This Week in Combat, Tyson vs Jones Jr, UFC and Bellator Recap

Max’s Weekend Predictons – 15/22

Max’s All Time Predictions- 54/90

With the amount of fights and news coming in through the weekend, we’re going to mix it up a little bit this week. Instead of matchmaking all the winners and losers of the fights this weekend, I am just going to share my thoughts on the UFC and Bellator events this weekend, and the announcement of Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr. Let’s dive in:

Legends Return To the Ring

Fight fans can probably all agree that the biggest news bomb that dropped last week was the announcement that heavyweight legend and boxing icon Mike Tyson will fight multi weight class champion and fellow boxing legend Roy Jones Jr. in an 8 round exhibition fight promoted by Triller. They will not wear headgear, and fighters have verbally agreed to not swing for the fences to prevent serious damage. The fight will be September 12th at an unconfirmed venue.

I have a lot of mixed thoughts on this happening. From a fight fan who does have concerns about the safety of competitors, this contest has red flags all over it that I don’t know can be ratified.

Mike Tyson is 54 years old and has not fought since losing to Kevin McBride in 2005. Jones is 51, has fought as recently as 2018 and has won 12 of his last 13 fights, but it is important to understand that the competition he has faced has not been world class caliber. 

The two primary concerns I have with the matchup are the length of the fight and this verbal agreement of not throwing bombs at each other. 8 rounds seems WAY too long with too many windows for each fighter to get hit with a lot of volume. As far as the power behind their shots, I’ve never seen Tyson come close to throwing any punch less than 100% violent – even when he hits mitts. This idea that he will be comfortable in a touch-and-go exhibition is hard to believe.

While there is some cause for concern I think it will be at the very least a fun exchange for two legends that will generate a lot of buzz. Also, if two grown ass men sign on the line to trade leather, who am I to judge? I’ll enjoy the action just like everyone else.

The co-main event will feature a bout between controversy filled YouTube star Jake Paul and former NBA point guard Nate Robinson. Jake Paul has taken a handful of pro fights and has been boxing for a few years under the tutelage of Shane Mosley. Robinson has never laced up gloves, so this fight will be a good litmus test of what prevails between the combination of size and experience vs. a wide athleticism margin. What a shit show, I love it.

Farewell To Fight Island

Saturday marked the end of the UFC’s four event run at Fight Island, in which a 15-Fight marathon full of entertaining fights served as a perfect capstone. Robert Whittaker won a close but great performance over Darren Till by decision, and to me anchored his position to fight to regain his title vs the winner of champion Israel Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa at UFC 253 in September. He is the no doubt number one contender, and see no reason that with his resume that his next fight wouldn’t be for gold.

Darren Till didn’t back down and lost a close battle. He was clearly not the victor, but losing 3-2 on rounds is as close as you can get to winning when you’ve lost. Till looks good at middleweight but the power drop off is still very much in question. A fight with Jack Hermansson is where we will likely see him next.

Two standout performances that I tip my hat to are Fabrício Werdum and Khamzat Chimaev. Werdum battled with Alexander Gustafson fresh of his move to heavyweight. Werdum looked like the fighter of old, catching Gustafson in an armbar less than three minutes into the fight. He is back in the win column after dropping back to back fights, and we are all curious to see what’s next for the former heavyweight champ who turns 43 on Thursday. Hard to gauge if he has a title run in him, but what a story if he can climb all the way back at this age.

Khamzat Chimaev is like a fucking video game character. Two weeks ago, Chimaev hadn’t even made his UFC debut, but then he took two short notice fights on the island which he dominated. He set the record for the fastest non-tournament victory to victory turnaround in the UFC with 10 days, and looked effortless against tough young competition. I think Chimaev is going to get shot way up the ladder at Welterweight, and I seriously wouldn’t be shocked if he got a ranked opponent like Robbie Lawler or Rafael Dos Anjos. He is on my can’t miss list permanently.

Bellator Returns

While the majority of American sports fans were locked in on baseball’s opening day last Friday, Bellator MMA returned to Mohegan Sun in Connecticut with a four fight main card. Sergio Pettis headlined against Ricky Bandejas, and had a smooth strong outing in a fight he was expected to win. Pettis has now won back to back fights in Bellator, and it is set in stone that he will be next in line for a title shot, the winner of Juan Archuleta vs. Patchy Mix for the vacant bantamweight title. If he can win gold, we can almost expect for certain that Bellator will try and set up a super fight with Pettis and Kyoji Horiguchi, a huge opportunity for Pettis.

The standout performance from Friday for me was Aaron Pico. Pico was absolutely dominant in victory, winning via grappling onslaught, maintaining his 100 percent finish rate and stringing together back to back wins. 

What really stood out to me about Pico’s performance is how he used his takedowns and looked remarkably composed, compared to the wild slugfest he usually nosedives into. He’s got crazy power, but this precise grappling attack he has showcased made me extremely confident in his future. Most of Bellator’s top featherweights are tied up in the the Bellator Grand Prix which Pico was left out of, but more victories like this and a big win streak can be a catalyst to his first title shot. At only 23, it’s difficult to expect anything short of greatness.