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Twitter Mailbag: Talking UFC on FOX 2, Hackers, Testosterone, and More

Chael SonnenWe're just one day away from the UFC on FOX 2 event in Chicago, but that wasn't all that was on people's minds in this edition of the Twitter Mailbag. From hacking concerns to supplemental testosterone -- even some requests for me to make impossible predictions -- you fine people flooded my Twitter with all kinds of crazy questions. In other words, it's a lot of fun.

Now let's get right down to it. Who's first?

@AFragileSmile what kind of ratings do you expect to see [for UFC on FOX 2]? The first had so much buzz while this one just feels like another show to me.

It's true that the first UFC on FOX event had more of a novelty value. It also had the words "heavyweight championship of the world!" repeated in ads on every FOX NFL and MLB playoff game for weeks. This one has more fights, but the stakes are a little harder to explain in a brief promo ("the fights to see who gets to fight in the more important fights later on!" doesn't quite ring out the same way).

For all those reasons, I don't expect this event to have the same ratings jump right out of the gate as the first show. The good news is, it will offer way more fighting and way less talking, which should lead to a gradual build-up in the audience -- especially if the first two fights deliver the action and get people talking. The first UFC on FOX show peaked with 8.8 million viewers during the only minute of MMA action. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see this one break 10 million by the time Rashad Evans and Phil Davis hit the cage.

@CRUMxMMA what are your predictions for the bonuses of the night?

Fight of the Night: Chael Sonnen outpointing Michael Bisping in a bloody three-round affair.
Submission of the Night: Demian Maia triangle choking Chris Weidman.
Knockout of the Night: Joey Beltran starching Lavar Johnson with one big punch. Or the other way around.

@GaryLaPlante Why would Dana challenge hackers? Does he not realize that holds CC information for the people who buy his product?

White's response to the hacking issue has been pretty tone deaf from the very beginning. He dismissed the legitimate concerns of actual UFC fans on Twitter when the site was initially hacked, and has now decided to double-down by daring the hackers to come after his site again, which, as you point out, might not play so well with the people who have entrusted the UFC with their confidential information.

It's a bigger issue than that, though. White says that there's no difference between illegally streaming a UFC pay-per-view and walking into a store and stealing a watch. But one difference is that, if I steal a watch, the person I stole it from doesn't have it anymore. They can't sell that watch to other people, can't recover the cost of the materials, nothing. The same isn't true with a pay-per-view broadcast. That's not to say it's a victimless crime -- ask the fighters who are getting a percentage of pay-per-view sales, for one thing -- but it is a different crime. If anything, it's probably more like sneaking into a movie without buying a ticket. That too is illegal, whether people think of it as a real crime or not. If you want to invoke the categorical imperative and get all Immanuel Kant on it, you'd have to admit that there would be no film industry (or at least no film industry with money for decent effects and costumes) if everyone did this. It's the same with the UFC...sort of.

One thing that hurts White's argument is the fact that pay-per-views aren't pay-per-views everywhere. Fans in some countries get them on cable TV, while others are asked to fork over $50 to see the same fight. That tells fans that pay-per-views don't necessarily have one single value, and that might be all the justification some people need to go ahead and stream that bad boy. Again, that's a problem. It's unfair to the UFC and its fighters, and something should be done about it. I just don't think that something is SOPA. I also don't think lawmakers are really considering reviving the most unpopular bill in recent memory all because the UFC's url was redirected for a few hours. And no, that's not terrorism. No one is terrified by not being able to access, and claiming otherwise is a straight-up insult to the victims of actual terrorism.

This? It's an annoyance. It's a misguided response to a misguided response to a genuinely complex and vexing problem that our society is going to have deal with eventually, but hopefully not like this.

@MikeOlenski_MMA do you personally believe TRT/HRT should be 100% banned in mma?

