There has been so much griping about Fuel TV's relative lack of availability that it's obscured the real story coming out of these events: The UFC on Fuel TV series, for whatever reason, has turned into the little fight series that could.
Those of us who have Fuel (and if you don't get Fuel, really, as someone who has dealt with every horrendous cable conglomerate from Comcast to Time Warner, I ask you: Why haven't you switched to satellite TV yet?) have been treated from everything to the clubhouse leader for Fight of the Year in Chan Sung Jung vs. Dustin Poirier, to Jake Ellenberger's manic win over Diego Sanchez, to a standout night of fights in the UFC's Sweden debut, to Chris Weidman's coming-out party against Mark Munoz.
Saturday's event isn't the most star-power laden UFC card of 2012. But on paper, it looks as solid as any lineup in recent memory: Stefan Struve vs. Stipe Miocic is an intriguing stylistic matchup; Dan Hardy fighting in his hometown should be a memorable scene; Brad Pickett vs. Yves Jabouin has real implications at 135 pounds, and Matt Wiman should provide submission artist Paul Sass with a significant challenge.
UFC on Fuel TV 5, of course, is the only remaining half of the Saturday MMA doubleheader that wasn't, as Strikeforce pulled the plug on it's planned event in Sacramento on Saturday night. We get into that and a whole lot more in the latest edition of Fightweets.
D. Hernandez @XX_FROST_Xx: What is it about Strikeforce that is keeping it alive? Does no one see they are dying a very painful death?
Showtime's television contract with Strikeforce is the life support system that's keeping the brain-dead patient alive. I see it. You see it. So do the masses of invisible people in the thousands and thousands of empty-appearing seats when Strikeforce comes to a town near you. Zuffa's not going to get into the game Gary Shaw and Silicon Valley Sports both previously played, in which they had to throw good money after bad to attract marquee talent worthy of the Showtime brand, but could never make it up on the back end. Strikeforce's Showtime contract runs until sometime in early 2013. Showtime has the option to renew the deal. Let's hope common sense prevails and the company chooses not to do so.
Jordan K @SLayKatzNY: Strikeforce is on life support. Once it folds, can you identify several key fighters that will transition to UFC?
There are two answers to this one, one for the women's roster and one for the men.
Let's start with the former. The women's divisions are basically the biggest asset Strikeforce has left. From Ronda Rousey and a potential superfight with Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos, to talented fighters ranging from Miesha Tate to Marloes Coenen to Sarah Kaufmann to Liz Carmouche and on down the line, women's MMA, if anything, is underutilized. If you bring the women's fighters over to the UFC, and introduce them to the masses with an all-women's cast on "The Ultimate Fighter," you'll not only give the fight cards the depth they've been too often missing this year, but you'll also give "TUF" the shot on the arm it needs.
As for the men's side (not counting Daniel Cormier, who is already UFC-bound after his next fight), there are still a handful of fighters who can make a difference. Gilbert Melendez should be brought to the UFC and given an immediate bout with a top-three 155er. That's a rock-solid co-main event on any card. Josh Barnett is still a quality, name heavyweight who can talk up a fight. Luke Rockhold deserves a real chance to prove himself against the top middleweights. There are several others who wouldn't be headline names, but would bolster the depth of their respective divisions, but we'll leave it with those three for starters.
Should Anderson Silva give up his title?
@fernando_rochas: Would it be the worst thing if anderson silva walked away from MW and gave his belt up? Super fights only, maybe?
An interesting thought, Fernando. With Silva coming up on his unprecedented sixth anniversary as UFC middleweight champion, he's earned a position few have ever achieved working for Zuffa: The ability to pick and choose his own spots. He's made enough money that he can simply not fight if the company tries to force a challenger he doesn't want to face. He's done with the Thales Leiteses of the world.
Silva's only going to take fights that appeal to him, like going home to Brazil to meet Stephan Bonnar. Or the potential bout with Georges St-Pierre, which, if it happens, will likely blow away all company money records.
That doesn't bode well in the short-term for those who would like a crack at the gold, but look at at this way: Say Silva for some reason vacated the middleweight title tomorrow, and the UFC threw together a bout to crown a new champion. Would anyone take the winner of that fight seriously as the best at 185 pounds if Silva was still in the company and fighting?
