Twitter Mailbag: Debating the Condit-Diaz Controversy and More

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The Twitter Mailbag is back and ready to answer all your questions, even if most of you only want to talk about Carlos Condit and Nick Diaz. Never fear, we also find time for a few other topics in this edition of the TMB. If you’ve got a question of your own, you can find me on Twitter here. Or keep pretending that you’re too cool for Twitter. How’d that work out with other technological developments, by the way?

Enough preamble. Who wants to get us started?

@tommyahlering does nick diaz deserve a rematch at this point?

‘Deserve’ is an interesting word here. Really, who deserves an immediate rematch? Who’s undeniably entitled to one? I’d argue that it’s really only essential in the cases of a draw, a no contest, or some type of bizarre/unfair ending, such as in the case of the first Mac Danzig/Matt Wiman fight, where the referee mistakenly stopped it thinking that Danzig had been choked unconscious. Those are instances where the fight ends with such a lack of closure that an immediate rematch is justified, maybe even necessary.

But a close fight that ends in a debatable decision? I’ll file that under: rematch possible, but not essential. Diaz wasn’t robbed by the judges in this fight. Not like "Shogun" Rua was robbed in his first fight with Lyoto Machida, anyway. Diaz lost a close decision, just like Michael Bisping did against Chael Sonnen and also like Rua did against Dan Henderson. The big difference is, Bisping and Rua didn’t complain quite so loudly or threaten to retire over it.

I can see why some people want a rematch here. With Georges St-Pierre injured, the welterweight division is in a holding pattern anyway, so why not? At the same time, it sets an annoying precedent. It tells fighters that if they don’t like the outcome of a close fight, all they have to do is whine about it until they get another chance. What would happen if Diaz won a narrow decision in the rematch, and it was Condit who threw the post-fight tantrum? Would they do it a third time to settle things once and for all? Would the entire 170-pound division have to sit around and wait for someone to either win decisively or take a loss with dignity?

It’s not that you couldn’t make the case for an immediate rematch here, given the circumstances. But does Diaz deserve one? Brother, to quote Clint Eastwood, deserve’s got nothing to do with it.

@AdriantheWizard If the Condit/Diaz rematch doesn't unfold & Condit refuses to wait for GSP, who's the next contender for the interim belt?

That’s the problem, isn’t it? If the UFC doesn’t hold Condit out of action until GSP is healthy enough to fight, then who is there for him to fight? On the flipside, if it does bench him until GSP is ready, what’s the point of having an interim title? It’s a tough one, no doubt about it.

What makes it more difficult to figure is the fact that GSP has already cleaned out the division pretty well. If you put Condit up against someone like Josh Koscheck, you run the risk of being forced into a third GSP-Koscheck bout, which a lot of fight fans wouldn’t cross the street to watch. That leaves contenders that GSP hasn’t yet faced, guys like Johny Hendricks (who’s coming off that 12-second KO of Jon Fitch) or the winner of the Diego Sanchez-Jake Ellenberger fight. Realistically, none of those fights generates a lot of heat right now, so the UFC would have a tough time selling it. Let’s just face it: as long as the true champ is hurt, there’s no clear way to go that doesn’t feel like a consolation prize.

@SeaninDC my theory is most people upset at CC/Diaz not b/c of running, but b/c they feel CC won on a technicality ie evade not fight...its like winning a game by the letter of the law instead of the spirit of the game

I’m familiar with this argument. I make it every time my wife beats me at Scrabble using words like ‘za’ and ‘jo.’ The fact is, even when I make this argument I know that it’s just sour grapes. Winning is winning. Just because people wanted Condit to march right into Diaz’s punch combinations, that doesn’t mean he has to. He did the smart thing. When he felt his back touch that fence, he got out of there before Diaz could do the same thing to him that he did to B.J. Penn. He brought the fight back to the open space and started over. He also landed a lot of punches, kicks, and spinning elbows for a guy who was supposedly fleeing in terror for 25 minutes.

I understand that some fans were expecting another Diaz-Daley, but a) that didn’t work out so well for Daley, and b) if Diaz wanted Condit to stand in one place and box him, it was his responsibility -- not Condit’s -- to make it happen. You can pick your strategy, but you don’t get to pick your opponent’s.

@ctlacosta what's a fan to do during ufc's long march break?

