Originally posted at MMATorch.com on 8/25/2017
How do you see the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight going? Who wins, what's the finishe and which round?
MICHAEL GROCKE, MMATorch Contributor
When this fight was first being considered I said if Floyd Mayweather wanted to prove a point he’ll knock Conor McGregor out within the first two rounds. Then I saw the opening odds, which only solidified my stance. Then I saw the over/under on rounds set at nine, which gave me pause. The more I thought about it, the more the rounds total being set at nine made sense. Mayweather doesn’t knock his opponents out. Mayweather has cardio for days and uses it to outlast his competitors. It’s a good, but boring strategy. I see him using the exact same strategy against McGregor. Conor doesn’t have the best cardio to begin with and I don’t see him being able to keep up with Mayweather on fight night. McGregor will probably win a round or two, but as the fight progresses I expect Mayweather to start wearing Conor out by going to the body repeatedly. This will wear Conor out leading to a ninth round TKO for Floyd Mayweather.
Originally posted at MMATorch.com on 8/25/2017
Do you sense this is a bigger deal today than when the fight was first announced? Why or why not?
MICHAEL GROCKE, MMATorch Contributor
The four city promotional tour definitely captured the attention of the casual fan. Hardcores saw the tour for exactly what it was, a show, or theater if you will. For me, the best part of the promotion of this fight was during Media Week and both fighters gave sit-down interviews. McGregor chatted with Ariel Helwani and Mayweather sat down with Stephen A. Smith. Both men came off infinitely better than during the promotional tour. I think the fight feels bigger now, but I might be too far into the forest to see the trees.
Originally posted on MMATorch.com on 08-24-2017
What has to happen in the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight for this to help MMA vs. hurting MMA?
MICHAEL GROCKE, MMATorch Contributor
Considering the fight is happening is a “win” for the UFC. I think the promotion for the fight, and the fight itself has and will bring more eyes to the UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts than ever before. The question is, will casual viewers and boxing fans continue to follow and watch MMA after the fight? If McGregor gets knocked out in the first round, which I don’t see happening, then I don’t see it helping them gain more fans. However, if Conor hangs around and loses a competitive decision, or (gasp) wins then I think it can only help draw more people to the sport. In my opinion this is a win/win for the UFC.
How many PPV buys will the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight have? More than 5 million, or less than 5 million?
Originally posted on MMATorch.com on 08-23-2017
How many PPV buys will the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight have? More than 5 million, or less than 5 million?
MICHAEL GROCKE, MMATorch Contributor
I’m sensing a bit of burnout leading up to fight week, but I expect the hype will return the closer we get to the actual fight. I keep hearing people say that they are not buying the fight because of the circus-like aspect to it. Mayweather vs. Pacquiao did so well because we had two of the best boxers competing against each other to determine which man was the better BOXER. Everyone knows Floyd Mayweather is a better boxer than Conor McGregor, but is he a better fighter? For me, that’s where the intrigue lies. I think the same can be said for both casual and hardcore fans. What if McGregor pulls off the impossible? Do you really want to be the one person that didn’t see it? And heck, who doesn’t love a good freak show? So, for those reason I think the fight does more than five million buys.
Bellator MMA is dipping its toes back into the PPV waters. The #2 promotion hasn't put on a PPV event since Bellator 120 on May 17, 2014. This was the card for that event:
Main Card - PPV
Quinton Jackson vs. Muhammed Lawal - Light Heavyweight - 205 lbs.
Michael Chandler vs. Will Brooks - Lightweight - 155 lbs.
Tito Ortiz vs. Alexander Shlemnko - Light Heavyweight - 205 lbs.
Alexander Volkov vs. Blagoy Ivanov - Heavyweight 265 lbs.
Ricky Rainey vs. Michael Page - Welterweight - 170 lbs.
Prelims - Spike
Eric Smith vs. Cheick Kongo - Heavyweight - 265 lbs.
Nate Jolley vs. Marcin Held - Catchweight 158 lbs.