Absolutely, and for two reasons. 1) The whole idea behind banning steroids is to force fighters to compete with the hormones they have, rather than the hormones they want. 2) Even if we could determine who has legitimately low levels of testosterone, we can't determine how they got that way.

Reason #1 is more of the broad theory behind banned substances, but reason #2 is a practical concern that's no less troublesome. Say a fighter comes to the commission with a doctor's note citing low testosterone levels. How do we know if that's just the natural state of his body, or if he lowered his own testosterone levels through years of steroid abuse prior to this moment? We can't. All we know is that we're helping a man artificially increase the levels of a powerful hormone right before he gets into a cage to fight another human being for money. That's dangerous territory, and it opens the door for too many cheaters who are looking for a legal loophole.

@Macitaloo79 Anderson vs Sonnen 2; will it ever happen? And if so, would it fill a football arena?

I'm more concerned about Sonnen being able to get in and out of that soccer stadium alive (especially if he wins) than I am about the rematch drawing a sufficient crowd in Brazil. As for whether it will happen, well, we should know by Sunday morning. Sonnen says that Silva won't fight him even if he beats Bisping, but that's just more schtick. Silva will fight who the UFC tells him to fight, and the UFC knows how big a Silva-Sonnen rematch would be. But first, Sonnen has to do his part and prove that he's earned it.

@BIN6H4M should Nate Diaz really have to fight once more to get a crack at title? Edgar should fight both him and miller.

Look at it this way: regardless of who wins the Diaz-Miler fight at the UFC on FOX 3 event, we won't have to ask whether that person deserves a title shot. And regardless of who loses, we won't have to ask whether they were ready for a crack at the champion. A top contender bout answers all those questions, plus it's just good TV. You can't tell me you don't want to see those two fight.

@MMAOutsider Could this card lower FOX's hopes for UFC? Evans-Davis, Maia-Weidman could be slow, and Sonnen prob won't finish Bisping

This reminds me of Dana White's response when those of us in the media kept peppering him with questions about what he'd do if something like the Frank Mir-Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira arm break happened on a FOX fight. His response: Hey, this is what FOX signed up for. The same is true here, for better or worse.

Sometimes fights end right away, and sometimes they stretch on and on like a bad break-up. That unpredictability comes with the territory, and that's what FOX bought into. You can structure the match-ups any way you want, but you never know for sure what kind of show you're going to get. I have to think that FOX did its homework before making this deal and came to the conclusion that, sometimes, you don't get the fireworks you were expecting. Sometimes you get more. All you can do is put the guys in the cage and make the best out of what they give you. If FOX somehow doesn't know that yet, it'll learn soon enough.

@LuckyBestWash realistically, how does Bisping beat Chael?

I keep asking myself the same thing, and I'm not coming up with much. It seems extremely unlikely that Bisping could knock Sonnen out, and he's not known for submitting people off his back (or, you know, at all). So we have to ask ourselves: how does Bisping usually win fights? He does it by sticking and moving, by piling up the punches and staying out of the heavy exchanges, and by getting back to his feet on those occasions when he is taken down. Can he do all that against Sonnen, who's a much better wrestler than the likes of Chris Leben or "Mayhem" Miller? Doubtful, but not impossible.

@hurstje1 Question: Who is an up and coming, relatively unknown fighter that we should keep our eyes on? Who's the next star?

Finding the next "star," is more guesswork than analysis, but okay, I'll play along. There are a few guys worth watching right now. Nick Denis, the bantamweight who elbowed the follicles off of Joseph Sandoval in his UFC debut last week, is one. Stipe Miocic, the heavyweight who battered and outpointed Joey Beltran in his UFC debut, is another. I'd also keep a close eye on Khabib Nurmagomedov (who I will henceforth call "Nermal," after the Garfield character, thanks to a clever Twitter suggestion).

But you have to remember, it's one thing to have a ton of potential and raw ability, and another thing to actually pan out over the long run. If I've learned anything covering this sport, it's that long-term success is as much about character, work ethic, and even a little bit of luck as it is about pure ability.