In the long run, it actually might be best of the belt stay on ice for awhile. That in theory will give someone the opportunity to build toward a real money challenge of Silva. We know Michael Bisping would be able to talk people into buying a Silva fight already, but one more big win would bolster his credibility as a challenger. Conversely, if the Chris Weidman-Tim Boetsch winner were to fight Bisping and defeat him, that person would have quite a head of steam into a Silva fight.
So all in all, Silva's little break from 185-pound competition might be best for all concerned.
Where does Hardy rank?
@BenWirtz: Where would Dan Hardy be in the WW division with a win this weekend? What kind of competition jump should he get afterwards?
Slow and steady is the best pace for Hardy at this point. Hardy got some of the career opportunities he received in part for being in the right place at the right time. But four losses in a row can wreck anyone's confidence. If Hardy beats Sadollah on Saturday, as I suspect he will, then he should get a bump up in competition, but he shouldn't be thrown to the wolves again. A bout against the winner of the Dec. 5 bout between Mike Swick and Matt Brown might make sense, if Hardy's willing to wait that long. If not, hey, Matt Riddle still needs an opponent.
Machida over Shogun? Really?
Terence Parton @ELcujorino: So Shogun beats Lyoto, Lyoto beats Rashad and shogun is somehow beneath them? That makes a lot of sense. Ridiculous
USC beat Oregon in football last year. Does that mean you're not allowed to rank the Ducks ahead of the Trojans this year? The rankings represent where fighters stand as of Sept. 2012, not how things were in 2009.
There's a certain point where enough time has passed between fights that you have to consider the bigger picture when putting together division rankings. If you look at where the two fighters stand now, "Shogun" looks worse for wear. He took a ton of damage in his bout against Dan Henderson and he barely got past Brandon Vera in what most people assumed would be a Rua rout (And did so after turning down Glover Teixeira for what he perceived to be a "safer" fight). In between, Rua had an inconsequential win over Forrest Griffin.
Machida hasn't taken anywhere near as much damage as "Shogun" over that span, actually took a round from Jon Jones in their fight, and looked like a vintage "Dragon" against Ryan Bader. So yeah, based on where things stand now, where Rua is starting to show the signs of wear and tear and Machida seems to have plenty of gas left in the tank, Machida over Rua was an easy call.
James Randall @jrandall1202 the fight wasn't boring but i think ppl have an argument if they say the octagon is just too big for anything less than 185lbs
Sam Hunt @JLloyd100 I have no issue with smaller guys, but DJ's fast, defensive low damage style has lost me as a fan since the torres fight
Rene Gonzalez @Cacamonster1285: I don't understand why people are hating on the FlyWeights. The fight was awesome.
Sometime around midweek, whether Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez deserved to be booed or not officially became the most over-debated topic in MMA since the decision in the Bisping-Matt Hamill fight. So I'm not dredging that one up again. But I include these three tweets among the many I received about the first UFC flyweight title bout to demonstrate that opinions were, in fact, all over the map.
As for James' tweet, I don't agree with the "185 pounds" comment, but he's on to something to an extent. Remember all those action-packed WEC fights with lighter-weight competitors? They were fighting in smaller cages. The UFC octagon has a 30 x 30 fighting surface; the WEC's cage was 25 x 25. There was simply less room to turn a fight into a track meet. (And if you recall the early days of the WEC, with higher weight classes, when the light heavyweights were fighting, it pretty much looked like they were crammed into a playpen). If you put on a flyweight fight in the UFC in the middle of a stretch with two light heavyweight bouts and a middleweight match, and one of those flyweight fighters, employs a strategy that makes use of every square foot of that Octagon, then yeah, visually you run the risk of making them look like they're too small to be in there, regardless how solid the action.
Last week's Fightweets: Oh, Canada
B_McDonnell: bahahaha!!! We have an inferiority complex. Ok?
A tip of the Labbatt's Blue to you, B_Mc. I'm glad nearly all of my Canadian readers got the joke.
@Sean Peconi: What's up your ass with Canada?
Of course, B_Mc, there's always one in every crowd.
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