especially since the latter fight is being promoted with those two as coaches on season twenty of The Ultimate Fighter. But neither Pettis nor Melendez is much of a name, which makes the buy rate difficult to predict. Something short of the Weidman-Machida buy rate is probably likely, perhaps around 400,000, but it is difficult to tell until we get closer to the December pay per view and hype starts to build.