@DanniaElizabeth Okay sir. In the very possible rematch of Sonnen and Silva, how do you see the fight going?

Honestly? I could see it going a lot like the first fight. As in, nearly identical. Sonnen will get in his face, get him to the mat, and generally turn it into the same messy affair that we saw the first time. And yes, I know that Silva had some injury troubles in that fight that may have kept him from being at his best, but I also know that he's a professional fighter in his late 30s. Injuries may be the new normal for him. The bigger question is, will Sonnen be able to avoid the same fatal mistake the second time around? On that one, I still have my doubts.

@Jtbrinkman if rashad wins, will Jon jones come in the cage to ruin his moment?

Yes, and hopefully he'll bring his meddlesome manager, Malki Kawa, who will throw salt in Evans' eyes, blinding him so that Jones and the rest of the Jackson's MMA crew can stomp him while Joe Rogan looks on in horror, muttering about what a sickening display this is. Just then, Dan Henderson's music will come blaring over the speakers as he sprints down to the Octagon just in time to have a bewildered Jones slip from his grasp and back into the depths of the locker room. Then it will be just Henderson and Evans, alone in the cage, staring at one another and sizing up this new unlikely alliance.

@MorganWaltz who do you see winning the Diaz/Condit fight and why??

I'm picking Diaz via sheer Diazness. He'll walk Condit down, absorb a ton of punishment in the process, and just keep coming and coming until Condit breaks in the later rounds. Afterwards, a bloody and nearly unrecognizable Diaz will give a meandering post-fight interview that leaves us all uncomfortable, confused, and a little sad for reasons we can't quite explain. Business as usual, in other words.

@Isaac_Frederico is it Phil Davis that looks like a being from another planet or is it just Rashad thats too earthly?

No, it's Davis. Just wait until this afternoon's weigh-ins. No one looks more like a 1940's comic book character on the scales than Davis. His physique simply doesn't seem like it should be physically possible, and yet there he is.

@GrauSteve Are there any relevant fights left for Fedor? Sadly, I heard a rumor about Lashley, hard to get excited for that.

Hard? Impossible is more like it. Sadly, this may be Fedor's reality now. He could have walked away with all the dignity of a former champ who found out the hard way that he just didn't have it anymore, but instead he chose to keep on keeping on against the Jeff Monsons and Satoshi Ishiis of the world. At least he's winning again, I suppose. Still, unless you're in the UFC, the options for big time heavyweight fights are very, very limited. Any opponent you can find is going to be one that the UFC has released or passed over, and usually there are good reasons for both.

@mthomf1 What's the most memorable reaction you've gotten from the subject of an interview/article after it was published?

Most of the time the fighters don't read the articles. Or at least they don't admit to it. Other times they seem to skim them in search of a mention of their sponsors or training partners or gyms, then seem baffled when I try to explain why those don't usually make the final cut.

As for memorable reactions, my 3,500-word piece on Daniel Cormier convinced him to finally follow me on Twitter, which I guess was something of an accomplishment. The story I did about driving around Vegas with Michael Bisping was one that I wasn't sure how he would take, since it outed him as an absolutely terrible driver and a bit of grump during his weight cut, but he seemed to think it was hilarious. After an article on Phil Davis where I described his friend and training partner, Jared Platt, as having "a bushy beard to offset the lack of hair on his head," a stone-faced Platt cornered me at the post-fight presser and rattled off that line verbatim before finally cracking a smile and admitting that it was sadly accurate. My story about an impromptu shopping expedition with Josh Barnett amused him so much it resulted in a sweaty post-fight hug that I pretty clearly said I didn't want, but got anyway.

Have there been some less gracious responses over the years? Sure, but those are definitely the exception rather than the rule. Fighters generally appreciate that a writer's job is to call it like he sees it. Even if they don't, most have better things to do than read about themselves on the internet. Their managers, however? Those guys are a different story. One for another time.