Twitter Mailbag: Talking Silva vs. Sonnen 2, Tito Ortiz's Twisted Legacy, and More

Photo by Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The Twitter Mailbag is back and ready to answer your endless stream of questions about the rematch between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen at UFC 148. We’ll also find some time to talk about Tito Ortiz’s farewell fight and his tricky legacy, as well as get some answers about standard cornerman operating procedure from an actual cornerman.

Got a question of your own? You can find me lounging around on the Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. I’m the guy with the picture of the awesome dog in his avatar.

Will Burke @wjburke
@benfowlkesMMA @mmafighting despite what happened first time, does sonnen have a shot against Anderson? Didn't Silva have a rib injury?

The word on the street after their first meeting was that yes, the champ had some injured ribs. Were they so injured that he was left completely unable to defend a takedown, or even strike with his characteristic ferocity? I doubt it, but if so he had no business taking the fight. If you’re so hurt that you can’t do anything, it’s kind of disrespectful to your opponent and your fans to get in there and go through the motions anyway. Silva pulled off the triangle choke in the end, so he was at least healthy enough to do that. Somehow, though, I don’t think he went into that fight with a plan to get beat up for 20 minutes before attempting the one move he felt physically capable of.

But okay, I see your point. Injury = variable. The thing is, that’s not the only variable to consider in this rematch. There’s also the question of how Silva will adjust now that he knows what Sonnen brings to the table. There’s the question of how Sonnen will adjust to Silva’s adjustments. Add in Sonnen’s testosterone levels, Silva’s rage levels, and what have you got? We don’t know. Not yet. That’s what makes the fight so exciting. It’s the only way to answer these questions, and there are a ton of them heading into this fight. All I can tell you is that I honestly didn’t think Sonnen had much of a chance the first time they fought, and I’m not going to make that same mistake this time around.

Jason Moles @TheJasonMoles
@benfowlkesMMA What will Tito Ortiz most be remember for, his championship reign, funny shirts, fights w/ Shamrock, or marrying a porn star?

I think Ortiz will be remembered for being one of the UFC’s first great personalities. He was a gifted self-promoter in an era of humorless bad-asses, and he gave people a reason to care about him even when he wasn’t actually fighting. He also built the rivalry with Ken Shamrock that would ultimately give the UFC its first taste of what a big, highly anticipated, successful pay-per-view might look like. He was a bridge from one era to the next, even if he proved to be somewhat ill-equipped for that next era.

I don’t think anyone could argue that he was ever the best fighter MMA had to offer. He came out on the losing end of one of the UFC’s most compelling and competitive early fights when he took on Frank Shamrock, and Chuck Liddell -- a contemporary of Ortiz’s -- proved his superiority beyond all doubt in two separate meetings. But Ortiz was one of the first fighters to make himself into a marketable brand. When you think about it, he made a kind of outrageous amount of money, especially considering that his best athletic years came when the sport was only just beginning to climb out of poverty. It’s also pretty amazing that he held on as long as he did, making as much money as he did, despite his woeful record in recent years. Maybe that will serve as Ortiz’s last lesson for the younger generation on the value of promotability.

Chris Manning @cwmwrites
@benfowlkesMMA Hemingway steps in on short notice fight in a PRIDE rules match against his arch nemesis Joseph Conrad. Who wins and how?

First of all, I must take issue with your characterization of Conrad as a nemesis of Hemingway. For one thing, Conrad was dead before Hemingway published his first novel. After Conrad died, and it had become popular to criticize him while exalting writers like T.S. Eliot, Hemingway wrote: "If I knew that by grinding Mr. Eliot into a fine dry powder and sprinkling that powder over Mr. Conrad’s grave, Mr. Conrad would shortly appear…and commence writing, I would leave for London early tomorrow morning with a sausage grinder."

Ernest Hemingway: total jerk, but he loved him some Conrad.

As for who would win in a Pride-rules match that Hemingway took on short notice, I have to take Hemingway via brutal head stomps in the opening minutes. Unless, of course, he’s disqualified for repeatedly thumbing Conrad in the eyes, ala Gilbert Yvel.

