In this edition, we examine rankings, Hall of Fame status, and what the weight classes of the future could look like. And don't worry, we also find time to talk TRT and suggestions for getting your significant other to watch MMA with you. If you want to ask your own question or just look at cell phone pictures of my dog, find me on Twitter @BenFowlkesMMA.
@mma_fan1 twitter mailbag: who do you think poses more of a threat to Jones, Machida or Evans?
They're two very different threats, obviously, but I think Evans has the potential to be more problematic. Machida's style, while it can be confusing and frustrating for a lot of fighters, doesn't seem like it will be quite as effective against a guy with Jones' reach and quickness. Evans' wrestling ability gives him a better chance to nullify Jones' length, plus he's sparred with the guy and knows at least a little something about what it's like to mix it up with him. Then again, Evans has been known to get a little too emotionally jacked up in fights, and it's hard to imagine any fight being more emotional for either of them than a final Jones-Evans showdown.
Mostly though, I think that fight has to happen so we can stop talking about it (and so the UFC can stop shoving Evans in the cage after every fight Jones wins). The Machida bout feels more like a placeholder than a legitimate title fight to me, but that also has something to do with the fact that Machida is 1-2 in his last three fights. Call me crazy, but don't most guys have to do a little better than that to get a title shot? I guess not if they have the sense to wait around and let the other fighters hurt themselves. Another brilliant tactical move by that elusive Machida.
@TheMayoGuard how far away is nate diaz from a lightweight shot considering all the guys that are top 5 he beat or wrecked
I realize rankings are a funny thing, and your top five might not be the same as mine, but I really can't name too many top lightweights who have been beaten and/or wrecked by Diaz. He submitted Guillard a couple years ago, sure. And yes, Takanori Gomi did seem thoroughly wrecked after his loss to Diaz at UFC 135. Then again, Guillard wasn't top five when Diaz beat him and neither was Gomi. Other top lightweights like Gray Maynard and Clay Guida both own narrow decision victories over Diaz, so I'm not sure where that puts him. If the 155-pound division wasn't so stacked, two or three wins would probably be enough to earn him a shot. But with the way it's looking now, he's going to have to stack up the victories and wait his turn.
@keenanpress Time yet for a cruiserweight division in the UFC, especially if you tack on the strikeforce heavyweights?
You know what the best argument against adding a cruiserweight division is? Well, probably the proliferation of the lighter weight classes, which already strain the average fan's ability to keep them all straight. But you know what the second best argument against the cruiserweight division is? Cain Velasquez.
The current UFC heavyweight champ falls in the 240-pound range, and he doesn't seem to have too much trouble against the big boys. If you established a cruiserweight class at 230 or 235 pounds, Velasquez could easily cut down and fight there too, and what would be the point of that?
As for the Strikeforce heavies, I say bring them on. The UFC could certainly use guys like Daniel Cormier and Josh Barnett right about now, and it wouldn't need to create a new weight class just to make room for them.
@dannyrube If GSP beats Condit & Nick Diaz beats Penn, does Dana White take the risk of making GSP/Diaz again? If so, does it headline?
This is exactly the thought process White should have gone through back when he decided on how he was going to shuffle things around in the first place. And who knows? Maybe he did. Maybe he realized right away that he was putting himself in a position to quite possibly end up with the exact same fight he'd started with, but he figured that by then maybe Diaz would have learned his lesson about the importance of press conferences.
But yes, if GSP and Diaz both win, then the UFC pretty much has to match them up again. It's still the fight that fans want to see at welterweight, and it will only gain momentum if they both win and look good at UFC 137. That's the good news. The bad news is, what happens if GSP and Penn both win? Then White will really wish he'd thought it through a little more carefully.
@MaxWdeVries if Chael does beat Silva, what is left for him to say?
Probably something along the lines of how he's the best there is, best there was, and best there ever will be. And this time people might actually believe it.
@jclamarca Since the series is 1-1-1, is it a bit premature to say Maynard/Edgar is over? What about a 4th fight 'rubber' match?
Have you lost your mind? They finally settled that issue, allowing the UFC's most talent-rich division to move on for the first time in nearly a year, and you want to see it again?! Why...that's just...gah! Where are my pills?
@BigNate870 what will become of MMA if TRT (ed. note: Testosterone Replacement Therapy) isn't prohibited?
Not much. Just testosterone being wildly and flagrantly abused as a performance-enhancing substance among fighters. Oh, I'm sorry. You wanted to know what will happen, not what is already happening due to hazy athletic commission standards and a hands-off approach by the UFC.
As it stands right now, there are an awful lot of 20 and early 30-something professional fighters out there who bizarrely have low testosterone levels. So they go get a doctor's note, take it to the relevant athletic commission (many of whom hide behind medical privacy laws when asked about it), and then they've got the green light to artificially increase their levels of a powerful hormone. Sure, they have to stay within a certain range (or at least test within it), but that's not so difficult if you know what you're doing. And maybe it means they fight with something close to normal levels in their system, but it also means they got a little artificial help throughout their training camp. Is that fair?