Fabricio Guerreiro vs. Shahbulat Shamhalaev - Lightweight - 155 lbs.
Goiti Yamauchi vs. Mike Richman - Featherweight 145 lbs.
Early Prelims – Spike.com
Zach Underwood vs. Austin Lyons - Catchweight 153 lbs.
Mike Wessell vs. Justin Frazier - Heavyweight 265 lbs.
Andy Uhrich vs. Ben Brewer - Welterweight 170 lbs.
Initial buy rate numbers came in at around the 50,000 mark, but as more time passed the number increased to 100,000. Spike TV President Kevin Kay backed up that number saying the 100,000 buy rate is "dead on accurate." Kay also said, "I'm hesitant to answer, because...we haven't done pay-per-views, I'll stand by that 100,000 though.
More than a few industry insiders were both surprised and doubtful of that number. Including Dana White who said, "It shocks me, because no it didn't. When pressed White said, "He (Bjorn Rebney) didn't know what the gate was. If he didn't know what his gate was, but he did 100,000 pay-per-view buys...the guy is a f-ing clown."
So what can Scott Coker and Bellator MMA expect for Bellator NYC? The promotion makes their Madison Square Garden debut in New York City and headlines with longtime bitter rivals Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva. Here are the cards for both events:
Bellator NYC Main Card - PPV
Chael Sonnen (29-15-1) vs. Wanderlei Silva (35-12-1, 1 NC) - Light Heavyweight 205
Fedor Emelianenko (36-4, 1 NC) vs. Matt Mitrione (11-5) - Heavyweight 265 lbs.
Lorenz Larkin (18-5, 1 NC) vs. Douglas Lima (28-6) - Welterweight 170 lbs.
Michael Chandler (16-3) vs. Brent Primus (7-0) - Lightweight 155 lbs.
Zach Freemen (8-2) vs. Aaron Pico (0-0) – Lightweight 155 lbs.
Bellator 180 Main Card - Spike
Phil Davis (17-3, 1 NC) vs. Ryan Bader (22-5) - Light Heavyweight 205 lbs.
Chinzo Machida (5-2) vs. James Gallagher (6-0) - Featherweight 145 lbs.
Neiman Gracie (5-0) vs. Dave Marfone (5-2) - Welterweight 170 lbs.
Alice Yauger (4-5) vs. Heather Hardy (0-0) – Flyweight 125 lbs.
Prelims – Bellator.com
Ryan Couture (10-5) vs. Haim Gozali (7-3) - Welterweight 170 lbs.
Jerome Mickle (2-1) vs. Anthony Giacchina (1-1) - Lightweight 155 lbs.
John Salgado (4-7-1) vs. Hugh McKenna (0-1) - Catchweight 168 lbs.
Sergio da Silva (6-8) vs. Matt Rizzo (9-2, 1 NC) - Catchweight 130 lbs.
Bradley Desir (9-5) vs. Nate Grebb (3-1) – Lightweight 155 lbs.
From what is being said, it appears Bellator MMA is back in the PPV business. Jon Slusser who is the Spike TV President for sports and specials indicated as such by saying, "This is a new line of business for us, this is the first of many that we will be doing. Scott (Coker) did not put together a single card and hopes that it works or see if it works. This is a new revenue stream for us and it will allow us in time to continue to build up Bellator." This is a bold statement to make considering no one knows how this PPV will do numbers-wise.
Scott Coker put things in perspective when he said, "We're not going to do monthly pay-per-view just to do pay-per-views. We're going to build up to big fights more like the boxing model, and when the time is right, we'll do the big, big fights. So when we put the big events together, like we have on June 24, then we'll do it on a PPV event."
I like the card, but would I purchase it if I didn't cover Bellator for the site?
Yes, I would. I think there are enough big names and intriguing match-ups worthy of the price tag. The main and co-main events provide enough curiosity to make me want to see them.
