Well, that was something, wasn't it? Three UFC cards in eight days. Thirty-five fights in all. Some historic (Anthony Pettis' UFC lightweight title victory over Benson Henderson); some establishing title contenders (like Joseph Benavidez at flyweight); some just flat-out awesome fights (Carlos Condit vs. Martain Kampmann; Rafael Natal vs. Tor Troeng); and some we'd rather forget (like most of Wednesday's prelim fights).
No wonder you woke up Thursday morning feeling like you had some sort of MMA hangover.
There's plenty to dissect here, so let's get right into Fightweets.
Will Glover give Jones a battle?
@RyanBafo: did Glover's performance against Bader make you believe he has any chance against Jones?
But based on available evidence, a puncher's chance seems to be all Teixeira has against the UFC light heavyweight champion. We have to go on what we've seen. Teixeira hasn't exactly faced a murderer's row at light heavyweight. In fairness, this is because in large part, several name fighters wanted little to do with him. But still, we have to go on what we saw. While that rock ‘em, sock ‘em robots fight against Fabio Maldonado was fun, does anything about it scream "future champion?" Is Jones (yeah yeah, I know, ... Jones or Alexander Gustafsson) going to come wildly charging in at Glover, the way Ryan Bader did Wednesday night? No and no.
Jones isn't likely to want to fight one of the contenders he's already defeated, especially since none of them have really made the case for a title shot. Given that, ideally, we'd see Teixeira fight Phil Davis in a title eliminator.
But Jones (or Gusty) vs. Glover it is. And hey, you can take Teixeira's record and make a sellable case to the casual fans: The 20-fight win streak, clips of some of his nastiest punches, the tie-in to Chuck Liddell's old camp at The Pit, and so on. At this point, you have to get creative if you want the fans to believe someone can challenge Jones at 205.
@omaresco02: Are Frank Mir and Ryan Bader in danger of being cut?
This is going to seem like an unrelated tangent at first, but stick with me, here: Was there ever a result in which the assumptions coming out of the fight were more wrong than Brandon Vera's first-round knockout of Mir at UFC 65? At the time, Vera improved to 9-0, was openly talking about going after both the heavyweight and light heavyweight titles (granted, the champs at the time were Tim Sylvia and Chuck Liddell, not Cain Velasquez and Jones, but still) and this talk was taken seriously. Mir, meanwhile, had dropped two of three after his return from his motorcycle accident, and the win was a listless victory over Dan Christensen.
Think about that for a second. In 2006, Brandon Vera was going to be a two-division champion, and Frank Mir was kaput. Mind-boggling.
Where this ties back into today, is, the UFC has long been loyal to Mir, who's been a good company man. He's the longest-tenured fighter on the roster for a reason. They could have easily given up on Mir after the Vera fight, but instead, Mir submitted Antoni Hardonk, then had his career-making win over Brock Lesnar, and you know the rest from there.
Which is why I wasn't even slightly surprised to hear on Thursday night that Mir will face Overeem at UFC 167. This makes a ton of sense. Let's see if Mir can hang with a fearsome striker; let's see how Overeem, with his sudden tendency to fade and make fatal errors, does against someone whose biggest wins have come off pouncing on big mistakes. Winner stays, loser hits the road.
As for Bader, I think it's too soon to think about cutting him. But I think we've got a pretty solid read on him and his ceiling as a fighter. He's a capable enough competitor, but consistently, against his best opposition, he's gotten reckless and those opponents have made him pay. His four career losses have come to three former light heavyweight champions and the guy in line for the next shot. So it's not like he's losing to scrubs, here.
Maybe Bader needs a new camp and a change of approach. That's for him to decide. Either way, it's too soon to swing the ax.
Muscle Shark swims away
@RuckerYeah: Thoughts on Sean Sherk's career?
The funny thing about Sherk, who announced his retirement this week, is that his career is basically judged from 2006 onward, even though his lightweight stint only represented the final handful of bouts in a 41-fight career which dated back to the pre-Unified Rules days.
Sherk started his career on a hell of a run, going 19-0-1 in his first 20 fights, with his biggest bouts coming as an undersized welterweight. The unbeaten run didn't end until he basically lost to a bigger version of himself in Matt Hughes in a title fight at UFC 42. Even then, the fact he took Hughes the distance was noteworthy.
But it's also understandable why the tail end of Sherk's career is best remembered. He was smart enough to drop to lightweight when the UFC finally decided to fill the vacant title and won at UFC 64 against Kenny Florian (Tangent: That was the same night Anderson Silva beat Rich Franklin to win the middleweight title. Two new champs on one night at a time when there were only five UFC weight classes basically made for a seismic evening at Mandalay Bay).
