Busy Weekend in Combat Sports

As the seasons slowly start to change from Summer to Fall we have ourselves one of the busiest and most unique weekends in Combat Sports history with the UFC, WWE & a marque Boxing PPV all going on, on the same day. Plus we are coming off a very fun Bellator 265 card & the second week of the PFL Playoffs. Here are my thoughts for the week in MMA as well as combat sports.

1) CM Punk returned to a Pro Wrestling ring for the first time in 7 years on the second episode of AEW Rampage. This was one of the most jaw-dropping and amazing moments in recent memory. You can change the term Road Warrior Pop to the CMP Punk Pop as the Chicago crowd was thunderous in their ovation of their hometown hero, some even in tears. Punk cut an unbelievable promo where he stated that he left Pro Wrestling in August of 2005 & returned to it in August of 2021, put over all the young talent in the back including Darby Allin who Punk will have his first match with on September 5th at AEW All Out PPV. AEW did a great job in dropping the subtle hints in Punks debut over the few weeks but what makes AEW a winner to Wrestling fans is that they promote something and deliver. Never do they insult your intelligence. AEW has managed to steal the thunder away from WWE on the eve of one of their biggest PPVs of the year. As the segment went on you could see Punk get his passion back for Pro Wrestling and the months/years ahead are going to be very fun with the Straight Edge Superstar involved with the surging All Elite Wrestling.

2) WWE SummerSlam is tonight and while AEW has stolen a lot of the buzz for this event this card does feature some solid matches. The main event is what you are watching this show for in Roman Reigns vs John Cena. Cena's return last month at the MITB PPV has just added to his Hall of Fame career. Especially in the box office side of WWE as he has helped with, drawing some of the best houses for WWE in their return to live events. The match itself is interesting as Regins should go over but how they do it will be interesting especially with Cena making an appearance on SmackDown at MSG in September.

Now onto some MMA Thoughts

1) Bellator 265 was last night and was really a fun show. The main event of Sergei Kharitonov vs Cheick Kongo was as good of a Heavyweight fight as you are going to see. The first round was all Kharitionov as he was picking apart the French Heavyweight on the feet and went in for the finish with 10 seconds left in the round. But Kongo was able to turn the tied in the 2nd hurting & dropping Kharitonov and eventually tapping out Kharitonov with 1 second left in the 2nd Round. I don’t know how Kongo keeps doing it but he is the master of the comeback. I don’t know where Kongo goes from here but him being on the Bellator roster does add value to that division. This show did feature some top prospects that Bellator does have in Logan Storley at Welterweight whose only loss is to current Bellator Welterweight Champion Yaroslav Amosov. Another top prospect is Jornel Lugo who looked fantastic against the always-durable Keith Lee. Even though that was a Catchweight bout at 140lbs Lugo should be in the mix for the Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix that is coming sooner rather than later.

2) The PFL wrapped up their send week of Playoff action with the Heavyweights & Women’s Lightweights. Kayla Harrison once again punched her ticket to the Women’s Lightweight Finals where she will fight Taylor Guardado. Harrison has just made mincemeat out of all the women she has fought this season and it’s not because they aren’t good competition it’s just that she is so good at the weight class. Harrison is now a top 10 fighter in the sport and is closing up on her current deal with the PFL. PFL will have to offer her a lot of money to keep and have to bring in some more talent into that weight class in order to keep Harrison around. My only other thoughts about the PFL show is their pacing is horrendous. I get you have to hype up and build up the fights especially when most casuals don’t know most on the roster but 30 minutes of talking is never good and after a fight goes to a decision to wait around 6 minutes to get the decision read is not a good look and I hope PFL can tighten things up.

3) Monday night I returned from Edmonton Alberta after calling BTC XI and between the BTC card & Unified 40 Canadian MMA is healthy after all the time off due to the pandemic. Unified 40 was an awesome event to see in person as Unified puts on a great show and had a ruckus crowd at the River Cree Resort & Casino. The fight you have to see from that card is Maged Hammo vs Neal Anderson for the Vacant Featherweight Championship. Anderson looked so good in the early stages of this fight as he was able to pick apart and hurt Hammo. But Hammo is so tough and so durable as he had his moments but when the fight went to the ground Hammo showcased how skilled he is as he kept looking for submissions before finally sinking a Rear Naked Choke in to win the Featherweight Championship. Hammo wasn’t even supposed to be in this spot as the original opponent for Anderson was supposed to be Lucas Neufield but he had to pull off due to injury. Hammo made a statement with that win as not only someone who is a solid grappler but he had the heart and will of a Champion. Graham Park was able to defend his Unified Light Heavyweight Championship with a 1st Round TKO over Neil Perry. Park has to be someone the UFC or Bellator is looking at signing as he now is on a 5 fight winning streak with 5 1st Round finishes. The BTC XI was another great event and featured some solid prospects for the future of Canadian MMA. The names to keep your eyes on out of the BTC card are the Atmeh Brothers. Albaraa & Izzuden are the future of the Bantamweight division as these kids have grown up in combat sports from the age of 4 starting out in Taekwon Do. I haven’t seen two prospects that have that crisp striking and ability’s to stuff takedowns. Unified is back September 24th for Unified 41 once again at RiverCree Resort & Casino in Edmonton & BTC is back September 18th returning home to Burlington Ontario.