Lorenz Larkin who is getting an instant title shot in his Bellator debut against Douglas Lima should be an excellent fight and is must see in my opinion. Michael Chandler defends his lightweight title for the second time when he faces undefeated Brent Primus. Chandler is one of the best lightweights in the world and is currently ranked #7 in the MMA Torch rankings. World class wrestler Aaron Pico makes his professional debut when he steps into the cage against Zach Freeman. Bellator must be confident in the twenty year old's skills to be putting him in there against a fighter with ten professional fights under his belt.
Bellator 180 on Spike is also very solid and makes a great lead into the PPV. The light heavyweight title fight between Phil Davis and Ryan Bader should bring a lot of viewers to the free Spike telecast. It's up to Bellator to turn those viewers into PPV buyers.
Jon Slusser and Scott Coker are all in. Is the risk worth the reward? Coker is on record saying, "I think this fight card is as good, if not better, than any in the first half of this year. And when you're talking about the pay-per-view business, I think $49.95 is a very fair price. It's $10 cheaper than (the UFC)." He went on to say, "Anything (in the 200,000 range) would be respectable. Anything with a 3 in front of it would be fantastic. Anything with a 4 in front of it would be unbelievable. I really feel that we can do something with a 3 in front of it."
Only time will tell if the risk was worth it. Regardless, I applaud them for taking it.
The UFC makes its way to the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas for UFC 211. Stipe Miocic defends his heavyweight title against Junior dos Santos in the main event of a stacked lineup. Each fight on the main card has a top ten fighter in it, including Alvarez vs. Poirier which highlights the prelims. The co-main event features another title fight with Joanna Jedrzejczyk putting her strawweight championship on the line against the always dangerous Jessica Andrade.
The five fight main card rounds out with Jorge Masvidal currently the slight favorite taking on Demian Maia in what could be a title eliminator in the welterweight division and UFC veteran Frankie Edgar goes up against the fast rising Yair Rodriguez in a featherweight battle.
The early prelims will air on Fight Pass starting at 5:15 PM CT, with FX taking over at 7 PM CT for the prelims. The main card airs on PPV beginning at 9 PM CT.
This is one of, if not the hardest card to predict. This is one of those main cards where an argument can be made for either fighter winning their respective fights. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @FightChampBlog for all my official bets.
Stipe Miocic #1 (16-2) vs. Junior dos Santos #5 (18-4) – Heavyweight 265 lbs.
Current Odds: Miocic -140; dos Santos +110
After losing to current challenger Junior dos Santos at UFC on Fox 13 Stipe Miocic has won his last four fights. He won the heavyweight title by stopping Fabricio Werdum with punches in the first round at UFC 198 in what was considered an upset. Most recently, he followed that fight up by stopping Alistair Overeem again with punches in the first round at UFC 203 for his first title defense. On Saturday night he goes for his second defense when he steps into the cage against dos Santos for the second time.
After starting his UFC career 9-0, dos Santos is 3-3 over his last six fights. On top of that he has taken a substantial amount of damage in those three losses. He lost a one-sided decision to Cain Velasquez, and was finished in the other two losses. Even in one of the wins, which happened to be in his first fight with Miocic, dos Santos looked like he got the worst of it. Now all that said, he looked fantastic in his most recent fight when he beat Ben Rothwell in a dominating performance at UFC Fight Night 86.
In his fight against Rothwell, dos Santos showed he is capable of learning from past losses. In those losses, he found himself taking serious damage while being pressured against the fence. He was also slower and not capable of using his once excellent footwork to keep himself out of harm’s way. Against Rothwell his speed, quickness and ability to circle away from trouble all seemed to have come back for the former champion. I expect Junior to come into this fight with a ton of confidence, the only question is which Junior will we see on Saturday night?
Stipe Miocic is an excellent boxer. He’s very adept at cutting off the cage while applying constant pressure on his opponents. Miocic is very dangerous when in close and is becoming a better counter-puncher. While the champ is a competent wrestler, I do not expect him to try to take this fight to the mat. Striking is his game and he will stick to it. Of his 16 professional wins, 12 are by KO/TKO with only one submission.
