It’s that time of year again. On Thursday inside the United States, it’ll be Thanksgiving, a holiday on which people gather together as families to indulge in an anticipated dinner, watch the NFL (or maybe the World Cup if people in the family are fans of association football,) and take stock of what they have to be grateful for.
As you sit at the dinner table on Thursday for the holiday, and/or raid the fridge throughout the extended weekend scrounging for leftovers, you, a fan of MMA, have plenty to give thanks for this year. So why waste time?
Let"s get started, but before we go on, make yourself a plate of food. Come on, it"s Thanksgiving, so get yourself something to eat.
Let"s Give Thanks For MMA
A year ago, this website ran a piece on what MMA fans had to be grateful for going into the holiday weekend in 2021. Now, 12 months later, we"re running it back for 2022.
Just like last year at this time, MMA fans have a number of things to give thanks for, including this first item.
Bellator Finally Coming to CBS in February
It was almost two years ago when Scott Coker, President of Bellator MMA, took part in a momentous press conference with blow-by-blow commentator Mauro Ranallo and Stephen Espinosa, President of Showtime Sports. On that February afternoon in 2021, it was announced that the premium movie channel and the promotion would be joining forces to air Bellator cards on its channel, mostly in a Friday evening timeslot.
During that press conference, Espinosa pointed out that CBS made MMA history in 2008 by becoming the first over-the-air television network to air an event from the now defunct EliteXC promotion. Strikeforce Saturday Night made its debut a year later on CBS.
Two Strikeforce events aired in a 9 pm ET timeslot on with Gus Johnson, now of FOX Sports, as the blow-by-blow commentator, ending in 2010 after the last event on the package was marred by low ratings opposite a Law & Order rerun on NBC and a post-fight brawl.
Although CBS has aired boxing in a Saturday evening timeslot under the Showtime Championship Boxing banner, they"ve stayed away from MMA ever since. In February, this all changes.
Bellator on CBS A Long Time Coming
On Feb. 4, Bellator 290, the first live event from the promotion in the new year, will originate from the Kia Forum in Inglewood, CA, once upon a time the home court of the NBA‘s Los Angeles Lakers. Last Friday, Bellator and CBS announced that it would be aired live on the network at 9 pm ET/ 6 pm PT.
This is something that Coker had been working toward as far back as the fall of 2021. When meeting with the press after Bellator 263 last year, he said that Bellator was targeting a 2022 debut on CBS.
A year later, Coker gets his wish, and fans of the sport are grateful for it this Thanksgiving. The Feb. 4 card will be headlined by a rematch for the Bellator MMA Heavyweight Championship between Ryan Bader (30-7, 1 NC MMA, 8-2, 1 NC Bellator) and Fedor Emelianenko (40-6, 1 NC MMA, 4-2 Bellator) in the latter"s retirement fight.
ONE Championship Thriving on Amazon Prime Video
What a year it"s been for the streaming video component of Amazon Prime. Not only has it acquired exclusive live rights to the NFL"s Thursday Night Football package, its sports portfolio also grew to include combat sports promotion ONE Championship.
Back in the spring, ONE and Amazon Prime Video agreed to a contract which brought live events to the streaming platform on Friday nights to subscribers inside the United States and Canada. Prior to ONE joining Prime Video, the promotion had a media rights deal with Warner Bros. Discovery Sports, airing some of its cards on TNT in the spring of 2021.
After taking this Friday off for Thanksgiving, ONE on Amazon Prime Video 5 will happen next Friday, Dec. 2 and feature a heavyweight championship fight. Incumbent titleholder Reinier de Ridder (16-0 MMA, 7-0 ONE Championship) will battle challenger Anatoly Malykhin (11-0 MMA, 3-0 ONE Championship) for the 265-lb. championship. More on that next week.
It"s Free With a Subscription
What"s perhaps the best aspect about the ONE on Amazon Prime Video series is the fact that these cards are available to subscribers in North America without any extra free. In this era of subscription-based streaming services, the question of “don"t we already pay enough for entertainment?" is asked quite regularly.
With ONE"s cards on Amazon Prime being available for free to subscribers, there"s no reason why you shouldn"t be watching the events on the platform. As the old adage goes, “If it"s free, it"s for me," Since ONE on Prime Video is free, MMA fans have a tremendous debt of gratitude owed to the service this Thanksgiving.
PFL Championships Only Major US-Based Fight Card on Thanksgiving Weekend
Normally, the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is a quiet one on the MMA front. Major promotions largely take this weekend off so that the fighters can go home to be with their families.
This year, however, one promotion will be in action. On Black Friday, the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden in New York City serves as the backdrop for PFL 10, the PFL Championships card for the 2022 season.
For the first two years of the seasonal format used by the promotion, this particular card was held on New Year"s Eve. After taking 2020 off amid coronavirus concerns, the PFL returned a year ago, but championship night was moved off of Dec. 31 due to rightsholder ESPN"s commitments to air bowl games as part of the College Football Playoff that evening, instead opting for an October finale.
Could This Be a Yearly Tradition?
While holding a major MMA event during the Thanksgiving holiday period is no doubt a gamble, if this pays off for the PFL, the possibility of holding its championship fights over this particular weekend on an annual basis exists.
Think about the usual Thanksgiving trimmings: You"ve got turkey, you"ve got stuffing (or dressing if that"s what it"s referred to in your family,) you"ve got pumpkin pie, and you"ve got all the football games you can handle over a four-day stretch.
On Black Friday, you"ll also get MMA, headlined by Kayla Harrison (15-0 MMA, 3-0 PFL 2022) in her bid to become a three-time PFL Women"s Lightweight Champion against Larissa Pacheco (18-4 MMA, 3-0 PFL 2022) in the main event of the evening. If this staging of the PFL Championships proves successful, you could get Thanksgiving weekend MMA for years to come.
Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody!
On behalf of the entire Overtime Heroics family, please have a happy Thanksgiving on Thursday. Stay safe this weekend.
Main image credit Embed from Getty Images