Rory MacDonald makes Bellator debut as well
This weekend is tailor made for real fight fans that enjoy the quintessential purist elements of the sport. With a splash of MMA and a heap of boxing, this weekend is combatively lit.
Friday, May 19th 2017
Bellator MMA 179: Paul Daley vs. Rory MacDonald
With MMA free agency comes the turnstile movement of fighters from promotion to promotion, and recently there has been a huge exodus from the UFC to Bellator. Notable UFC welterweight Rory MacDonald (18-4, 7 KOs) can now put former in front of his UFC career as he steps into Bellator for the first time this weekend.
Never one to pad his record, MacDonald steps right into the storm facing feared striker Paul Daley (21-3, 14 KOs) on Daley’s side of the pond in England.
MacDonald fought and lost in the 2015 Fight of the Year against former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler. The bloody battle will forever go down as one of the most epic fights in UFC history and solidified MacDonald as the quiet Canadian badass everyone knew he was.
He followed that up with a title eliminator loss to Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson last June, setting up his exit from the organization. MacDonald joins Ryan Bader, Cheick Kongo and Ben Henderson as the new ex-pats of the UFC.
Known as the Mike Tyson of MMA, Paul Daley has been a lightning rod of controversy his entire career. From his wins over Martin Kampmann, Scott Smith and Jorge Masvidal to his epic losses to Tyron Woodley and Nick Diaz, Daley is considered a bad boy of MMA. His recent flying knee knockout of Brennan Ward at Bellator 170 in January has him back on the winning path since breaking his 5-fight win streak with his last loss to Douglas Lima.
MacDonald possesses a great chin and a total abandon of self-preservation. With Daley being a brawler, this should be a main event for the ages. Daley wants nothing more than to spoil the welcoming party for MacDonald and get a rematch with Douglas Lima for the welterweight title.
Other great fights on the card include a light heavyweight roux between former light heavyweight champion Liam McGeary and Linton Vassel. Also, the event signals the return of Cheick Kongo and Kevin “Baby Slice” Ferguson, Jr.
Catch all the action live from the SSE Arena, Wembley in London England at 9pm EST / 6pm PST on Spike.
Saturday, May 20th 2017
Terence Crawford vs. Felix Diaz
The man known as "Bud" is bringing his talents back to New York City, but this time in Madison Square Garden's big room. Omaha's Terence Crawford (30-0, 21 KOs) returns to action defending his WBC, WBO, The Ring and lineal light welterweight titles against Felix Diaz (19-1, 9 KOs).
Crawford is a boxing athletic sensation. His track record in the ring is flawless and his execution is pristine on all levels. He never outwardly displays panic under pressure and possesses one of the hardest left hooks in the sport. Although he is not a PPV draw, with one of his fights against Viktor Postol doing horribly while he performed amazingly, Crawford is being put in front of HBO's main audience to build his unique brand of pugilism
Felix Diaz, a native of the Dominican Republic, won a Gold Medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He is currently on a two-fight win streak after losing a majority decision to Lamont Peterson back in 2015.
Catch all the action live from Madison Square Garden at 10:15pm EST on HBO.
The world championship event will also feature the Pride of Newark and 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist SHAKUR STEVENSON (1-0) on the non-televised undercard.
Gervonta “Tank” Davis vs. Liam Walsh
IBF junior lightweight world champion, Gervonta “Tank” Davis (17-0, 16 KOs) makes his first title defense in enemy territory, heading to England to face Liam Walsh (21-0, 14 KOs). Mayweather Promotions' newest star has the full support of mentor Floyd Mayweather, Jr. who has been training him personally for the bout.
The fight is significant for the two undefeated fighters as Walsh is a dominant English fighter that has never faced an American opponent. Davis, who holds the distinction as the youngest American champion at 22 years old, is eight years the junior of his British opponent.
“Having Floyd in my corner gives me a lot of confidence,” said Davis at the final press conference. “Floyd has been pretty hands on with me, he’s been getting up and training and running with me. He was my hero in the sport of boxing coming up, so to just have him in my corner now is amazing.”
“Tank” made headlines when he viciously knocked out former champion Jose Pedraza in the Barclays Center in January, and looks to capitalize on that win with a victory on hostile ground.
“I’m not intimidated one little bit. Not by Floyd, not by Tank, not by anyone,” said Walsh at the final presser. “As I’ve said many times, his performance against Pedraza was very good. I applaud him. Tank is the best fighter I’ve come up against in my career so far, but I’m also the best fighter he’s going to come against in his career so far."
On the heels of the announcement that Conor McGregor has signed on to fight “Money” Mayweather, “The Money Team” boss is on hand with Davis to insure a victory.
“I already conquered your country once (with Ricky Hatton) and now we’re going to conquer it again on Saturday,” said Mayweather at the final presser. “Tank is always in tremendous fights, he’s a big knockout artist. I truly believe in my man, and I want to work with him until the end of his career.”
Catch all the junior lightweight action live from Copper Box Arena at 6pm EST on Showtime.
Gary Russell, Jr. vs. Oscar Escandon
After an initial postponement due to an injury sustained by Oscar Escandon (25-2, 17 KOs), the fight is ready to happen this weekend at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
Gary Russell, Jr. (27-1, 16 KOs) the most famous of three fighting Gary Russell’s, will defend his WBC featherweight belt against the Colombian. Trained by Gary Russell, Sr., two of the brothers are Olympians and one makes his professional debut this weekend.
This will be the first time Gary Russell, Jr. will fight as a professional in front of his hometown crowd near Washington, DC, and in a division where his nemesis Vasyl Lomachenko still lives, he is looking to the next step.
“I look at each fighter as their own individual," said Russell Jr. at the final press conference. “We don’t prepare the same way for every opponent. He’s a tough fighter who comes forward. He’s very physical and I expect him to be at his best on Saturday. It’s up to me to counteract what he does.”
Escandon’s last fight ironically was in Washington, DC where he knocked out Robinson Castellanos for the interim WBC featherweight title. Ruben Guerrero, father of former champion Robert Guerrero, trains him.
“I didn’t have complete training camps with my past trainers, but now I’m with Ruben Guerrero,” said Escandon at the final presser. “I’m learning so much. You can look at me in my previous fights and you’ll see a vast improvement now.”
Also on the card is the return of Andre Dirrell (25-2, 16 KOs) who fights Jose Uzcategui (26-1, 22 KOs) for the vacant IBF super middleweight title. After losing a unanimous decision to James DeGale in 2015, Dirrell is looking to get the belt that has eluded him.