Every so often, prize fighting gives me an extra jolt of excitement that reminds me of one of the reasons why I enjoy it so much. This week has been a prime example of fights that I’m looking forward to and the art of promotion that has me intrigued.
On Saturday night, Bellator MMA will set up shop at Madison Square Garden in NYC, with a headliner that has yours truly engaged. While some are balking at the fact the card is being headlined by Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva, this one is personal; for them, and for me.
Having known both fighters for years and spent quality time with them, I know what this bout means to both of them. In my conversations with both in the past, my sense is that Chael is seeing this fight as more of a competition but also unfinished business with a bitter rival, while Wanderlei despises the ground that Sonnen walks on and wants to kick his head into the second row.
When there’s bad blood in a fight, it peaks my excitement. For the most part, we can expect some action in these types of fights. Yes, on the odd occasion, there have been disappointments but with Wanderlei’s emotions boiling over, this one will get real ugly, real fast.
The card will also see Fedor Emelianenko return to action (while also inviting Donald Trump to the event) as he takes on Matt Mitrione. I’m happy for Matt, as I want to see him do well vs. Fedor and perhaps add ‘The Last Emperor’ to his resume of victories. Mitrione is a stand-up guy … the type of guy who no matter what city we were both in, would stop me to chit chat about life. More often both of us making fools of ourselves in conversation, but just all round fun.
On Sunday, at the UFC’s Fight Night in Oklahoma City, we get to see Michael Chiesa and Kevin Lee settle their bitter score. I will forever use this bout as the perfect example of what ‘making noise’ can do to a match-up.
Cue the broken record …
Prior to the UFC’s Summer Kick-Off Press Conference, interest in this bout was all but null and void. Then they had that scuffle on stage and not a soul within the MMA bubble was cheering for joy and now, cannot wait to see these two lightweights locked in the octagon. Will it be a race to see who can get the rear naked choke first, or will a TKO be mandatory for being disrespected? I don’t care what game plans either fighter has … just get me to Sunday night so I can see how it all unfolds.
Then we have one of my favourite promoters of all time: Floyd Mayweather Jr.
The bout with Conor McGregor is official and while ‘The Notorious’ is doing what he does best - you know - trying to get into his opponent’s head by nearly any means necessary, Floyd is taking a previous route that I have seen in the past … and I’m totally into it.
Via BSOTV, Mayweather is already informing McGregor fans, boxing pundits and the critics of this bout, "Believe in Conor … stand behind the fighter that you believe in and he's a hell of a competitor."
I’ve seen this before. I’ve heard him say this stuff before. And he hooked me in.
I recall the build up to his fight vs. Canelo Alvarez. It was incredible how he and Showtime were able to get everyone to believe Canelo was a serious threat in that scrap and that Floyd was in serious trouble.
Then the fight happened … and it wasn’t even close. It felt like we were fleeced, but we weren’t. We should have seen right through it, but we did not.
And it may happen again with this bout. The angle the boxer and his pay per view distributor will take will likely be similar. Conor is a southpaw, is dangerous and a worthy challenge, despite what the odds say.
I’m very intrigued because I want to see if Conor can actually hit Floyd … and what if he does? McGregor has incredible power and precision. What will the critics say then?
So much zaniness will take place leading up to this bout, as well as when it actually goes down; just like Chiesa vs. Lee and Sonnen vs. Silva.
Did I mention I love this stuff?