Dos Santos hasn’t fought since April of 2016 and I think that’s a good thing. I also like the move to American Top Team. This fight will come down to which Junior dos Santos shows up on Saturday night. If it’s the version that we saw against Overeem or Velasquez he’s going to get demolished by Miocic. However, if we get the Junior that we saw against Rothwell, we might have a new heavyweight champion at the conclusion of UFC 211.
Pick: dos Santos by TKO
Joanna Jedrzejczyk #1 (13-0) vs. Jessica Andrade #3 (16-5) – Strawweight 115 lbs.
Current Odds: Jedrzejczyk -185; Andrade +155
Brazilian challenger Jessica Andrade enters Saturday night’s title fight riding a three fight winning streak. She defeated both Jessica Penne and Joanne Calderwood inside the distance, and most recently decisioned Angela Hill at UFC Fight Night 104. She is 7-3 since joining the UFC back in 2013 and boasts 12 finishes in her 16 professional wins.
Strawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk has yet to taste defeat in her MMA career. After going 2-0 as an amateur she has rattled off 13 straight wins as a pro, with her last 7 under the UFC umbrella. Her most recent win occurred at UFC 205 where she beat Karolina Kowalkiewicz by unanimous decision.
At bantamweight Jessica Andrade was just another fighter, but it’s at strawweight where she’s found her home. Stamina was thought to perhaps be an issue for her at 115, but she’s proven that is not the case. Not only does she have the gas tank, but her power is scary at this weight. Andrade is always moving forward while pressuring her opponents throughout the fight. While Andrade is a capable wrestler with a good ground game, I don’t expect her to have success on the mat. I do expect her to keep the fight standing where she can apply constant pressure and utilize her superior strength and striking skills.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk is an outstanding striker. She will have to use those skills, especially her jab in order to control range against Andrade. The champion has excellent footwork which will also come in handy as she’ll try to avoid the incoming onslaught of Andrade. Jedrzejzcyk works at a fast pace with a gas tank that’s second to none while out voluming her opponents. She has been hurt early in her fights, but her will to win keeps her going and eventually she wears her challengers out in the championship rounds.
I expect both fighters to take a lot of damage in this fight. While the champion has unreal cardio, which has made the difference in her fights, I expect Andrade to keep up. If she is capable of matching Jedrzejczyk’s gas tank I think she’ll be able to pull off the upset. However, if she slows in the championship rounds, like so many others I can see her getting finished.
Pick: Andrade by decision
Demian Maia #3 (24-6) vs. Jorge Masvidal #5 (32-11) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: Masvidal -125; Maia -105
Demian Maia comes into Saturday’s fight riding a ton of momentum as he looks for his seventh straight win. Maia won his last two fights by submission, first beating Matt Brown at UFC 198 and most recently Carlos Condit. The Brazilian fighter has 12 wins by submission in 24 career wins.
Jorge Masvidal also comes into this fight riding a wave of confidence. He’s 3-0 over his last three fights, winning his last two inside the distance. He finished Jake Ellenberger in the first round at The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale, and most recently he destroyed Donald Cerrone at UFC on FOX 23. The American Top Team product boasts 15 finishes in 32 career wins.
Demian Maia should be fighting for the welterweight title in my opinion. Ultimately this fight should be a title eliminator, but with the recent news of the Bisping/GSP fight getting cancelled I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Woodley decides he wants a fight against GSP.
This fight is a match-up of contrasting styles. The game plan for each fighter is already well known. Maia will try to utilize his other worldly grappling skills to take Masvidal down. Once on the mat he will try to take his back, and if he does, the fight will be over.
Masvidal on the other hand, will want to keep the fight standing so he can utilize his outstanding boxing skills. He is very quick and has excellent defense. Masvidal has only been submitted twice in eleven losses. If he has success in defending Maia’s take down attempts he will force Maia to stand. If that’s the case I can see Masvidal getting the finish.
Unfortunately for Masvidal I don’t think he’ll be able to fend Maia off for three rounds.
