**This Saturday will be a big night for the UFC and one of the most anticipated fights in recent memory. One can argue it’s the biggest heavyweight fight in UFC history. From a business perspective, the largest have been fights involving Brock Lesnar during his 2008-2010 run against Frank Mir, Randy Couture, Shane Carwin, and Cain Velasquez. The last heavyweight rivalry that truly felt like a fight to determine the top heavyweight of their generation were the fights between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos. Their first fight in 2011 ended in 64 seconds and was considered less than ideal circumstances with both injured going into that debut card on Fox. The rematch at UFC 155 in December 2012 felt big and answered the question definitively that Velasquez was the top heavyweight, and then cemented that status beating Dos Santos the final time in October 2013. Outside of the UFC, most will look at the August 2005 fight between Fedor Emelianenko and Mirko Cro Cop when Pride FC had the top heavyweights in the game and that fight came with enormous stakes.
With the reliance of ESPN on the UFC during this period and how successful this relationship has been, I anticipate huge coverage of UFC 252 over the next five days. When you combine the story of the two being 1-1 and the probability of this being Cormier’s last fight (even though I imagine a victory would lead to a gigantic offer to fight again) it adds up to the potential of this being one of the UFC’s most successful cards ever. With UFC 249 topping 700,000 buys for Justin Gaethje vs. Tony Ferguson and UFC 251 doing approximately 900,000 buys for ESPN+ alone, this has a solid shot at topping one million.
By Sunday, we will have the answer as to the top heavyweight of the era and many will argue of all-time. For Cormier, it’s the chance to have a storybook ending to an illustrious career and for Miocic, it will be a touchstone on a remarkable career himself and cement his status. For either man, there is a massive fight at heavyweight with Jon Jones but that is contingent on factors including Jones and the UFC getting on the same page and Jones’ attitude toward moving up to heavyweight.
Cormier gave the following outlook on the DC & Helwani show on Monday:
I have to just compete to the best of my ability. I have to fight like me like that’s it. Last fight, I didn’t fight like me. I fought crazy, I fought emotional, I did all these things I shouldn’t have done. If I fight like me then I’ll be fine. I’m a better fighter than Stipe Miocic, I really do believe that and if I just give my best and I win, that’s the best thing in the world. But if I don’t win and I fight to my potential I can be okay. I mean it will bother me, I’m the most competitive person in the world, it will sit with me for the rest of my life and it will burn at me but I’ll be okay at dealing with it because I did everything the right way going into the fight. I just believe that I’m going to win the fight Saturday, I don’t know how to explain it. I have this feeling inside my body that I’m going to win this fight.
**Cormier is aiming to weigh at about 240 pounds on Friday.
**Just days before UFC 252, ESPN+ is increasing its subscription price for new subscribers. The new price goes into effect this Wednesday increasing from $4.99 per month to $5.99. Existing monthly subscribers will continue to pay the old rate for at least 12 more months while the yearly rate of $49.99 will also remain. Disney is also keeping its bundle package priced at $12.99 per month for Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu.
It is the first time ESPN+ has increased its price since launching. Last week’s earnings report from Disney revealed that ESPN was at 8.5 million subscribers as of June 27th with a growth of 600,000 subscribers over the past quarter. One would have to attribute the lion’s share of that success to the UFC staging UFC 249 in May, which was a big card.
The combination of UFC 251 last month with three title fights and the Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier fight this weekend should represent the strong business for the platform. Those that sign-up for the service is still required to spend an additional $64.99 per UFC pay-per-view.
**Former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold tells ESPN’s Ariel Helwani that he is planning to resume his fighting career. Rockhold is hopeful of fighting before the end of 2020 but is still recovering from shoulder surgery earlier this year for a torn labrum and rotator cuff. He told the outlet that he would be fighting at middleweight in his return after testing out the light heavyweight division in his last fight. Rockhold’s last fight was at UFC 239 in July 2019 where he was stopped by Jan Blachowicz and has only fought three times since he was defeated by Michael Bisping at UFC 199 for the UFC middleweight title in June 2016. Rockhold will turn 36 in October.
**The UFC didn’t hand out a Fight of the Night bonus after Saturday’s Fight Night card but gave out four Performance of the Night bonuses to Darren Stewart, Kevin Holland, Andrew Sanchez, and Gavin Tucker for $50,000 each.
