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Twitter Mailbag: Talking Rampage Jackson's UFC Beef, Gary Goodridge, and More

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

It’s time again for the Twitter Mailbag (or TMB, if you’re nasty). In this edition, we look at the bizarre turn of events involving "Rampage" Jackson and the UFC, Joe Warren’s rough night in Bellator, and much, much more.

If you have a question of your own, hit me up on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. And for those of you whose questions didn’t make it into the TMB this time, better luck next time. Now who’s first?

ATX Steve M @atxsteve17
do you agree with UFC giving rampage his last fight an not cutting him immediately after his poor comments?

Sure I do, for a couple of reasons. 1) If you work with "Rampage" Jackson for as many years as the UFC has, you probably know that what Jackson says today he won’t necessarily stand behind in a month or two. He’s an emotional guy, and prone to overreaction. So why not let him have the last fight on his contract, then, if he still wants to walk, thank him for the memories and wave goodbye? 2) If you’re the UFC, you probably don’t want to establish a precedent of letting fighters talk their way out of contracts. Why would you? You’d only be telling fighters that they could get free of a deal they didn’t like simply by badmouthing you in the press, which would probably only encourage more badmouthing.

I understand why many people -- including my colleague Mike Chiappetta, who wrote a great column about it -- think the UFC should grant Jackson’s wish and cut him now. That would be a satisfying short-term reaction, and you could argue that the UFC would be better off for it. At the same time, I can understand why the organization doesn’t want to reward its malcontents by giving them what they ask for whenever they ask loudly and obnoxiously enough.

Michael Venuti @Mvenuti4
do you think a featherweight move would be in pettis' best interest, and if so do you think that he would do well?

Could he do well at featherweight? Sure. Do I think he should make the drop? Definitely not. At least, not yet. What’s the rush? If keeps winning fights at lightweight, he’ll get his title shot. He might only have to win one more while he waits for the Ben Henderson Frankie Edgar situation to get sorted out. So why jump now? Anthony Pettis is 25 years old. He doesn’t need to flee the division where he’s done very well -- the same division where he already owns a prior win over the current champ -- just because he isn’t getting a title shot after a 2-1 stint in the UFC. It ain’t broke, is what I’m saying. So don’t go trying to fix it.

Michael Reveles @mjreveles
how do you score a takedown in a fight? Do you have to keep the opp down? Do Damage? Just make the guy trip, does that count?

I was recently talking with fellow MMA writer Chad Dundas at ESPN about this very topic. We both went back and took a look at the judging criteria in the unified rules and found ourselves wondering what would happen if that criteria was followed more rigorously. For instance, here’s what it says on the definition of "effective grappling":

"Effective grappling is judged by considering the amount of successful executions of a legal takedown and reversals. Examples of factors to consider are take downs from standing position to mount position, passing the guard to mount position, and bottom position fighters using an active threatening guard."

First of all, when’s the last time any fighter won a decision off his back, thanks to an active, threatening guard? Second, according to that definition, the takedown is a scoring move all by itself. By that definition, even if you take the guy down and he pops right back up ten seconds later, you’re still winning the battle for effective grappling.

Personally, I don’t think that’s a great idea, nor do I think it’s actually how judges score fights. I also think that scoring a takedown is tougher than we realize, especially when it doesn’t lead to anything significant once the fight hits the floor. If you take a guy down once, hold him there without hitting him or improving your position until the ref stands you up, did you just win the effective grappling portion of that round? How about if you do the same thing half a dozen times over the course of the round?

That’s a more complicated problem than what’s explained in the rules, which is partly how we end up with so many differing opinions on close fights.

Danny Chavez @Dchavez
if you had the ability to bring 1 non UFC fighter over to the UFC, who would that be?

Gilbert Melendez. That was an easy one.

Morgan Waltz @MorganWaltz
Since you’re currently suspended from The MMA Hour, have you considered starting your own show? Ben Fowlkes Ultimate MMA show.

After Ariel Helwani tried so desperately to disparage my name in Tokyo, I was in negotiations to get my own TV show in the Japanese market. Things were looking good for a little while, too. Sadly, the pilot we shot for "The Ben Fowlkes Super Terrific Hour of Most Honorable Fun" resulted in numerous injuries among audience members and guests alike, and most of our investors promptly pulled out. It’s a bummer, but what can you do? Same thing happened to Arsenio Hall.