Personally, I think you ought to fight with the hormone levels you have and not the hormone levels you want. I don't care if your levels are low because you abused steroids or if it's just a consequence of aging. If we don't allow steroids, even for fighters who are getting older and weaker, why do we allow testosterone for anyone who can produce a doctor's note? Maybe because no one -- not athletic commissions and not the UFC -- wants to be the first to put their foot down.
@AiricReed Is there anybody tougher to get more then one word answers from then Grey Maynard in MMA?
@KevinMarshall How does the sharp increase in UFC events impact journalists (esp freelancers)? More events means more coverage. Are media outlets prepared to invest more time, space and money into it?
It's a double-edged sword. As long as there are events almost every weekend, there's no shortage of things to write about. When there's a lull, well, then you have to do stuff like mailbag columns just to create content.
I'm more curious how it impacts the ability of fans to follow the sport. I get paid to either attend these events live or else stay home on a Saturday night and work from my couch. Either way, I've got nothing to complain about. But the average fan might not want to invest all that money and prime social time (more on that here). If the UFC isn't happy with trends in pay-per-view sales, it might want to look at its own frantic calendar. Every market has a saturation point, and the UFC may have found it.
@jmhawkins You wrote last week that you watched UFC 125 with your wife. How'd you do it? I can't even get my wife to watch Sexyama fight.
Maybe the problem is your approach. Instead of trying to convince her to watch some people she doesn't care about bash one another's faces in, try instead to get her to watch something like The Smashing Machine -- the 2002 documentary about Mark Kerr. It's a well made film, but more importantly it's a film about the personal side of this sport, which can be hard to appreciate for some people if all they see at first is blood and mohawks. Kerr's story of struggling with addiction in an unforgiving world worked to get my wife interested in the sport. Then again, she's been known to watch almost any documentary, so maybe that helped.
@JulianPaz7 Do u think everybody is sleeping on Jorge Masvidal, I mean this should be a great fight between him n gil.
People are absolutely sleeping on Masvidal, just like they slept on him against K.J. Noons. When he brings his best stuff, he's a nightmare for just about anybody. And you're right, it will be a tough fight. But, even fully awake and with my eyes wide open to Masvidal's ability, I still give the slight edge to Gilbert Melendez. He just can't approach it like it's his last day of work before getting promoted to the UFC.
@SlyBoston Ben Saunder's guard looked unstoppable Sat. Do you see a time where a deadly guard like that will nullify the elite wrestler?
First of all, it's a pet peeve of mine when people refer to various aspects of a fighter's game as 'deadly.' Maybe it's because, due to the nature of fighting, it actually could be deadly. I realize that's not the way it's intended, which somehow seems worse to me. It's not quite figurative, and yet not meant literally. And yeah, I realize I'm overthinking this. But if you're ever watching fights with me and you notice me cringing when Mike Goldberg refers to someone as a "lethal striker," at least you'll know why.
But back to your question. The use of the guard in MMA has changed tremendously over the last fifteen years or so, and I don't see why that won't continue, albeit at a slower pace. For a while it was a great offensive weapon, then the magic began to wear off as submission defense improved across the board.
No matter how good your guard is though, it's dangerous to rely on it too much. Judges still see the fighter on top as the fighter who's winning, even if you're trying every submission and sweep you can think of from your back. All an elite wrestler has to do is score one takedown after another, stay out of trouble as time ticks down, and let his opponent on bottom take all the risks. It's a good way to win decisions, even if it's fatal for his popularity. Ah, see? Now you've got me doing it.
@TheHarrison101 The Flyweights are rumored to be on the way. With the 135/145 divisions still developing, could they be lost in the shuffle?
Not if the UFC debuts the 125-pound division with a Grand Prix tournament to determine its first champion. Who wouldn't love to see that? It'd be like that tournament at the end of The Karate Kid, only the fighters are half the size and sporting slightly fewer '80s haircuts.
@michaelbond89 will Kenny Florian be in the UFC hall of fame one day for his long lasting impact to help the sport grow??
Maybe the better question is, how much does it matter whether the UFC puts him in its Hall of Fame? As of right now, those decisions are made by the UFC and the UFC alone. Florian's been a real company man over the years, so maybe he gets in based more on that than on his fighting ability. Or maybe he does something to upset the UFC brass and he never even gets close, whether he deserves such an honor or not.
See what I'm getting at? MMA needs its own independent Hall of Fame, where induction is a more transparent process. The UFC can still have its own version and it can still put whoever it wants in there, but the sport as a whole needs to have a way of honoring the greats that isn't dependent on company politics. As long as being disliked by Dana White is enough to keep a fighter out, no matter what the fans and his peers think of him, it will never be a true Hall of Fame that's really worth caring about.