By Rich Plunkett 22/05/2018
Fight fans across the U.K are spoilt for choice this weeked with events being held in both Liverpool and London, by premiere organisations, The UFC and Bellator, respectively. With many great fights on offer and the events being held on seperate days, if you are keen and in England this weekend, you could treat yourself to an MMA marathon of the ages. But if you could only manage to make it to one event, which one would you choose, hypothetically? Let’s take a look at a matchup of a different kind, with Liverpool taking on London, The UFC vs Bellator.
Let’s start with Bellator. Although still considered to be coming in second place to The UFC in terms of popularity, the fighters they promote and the fights they put on, Bellator has gained considerable pace over the last couple of years by way of compensating their new employees better than they feel they have been elsewhere, bringing some big names back into the sport and hosting a new grand prix style heavyweight tournament which has kicked off recently.
Bellator 200 holds true to this formula but unfortunately former Pride, K1 and Rizin champion Mirko Cro Cop has pulled out of his main event matchup with UFC fan favourite Roy “Big Country” Nelson. The main event now sees Rafael Carvalho attempting to defend his Middleweight title against his toughest opponent yet, in Gegard Mousasi.
It is still unclear whether Nelson will fight in London, but he is doing his best to find a partner, posting invitations on social media. Other notable fighters featured on the card include the flamboyant and still unbeaten, Michael Page, ex Bellator Light Heavyweight champ Phil Davis and former Geordie Shore cast member Aaron Chalmers.
Liverpool hosts local up and comer, Darren Till, in his second main event in as many fights, against number one contender and all round nice guy, Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. In what can only be assumed as The UFC fast tracking Till’s already meteoric rise to success, Liverpool will, for the first time, open its doors to the promotion. Till campaigned for this fight as soon as The UFC announced the event was taking place in his hometown. After months of going back and forth, Thompson finally agreed to the bout and the main event was set.
The co-main event for the evening in Liverpool was planned to be another welterweight matchup between Neil Magny and Gunnar Nelson, but after Nelson pulled out, newcomer Craig White stepped in to take his place.
The matchup between Till and Wonderboy is the most exciting fight to see, all weekend. Has Till bitten off more than he can chew, or is he about to shock the world and do what nobody else has been able to do and KO Thompson? Will Thompson be able to avoid Till’s enormous punching power and pick him apart for his own late stoppage, or decision victory? My gut feel tells me Thompson will do enough, but there’s a lot of confidence coming out of Till’s camp. I know The UFC would love nothing more than to crown another brash, young power puncher with a funny accent, who comes from a place where the only thing more important than sport is The Beatles. I feel like The UFC is certainly in Till’s corner for this one.
In London, the big fight on that card is Carvalho vs Mousasi for the Middleweight strap. Carvalho’s record is nearly as impressive as his highlight reel knockouts, but his resume is missing a big name like Mousasi, who many believe would be close to the best middleweight in the world, across all promotions. This is a great chance for Bellator to promote Mousasi, something that the UFC wasn’t doing right, should he win. It’s also a chance for Carvalho to add that big scalp to his record and notch up a fourth defense of his title. This matchup is very similar to the main event in Liverpool, as it’s a case of experience up against raw talent, fight technique vs one punch knockout power. I give this one to Mousasi.
Michael Page is always an entertaining fighter to watch, whether you want to see him win or lose. With Phil Davis fighting again and an opponent soon to be found for Nelson, I believe the better card is in London this weekend. It’s just a real shame that Cro Cop has pulled out. With the UEFA Champions League Final being played this weekend and “The Reds” earning a shot at football immortality, expect a big couple of days for punters in Liverpool. Bellator has got one up on The UFC this weekend, which is great for growth in the sport of MMA.