I don't know. Read a book or something. I recommend Jim Shepard’s Like You’d Understand, Anyway. Anybody who can switch between stories about Texas high school football players and Roman legionaries stationed at Hadrian’s Wall can keep you entertained until the UFC returns to the airwaves.

@blackzag05 what beer embodies Nick Diaz's spirit? #mailbag

Steel Reserve. I think technically it’s malt liquor rather than beer, but it’s the Nick Diaz of alcoholic beverages because a) it’s powerful, b) the people who like it seem to really like it, often while crouched beneath bridges, and c) one way or another, it tends to provoke a strong reaction right away.

@heizerbjj here's my Twitter mailbag question. How many Twitter mailbag questions were regarding Diaz/Condit? Also, do you think the Sonnen/Bisping decision was worse than the "robbery" of Diaz/Condit?

The answer to the first question is: more than I care to count. The answer to the second is: neither was an especially bad decision, which is true of most close fights. I happened to score those fights for Sonnen and Condit respectively, but if they had both gone the other way I wouldn’t have been shocked. That’s how it goes with decisions. If you let the fight stay that close, you’re rolling the dice. Fighters know this. Fans know it too, or at least they should. It’s just that, when you’re rooting for one fighter over another, it tends to color your judgment. You talk yourself into believing that a close fight was a clear win for your guy, which is when the robbery talk starts up. Neither of those fights was a robbery. Sorry, Diaz and Bisping fans, but that’s the truth.

@jmhawkins I'm lucky enough to be going to UFC 144 in Japan. How different do you think this card will be to a usual UFC event?

First of all, you are lucky. That should be a memorable experience, and I’m a little jealous that I won’t be there as well. I was fortunate enough to cover one of the Dynamite!! New Year’s Eve events in Tokyo for Fight Magazine a couple years ago, and it’s something I’ll never forget.

But you raise an interesting question that I’m not sure anyone can answer with any certainty just yet. The UFC is generally pretty good at exporting its product in its purest form. The staging, the music, the lights, the pre-fight activities -- all that runs like a Swiss watch at this point. What the UFC can’t always account for are the cultural differences. For instance, who knew that the crowd in Rio would start throwing beer until it happened? Not the UFC staff, many of whom looked as if they didn’t even know such a thing was possible as soon as the suds started raining down on them.

Japan, needless to say, is probably going to be a different environment. In a city the size of Tokyo, it’s surprisingly easy to get 50,000 or so fans into the Saitama Super Arena, which is a cavernous airplane hangar of a venue that you have to see to believe. But the Japanese fight fans may not react the same way as a Vegas crowd to all those pump-up highlight reels and techno "Hotel California" remixes. In fact, they may not react much at all, which is both good and bad. Good, because it means we’ll all be spared the booing that sometimes starts up if a fight slows down for even a few seconds. Bad, because the TV audience might not know what to make of a pay-per-view broadcast that’s so quiet you can hear the fighters breathing.

@generalwebb anderson silva reminds me of fedor. He beats average guys and duck his best challenger. Is the spider overated?

By ‘best challenger’ I assume you mean Chael Sonnen, and by ‘duck’ I assume you mean ‘already beat once.’ So no, I’m afraid I can’t agree that Silva is overrated. He’s beaten everybody there is to beat in the middleweight division, and he’s slated to take on Sonnen again this summer. How can you possibly complain about that?

@AndytheHurst What does the UFC do with: Josh Koscheck, Gray Maynard, Vitor Belfort, Rampage Jackson, and Roy Nelson?

When you lump them all together like that, it seems like there’s only one clear option: convince them to form a Guns N’ Roses tribute band and tour the country in a used RV. Obviously 'Rampage' is the only one with the charisma to be Axl Rose, and Josh Koscheck is just a few months and a ban on peroxide away from having Slash hair. Maynard, Belfort, and "Big Country" can fight over who gets to be Duff McKagan. You can’t tell me you wouldn’t watch a reality show about this brilliant little endeavor. It’s called ‘Becoming GN’R,’ and it will be the most successful show on FUEL by the end of this sentence.

@JasonRule Beltran is going down to lhw. To late to save his job. Do see Big Country doing the same?

I hope not. I’m ordinarily suspicious of fighters who think they’ll change everything with a move up or down in weight, but it’s almost never a good idea for heavyweights who move down to light heavyweight, where the competition tends to be faster and more athletic. At around six feet tall, Nelson would still be short for the division at 205 lbs. He’d be slow and hungry too, and that’s no way to live.

