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Twitter Mailbag: Talking Mir to Strikeforce, Anderson Silva's Superfight Hopes, More

Photo by Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Photo by Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

It’s Twitter Mailbag time again, and this time we have plenty of questions about Strikeforce’s heavyweight shakeup, the UFC’s recent run of bad luck, Anderson Silva's superfight prospects, and who I would choose to be my purely hypothetical cornermen.

Got a question of your own? Fire up the Twitter and head to @BenFowlkesMMA. I’ll be there waiting, watching, silently judging. But first, on to this week’s questions.

Steve_Indigo @Steve_Indigo
@benfowlkesMMA what does Mir gain by going to strikeforce?

You mean besides a paycheck? Well, he gets a chance to face a top heavyweight with a lot of momentum. He gets a fight that, should he win it (and I don’t think he will, though he probably disagrees), will put him right back in the conversation at the top of the division. He also gets to ingratiate himself to his employers, who really needed a big name heavyweight willing to move over and do a one-night-only engagement in Strikeforce. When you consider what his other options look like after a throttling at the hands of the UFC heavyweight champ, this is about the best he could hope for at this stage of his career. Again, I think he’s probably in for a rough night against Daniel Cormier, who presents a bad style match-up for Mir. But even if he loses, he goes down to a former Olympian who just beat Josh Barnett. That’s still better than starting over against some mid-level heavyweight who offers far more risk than reward.

Ryan Young @YoungRyan4
@benfowlkesMMA Okay, so Daniel Cormier gets Frank Mir. Josh Barnett gets... #TMB

I texted Mr. Barnett asking him this very question just for you, Ryan. His response: "I get busy son." Yeah, that’s pretty much how it goes when you try to get a straight answer out of Barnett.

John Brinkman @jtbrinkman
@benfowlkesMMA Does Shayna Baszler have a shot, or does Sara McMann take it walking away? #twittermailbag

With Baszler’s experience, she certainly has a shot in the Invicta main event. I just don’t think it’s a great shot, which is why my money’s on McMann this Saturday night. I mean that figuratively, of course. Literally, my money is an old Star Wars lunchbox buried in my backyard.

sam mills @gingerballs2
@benfowlkesMMA what the heck is a esophageal spasm? Any chance of Swick picking his career back up ? #mailbag

The way Mike Swick explained it to me once, it’s an intense pain that makes him feel like he’s having a heart attack for several hours. The medical treatments he tried didn’t work, but now he says he’s controlling it with diet and has finally found a way to get the nutrition that a pro fighter needs. As for what he’ll look like after 910 days out of action, I have no idea. But if it’s possible to will oneself back to the elite level after so long out of action, Swick is the guy with the character and the work ethic to do it.

Punk Curmudgeon @punkcurmudgeon
.@benfowlkesMMA how does TRT compare to "the Juice" in side effects and direct effect? #TMB

Having used neither, I have to take the endocrinologists I’ve spoken to at their word when they say that, if you could use anything, testosterone would be the preferred substance because it is just as effective, acts quickly, and carries fewer side effects than stuff like Stanozolol. The problem with testosterone, or so they tell me, is that once you start using it regularly your body stops producing its own testosterone. It will start up again in time, once you’re off the synthetic stuff, but it takes a little while.

sonnysaggese @sonnysaggese
@benfowlkesMMA What has a better chance of happening? Pacquiao Mayweather or GSP vs Silva?

I like the chances of a GSP-Silva fight coming together for two reasons: 1) neither of them is in jail right now, or likely to be placed there any time soon, and 2) the same things that makes the UFC an overbearing presence in the lives of MMA fighters at times also makes it uniquely capable of putting together the big, difficult fights. Boxing doesn’t have that. In boxing, the superstars are promotions unto themselves, and they find plenty of infuriating ways to avoid cooperating. The UFC might occasionally flash a dictator’s zest for total freaking control, but the upside of that (for fans, at least) is that the UFC is generally quicker to make the fights that people want to see.

Who’s going to tell Floyd Mayweather what to do? If he decides he doesn’t like it, he’ll just go find a different promoter. Anderson Silva doesn’t have that luxury, which seems both good and bad, sometimes all at once. Silva’s camp seems to think that a superfight with Georges St-Pierre is a good idea, and GSP has professed some support for that in the past. Even if they didn’t like it, Dana White could keep adding zeroes to their paychecks and pressuring them in public until they gave in. No one really has that leverage in boxing, for better or worse (but mostly worse).

Barry Williams @vamtnhunter
@benfowlkesMMA Who would your hypothetical corner men be? I mean, besides KEITH FLORIAN?

