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This Past Weekend in Combat Sports: KO’s, First Wins and Title Changes

Whether it was boxing, pro wrestling or MMA, there was something for everyone to watch this past weekend.

Believe it or not, 2018 has been the year of combat sports. The pro wrestling world outside of WWE is thriving, MMA organizations are debuting left and right and boxing has put on some phenomenal matches. When all of that comes together, you know you are in for one wild ride.

This past weekend was one for the record books. Let’s break down everything that took place, shall we?

*Only events with matches will be discussed. The UFC obviously dominated headlines last week, but there were no major fights*

PFL Sets the Stage for the Finals 

In its first official year, the Professional Fighters League has changed the game due to its tournament-based programming. The journey to the finals inside Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater on New Year’s Eve took a pitstop in Long Beach, California this past weekend for PFL 9.

For several athletes competing, the night ended both in a disappointing and rewarding fashion. For starters, Vinny Magalhaes secured his spot in the light heavyweight finals by defeating both Rakim Cleveland and Bazigit Atajev via kimura locks. A former Titan FC Light Heavyweight Champion, Magalhaes (18-9, 1 NC) has been impressive during his run in the PFL. All four of his wins have come in the first round.

Vinny will meet Sean O’Connell in the finals of PFL 11. On the other side of the card, Long Island’s Chris Wade was not as lucky. After beating Robert Watley via majority decision in the quarterfinals, Wade (14-5) was set to face Natan Schulte. In what was considered the best bout of the night, Wade lost in controversial fashion.

All three judges scored the fight 29-28, with two of them favoring Schulte. A heavy favorite to win in the lightweight part of the tournament, Wade was irate after the fight. After seeing the wide margin of strikes thrown by Wade, can you really blame him?

Schulte will now face training partner Rashid Magomedov in the finals. Other bouts made for PFL 11 include heavyweight Philipe Lins against Josh Copeland and Steven Siler v. Lance Palmer in featherweight action. All bouts will be for titles of each fighters respective weights and $1 million.

Amanda Serrano’s rise in MMA has begun

One of the greatest female boxer’s today, Amanda Serrano is just the latest fighter to start a career in MMA. Her goal was to find better opportunities as the boxing world still hasn’t provided women with a true platform. The question whether Serrano could be the latest successful boxer-turned-MMA fighter was on everyone’s mind. This past weekend, the Brooklyn native silenced all critics.

Serrano (35-1-1 boxing, 1-0-1 MMA) defeated Erendira Ordonez at a Combate Americas event in Tucson, Arizona via first-round submission. It has been a busy few months for Serrano. She won gold in a jiu-jitsu tournament in August, won the WBO Super Lightweight Title in September and has now secured her first MMA win in October. What does she have in store for November and December?

Bellator impresses with Bellator 207 and 208 

After their successful debut on DAZN with Bellator 206, Bellator continued their momentum with back-to-back events in Bellator 207 and 208. The former took place inside the Mohegan Sun Casino/Arena in Uncasville CT, and it featured the first semifinal match of the Heavyweight Grand Prix.

Two moments stick out from that card before the main event started. 21-year-old Mike Kimbel beat Alex Potts, tying the record for fastest knockout in Bellator history (6 seconds). The Connecticut native (2-0) has a real shot at becoming the future of the organization. Another moment came in the form of a knockout of the year contender. In the first bout of the main show, Mandel Nallo (7-0) took care of Carrington Banks (7-2) with a vicious knee to the face.

At Bellator 208 inside the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, New York reigned supreme. With eight fights on the pre-show that had local athletes, the night went in their favor, 7-1.

The main events of both shows had everyone buzzing. Current Light Heavyweight Champion Ryan Bader easily took care of Matt Mitrione at Bellator 207, using his wrestling ability to slow down the heavyweight veteran. He didn’t have to wait long for his opponent. In a bout with two legends, Fedor Emelianenko knocked out Chael Sonnen in the first round at Bellator 208. The Long Island crowd was favoring Fedor, and the reaction when he won was deafening. Both Fedor (38-5, 1 NC) and Bader (26-5) will face one another on January 26 to determine the Bellator Heavyweight Champion.

Crawford/Benavidez delivers 

Boxing created a buzz this past Saturday. Someone’s “0” had to go, but Terence Crawford (34-0) was not ready to fold yet. After a back-and-forth affair, Crawford knocked out Jose Benavidez Jr. in the 12th round. As a result, Crawford retained his WBO Welterweight World Title.

Leading up to the Top Rank fight on ESPN, both Crawford and Benavidez almost came to blows several times. Benavidez bashed the style of Crawford, calling into question his ability to generate power. The man with 24 knockouts coming into the night responded with number 25.

Pow, right in the kisser!

What is next for Crawford? If everything goes according to plan, a bout against IBF Champion Errol Spence Jr. is still on the table.

Impact Wrestling takes over The Big Apple

Once upon a time, Impact Wrestling was considered WWE’s competition. While that may not be the case anymore due to past business dealings affecting their growth, the company is going through a change. With new talent, new owners and a new way to gain followers (Twitch, etc.), the future looks extremely bright for Impact Wrestling. They showed why they are here to stay at this past Sunday’s Bound for Glory PPV.

Starting with Abyss being inducted into their Hall of Fame, the entire weekend was a celebration of the past and present. Storylines with months of build paid off in big ways. The match of the night? Tessa Blanchard v. Taya Valkyrie for the Impact Knockouts Championship.

The personal battle between LAX and the OGz was a violent affair that helped settle a rivalry and provided fans with several moments they will never forget.

By the end of the night, a new Impact World Champion was crowned, as Johnny Impact, known for played Johnny Nitro and John Morrison in WWE, defeated Austin Aries to win the title. These two put on a clinic, as both of their athletic abilities was on display.

Morrison hit Starship Pain to pin the champion, and it was supposed to be a night to celebrate. Instead, the PPV ended with fans confused. Immediately after getting pinned, Aries no-sold the finish, got up, flipped off the crowd and management and walked to the back. It was a puzzling moment that blurred the lines between reality and entertainment. Will we get an answer by the time Impact’s TV tapings finish?

There you have it! What a wild few days for combat sports. These were just the top billing shows of the weekend. At any point, something could be going on, whether it is an independent program or one that isn’t on a TV provider. There is sure to be more events coming up, but this weekend was something special.

Stay tuned for more events in the combat sports world. Double G Sports will continue to cover everything from boxing to MMA and pro wrestling.

What event did you enjoy watching this weekend?

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Baseball Editor, Misc. Sports Editor. Covers all things combat sports (MMA, Pro Wrestling and Boxing). When he's not writing, Daniel hosts a podcast, The Main Event.
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