The UFC, Bellator MMA, ONE Championship, RIZIN FF, and the PFL were all in action over the weekend. Who stood out, and who needs to rethink their game plan?
For MMA fans in the Great White North, the next two days are about one thing: Turkey. It’s Thanksgiving in Canada, but the real bounty for MMA fanatics came over the past two days. Five major events, starting with the PFL kicking off their playoff season on Friday. It’s a rare occurrence when every major MMA outfit on the planet is in action. The only organization missing from the party was Invicta FC, whose next event is a few weeks away.
Still, there was lots to give thanks for with the five shows that did go down. Tons of finishes. Upsets. Star turns. Some events, however, delivered more than others. Let’s take a look at the winners and losers between the five major promotions in action this weekend.
Winner: Ultimate Fighting Championship
Starring: Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Michelle Waterson, Cub Swanson, Kron Gracie
The UFC remains the crown jewel of mixed martial arts, although there’s a real feeling that ONE Championship is nipping at their heels. Already surpassing them in Asia. Still, the UFC’s North American dominance cannot be overlooked, and on Saturday, they put on the sort of show only the UFC can with UFC Tampa. Fantastic action top-to-bottom, with finishes from Marlon Vera, Deiveson Figueiredo, Mike Davis, and Ryan Spann on the prelims. Exciting scraps between Max Griffin and Alex Morono, Eryk Anders and Gerald Meerschaert, peppered throughout the card. An upkick KO of James Vick by Niko Price. Then a couple of wars to top the card, as Cub Swanson vs. Kron Gracie and Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Michelle Waterson were both brilliant, if one-sided.
It’s hard to argue against that kind of showing. The successful strawweight return of Jedrzejczyk, weight struggles not withstanding, also made the card relevant. She could be looking at a title fight in the near future.
Winner: Professional Fighters League
Starring: Kayla Harrison, Sarah Kaufman, Ray Cooper III, David Michaud
The PFL kicked off their playoff season Friday, hosting a show from fight capital Las Vegas for the very first time. A smart move, getting ahead of the pack, with most MMA action going down Saturday. And it paid off in spades. Interest in the event was up, there was plenty of in-cage action, and even a little drama. Kayla Harrison got a new opponent on 24 hours notice, but did what she always does, submitting Bobbi Jo Dalziel. Sarah Kaufman fell to Larissa Pacheco in a surprise twist. David Michaud may have been the real breakout performer, battling through two tough fights to make it to the finale. And Ray Cooper III earned a spot in the finals for the second year straight, with a finish of Chris Curtis, who was defeated twice on Friday, having been brought back as a lucky loser almost immediately after announcing his retirement following his first loss.
The PFL’s tournament-based, merit-driven format and million dollar purse has struck a chord with fans, and other promotions have started upping their prize money. Hopefully, strong performances like this continue throughout the post-season.