As we head into Saturday's UFC doubleheader, I keep hearing things like "wow, what a crazy week this was." But isn't craziness the norm in mixed martial arts?
With that as our guideline, then, let's jump into another edition of Fightweets here on this "normal" week. We'll talk about the Chael Sonnen-Vitor Belfort-Wanderlei Silva nuttiness; the ramifications of T.J. Dillashaw's upset win over Renan Barao; some of this week's fight announcements, and more.
As Anderson Silva would say, "it's normal."
All things Sonnen-Silva-Belfort
@TannerRuss2: What does this recent development mean for Wanderlei's legacy?
@BigJuice19: Sonnen future MW champ?
These were two of about 18 different questions I got related to the Sonnen-Silva-Belfort triangle. Since we're still sorting through the situation, I have more of a stream of consciousness at this point than a coherent position.
*In hindsight, boy, does this put both Dana White's scrum rant about Belfort last week and his high praise of the new Nevada Athletic Commission into context, huh?
*FOX Sports 1 has never looked more like FOX News than in letting Sonnen break the news about Silva dropping out of the fight. I understand this is an era of complicated media/corporate relationships and whatnot. But in this case, they should have at least had someone else handle the breaking news aspect and then cut to Sonnen for his take on it. Even though he would have most likely said the same thing, the context matters.
*It's almost impossible to get a read on which way the NAC will rule on Belfort's licensure during their June 17th meeting. You'd like to think that Belfort wouldn't be going through this song and dance if he wasn't reasonably confident he'll get the thumbs-up, but with Belfort, you never know, do you?
*In the case of Silva, I can't help but wish in hindsight that he had just walked away from the sport after his win over Brian Stann last year in Japan. What's gone on with the former longtime PRIDE champion since then has been an astounding downturn in the legacy of one of the sport's most beloved fighters. Anything beyond that is just armchair psychology. All in all, this is just sad to watch.
*How amazing is it that once again Sonnen has worked himself back into the middle of the hottest issue going on in the company? He was even signing autographs for fans in Brazil this week. Somewhere along the way, he's going to have to string together a couple wins to keep people interested regardless of what comes out of his mouth, but for now, his ability to keep himself in the middle of things remains unparalleled.
*I was going to comment on the notion that the potential Sonnen-Silva winner would get a shot at Chris Weidman's middleweight title, but, you know what? There are so many hurdles between than and then that I'll cross that bridge if and when it happens.
T.J. takes the title
@tokoBali2: What does Dillashaw's belt mean for Faber? Not aspire a title shot any time soon? Or leave the team perhaps?
Well, Team Alpha Male is Faber's gym, so he's not leaving any time soon. That gym is going to be Faber's moneymaker long after he's done fighting, so having a champion under his watch is only going to raise the gym's already respected profile even further.
As for whether Dillashaw would fight Faber -- Dillashaw said he wouldn't do it when asked at the UFC 173 post-fight press conference, Dana White doesn't seem so sure -- I think this is something you can just kick down the road for the foreseeable future.
Faber had to win four fights in a row just to even get back into the title picture, then got his title chance because Dominick Cruz fell out. He's got another long road back to toward any title, and is getting to the age where he may decide to do the Rich Franklin thing and chase after fun fights, anyway.
Dillashaw has got presumably a Rafael Assuncao fight ahead of him, then maybe a rematch with Barao (or maybe Barao and then Assuncao, and by then, who knows? Maybe Cruz has worked his way back into the picture by then.
Point is, given how well the Faber-Dillashaw relationship has been up until this point, then there's no need to go there until the fight becomes inevitable, and right now it's far from that.
@daviddyurko: Can Dillashaw become the superstar Barao never could?
"Superstar" is a tough nut to crack. There have been only a handful of superstars in this sport. To this day, the only real big star in the under-155 set on these shores is Faber, and I'd stop short of calling Faber a superstar.