**Michael Chandler fulfilled the final fight of his Bellator contract this past Friday and did so in emphatic fashion. Chandler stopped Benson Henderson in the first round of their lightweight rematch. Chandler is 34 years old and it will be an interesting story to watch regarding where he lands. He enters free agency having won five of his last six fights. While UFC represents the largest platform, it doesn’t guarantee the best deal for him as compared to other suitors in the market. ONE Championship already has Eddie Alvarez under contract and would be able to renew one of the greatest rivalries in Bellator history. The PFL is a risk for any fighter as it’s unknown when they will resume cards and those would be the major candidates for Chandler, and you can’t rule out Chandler staying with Bellator if he receives a strong offer. He has been synonymous with Bellator since 2010 and won the Bellator lightweight title three times. Chandler goes back even further with Bellator president Scott Coker as Chandler’s second and third pro fights were with Strikeforce before joining Bellator.
**MMA DNA was the first to report that Robbie Lawler will be replacing Geoff Neal to fight Neil Magny on August 29th in Las Vegas. Lawler hasn’t fought since his decision loss to Colby Covington in August 2019 and is coming off three losses going back to December 2017. This will be Magny’s third fight of 2020 and is coming off decision victories against Li Jingliang and Anthony Rocco Martin.
**Geoff Neal’s withdrawal from the card was explained when the fighter made a post on Sunday stating he nearly died. Neal said he spent a week in ICU and was hooked up on a dialysis machine.
These past few week have been crazy, and that’s putting it lightly. It’s really hard to try to find an eloquent way to say “I almost died.” So screw it.. I almost died…. This really put alot of things into perspective for me. Never did I ever think I would be hooked up to a dialysis machine before my 30s. Everything was going well for me. Was training everyday, making money at work, just signed a contract for a huge fight, then BOOM, life hit me with a check hook. I’m just glad to be home after having to spend 1 week in the ICU. Stay healthy out there y’all and listen to your body at all times.
**Here are the fights for Tuesday’s Dana White Contender Series airing at 8 pm Eastern and results from Monday’s weigh-ins:
*Joe Pyfer (7-1, 185.5) vs. Dustin Stoltzfus (12-1, 184.5)
*Brady Huang (11-1, 135.5) vs. Adrian Yanez (10-3, 135.5)
*Vanessa Demopoulos (5-1, 116) vs. Cory McKenna (4-1, 116)
*T.J. Laramie (11-3, 146) vs. Daniel Swain (20-9-1, 145.5)
*Anthony Adams (8-1, 184.5) vs. Impa Kasanganay (6-0, 185)
THE LONG & WINDING ROYAL ROAD w/ guest Daniel Makabe
WH Park and independent wrestler Daniel Makabe discuss a hidden gem tag match as Kenta Kobashi & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi take on Jumbo Tsuruta & Akira Taue from AJPW’s January 26, 1992, Korakuen Hall show.
POST PURORESU: G1 Climax, Stardom’s 5 Star Grand Prix, Mailbag Q&A
John Pollock & WH Park are joined by Dylan Fox to chat about the G1 Climax schedule, Stardom’s 5 Star Grand Prix, and a mailbag Q&A segment.
REWIND-A-SMACKDOWN 8/7/20: RETRIBUTION, Kevin Reilly-TNT, AEW Ratings
John Pollock and Wai Ting review this week’s WWE SmackDown featuring RETRIBUTION! Plus, Kevin Reilly is out at WarnerMedia and a big week for AEW Dynamite ratings.
POST PROFILE: Silva vs. Sonnen – Ten Years Later
John Pollock documents one of the biggest feuds in MMA history that led to Anderson Silva defending the UFC middleweight championship against Chael Sonnen in August 2010 at UFC 117.
BWE Retro Edition: WWF Rebellion 2001
Martin is joined by Cristen Brinkerhoff, Florence Bullock & Liv Heller (formerly of the “No Sell It” podcast) to take an irreverent look back at the UK-only PPV, WWF Rebellion 2001.
REWIND-A-DYNAMITE 8/5/20: Jericho-Cassidy Debate, Nick Khan-WWE, Raw Ratings
John Pollock and Wai Ting discuss AEW Dynamite featuring the debate between Chris Jericho & Orange Cassidy with moderator Eric Bischoff, and tons of news including Raw ratings and WWE hiring Nick Khan.
upNXT 8/5/20: “He’s An Angry Elf”
The BDE chat all about this week’s NXT featuring the main event of Undisputed Era vs Imperium for the NXT Tag Team Championship (and a huge Pat McAfee angle), plus Keith Lee vs Cameron Grimes, Rhea Ripley vs Dakota Kai and more.
REWIND-A-WAI #67: WWF Capital Carnage 1998
John Pollock and Wai Ting review WWF Capital Carnage 1998, a UK-only PPV from London, England headlined by a Fatal Four-Way match featuring Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker vs. Mankind vs. Kane.
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