Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/06/19/five-questions-korean-zombie-vs-moicano-fedor-sonnen/
This weekend, both UFC and Bellator will present cards from separate continents with the UFC is Greenville, South Carolina and Bellator returning to London, England.
On the U.S. front, Chan Sung Jung returns to action after being on the losing end of a spectacular knockout by Yair Rodriguez last November. His opponent in the main event is Renato Moicano, who posted wins over Calvin Kattar and Cub Swanson in his 2018 campaign before his recent loss to former featherweight king Jose Aldo in February.
The Bellator card will feature middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi go for his second championship defense against Rafael Lovato Jr. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion is undefeated at 9-0 with submission victories over Gerald Harris and John Salter leading into this fight. The card features a mix of veteran talent as Paul Daley meets Erick Silva and Melvin Manhoef competes against Kent Kauppinen with a mix of prospects including James Gallagher and Charlie Ward in separate fights.
Below is this week’s ‘Five Questions’ with POST Wrestling’s Phil Chertok to discuss the major topics leading into the weekend and across the industry.
What fight is most interesting for you on the UFC card from South Carolina this weekend?
While the main event scrap between Chan Sung Jung and Renato Moicano should be a barn burner, I’m most looking forward to the UFC debut of American Kickboxing Academy prospect Deron Winn. We caught a glimpse of Winn last year both in Bellator and on the undercard of Golden Boy MMA – Liddell vs. Ortiz 3, where he got a very respectable win against veteran ‘Filthy’ Tom Lawler. Winn is facing Eric Spicely who’s filling in on short notice and is Winn’s 3rd scheduled opponent for this card. I’m not expecting this to be competitive but that’s OK. As last weekend’s Tyson Fury vs. Tom Schwarz spectacle showed us, we don’t need a competitive match to be entertained. A dominant performance from a legitimate blue-chip prospect is exactly what the UFC’s light heavyweight division needs.
In his last fight, Chan Sung Jung was on the receiving end of one of the most memorable knockouts in UFC history against Yair Rodriguez, do you expect any radical changes from Jung this time?
I don’t expect anything different from Jung. He’s always been one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC and it seems like he’s getting even more entertaining. He was seconds away from winning his last contest in what was one of the most memorable fights and finishes in UFC history. His exhilarating style has made him a fan favorite and must-see TV for UFC fans so it’s almost inconceivable that he could take a different approach.
What stands out on the Bellator card in London, England this weekend and is Bellator’s push into the U.K. and Ireland a smart tactical move?
Bellator’s main event between middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi and former Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion Rafael Lovato Jr is very intriguing. On paper, Mousasi has a lot more experience but Lovato is undefeated, and Gegard has struggled with grapplers in the past. To answer the second part of the question, I do think that Bellator’s move into under-serviced Euro markets like Italy, Israel, Hungary, and Ireland is a good one. Bellator ratings have been poor over the last year on U.S. television and with their streaming deal with DAZN, there’s a lot more international exposure. Laying the groundwork now in Europe where the UFC does not have as much of a foothold is a good move as the streaming wars intensify in the coming few years.
This past week, Bellator announced they have signed Fedor Emelianenko to a new deal and will promote his retirement tour. Are his fights still ‘must-see’ for you and are there opponents on the Bellator roster that excite you?
It’s hard to type this out for me but the answer is no. Fedor was considered the best in the world when I started training martial arts and was a big part of why I became interested in MMA but that competitor is long gone and what remains is a rough approximation of a legendary fighter. His last few loses to good competition (Ryan Bader and Matt Mitrione) were brutal KOs and his last few wins are over Frank Mir who hasn’t won since 2015 and Chael Sonnen who spent most of his career competing at middleweight, two divisions lower than the Last Emperor. I can’t think of a single fight that intrigues me for Fedor right now, I just hope that whomever he does compete against, the matches are safe, and he doesn’t take too much damage.
If a voting-based MMA Hall of Fame existed, would you argue for Chael Sonnen’s inclusion?
In complete contrast to the last question, for me, this is an unequivocal YES. Chael Sonnen is a legendary fighter, who’s competed in some of the biggest matches against the toughest competition. He redefined (or maybe resuscitated is a better word) the fine art of fight promotion and elevated it to a level we’d never seen before in the UFC. He was one of the first and best fighters to cross the bridge into the television analyst role and has done an amazing job of reinventing himself through a series of career trials and tribulations. Yes, he has a dark past where he’s been busted for cheating via PEDs on multiple occasions and while those are transgressions that shouldn’t be ignored or understated, they don’t cancel out the tremendous impact he’s had on the sport via his other accomplishments. It’s called the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Ethical Competitors and it’s hard to think of too many other fighters who’ve garnered more fame inside the octagon than the American Gangster. He should be honored with a place in the hall where future fans can learn about his story, both the good and the bad.
Phil Chertok is the monthly co-host of our UFC POST Shows and will be back following UFC 239 on Saturday, July 6th.