Martin Lindgren @MarreoMedia
@benfowlkesMMA Do you think @titoortiz and Griffin's [fight] gets enough attention? This being Tito's last fight?

I think it’s getting exactly the amount of attention it deserves, and that amount is: some. Let’s face it, it’s not the most meaningful fight you could make in the light heavyweight division. Ortiz is on his way out the door (or so he says) with one win in his last eight attempts. Forrest Griffin is a comparatively robust 5-3 in his last eight, but lately it seems as if he can’t quite force himself to care as much as he knows he should. He’s still a competitor, and still doesn’t want to get his face beat in, but that fire he had back in 2005 is a barely glowing coal these days. If you would have asked most fans before this fight was booked, my guess is more people would have wanted to see Bill and Ted complete their trilogy before they ever thought to ask for Tito and Forrest III.

In other words, it’s only special because it’s Ortiz’s last fight. And -- sarcasm aside -- that is special. This is the end of an era, assuming it really is the end and he doesn’t pop up on a fight card in Sri Lanka two years from now. I feel like Ortiz is getting what my colleague Jordan Breen would refer to as his "due daps" for this final fight. He was on SportsCenter this week, will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame next week, and -- win or lose -- will get to go out on what should be the biggest UFC event of the year. What else could he want? And, with his performances over the last half-decade or so, what else could he reasonably expect?

Punk Curmudgeon @punkcurmudgeon
@benfowlkesMMA Why do corner guys often pour a bit of water on the ring floor for fighters to wipe feet in at the start of a fight? #MailBag

This is one of those questions where I felt like I had a pretty solid answer, then realized that it sounded like something I read in Modern Jackass. So I asked someone who could give us a real answer: MMA trainer and cornerman extraordinaire, Mr. Greg Jackson. Here’s what he said:

"It’s traction, usually. Your feet can get a little dirty on the way to the cage, which can make you slip. Getting that off can help sometimes."

For the record, I will now claim that I totally knew this all along. Totally.

Big Nate @BigNate870
@benfowlkesMMA what is MMA's future with TRT? GOOD OR BAD?

Definitely bad, any way you slice it. It codifies and encourages the use of a powerful performance-enhancing substance by men who visit dangerous acts of violence on each other for a living. How could that be good? What’s the best possible outcome of allowing professional fighters to inject themselves with extra testosterone? What, they’ll be able to fight longer and take more punishment, far past the points where their bodies -- if not for the aid of synthetic hormones -- might have forced them to stop? I don’t see how that’s a plus for this sport.

David Jeffers @Davidjeffers
@benfowlkesMMA Mailbag. How do you feel about soccer kicks/knees to a grounded opponent? Do you believe MMA should have universal rules?

In theory, I like knees to the head of a grounded opponent. I think. It opens up more possibilities for action on the mat, and changes the stakes for guys who like to shoot in and dig for a takedown from their knees. Again, that’s in theory. Then I think back to how it looked in practice, such as in the Ricardo Arona-Kazushi Sakuraba fight, and I’m not so sure anymore.

The same goes for soccer kicks. In theory, how is it so much worse or more dangerous than getting kicked in the head while you’re standing up? But in practice, it seems most likely to be employed in situations where the fight should be over already. The One FC bout between Zorobabel Moreira and Roger Huerta is a prime example, but you could say the same of several of Wanderlei Silva’s wins in Pride. Most of the time, when one fighter is in a position that allows him to be stomped or soccer kicked, it’s because he’s already pretty much done. Remember when "Rampage" Jackson got booted in the mouth by "Shogun" Rua? Didn’t seem to me like ‘Page was on the verge of getting back up and mounting a comeback even before he got Rua’s foot upside his head.

As for the unified rules, in general I like them. There are a couple things I’d change, such as the ridiculous ban on the 12-to-6 elbow (but not, for some reason, the 3-to-9 elbow that employs the exact same movement). I also don’t like the practice of allowing fighters to put two fingers on the mat and call themselves a grounded opponent. But on the whole, I think it’s important to use one set of rules to limit confusion for the fighters, not to mention the refs. Those poor bastards have a hard enough time as it is. No need to make it any harder.

