The hours are counting down to the deepest UFC card in quite some time, UFC 156 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Jose Aldo Jr. vs. Frankie Edgar meet for Aldo's featherweight title in what a year ago would have been a superfight, but is still a super fight.
So rather than waste any more time, let's get into this edition of Fightweets. We try to figure out how Aldo-Edgar will go, talk the latest developments in the middleweight division, the upcoming women's title fight, and a whole lot more.
If you'd like to be included in a future edition, go to my Twitter page and leave me a tweet.
Who takes Aldo-Edgar?
@Cmrbuzz: I'm usually really good at picking fights but I'm stumped here. All about Aldo's gas tank I think. I bet Edgar wins last 3 rds
I'm stumped here too, Cmr. I've gone on the record as picking Aldo, but I don't know if I've ever been less sure of a pick. When I run all the potential scenarios for the fight through my head, the idea of Aldo's kicks taking their toll over the course of the fight stands out above all else. But then, Aldo hasn't fought in a year, and Edgar's biggest successes have come when he's been counted out, so who knows?
An X-factor worth noting: The selection of officials for the main event. Remember after UFC 155, when the wondrous Adelaide Byrd's extra-special 30-27 card in favor of Melvin Guillard over Jamie Varner sent UFC president Dana White on a tangent? Well, not only is Byrd one of the main-event judges (along with Jeff Collins and Junichiro Kamija), but White's least-favorite referee, Steve Mazzagatti, will be the third man in the Octagon. It's like the Nevada Athletic Commission is deliberately sending White a double-fingered flipoff in response to his tirade.
Will Mazzagatti make a baffling call, five years to the weekend after his handling of the first Frank Mir-Brock Lesnar fight? Will Byrd actually watch the fight this time? The commission intrigue serves to add a couple extra layers to a fight that's already among the toughest main events to pick in recent memory.
What if Ronda Rousey loses?
Fernando_Rochas: What's the damage for women MMA if Ronda loses? And how are they going to start women's division with 3 or 4 fighters?
No doubt about it, Zuffa has put itself in an easily second-guessable position in Ronda Rousey's first fight. What if Liz Carmouche tags Rousey with her first punch of the fight and finishes her in a hurry, which isn't as outlandish as everyone thinks? That would make forking over $50 for future Rousey fights a tough sell.
The safe route would have involved putting Rousey on Fox for her debut to give more exposure before putting her on pay-per-view. Who knows, though? Given what we've found out in the Eddie Alvarez lawsuits, it's entirely possible a PPV debut was part of her contract.
My gut feeling is that a last-week publicity push is going to put this fight over the top and makes it a bigger-than-average seller. If Rousey puts on the performance most expect from her, then a subsequent fight with "Cyborg" Santos will be very, very big. (And let's not kid ourselves, one way or another that fight will happen, no matter how much both sides posture. There's too much money on the table not to get it done).
As for your "only 3 or 4 fighters" comment, l mean, look at how Zuffa has handled adding men's weight classes over the years. How long did Dana White and Co. let the lightweight title sit unfilled? Four years? Then, when they wanted to introduce lighter-weight fighters to the masses, Zuffa bought the WEC and ran it separately for several years before merging the roster in with the UFC. It's true they're starting off women's fight with just one division, bantamweight, the division which happens to be the deepest in women's MMA. But the cautious pace with which they're proceeding with women's fighting is no different than any other divisional addition they've made to the company in the past.
The middleweight picture
@Dpop2: Does Weidman ultimately get the title shot or is Rockhold and Evans in the picture?
@Mahklynch: Thoughts on a Silva v. Evans title fight? I'd love to see it. Silva would smash him.
We'll see. One thing I have to say gives me a good chuckle is the notion Anderson Silva is afraid of Chris Weidman. Really? A fighter with arguably a claim to the title of greatest MMA fighter in history, who is on the longest win streak in UFC ever, lives in fear of someone with exactly one win over a Top-10 middleweight? C'mon, son.
Silva, Ed Soares, and their crew have long made a practice out of publicly denying he wants a fight with whomever it is at any given moment that Dana White wants him to fight. Silva claiming he wants a matchup with Cung Le while ignoring Weidman is no different. We can speculate whether it's simply a negotiating ploy or if Silva simply playing games for the fun of it, but it is what it is.
As for who ultimately ends up with the next title shot: I feel Weidman is a potential future champion. I also feel giving him a title shot now is similar to when the UFC fed Georges St-Pierre to Matt Hughes too soon, which set GSP's career back about two years. If we use Edgar getting an immediate title shot as a former champion in his new, lower weight class as a guide, then I'd be fine with Evans getting the shot at Silva, provided he does what we expect him to do against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira on Saturday (cue predictable "And if he loses, he can get an immediate shot at Cain Velasquez!!!!" joke here).
Evans is still a top draw and a headliner, and he's still in his prime, even if it's the back end of his prime. But he's also not likely to get another light heavyweight title shot any time soon. So a drop down to 185 pounds not only would create one of the year's biggest-drawing fights with Silva, it would also give Weidman time to take another fight or two coming off his injury and continue honing his game.
Hating on ratings
@dashamas3000: Can we stop talking about UFC ratings? Its clear that the ratings have peaked.
MMA ratings analyses serve a purpose. Our own Dave Meltzer is pretty much the Godfather of MMA TV ratings. The difference between Dave (who started with this sort of thing analyzing pro wrestling TV ratings going back about 30 years) and the rest is that Dave has mastered the art of taking the ratings and putting them in big-picture context, while so many others simply throw the numbers against the wall without rhyme or reason. Example? Those who tried to use UFC on FOX 4's low ratings in August as proof the company was on an irrevocable decline, when anyone with a handful of functioning brain cells could see that going head-to-head with the Olympics meant one-night's worth of bad ratings. Those people have been pretty quiet since the last couple UFC on FOX ratings came in.
Then, add in the degree to which ratings are broken down these days: By specific demographics, by quarter-hour -- heck, I think I've seen minute-by-minute breakdowns -- and that basically invites anyone with an agenda to pick and choose which ratings to emphasize and which ones to ignore.
So yeah, dashamas, I totally get where you're coming from. When I see someone drone on and on that, say, Bellator is destined failure because they did terrible ratings from 10:30-10:45 among widows aged 77-84 with two or more cats, then my eyes glaze over, too.
But people click on these stories, which is why every MMA site has them. And the fact all eyes are on both Bellator in the new time slot and the revamped TUF means they're not going away any time soon. My advice? Stick to Meltzer, the original and still the best.
Hoop it up
@pcusick13 In an MMA media basketball game, who do you want taking the last shot for your team in a tie game?
Helwani, but only if he's wearing those sneakers he sported on UFC on FOX 6 fight week, which I assume give him magic powers. Otherwise, I'd place a prop bet on a scoreless tie through several overtimes until they're finally kicked off the court.