I’d definitely want Joe Warren in my corner, because I love his enthusiasm. I also love the non-specific advice he typically shouts at Scott Jorgensen, such as, "Put your hands on him, Scotty!" Helpful? Maybe not, but still fun. Then, just to balance things out, I’d also bring in Greg Jackson, because there should be at least one person in my corner talking to me in a calm, high school guidance counselor voice. And, you know, giving real advice. Lastly, I’d bring in my podcast co-host Chad Dundas. Mostly because I think he’d get a real kick out of seeing the dynamic that unfolds between the other two.

Jose Paulo @ZePaulo85
@benfowlkesMMA I see DW complaining about refs and judges on a weekly basis, who's responsibility is it, ultimately, to fix this problem?

If the various athletic commissions are actually going to regulate and oversee this sport, rather than simply pretend to, then it should be on them to make sure they have competent refs and judges. The trouble is, there are many different commissions, with different budgets and different levels of experience in dealing with combat sports. Some are far more capable than others. Some might as well not even exist.

White can complain all he wants, but he doesn’t have control over which refs and judges are hired by the commissions, nor should he. If anything, blasting Steve Mazzagatti as often as he does only ensures that commissions will keep bringing him back, because to keep him out would create an appearance of collusion between commission and promoter. Ideally, we’d have an independent international or, at the very least, a national body that regulates MMA and chooses/evaluates judges and refs. Sadly, we don’t have that, and we’re not making much progress toward it. For now, the athletic commissions are the best we have, and we need them to get better.

Dylan Lippincott @dylanlip
@benfowlkesMMA do you see jones Henderson even being competitive. Jones dominated shogun and Hendo had hard time with him. #tmb

Jon Jones deserves to be the heavy favorite, but as long as Dan Henderson is awake I’m not going to write him off. He can wrestle and he can swat and those two attributes alone make him a man who deserves to be taken seriously. That said, the greatest threat to Jones’s title reign is still Jones himself. If he shows up motivated, prepared, and free from outside distractions, I think he puts Hendo away in the later rounds.

Jared @Orderx7
@benfowlkesMMA If you were in charge of the @UFCONFOX deal, what would you do differently to spark interest to the "casual" fan? #tmb

In a perfect world, I’d put bigger, better fights on the FOX cards and hope that the short-term loss in pay-per-view revenue paid off in a long-term popularity surge. Of all the UFC on FOX events so far, the only one to feature a fight that could have served as a legitimate pay-per-view headliner was the heavyweight championship fight between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos. And that wasn’t even a true UFC on FOX event, but rather a little preview of what was to come. Except that it wasn’t a preview, because every network TV event since then has been noticeably lacking in star power and title fights. How excited does the UFC really expect casual fans to get about contender fights on cards that are just slightly better than the old Spike TV fight nights? I realize there are obstacles to putting title fights and pay-per-view draws on free TV, but I thought the FOX deal was supposed to be a game-changer. If you want to attract new fans, shouldn’t you be offering them your best stuff?

Johnny Bravo @JohnnyB91135352
@benfowlkesMMA Why should Bisping be considered for a title shot? Look at his record, he hasn't beaten a single person in the top 10. #TMB

I hear this criticism a lot when it comes to Michael Bisping. Whenever he starts asking for a title shot, people want to know who he’s beaten. But when you put that question to Bisping, he responds with: ‘Who have I lost to?’ In his time as a UFC middleweight, he’s been knocked out by Dan Henderson (who’s now the number one contender at light heavyweight) and dropped two very close decisions to Wanderlei Silva (now a moneyweight) and Chael Sonnen (who’s had two middleweight title shots in the last two years). You have to admit, that’s not a bad list.

I agree that, as of now, Bisping has not earned a shot at Anderson Silva. But if he beats Brian Stann, who is a top-ten middleweight, that could change everything.

Kennen @Kennen_MMA
@benfowlkesMMA Silva's camp said no opponent makes sense for Silva right now. Unless its a catchweight with GSP. Is he intimidated by Jon J?

If he’s not, he probably ought to be. If I was an aging MMA legend closing in on 40, I’m not sure I’d be in any hurry to match skills with a bigger, younger phenom like Jones. At the same time, it does undermine his position to insist that GSP pack on the pounds for a superfight when Silva clearly has no desire to do the same. Right or wrong, I think we’re far more likely to see an eventual showdown between Silva and GSP than Silva and Jones. In the meantime, Silva and his camp should stop trying to play matchmaker and take a fight with Chris Weidman, assuming the UFC has the good sense to make it.

Max de Vries @MaxWdeVries
@benfowlkesMMA Is Mir fighting Cormier the definitive end of Strikeforce? (TMB question of zourse)

It’s the definitive end of the Strikeforce heavyweight division, and thank God for that. As for the rest of the organization, I'd be as content as anyone to see it fold up and send its fighters over to the UFC, but I don't think we're there yet.

Matt Giesbrecht @MattGiesbrecht
@benfowlkesMMA In an title fight between Jake Shields and Hector Lombard for Failing To Live Up To The Hype, who's the pound-for-pound king?

