Survival Guide for a Wild Weekend of MMA

Fightland Blog

By Tom Taylor

Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC

Last weekend was an undeniably slow one for MMA fans. There was no UFC card, there was no Bellator card, there was no WSOF card, and there was no One Championship card. As reddit user SquidBolado pointed out in a Monday morning post, however, this coming weekend more than makes up for last weekend’s deficit, as many of the world’s top promotions are hosting events, and some of the biggest stars in the game are scheduled to compete.

Here’s our rundown of this wild weekend of fighting.

Thursday, June 16: M-1 Challenge 68
Main Card: 12:00pm ET on YouTube

Ok, so technically this weekend’s MMA marathon actually begins on Thursday, as M-1 Global touches down in Saint Petersburg, Russia with M-1 Challenge 68.

The main event of this card will see former Bellator middleweight champ Alexander Shlemenko (51-9) return to action against Vyacheslav Vasilevsky (27-4). The bout will be a do-over of their original encounter, which occurred back in February. The co-main event, meanwhile, will see former Bellator heavyweight champ and reigning M-1 heavyweight champ Alexander Volkov (26-5) take on former Bellator light heavyweight champ Attila Vegh (29-6-2) in a compelling heavyweight scrap. In case you weren’t counting, that adds up to three former Bellator champs in just two fights.

And of course, the action doesn’t end there. Elsewhere on this surprisingly interesting card, we’ll witness action from some top Eurasian prospects, as well as an appearance by Greek UFC veteran Anthony Christodoulou (12-6).

Friday, June 17: Eurasia Fight Nights 50
Main Card: 11:00am ET on UFC Fight Pass

Eurasia Fight Nights might not be considered one of the world’s biggest MMA organizations, but this Saturday, it will be the home of one of MMA’s biggest stars: Russian legend Fedor Emelianenko (35-4).

Though the first fight of Fedor’s comeback saw him defeat an outmatched Jaideep Singh under the Rizin FF banner, the second fight of this comeback will see him take on former UFC light heavyweight Fabio Maldonado (22-9) in the EFN cage. Of course, as loved as Maldonado for his heart and grittiness, this is expected to be another blowout for the Russian great. But that doesn’t mean we won’t all be tuning in anyway.

Elsewhere on this card, we’ll be treated to an appearance by former Bellator heavyweight champion Vitaly Minakov (17-0). The undefeated 31-year-old will be taking on Australian kickboxing vet Peter Graham (11-9)—also a veteran of the Bellator cage. And finally, this card will feature the expected quotient of local prospects. Catch it all on UFC Fight Pass. Yes, Fedor Emelianenko will be fighting on the UFC’s streaming service.

Friday, June 17: Bellator 156
Main Card: 9:00pm ET on Spike

On Friday night, Bellator MMA will return to our screens with a solid card broadcasting live from Fresno, California.

In the evening’s main event, we’ll see Bellator bantamweight champion Marcos Galvao (17-6-1) defend his title against former champion Eduardo “Dudu” Dantas (17-4). It’ll be the second time the two Brazilian bantamweights have fought. The first was back in February 2013, when Dudu flattened Galvao for a second round knockout win.

Elsewhere on this event’s main card, rising welterweight Chidi Njokuani (14-4)—brother of UFC vet Anthony Njokuani—will take on 35-year-old Brazilian Thiago Jambo Goncalves (18-4), while former Bellator middleweight champ Brandon Halsey (9-1) takes on John Salter (11-3), and rising welterweight Chris Honeycutt (7-1) takes on Denmark’s Mikkel Parlo (13-2).

Friday, June 17: WSOF 31
Main Card: 9:00pm ET on NBCSN

While Bellator 156 is unfolding on Spike TV, World Series of Fighting will return to its home on NBC Sports with WSOF 31, live from Mashantucket, Connecticut.

The main event of this card will feature a dynamite scrap for WSOF’s heavyweight crown. In one corner we’ll have reigning champ Blagoy Ivanov (13-1), who won his belt against dangerous Canadian Smealinho Rama, but is more famous for beating Fedor Emelianenko at the 2008 World Sambo Championships. In the other corner, we’ll have UFC vet Josh “The Huggy Bear” Copeland (12-3), who is fresh off a decision defeat of Mike Hayes in his WSOF debut.

In the WSOF 31 co-main event, we’ll see talented UFC vets Jason High (19-5) and Mike Ricci (11-4) get at it in a high-stakes lightweight bout. The winner of this anticipated showdown could well find themselves in the cage with undefeated WSOF lightweight champ Justin Gaethje in the near future.

Another highlight of this WSOF card is a featherweight scrap between former lightweight title challenger Luis Palomino (24-12), and former bantamweight title challenger Sheymon Moraes (8-1). And finally, another interesting point of the card will be the return of John “Doomsday” Howard (23-12), who will look to rebound from a UFC cut with a win over Thiago Meller (20-7).

Friday, June 17: Resurrection Fighting Alliance 39
Main Card: 10:00pm ET on AXS TV

Friday night’s MMA madness doesn’t end with the Bellator and WSOF cards mentioned above. An hour after those cards have kicked off, Ed Soares’ Resurrection Fighting Alliance will debut in Indiana with its 39th card.

In the main event of the evening, Raoni Barcelos (9-1) will defend his RFA featherweight title for the first time against Bobby “The Wolfman” Moffet (8-1). The rest of the main card, meanwhile, will showcase many of the prospects that RFA takes such pride in producing: rising stars like the 22-year-old Joseph Gigliotti (7-0), who has yet to see the judges’ scorecards in 7 pro outings.

Saturday, June 18: UFC Ottawa
Early Prelims: 6:45pm ET on UFC Fight Pass
Prelims: 8:30pm ET on Fox Sports 2
Main Card: 10:30pm ET on Fox Sports 1

The biggest card of the weekend, as expected, will come from the UFC, who are set to debut in the beautiful Canadian capital on Saturday night.

This Ottawa event will be headlined by a high-stakes showdown between the welterweight division’s number-one and two ranked fighters. In one corner we’ll have Canada’s Rory MacDonald (18-3), who has not been seen since falling to Robbie Lawler in an unforgettable brawl last July. Standing across from the Canadian will be streaking karate specialist Stephen Thompson (12-1), who is fresh off a dazzling destruction of former welterweight champ Johny Hendricks. The winner of this pivotal showdown is expected to take on the winner of Robbie Lawler and Tyron Woodley’s July 30 title fight.

Ottawa’s co-main event, meanwhile, will see former lightweight title challenger Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (29-7) make his second consecutive welterweight appearance against gritty Canadian veteran Patrick Côté (24-9), who has fought as heavy as light heavyweight in the past. The other features of the main card will be a light heavyweight bout between Steve Bossé (11-2) and Sean O’Connell (17-7), a lightweight bout between Olivier Aubin-Mercier (7-2) and Thibault Gouti (11-1), and a battle between JoJo Calderwood (10-1) and Valerie Letourneau (8-4), who will compete in the first women’s flyweight bout in UFC history. Finally, the prelims of this intriguing card will pit some of Canada’s most talented competitors against talented opposition flown in from the world over.

Yes, this is sure to be an exciting weekend for MMA fans, as many of the sports top organizations return to our screens, and legends, contenders and prospects alike will step onto the canvas in search of glory. Enjoy!