Deadpanda @DeadpandaCP
What chances are you giving T. Silva against know who? I see it as a huge miss match stacked with ring rust.

I wouldn’t say it’s a huge mismatch, but I definitely don’t like Thiago Silva’s chances to come off the bench after more than a year out of action and be successful against a talent like Alexander Gustafsson (that is the guy you’re asking about, right?).

On paper, Silva’s a very tough fighter. His only two losses came against Rashad Evans and Lyoto Machida, which is respectable. At the same time, look at who he’s beaten. Keith Jardine? Houston Alexander? His best showing was probably against Brandon Vera, but that became a no contest after he tried to pass off some fake urine in the drug screening (note to the kids out there: it’s better to get popped using your real urine that it is to suffer the indignity of the NSAC catching you submitting a sample that is "inconsistent with human urine," which just sounds gross).

It’s not outrageous to think he could get Gustafsson down and dominate him there, but at the same time I don’t think it’s likely. Gustafsson is one of those fighters who you want to go back in a time machine and fight two years ago, when he still had a lot to learn. Now? That kid is dangerous. He’s probably even more dangerous if he’s your first fight back after more than a year and there are thousands of Swedes screaming at you.

Josh C @_allmyfriends
what would Sean McCorkle need to do to be back in the UFC?

Beat someone who matters. That’s easier said than done, of course. As a heavyweight, I realize it’s tough to even find an opponent outside of the Zuffa realm who really, truly matters. At the same time, are we supposed to be impressed when he runs up a nice win streak against fighters with records like 2-15 or 15-13? Sorry, but with all the good Strikeforce heavies coming into the UFC now, it’s going to take more than some clever smack talk and a bunch of wins over nobodies to get the UFC’s attention again.

James Hawkins @jmhawkins
you mentioned working on the Goodridge story affected you. Can you elaborate? Brilliant article too BTW. #TMB

I touched on this a little in my Sports Illustrated column this week, but basically what I meant was that it made me take a step back and wonder whether there wasn’t something just a little bit sick about watching people give each other brain damage as a form of entertainment. Obviously, Goodridge is an extreme case. Not only did he take far more punishment in kickboxing than most MMA fighters ever will, he also kept at both MMA and kickboxing long after he should have, and he admits it.

I don’t know if some of the fighters I’ve enjoyed watching and writing about over the years will end up dealing with the same problems that now plague Goodridge, but I can’t say it would surprise me. MMA fans and promoters like to point to sports like boxing and kickboxing and football and hockey and say, ‘See? This is much safer than that.’ And I think that’s true. Generally, particularly as it relates to the risks of brain trauma, MMA is safer.

At the same time, that doesn’t make it totally safe. No sport where you’re rewarded so handsomely for knocking another person unconscious really can be. Some of the fighters we’ve all loved probably have some bleak years ahead of them. If they’re allowed to continue past their athletic prime thanks to things like testosterone replacement therapy, that number will only increase. Many of them would say that they know and accept the risks, just as Goodridge says now that he’d do it all the same if he could. And that’s fine. I believe that the choice is theirs to make, just as I believe that the point of life is not to prolong it at all costs. If they want to trade tomorrow for today, that is their right. I just hope they realize what that trade actually entails. I hope we all do.

Justin Prejean @Filthy_Slunt
I wanted to see @JoeWarrenMMA get KO’d by @PatCurranMMA, until I saw him get knocked out. Any opinions on the ref’s stoppage?

That was hard to watch, especially in light of the Goodridge story. You hate to see a fighter take that many concussive blows -- so many of them unnecessary -- and all just six months after being brutally knocked out in another fight. We may not know everything there is to know about brain health, but we know that that’s probably bad. Some refs seem to think that as long as a fighter can still stand, you shouldn’t stop the fight. I disagree, and that fight showed why. I sure hope Warren takes some time off to recover before jumping back in the cage again.

Aron Gunningham @PureMMA
Do you think, like me, that Rampage is losing fans with his attitude of late? He's crazy to think he should fight elsewhere.