Pick: Maia by submission
Frankie Edgar #3 (20-5-1) vs. Yair Rodriguez #6 (11-1) – Featherweight 145 lbs.
Current Odds: Edgar -130; Rodriguez ev.
UFC veteran Frankie Edgar sandwiched five wins in between losses to Jose Aldo. Edgar’s most recent fight occurred at UFC 205 where he picked up a victory by unanimous decision over Jeremy Stephens. The vet will look to make it two wins in a row by putting a halt to fast rising Yair Rodriguez.
Jackson-Wink product Yair Rodriguez is riding an eight fight win streak. He will be looking for his seventh straight win since joining the UFC. His most recent fight was against BJ Penn at UFC Fight Night 103 where he completely dominated the overmatched Penn winning by TKO. Rodriguez will be making a huge step up in competition when he steps into the cage against Edgar on Saturday night.
No one has ever questioned Edgar’s stamina, as the New Jersey native has plenty to spare. He is also extremely quick making him difficult to hit, he works a fast pace and throws punches at a high volume. Edgar mixes in take down attempts well as he tries to keep his opponents off balance. While he can finish, 52% of his fights go to the judge’s score cards.
Mexican born Yair Rodriguez comes at you with a barrage of kicks and punches that come from all angles. He’s also prone to throw in a flying knee, a spinning back fist or a spinning wheel kick. His offense is just as unpredictable as it is dangerous.
While Edgar is the better-rounded fighter, Rodriguez has youth as well as the edge in overall athleticism. Is it enough to beat one of the best featherweights in the world? I expect Rodriguez to fight from distance, avoid going to the ground and try to out-strike Edgar. If Frankie has success getting inside, landing takedowns and keeping the taller Rodriguez off balance it’s going to be a good night for “The Answer.”
Pick: Edgar by submission
Prelims Quick Look
#10 Poirier -100 over #4 Alvarez -120
Knight ev. over Skelly -130
Jotko -150 over Branch +120
Vick -375 over Reyes +290
Early Prelims Quick Look
#9 Aguilar -110 over Casey -120
Gordon -155 over Quinones +125
Sherman -135 over Coulter +105
Benitez -150 over Barzola +120
Antigulov -385 over Christensen +295
Enjoy the fights!
Originally posted on MMATorch.com on 05-01-2017
Now that Cris Cyborg is officially done with Invicta, how would you book her in UFC going forward? Would you give her an immediate title shot or book her against someone else?
MICHAEL GROCKE, MMATorch contributor
Cyborg should fight Germaine de Randamie for the UFC Featherweight Title. The real question is, will de Randamie even defend the title she beat Holly Holm for at UFC 208? Word out her camp is she is going to be taking what sounds like an extended leave from the UFC to deal with what they are calling “personal issues.” Hopefully, whatever the issues are that de Randamie is working through, she gets them resolved sooner rather than later. Fans have had to deal with too many of UFC’s champions holding up their respective divisions for varying reasons. The last thing we need is another interim title.
As most MMA fans have heard, World Series of Fighting has rebranded as the Professional Fighters League. The promotion will be structured like the big three in sports; the NFL, NBA and MLB with a regular season leading to playoffs and ultimately crowning a champion beginning in January, 2018.
The first season will consist of seven different weight classes with each fighter competing in three regular season fights. The fighters with the best records will then compete in the playoffs and finally, the championship. Each of the champions in the seven weight classes will win $1 million, with $3 million getting dispersed among the remaining fighters.
After rumors of the demise of WSOF, a group of businessmen including Russ Ramsey, Donn Davis and Mark Leschly purchased the struggling promotion and co-founded the Professioanl Fighters League. Ray Sefo and Carlos Silva will remain with the new group of owners.
Ray Sefo stated, “All fighters deserve to control their own destiny, to win or lose on their own merits. There are thousands of professional MMA fighters, and yet in the entire history of the sport, only a handful of these athletes have ever fought for $1 million. We are proud to offer that opportunity to every fighter in the Professional Fighters League.”