Barao's talents were just starting to get their first hints of traction with the audience when he went out and laid an egg against Dillashaw. He had many things going against him, from lack of English skills to a lack of charisma. The comparison has made between Barao's early days and Anderson Silva's, but with Silva, from the get-go, you didn't need English to understand this was a dude with a quirky personality.
Dillashaw is an upgrade over Barao from a marketing perspective, for sure. He's a blond-haired, blue-eyed kid who looks like he could model for J. Crew. He's pretty much the opposite of brash and controversial, so it's not like he's going to become the next Sonnen. But, if he keeps fighting like he did against Barao, combining Cruz's complex footwork with a devastating finisher's mentality, I mean, you can come up with far worse than the blue-eyed preppy kid who's a stone cold killer. It might not quite be superstar material, but it's a big upgrade over the last champ.
@tjohn224: Should Matt Brown be in a No. 1 contender fight with Lawler over Woodley or Lombard?
I do feel like Tyron Woodley is potentially getting a bit of a shaft here. If he goes out and takes it to Rory MacDonald next month the way he did Carlos Condit, he's going to have a fairly compelling case.
That said, I'm fine with the winner of Lawler vs. Brown getting the next shot at Johny Hendricks' welterweight belt. In Lawler's case, should he beat Brown, he's responded to his tight loss to Hendricks by finishing Jake Ellenberger and ending Brown's win streak. If Brown wins, he joins the still-short list of competitors with eight-fight UFC win streaks and has answered the questions about caliber of competition by stopping Lawler.
Guida vs. Bermudez at UFC on FOX 12 has flown under the radar, but I love this fight. I don't know if I can call a winner in this one yet. Bermudez has taken six straight against a slowly but steadily increasing caliber of competition. Guida's fight with Tatsuya Kawajiri made it look like the real Clay Guida broke out of captivity, hit evil twin Boring Clay Guida over the head with a shovel, then buried him in a ditch. Hopefully the impostor is never to be seen again and the old Clay Guida is back for good. I'm not making a prediction on this one, I'm just going to sit back and see if it lives up to its potential.
100K for Bellator PPV
@RuckerYeah: Surprised by the Bellator buy rate?
Yes and no. Look, 100,000 buys puts Bellator up there with Affliction among the most successful non-UFC, MMA pay-per-view offerings. That's nothing to sneeze at. As to what to glean from this? We won't simply won't know until Bellator puts on a few shows and we see where the levels stay. I said before the show that the PPV will show how much of a market is left for the old-school guys. I wondered if the anti-UFC contingent who turned out en masse for Fedor and bought Affliction PPVs and tuned into Elite XC and Strikeforce events -- the portion of the audience who seemed to disappear once Fedor left town and Zuffa bought Strikeorce -- would come back. How much of the audience was a nostalgia audience?How much of it was strictly Rampage and Tito seeming fresh, having been out of the PPV limelight for awhile? Will the interminably long delays between fights make viewers balk at buying another PPV? And how much of it is the Bellator brand gaining a degree of real traction? They've been established on Spike for a year and a half and they've drawn some solid television numbers along the way. 100K is a very solid number all things considered, but we won't know what caused the buy rate until Bellator's been doing this long enough to go through some trial and error.
Vice President Ace
@chjobin: The name aside, what does Rich Franklin add to ONE FC?
If you read Chuck Mindenhall's story on this, Franklin sounds sincere about wanting to learn about the business aspect of the sport. If that's the case -- and Franklin's one of the most straightforward, upfront guys in the biz -- then it sounds like he's genuinely interested in learning the promotional side of the game, and this isn't just a Matt Hughes/Chuck Liddell "vice presidency."
In the meantime? His name sure doesn't hurt. One FC's had a difficult time getting traction here, in no small part due to the odd times their shows air here. But if Rich Franklin calls a reporter, damn right the phone will get picked up.
Got a question for a future edition of Fightweets? Go to my twitter page and leave me a tweet.