Tough question. Shields has had more time to underwhelm us in the UFC, but then, did he really come in with that much hype? Didn’t we already know what Shields was all about, based on his last few Strikeforce fights, and didn’t he more or less just continue down that path in the UFC? On the other hand, Lombard definitely had some serious hype as a fast-paced finisher, and he didn’t even come close to living up to it against Boetsch. But then, it’s just one fight. Shouldn’t he be given another chance before we write him off as a product of false advertising?

I vote yes, which means until we see more of Lombard, we have to conclude that Shields has been the bigger disappointment. With a title fight that didn’t go his way, followed by the sudden passing of his father, he had a rough year in 2011. Maybe we should cut him some slack and wait to see what develops. But so far, there’s not much to get hyped about when you look at his UFC run.

Nick Raymond @NickolasRaymond
@benfowlkesMMA #tmb If Strikeforce still exists when Melendez & Rockhold's contracts run out, what are the chances they go to Bellator?

Here’s the big problem for Gilbert Melendez and Luke Rockhold, or at least here’s one of them: say their contracts do expire while Showtime is still in Strikeforce business. They can’t go to the UFC, so say they start negotiating with Bellator. Even though they’re both great fighters, at that point they won’t have the best negotiating position. Bellator knows what the situation is. It knows that neither of them really wants to be in Strikeforce, and yet can’t go the UFC. That cuts down the potential suitors, which probably decreases the value of the offers from all sides. In that case, Bellator’s best selling point might be that it won’t tell you who you can and can’t sign with once your contract is up.

Terry Shillito @TerryShillito
@benfowlkesMMA #TMB UFC should be on every sat. night. Why cant the MMA media agree with this? It would still be less than MLB/NFL/NBA.

How anyone could look at the diminished quality of recent UFC events and not conclude that the organization is already spreading its talent too thin is beyond me, but okay, I’ll take the bait. You know one big difference between the team sports leagues you just mentioned and the UFC? The others have off-seasons. MMA doesn’t. Another difference? Those leagues don’t have business models that rely on convincing fans to pay $50 a pop to watch them on TV.

You also have to consider that the NFL, for example, has 32 teams, each with a 53-man roster. That’s 1,696 professional football players, not counting the practice squad guys. The UFC usually only carries somewhere around 300+ fighters on its roster. If you want, say, 50 events a year, each with ten fights, that means the UFC would have to make 500 fights each year. With two men to a fight, each fighter would have to fight around three times a year, which sometimes just isn’t possible, due to injuries and illnesses and, you know, life. To do what you suggest would necessitate either a major roster expansion (and let’s not forget that MMA is still a relatively new sport, without colleges feeding it talent the way they do for the NFL) or else a dream world in which no fighter ever pulls out injured or sick.

My point is, more is not always better. We want to see good MMA, with good MMA fighters. And if fans are being asked to pay premium prices for it, they’re going to demand a premium product in return. Diluting the product will only dilute the overall interest level, and that’s bad for everybody, from fighters to promoters to those of us who make a living covering this sport.

Matthew Goldstein @mgold86
@benfowlkesmma TMB Q: At what point should the UFC cancel a fight card? UFC 149 probably hurt its brand more than canceling would have.

Say I’m putting on a play. I put up posters, stand on the street corner shouting about tickets, and do a bunch of interviews telling reporters how great my play is going to be. Then, right before it’s supposed to start, I look out from behind the curtain and see that only a handful of people have showed up. I decide maybe it’s not worth it, plus one of my actors is sick and I was going to have to use an understudy anyway. Screw it, I say. Play’s canceled. We’ll try it again when conditions are more ideal. My question to you is, how many people do you think will show up the next time?

Canceling an event should be a last resort. It enrages the people who did buy tickets, and tells potential future customers that there’s at least a chance that they’ll be clearing their calendars and shelling out their hard-earned dough for nothing. As my actor friend Sir Nigel Longstock once told me, "The show must go on, unless the police come in and arrest everybody five minutes before curtain." I’m sure there’s a situation where the UFC might be forced to cancel an event, but a few injuries and some last-minute fight card reshuffling shouldn’t be reason enough to give up. Better to deliver what you promised, or at least give it your best shot, then to quit in advance and sow the seeds of doubt in the minds of your fans.

The UFC’s Calgary debut didn’t go so well. We all know that. Some of that was due to injuries and general bad luck. Some of it was poor performance. Some of it might have been due to the UFC’s crazy schedule this year. But the UFC did the best it could with what it had on the night of the event, and that was the right choice. Maybe some fans went home angry, and maybe some won’t buy a ticket the next time the UFC comes to town. But I don’t think those people would have been more pleased if the UFC had declined to even give it a shot just because it didn’t like the hand it had been dealt.