In some ways, I think that many "Rampage" Jackson fans are probably a lot like many Nick Diaz fans. That is to say, they like him because they like him, and there’s almost nothing he could do to drive them away. Still, I do think he overestimates the current market for a free agent MMA fighter. Where’s he going to fight if he leaves the UFC and burns his bridges with Zuffa? Who will possibly pay him as much, or give him the same exposure, the same opportunity to make so much in sponsor and endorsement deals, all while he’s clearly nearing the end of his best years as a fighter? Jackson comes with a lot of baggage, whether he realizes it or not. If he really jumps ship once his current contract is done, he might find that the water down there is colder than it looks.

Lee Futcher @Futch6
MAILBAG: What do you think of the 146 main card being all heavies? Do you think its a good or bad choice for fans and the UFC.

Let’s call it an interesting choice, and one not without its risks. When you load up a card with so many heavyweights, there’s always the chance that a few key injuries could derail the whole thing, and there’s a shortage of potential replacements to help keep it together. At the same time, why not try it? The UFC heavyweight division has probably never been deeper than it is right now, and fans love seeing the big boys throw them bungalows. It you don’t at least try to pull this off now, you might never know whether it would have worked.

Jason Rule @JasonRule
tmb? where has the cut list gone? In upcoming events who do you see needing a win Page, Danzig, Torres, Brown, Rothwell?

The Cut List hasn’t gone anywhere. It’s just that some fight cards are more Cut List-worthy than others. It’ll be back when the lineup of a future event calls for it. As for the second part of your question, obviously all those guys could use a victory (what fighter couldn’t?), but Ben Rothwell and Matt Brown could especially stand to notch a few more in the win column. Both are probably on the bubble right now, which is never a good place to be in the UFC.

Joshua Fitch @joshuafitch
if Roy Nelson falls to Bigfoot does he finally move to 205?

I hope not. As several fighters have pointed out in the past, a heavyweight who hovers around the six-foot mark is still going to be undersized at light heavyweight. It’s just that, at 205 pounds, the fighters are generally quicker and more athletic too. Nelson is better off staying where he is and looking to close some of the holes in his game. I think he can still hang with the big boys.

Brendan @CursedDiamonds
2 Qs. 1)Maia's weight drop:bad idea, or terrible idea? 2)Solo Amanda Palmer, or the Dresden Dolls?

1) I think Maia’s decision to drop to welterweight could be an instance of what I like to call The Fighter’s False Friend. It’s one thing to drop down because you’re getting dominated by bigger, stronger guys. But if you’re just losing fights because people have figured out your game and are out-performing you in the cage, I’m not sure a change in weight class is really going to cure what ails you. Look at Maia’s loss to Chris Weidman. Does anyone really think that it was the extra 15 pounds that doomed him there?

2) Solo. "Who Killed Amanda Palmer" is a spectacular album.

Mr. Cthulhu Kitten @cthulhukitten
does Lorenzo Ferttita's kind words about WMMA hint at the possibility of a UFC division or longevity of WMMA in Strikeforce?

I hope so. I’m definitely encouraged by what Fertitta had to say, and I think he’s right that matchmakers Joe Silva and Sean Shelby might really be able to do something with the women’s division. Those guys know what they’re doing, and they’re both fans of women’s MMA. The division could still use more depth, but I’m optimistic about its future now that Zuffa is getting behind it, at least on the Strikeforce side of things.

A Fragile Smile @AFragileSmile
You always write up articles on betting odds. Do you actually make bets? If so, are you on the plus or minus?

I do not make bets. I like money too much. I’ve also been covering this sport and watching the betting lines for long enough to know that betting on MMA is a bad idea. Or maybe I’m just no good at it. All I know is that, judging from my own record in various fight-picking endeavors, this sport is too unpredictable for me to want to risk my hard-earned money on my ability to see into the future. If you view it as a source of entertainment, knock yourself out. If you’re trying to consistently make money at it, I recommend a job instead.

Ben Larson @LenBarson
Does Nick Diaz actively fighting his suspension lead you to believe he might be reconsidering retirement?

I never believed he was really retired to begin with. Or maybe I just hoped he wasn't. Either way, I think we'll see him in the cage again sooner or later.

Gamil Karachiwala @GK0920
With the incident between Rousey and Tate and Curran and Warren, what would you suggest to improve referee decisions?

I think there’s more we can do to educate and evaluate referees, but human error is always going to be part of it. We’re never going to get the point in MMA where referees don’t screw up on occasion. That’s true of any sport. I mean, have you been watching the NCAA basketball tournament? The difference is, when MMA referees screw up people can really get hurt.

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