With Corey Anderson recently departing the UFC in favor of joining Bellator, promotion head Scott Coker thinks Bellator’s light heavyweight division now rivals that of the sport’s biggest organization.
UFC president Dana White seemed shocked when asked if he’d be willing to book any cross-promotional superfights with Bellator, suggesting there weren’t any athletes on his rival’s roster who would be worthy of such consideration.
But what if he were open to the idea? MMA Junkie writers Farah Hannoun, Simon Head and John Morgan discuss potential superfights in this edition of Triple Take.
Farah Hannoun: Kamaru Usman vs. Douglas Lima
UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman has looked very tough to beat of late.
Bellator’s welterweight champion, Douglas Lima, may be the best fighter in the history of the organization and he wants to prove himself as one of the pound-for-pound greats.
Lima has an opportunity to further cement his legacy when he faces ex-UFC fighter Gegard Mousasi for Bellator’s vacant middleweight title, but a champion vs. champion matchup with Usman likely would be the biggest of his career.
Lima already has beaten ex-UFC welterweights Rory MacDonald, Lorenz Larkin and Paul Daley. He’s also a proven finisher with stoppages in 26 of his 32 pro wins.
With a grappler as dominant as Usman, that could pose problems for Lima. But Lima has finished opponents both on the feet and on the ground, making him dangerous everywhere.
Lima has hated the notion that you’re not the best unless you compete in the UFC, which is why he’d jump all over the opportunity to fight Usman. He almost certainly thinks he can knock him out, and with Usman’s pace that no one has been able to keep up with, a matchup with Lima would be very intriguing.
Simon Head: Jorge Masvidal vs. Paul Daley 2
A superfight doesn’t necessarily have to have a championship belt in the mix to make it super. It could just be an absolute banger of a matchup between two fighters who always bring fireworks to the cage on fight night. So with that said, I present Jorge Masvidal vs. Paul Daley 2.
Masvidal remains one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC and would be a “super necessary” booking on a hypothetical UFC vs. Bellator card. Sure, he lost out to Kamaru Usman on short notice for the welterweight title. But his run of wins leading up to that fight – and the style in which he won them – make his fights must-see TV. He’s also a former Bellator fighter from the promotion’s first season in 2009, so he surely has to be involved in this hypothetical scenario. But he needs a dance partner who will bring the best out of him – and us out of our seats.
Step forward, “Semtex” Daley.
The hard-hitting Brit has made a career out of standing toe-to-toe with his opponents and unleashing hell with his fists throughout a 61-fight professional career that has seen him maintain an incredible 79 percent finish rate – all by knockout.
Daley may be 37, but five of his past six wins have come by knockout, and he’s still very much a factor in Bellator’s talent-rich welterweight division. He also holds a decision win over Masvidal from their meeting back in Shark Fights a decade ago. And you can bet he’d love to topple the UFC’s “BMF” and send a little message to Dana White, who threw him out of the UFC for punching Josh Koscheck after the final buzzer back at UFC 113.
Incredibly, across 110 combined career fights, Daley and Masvidal have only been stopped by strikes once each. ONCE! Given their respective fighting styles, that’s insane.
So, let’s throw “Gamebred” and “Semtex” back in the cage for a rematch, just for the hell of it. We don’t need belts for this one. Just crack open a cold one, sit back and enjoy.
John Morgan: Amanda Nunes vs. Cris Cyborg 2
First and foremost, let’s make sure we’re all fully aware that the idea of a cross-promotional superfight absolutely will not happen on Dana White’s watch. Perhaps somewhere down the line, once he’s finally decided to call it a career, his successor will have a different idea about how to do business. But as long as we’re talking about a hypothetical alternate world where this concept is a reality, then get me the rematch between UFC two-division champ Amanda Nunes and current Bellator women’s featherweight champ Cris Cyborg.
Just thinking about their first fight gives me chills. It was a time when we still had crowds in the building, and anyone who was present at The Forum in California at UFC 232 will tell you the atmosphere was absolutely electric from start to finish for this 51 seconds of pure chaos. Toe-to-toe swinging from two of the fiercest women on the planet, and Nunes was able to land flush, halting an incredible 13-year unbeaten run from Cyborg.
The fight was as exciting as you could ask for, and with the way these two women fight, I don’t see how a rematch would fail to entertain. Could Cyborg make adjustments the second time around, perhaps not be as wild in her attack and look to control things a little better? Maybe. Or would Nunes, who claimed women’s “greatest of all time” status with the result, simply steamroll her once again? It could certainly happen.
But beside the stylistic fun the rematch would present, it just honestly seems the most intriguing fight for either woman right now. No offense to Megan Anderson in her upcoming fight with Nunes at UFC 256 in December, but I just don’t really like anyone’s chances with “The Lioness” at 145 pounds outside of an equally athletic, equally powerful Cyborg.
The same goes for Cyborg, who has a list of potential contenders in Bellator’s women’s featherweight division, which is admittedly more filled out than the UFC’s, but none of the names really jump off the page as a potential threat. Right now, the USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie women’s featherweight rankings have Nunes at No. 1 and Cyborg at No. 2. Anytime you can put the two best in the world in a weight class together, you have to pull the trigger.