Noel Luperon @NoelLuperon
@benfowlkesMMA Is Chael vs Anderson Silva 2 Silva's final fight? What does the division look like after he leaves?

Hold on, let me look into the future. Oh no, wait, I just remembered I can’t do that, because I’m not a sorcerer (if I were though, all of you jokers would be newts by now). What I can tell you is that, if he beats Sonnen in glorious and non-controversial fashion next Saturday, I think that would be a pretty sweet time to walk away.

justin keating @bigkeats
@benfowlkesMMA #tmb #mmafighting marquardt sick of answering TRT questions .. Should we stop asking or is it just [too] bad for him?

It’s too bad for him. If he’s going to do interviews, he has to accept that reporters are going to ask about the subjects that are on people’s minds. They have to. That’s their job. He doesn’t have to answer (though, with certain issues, not answering is even worse than answering poorly), but he doesn’t get to choose the topics. And, come on, is it any wonder that people keep asking him about TRT? It got him fired from the UFC and put a permanent mark on his career. Now, in his first fight since that incident, he says he’s off it. How could that not be a discussion topic leading into his Strikeforce title fight? He felt TRT was so vital to his health and career that he was willing to risk the UFC’s ire, but now, lo and behold, he’s discovered that he can do without it after all. It’s an MMA miracle. If Marquardt thinks that’s going to go away just because he’d rather not talk about it, he’s dreaming.

Joshua Flannery @YourPalJosh
@benfowlkesMMA which outcome of the Silva/Sonnen rematch is best for the @ufc?

If Sonnen wins, it sets up the possibility of a big money rubber match. If Silva wins, it solidifies the legendary status of one of the best (if not the best) fighters to ever put on a pair of gloves. Either way it goes, as long as it’s a good fight that ends without controversy or complaint, the UFC will like it just fine.

Andy Anderson @AndyAndersonMMA
@benfowlkesMMA will UFC 148 sell better than UFC 100?

Probably not, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it break one million pay-per-view buys, if only just barely. Unlike UFC 100, which had several must-see fights, UFC 148 has just one. It’s a good one, and it ought to do big numbers, but I’d be surprised if it did UFC 100 numbers.

Now, if the co-main event for this one featured Brock Lesnar in a hot dog eating contest against Takeru Kobayashi, plus Kyle Kingsbury in a posedown opposite the ghost of Rick Rude, then it’d be a very different story.

Pedro Figueiredo @pedromfdo
@benfowlkesMMA who do you think @RenzoGracieBJJ should face next in the UFC? #TMB

How about the truth? I realize that’s not so much a who as it is a what, but the truth is that Renzo Gracie -- who I absolutely adore -- has no business fighting in the UFC. Gracie is a wonderful, charismatic, endlessly lovable human being. He’s also a 45-year-old jiu-jitsu practitioner who has fought just twice in the last five years, with the quality of his performances diminishing rapidly as the years pass. Again, I love Renzo. If there was such thing as the world champion of awesome people, he’d be it. He’s just not a UFC-caliber MMA fighter at this point, which is to be expected.

Malthe Carlsen @MaltheCarlsen
@benfowlkesMMA I'm not sure if you've answered this before in the mailbag, bit which fighter(s) do you enjoy watching the most?

Nick Diaz is definitely on the list. So is Nate Diaz. So is Donald Cerrone. When I watch Jon Jones, I feel like I’m watching Picasso play around with some paints. Daniel Cormier’s fights remind me of what a building demolition would look like if a wrecking ball could smile. I could probably name a dozen more, but that would get tedious. If you really want to hear it all you should buy me a beer or six.

Sam Hunt @Jlloyd100
@benfowlkesMMA how would the world react to 4 1/2 rounds of silva takedowns and g'n'p only for sonnen to win with a last min triangle!?

Just a guess, but I think the world’s reaction would look something like this.