@VineStreetLife TMB:any ideas on how to objectify the scoring in an MMA contest? Is such a thing even possible? This is the root of the issue.

I think judges could stand to be better educated, and to be held accountable for the decisions they render. But in a fight as close as Condit-Diaz, some controversy is inevitable. You’re asking people to watch a five-minute round, during which each guy might throw 20 or 30 strikes, attempt a couple takedowns, and employ all manner of defensive tactics. Then, when it’s over, we turn to the judge and say, ‘So, what’d you think?’

That’s fine when one guy is clearly winning, but in a back-and-forth round it gets arbitrary in a hurry. MMA is such a diverse sport that it’s not just about who threw and landed more strikes. For instance, how do you score a takedown that didn’t result in a submission attempt or even any significant action on the ground? How do you score a failed takedown attempt? How do you score a blocked head kick that breaks the blocker’s arm, even if no one knows about it until after the fight? A certain amount of guesswork and human error will always be involved. The best we can hope for is that we have judges who know what they’re looking at and looking for, and that we root out the ones that are habitually rendering bad decisions. We all know who they are.

@BroccoliMonster #TMB How do you think the Rousey/Tate fight will go?

For starters, let me say that it’s a fight I’m really looking forward to, and in a just world it would get a lot more hype than it has so far. As for a prediction, I think Tate will frustrate Rousey on the feet early on, win some rounds with takedowns and a very conservative ground game, and take a decision that Rousey spends the next six months complaining about. And yes, then Tate will have no choice but to face Sarah Kaufman again, which is when the real fun starts.

@JefftheJeff Mailbag: the Diaz Bros. vs The Hart Foundation: who ya got?!

As long as the Diaz boys don’t make the mistake of taking their eyes off Hitman and Anvil during the singing of the national anthem, I think the 209 cruises to victory thanks to vastly superior cardio. Those tanning beds really take it out of you.

@JoakimKalantari why do you hate Nick Diaz?

Against my better judgment, I’m going to address this one only so that I can never address it again. I don’t hate Nick Diaz. I love watching Nick Diaz fight. My colleague John Morgan over at MMA Junkie once told me that he thinks the highest praise a media member can bestow upon a fighter is to say, ‘I’d pay to see this guy fight,’ and I think he’s right. We attend these events and watch these pay-per-views for a living, but even if I had to dig into my own pocket to see Diaz fight, I would. I have.

At the same time, my job is not to be a fan, to pick sides and stick with them no matter what. My job is to call it like I see it, and with Diaz there’s simply no way to do that without being critical from time to time. He’s a great fighter, but outside of the cage he’s a bit of a mess. He insists on playing by his own rules, and he’s never encountered a problem that he couldn’t blame on someone else, even if he alone caused it. He has a passionate, loyal fan base, and from a purely sporting perspective that makes sense. He’s great at what he does. At the same time, few MMA fighters have sabotaged their own careers to the extent that Diaz has. We all make mistakes, but he adamantly refuses to take responsibility for his.

He is a man with the virtues of his faults, which makes him fascinating. It does not, however, make him faultless. It doesn’t make him beyond criticism. His fans can think that any criticism of him amounts to unforgivable blasphemy, and that’s fine. That’s the prerogative of fans. The job of writers is to tell it like it is, which is what I try to do, even while knowing without a doubt that it will always upset somebody somewhere.

@TheHarrison101 What did you think of the UFC's new intro?

It’s awesome. I was suspicious after hearing Dana White tout its price tag -- as a rule, when someone starts telling you how expensive something is, they’re trying to convince themselves that the cost was justified -- but when I saw it I felt damn near inspired. It’s visually fun, and it’s an homage to this sport’s growth and development. Plus, I was so sick of that freaking gladiator.

@Vilainsoleil What's your take on the Strikeforce HW's? They are 3-0 and yet Carwin/Big Nog are above Cormier/Barnett...

It’s a regrettable situation, but one that will be remedied in time. The average fan may not appreciate how good Josh Barnett and Daniel Cormier are, or even what a great fight that should be, but at least there’s an end in sight. The Strikeforce heavies are doing pretty well in the UFC, and the two guys left in that heavyweight Grand Prix should only continue the trend. That is, if they can make the move while they’re still young.

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