Then things went all downhill from there. Remember the UFC 73 preview show, where Sherk showed off, on camera, the vast multitude of supplements he took? Yeah, maybe not the smartest move. He beat Hermes Franca (which should give you an indication of divisional depth at the time), then popped for steroids, which makes him, to this date, the most recent UFC champ to be stripped of his title for testing hot. Then it was sort of all downhill from there. B.J. Penn whupped him; Sherk reportedly ran from the MGM in his fight shorts in frustration after losing to Frankie Edgar at UFC 98, and then he basically faded from the scene.
Maybe Sherk's career trajectory -- a stellar early career few people saw, a late-career title reign which ended with a big asterisk, then out with a whimper -- wasn't ideal. But on the whole, he accomplished more than most and he spared us all a slow, painful, Tito Ortiz-like downfall. That's got to count for something.
Bellator vs. UFC
@ynneKrepmats: if you could match up one Bellator champ with one UFC champ of the same weight class, what match up would you make?
Interesting thought. For the hell of it, let's go through what those matchups would look like: Cain Velasquez vs. Alexander Volkov; Jon Jones vs. Attilah Vegh; Chris Weidman vs. Alexander Shlemenko; Georges St-Pierre vs. Ben Asken; Anthony Pettis vs. Michael Chandler; Jose Aldo vs. Pat Curran; and Dominick Cruz or Renan Barao vs. Eduardo Dantas.
So, for those of you who didn't immediately click off the page at the mere mention of the notion of Jones vs. Vegh and are still with me: I'm not analyzing the entire lineup. Askren, Curran, and Chandler are pretty well acknowledged as Bellator's best champs.
I'm not sold on Askren yet. I think the UFC's top tier of GSP, Hendricks, and Condit have little trouble with him. I think Curran would make an Aldo fight fun right up until the moment Aldo decided it was time to end things.
By default, this leaves us with Pettis vs. Chandler. I'm as high on Chandler as anyone. I think he's got the raw skills and potential to reach the very top. He's got the right camp to bring him along, too, in Alliance. It's just that we don't have enough evidence against elite lightweights, other than one win over Eddie Alvarez, to figure out how far he's really progressed at this point. I'd love to see Chandler fight a Josh Thomson or a Rafael dos Anjos and see how far he's come along. I think Pettis handles Chandler at this point.
But based on the remainder of the matchups, which range from semi-plausible to flat-out farcical, Pettis-Chandler is the best answer to your question.
Where does Bendo rank?
@sigep422wesg: if Ben wins Saturday, will he be considered "1 of the GREATEST LIGHTWEIGHTS OF ALL TIME?"
OK, this one is obviously a leftover from last week. But I think it merits a reply anyway. Even with the loss to Pettis at UFC 164, Henderson has already earned the right to be to be considered among the great 155ers of all-time. B.J. Penn seems to get the nod for No. 1. Takanori Gomi and Jens Pulver set the standard in the early days. All in all, Henderson's run has been pretty remarkable. He's fought 14 times in Zuffa. His only losses in the WEC and UFC are to Pettis. Otherwise, he scored 12 wins over 10 different opponents during an era in which his division was the deepest in the sport. That absolutely earns him mention among the division's all-time greats.
And, who knows? It's not like Bendo's on the downside of his career. If he fights his way back to a title shot and wins -- Dana White has made it pretty clear he's not in a rush to give him another shot -- then he might have a claim for No. 1 before all is said and done. That's a big "if," with Pettis in the way, but it's not out of reach.
Face the pain, face the paaaaaain!
(Note: The following wasn't submitted for Fightweets, but broke out on my Twitter timeline Wednesday and it's my column, so hey ...)
@davedoylemma If I die and go to hell, I'm pretty sure Face the Pain will play for all of eternity ...
@wrestlinpanda: with Kimbo vs Houston playing on repeat on every TV down there
@damonmartin: Could be worse - could be Nickelback
@RicMMAriachi: RT @davedoylemma: If I die and go to hell, I'm pretty sure Face the Pain will play for all of eternity ... @5TEMM guess not lol
@5TEMM: Just remember...EVERYTIME #FaceThePain gets played, we get paid...EVEN IN HELL! Muhahahha ;D
Well, sure. Likewise, Poison and Warrant were still getting royalty checks in 1993 when everyone was listening to Nirvana, but that didn't make their music sound any less dated, either. But hey, I'll give STEMM credit for having a sense of humor about it, and as long as White remains a fan of the song (and hey, it's documented that he has an inner-ear disease), they'll keep laughing to the bank.
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