Jeremy Sexton @jeremysexton
@benfowlkesMMA Does the
craziness happening with the CSAC mean anything for anyone outside of California?

Maybe it means we should stop acting like these state-run commissions are omnipotent governing bodies with the authority and the resources to adequately police a complex sport. Dana White loves to throw up his hands and point to "the government" when he’s asked why the UFC doesn’t take a more active role on issues like drug testing, but the CSAC’s problems serve to remind us that, sometimes, these athletic commissions are just like a lot of other state government bureaucracies, which is to say, a total mess.

Omar @omar_ortiz21
@benfowlkesMMA After UFC 148 What event are you most looking forward to? There does not seem to be much action going on after Silva Sonnen 2

I wouldn’t say that there’s not much going on, just that there isn’t much going on that’s anywhere near as big as the Silva/Sonnen rematch. The UFC has two more events in July after this, plus two in August. At the same time, I don’t know how many people are getting chills just thinking about "Shogun" Rua vs. Brandon Vera. It’s hard to get excited about a full event when the fight cards are, shall we say, subject to an awful lot of change lately. As far as single fights that get me pumped, I think the next one on my radar is Ronda Rousey vs. Sarah Kaufman in Strikeforce on August 18.

Matt Giesbrecht @MattGiesbrecht
@benfowlkesMMA Should Hioki's loss illustrate that fighters should just take the title shot when presented? #mailbag

Not necessarily. If you can’t beat a fellow contender in the division, what would make you think you could beat the champion? And, as we’ve seen, if you lose in a title fight, it’s sometimes very difficult to convince the UFC to give you another one, especially as long as the same guy is still champion. If Hioki’s loss proves anything, it’s that he was right when he decided he wasn’t ready to fight the champion. Sometimes a little self-awareness can keep you from making a big mistake.

Max de Vries @MaxWdeVries
@benfowlkesMMA TMB: do you love MMA? Oftentimes you seem to be some kind of MMA-Theroux, in constant wonder of these crazy people fighting.

Can’t it be both? Can’t you love MMA and find yourself in a state of constant wonder at these crazy people who choose to do it? It’s a really bizarre thing when you think about it. Great masses of people gather to see two men -- men who are, as my podcast co-host Chad Dundas would say, "stripped to the waist" -- climb into a cage and fight one another until someone gives up or is rendered physically incapable of continuing. And it’s just for fun! It’s entertainment for us. That’s kind of insane, right? We build these structures around it to make it feel safer or more official. We have doctors and athletic commissions and rules and referees. But really, the impulse that drives people to come to Vegas and buy a ticket for this is the same impulse that makes middle school kids drop everything and run to where the crowd is when a fight breaks out among two of their peers.

I don’t think that’s necessarily wrong, or that we should feel bad about our desire to see it (and then talk obsessively about it later), but I do think we should maintain some perspective on it. Fighting is sports boiled down to its most basic elements. It’s the thing that athletes in other sports resort to when the structure of their own game proves insufficient. It’s also a hell of a way to make a living. It demands so much sacrifice, so much pain and suffering, and that’s just to make it to fight night. Normal people work relatively safe jobs that are like the steady drop of coins into a piggy bank, one day at a time. Fighters are out there defusing bombs in exchange for a lottery ticket. Even as they’re doing it, they don’t know if it will be worth it in the end.

I think that’s something many fans miss, or don’t fully appreciate, because often they only see the finished product. Covering the sport full-time after years of being a fan is like going from dating someone to living with them. You don’t just see them when they’re showered and rested and polished for public view anymore. I think we have to acknowledge the essential weirdness of this act in order to appreciate and respect it. We have to acknowledge that it’s kind of crazy for a person to be so willing to smash their bones to pieces while using their limbs to bludgeon another human being for money. We have to acknowledge how weird it is that we all want to see that so much that we’ll pay for it, again and again, and then complain when it isn’t violent enough. These are bizarre impulses, but they’re real impulses, and I think they exist for a reason. I think the best way to understand them is to talk openly about them. Or get drunk and paint ‘Just Bleed’ on your body. Whichever you prefer.

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