Sefo also sent out an email to the fighters informing them of the news prior to the official press release:
Since the news broke, reaction to the new venture has been mostly negative, and I don’t know why. The PFL has an opportunity to provide MMA fans an alternative to both the UFC and Bellator way of match-making. UFC fans have been forced to watch fights/cards that may make sense to them financially, but have little regard to rankings and the pursuit of championship titles. Bellator cards are loaded with fighters fresh off the regional circuit, squash matches and former UFC fighters. The MMA landscape has become stale.
The PFL is providing more opportunities for fighters. More opportunities for them to make money. It wasn’t until UFC 196 where we saw Conor McGregor become the first UFC fighter to pull in $1 million. That type of payday will be life changing money for any of the fighters competing.
The million dollar payday aside, by offering its fighters a regular paycheck and treating wins and losses like they matter – like a real sport - the promotion has an opportunity to change the future of MMA. What’s not to like about that?
Originally posted on MMATorch.com on 03-23-2017
Are you in favor of a Legends Division in UFC, as Vitor Belfort has suggested? Whether you’re for it or not, what is the best set-up for it in terms of parameters and how it’s featured?
MICHAEL GROCKE, MMATORCH CONTRIUBUTOR
When I first heard about the idea of a Legends League or Legends Division, my first reaction was, no way. After sitting on the idea a bit longer, my answer is still no way. Look, we all reminisce about the past and, the older you get, the more you do it. But, the past is the past and me, like you and the world of MMA, need to keep moving forward.
Would there be an appetite for such a league? Absolutely. It will also allow aging fighters to continue to earn a payday, but at what costs? The health and well-being of any fighter, young or old(er), has to be the number one priority of any organization. The fighters of yesteryear already have taken a ton of damage throughout their careers and to allow them to continue fighting only means more damage and more miles on their bodies.
If this were to come to fruition, it would be wildly popular for a short period of time. But after we see the lack of quality fighting over time, interest would begin to wane. Not to mention the copy-cat organizations out there that will look to capitalize on short term profits while taking advantage of fighters who don’t know their time is up.
For me, I want to remember my favorite fighters as the baddest men on the planet, not not as shells of themselves looking to recapture their glory years.
Originally posted on MMATorch.com on 03-15-2017
Who in the world of MMA is poised to become the Next Big Draw and mainstream breakout personality who hasn’t achieved that level before?
MICHAEL GROCKE, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Michael “Venom” Page: So far Page has shown he has the skills needed to be successful in the cage amassing a 12-0 record while fighting in the Bellator Welterweight Division. Page is a fighter who goes for the finish whenever possible and, in 2016, he scored the Knockout of the Year when he KO’d Evangelista Santos with a flying knee that fractured Cyborg’s skull. Big John McCarthy, who was the referee for the bout, called it “absolutely the hardest knee” he’s ever seen. Michael Page is also a flashy, outspoken, good talker with the ability to sell his fights.
There are two factors that could derail his momentum, though. The first issue is he hasn’t fought the best in the division up until this point in his career. If he starts losing to the top fighters in the Welterweight Division, then he’ll likely become just another fighter under the Bellator banner. The second issue is he fights for Bellator. If he continues beating everybody the organization puts in front of him, eventually he’ll have to go to the UFC in order to become the biggest star possible.
Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis: The heavyweight division needs someone like Derrick Lewis. To be honest, he wasn’t even on my radar as someone who could be a star not long ago. But after his knockout of Travis Browne and his post-fight comments, how can anyone not be entertained by him? If you haven’t read the quotes or watched the interview, then do it now. And if you’re not following him on Twitter, you should be.
Oh yeah, and he’s also pretty good in the cage. Don’t blink during his fights because you might miss the end. He has 16 KO/TKO’s and 1 submission in his 18 pro career wins.
Honorable Mention: Mackenzie Dern. While nowhere near ready, she is definitely someone to keep an eye on.
The Fighting Champion
Blogging about mixed martial arts, sports betting and providing winning sports picks.