Fightweets: Stephan Bonnar's place in MMA history

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

I'm picturing a scene about 30 years in the future. It's set in the press room prior to UFC 798 in Las Vegas, which has reinvented itself as a beachside resort town after global warming finally sweeps California into the sea.

By this point, those of us still left from the current generation of mixed martial arts media have morphed into the equivalent of today's old guard boxing scribes: Tired, cranky, and oblivious to a changing world as they wait for Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran to return.

In the course of griping about the quality of the pre-fight dinner and seating positions at cageside, talk turns to The Way Things Were.

Inevitably, someone slaps his hand on the table and wheezes: "I'll tell you what, the fighters these days, they just don't make them like Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin anymore!" At which point everyone will agree, then return to complaining that their pasta is too cold.

That's the scene which flashed through my head when I heard that Bonnar officially announced his retirement. Bonnar wasn't the best mixed martial artist in history. He wasn't the most talented. But he had a ton of heart, he never backed down from a challenge, and he gave his all every time he set foot in the Octagon. If this newfangled MMA thing really is on the map for good, then the first Griffin-Bonnar bout will still be remembered when we're all old and gray and discussed by fight historians long after we're all gone.

All in all, that makes for a pretty good career.

So with that, on to another edition of Fightweets. If you want to be considered for next week's edition, go ahead tweet me a question.

UFC Hall of Fame for Bonnar?

@el_fuego4560: Do you think Bonnar's EPIC clash with Griffin is enough to push him into the UFC HOF?

That's a great question. I guess it depends on how you look at what the UFC Hall is supposed to represent. If it's meant to be the equivalent of, say, the National Baseball Hall of Fame, in which the primary purpose is to honor the most accomplished on-field performers, then the case for Bonnar is iffy at best.

On the other hand, if you consider the UFC Hall to be like a pro sports team's ring of honor, then you have more leeway to include people who were pivotal to the franchise, regardless of whether they were all-time greats in the sport. If you're using that measure, then you can make a better case for Bonnar and Forrest Griffin (and the late Jeff Blatnick, for that matter).

That said, I truly cannot make up my mind on this one. What do you say, readers: Yes or no for Bonnar in the UFC Hall? Tell me what you think.

(Update: This piece was posted prior to news breaking about Bonnar's failed steroid test from UFC 153, the second such test failure in his career).

Why now?

@Ernesto Emerald: Why did he retire so soon?

Bonnar is 35. He's never going to contend for the UFC light heavyweight title. He spent much of this year agitating for one last big fight, he got it against Anderson Silva, and you saw how it turned out. He's on the short list of ex-fighters, like Chuck Liddell, who will probably have a Zuffa office job of some sort waiting for him if he wants it. His spot in history is secured thanks to the first Griffin fight and he leaves the winner of three of his final four fights, rather than on the slow, painful slide far too many fighters subject us to.

And yes, that was the long way of saying "The time is right."

Can Carlos Condit beat GSP?

@Che_rollins: why is everyone overlooking Carlos Condit?! It's ridiculous.

Good question, Che. St-Pierre deserves to be the favorite in their UFC 154 fight, but Condit is far from a long shot. I think those who are overlooking Condit might be falling into the trap of judging a fighter solely on his most recent performance. Condit's UFC 143 victory over Nick Diaz was hyped in the buildup as a can't-miss slugfest. It didn't exactly turn out that way, as Condit outpointed Diaz to take a decision (as an aside, I left Mandalay Bay that night thinking Diaz won the fight, but I've changed my mind since watching the replay. Fights really can look different cageside than they do on TV). If you had been following Condit for awhile and seen his WEC fight with Hiromitsu Miura or his ridiculous comeback against Rory MacDonald, you might have been disappointed by the Diaz fight; if you had never seen him before, you would have wondered what all the fuss was about.

Two more factors haven't helped Condit: By not defending his interim title, he's let the image of the Diaz fight linger all year; and everyone from Dana White to GSP himself have openly talked about a potential GSP-Silva fight and barely made a perfunctory nod in Condit's direction while doing so.

All this has basically teams up to create the perception Condit is just another opponent. You're smart enough to know different, Che. I'm not going to go so far as to predict an upset, but if "the old Condit" shows up in Montreal, we're going to have ourselves a fight.

@Ryang1029: why was @nickdiaz209 suspended for a year and @riddletuf7 not?

Different commissions, different penalties. Diaz was suspended in Nevada and Riddle in Alberta. It was also Diaz's second marijuana suspension in the state and Riddle's first infraction of any sort.

If it was up to me -- as someone who lives in the city of Los Angeles, where it is said there are more legal medical marijuana dispensaries than there are Starbucks, and has seen that semi-legalized weed hasn't caused the world to come to an end -- I'd be fine with the notion of dropping marijuana testing entirely. It simply doesn't provide a competitive advantage the way steroids and other substances do.

But that said, fighters still have to abide by the rules in place in the state or province in which they're fighting. And as long as we have our commission patchwork in place, we'll continue to get varied penalties.

Jones at heavyweight

@TannerRuss2: If Jon Jones moves up to heavyweight, odds of success? Who's a good replacement for Kyung Ho Kang?

Jones is destined to go to heavyweight sooner or later. He's already hinting at it. On his frame, his body's not going to be able to make 205 pounds forever. While Jones by all means would be a legitimate title contender at heavyweight, he's not going to romp through that division the way he has at light heavyweight, at least not at this point. For one thing, that Junior dos Santos guy is pretty good. Dos Santos might not have Jones' all-around athleticism, but Jones has never been hit anywhere near as hard as dos Santos tags people. And I think Daniel Cormier would have a better shot at defeating Jones at heavyweight than if they fought at light heavyweight and Cormier had to go through an ungodly weight cut. Jones is certainly a potential heavyweight champ but it's not as cut-and-dried as his walk through the park at 205.

As for Kang, who had to pull out of his UFC Macau fight against Alex Caceres, at this stage of the game I'm going to assume Joe Silva will post a bunch of pictures of random bantamweight fighters up on a dartboard, close his eyes, throw a dart, see where it lands, and give that guy a call.

Lack of ‘TUF' fighters on Finale

@gsfelipe: Seems like there's only going to be the finals and another fight that are made of members of the show...

I've heard this too. On the one hand, I sort of feel bad for the fighters who will go through their time in the house and not get the payoff of at least one official fight in the UFC. On the other, that's several fewer bouts featuring guys I haven't been watching over the past couple months and will probably never see again, and if that means more fights like Jamie Varner vs. Melvin Guillard instead, I can live with the tradeoff.

No love for "The Talent?"

@ynneKremapts: Why is no one talking about Alan Belcher? He is on a 4 fight wining streak and has looked great as of late.

Yeah, it's been too bad about Belcher. The guy's clearly an elite middleweight and when he fights, he proves it. The problem is he hasn't been able to fight often enough to build enough momentum. Belcher has explained what he's been through to my colleague Ariel Helwani, and it's easy to empathize with him. Belcher's string of injuries and mishaps have been the only reason why you don't hear him named with the likes of Chris Weidman, Michael Bisping and Tim Boetsch among potential title shot recipients. The good news for Belcher is he's still young enough that if he can keep his body together and put together a relatively healthy run over the next couple years, he still has time to make a real run at 185.

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