The ongoing argument over the next welterweight title shot. The continuing fallout from the UFC's signing of CM Punk. The class-action lawsuit against the UFC filed by veteran fighters. Oh, and what to make of Saturday night's main event between Lyoto Machida and C.B. Dollaway.
There is no lack of discussion points in the mixed martial arts world as we barrel toward the holiday season, so let's jump right into another edition of Fightweets.
Does Johny Hendricks or Rory MacDonald deserve the next shot at Robbie Lawler?
@Mixoatlus: Why is Hendricks, who has gone 1-2 in his last 3 fights, getting an immediate rematch?
C'mon now. Yes, it's technically accurate that Johny Hendricks is 1-2 in his last three fights. But he was jobbed in the decision against Georges St-Pierre at UFC 167, and the UFC welterweight title loss to Robbie Lawler this month was razor-thin and could have gone either way. It's not like he was knocked out by unranked fighters or anything.
Anyway, Rory MacDonald has been told he won't be getting the next title shot after all, even though he had been previously been promised the winner of the Hendricks-Lawler bout at UFC 181.
That brought about quite an uproar among both fans and media. Funny thing about that last part, though: In the wake of UFC 181, every single MMA media rankings poll of note had Lawler No. 1, Hendricks No. 2, and MacDonald No. 3 at welterweight. That goes for us here at SB Nation. Same with Sherdog. And ESPN. And MMAJunkie. MacDonald's also behind Lawler and Hendricks in the UFC rankings.
Universally ranking MacDonald behind Hendricks is a funny way of expressing the opinion MacDonald deserves a title shot ahead of Hendricks.
It's not like there's a mitigating circumstance like there is at lightweight, where most consider Khabib Nurmagomedov the top contender to Anthony Pettis, but injuries could give the next shot to Rafael dos Anjos.
Hendricks and Lawler are basically deadlocked at five rounds apiece after 10 rounds of fighting (give or take a round in either direction, depending on how you scored their bouts). If this was best-of-five or best-of-seven, it's not difficult to imagine having to go to the distance.
It's been cited that Lawler had to win a couple fights to get back into position for a title shot. But what about the flip side? Hendricks' next fight after defeating Lawler back in March was ... a rematch with Lawler. Why shouldn't Hendricks be afforded the same courtesy, especially where the second fight was even closer than the first?
And while the Hendricks-Lawler fights have done good-but-not-blockbuster business, there's zero evidence MacDonald is a pay-per-view draw, so let's not pretend like the UFC is skipping over someone with a track record of GSP-level buyrates.
All that said, anything can happen between now and whenever Lawler, who has asked for some time off after a busy couple years, gets back into the cage. I'm not going to complain if this still ends up with Lawler defending his title against MacDonald. These guys are clearly the top three fighters in the division (at least as long as GSP sits out) and there isn't much separating them. MacDonald will have his time. Hendricks just has a slightly better case at the moment.
Lyoto Machida vs. C.B. Dollaway
@RuckerYeah: Does Dollaway have any chance of winning? And where does Machida go next if he wins?
I'll say this much: C.B. Dollaway has earned his opportunity to compete in a main event and test himself against one of the big boys. This is a guy who has been plugging away in the UFC since The Ultimate Fighter Season 7. He's won four of his past five, and that one loss, a split decision against Tim Boetsch, arguably should have gone his way. It's a moment of truth for the Power MMA fighter and he's earned his position the old-fashioned way. He finally gets it when he meets up with Machida on Saturday in the main event of UFC Fight Night 58 in Brazil.
That said, I'd be pretty surprised if Dollaway pulls off the upset. I've wanted to see Machida vs. Luke Rockhold all along. We're being run through this exercise of Rockhold vs. Michael Bisping and Machida vs. Dollaway. As soon as the fights were announced, most people who have been watching MMA longer than a day pictured Rockhold smoking Bisping and Machida wearing down Dollaway's patience until he charges right into a knockout. The first half of that has already happened.
The rationale behind keeping Machida away from the likes of Rockhold is that you don't want to kill off a potentially sellable contender to Chris Weidman's title. But, umm, isn't beating a veteran contender the whole point of proving yourself worthy of a top slot? If Rockhold can't beat Machida, why would he deserve a shot at the title?
If Machida wins on Saturday, hopefully they won't waste any more of the 36-year old's remaining window as a viable contender on another "keep busy" fight.
The UFC lawsuit
@brewski4broski: Any chance in the lawsuit that the UFC is forced to release their PPV numbers/profits?
@MMAFAN4LIFE: What do you think the outcome will be from the fighters suing @ufc?
First off, allow me to offer the same caveat many of my better colleagues have offered in recent days: I'm no legal scholar and won't pretend to be.
And as an aside, wasn't it amusing watching so many brand-new legal experts come out of the woodwork on Twitter earlier this week? And how their scholarly, 140-character legal conclusions happened to coincide whether they love or hate the UFC? The lawsuit is the ultimate MMA Roarscach test, one in which you can find the big, evil UFC meanies exposed, or disgruntled has-beens lashing out, or whatever you'd like to find in it.
But I digress.
There are, of course, those who know of what they speak: Michael McCann's piece on SI.com is a thorough and detailed breakdown. And my friend Todd Martin, who writes MMA for the LA Times and Sherdog, comes from a legal background. You should give him a follow at @ToddMartinMMA.
The betting line, such as it were, seems to be that while winning the suit could be an uphill battle, the litigation's discovery process could put the UFC in the position of having to disclose the sort of inside info it's long kept under lock and key. Zuffa could decide to settle to make it all go away, rather than open their books.
This could be revolutionary litigation which forever alters the landscape of the business, or it could be a whole lot of noise about nothing. Sorry not to take a stand either way, but it's really too soon to claim with authority what all this means.
@MacPherson9999: What do they do with Cejudo now? If he makes it to flyweight, how long til we see him vs. @MightyMouseUFC?
Henry Cejudo sure looked like he could handle himself at 135 pounds last weekend against Dustin Kimura, didn't he? It's not often we see someone from such a deep wrestling background look like such a well-rounded striker so early into his MMA career.
Cejudo is intent on going down to 125, despite his well-documented troubles doing so up until this point. If he wants it that badly, I'd say give him a shot, with the understanding that he's going to have to accept another Fight Pass-level prelim fight, something that won't wreak much havoc on the card if the cut goes wrong.
From there, well, we've still got a way to go before we throw him into the cage with champion Demetrious Johnson, considering we're talking about a fighter most have ranked somewhere between 3 and 5 on the pound-for-pound list and Cejudo has exactly one UFC fight under his belt. But I understand why you're asking the question. DJ is lacking in sellable contenders whom he hasn't already beat, and Cejudo's already ahead of the curve in terms of name recognition and fan interest. But let's see him consistently hit 125 and put together a string of wins over UFC-caliber competition before we put that fight together.
The Ballad of Dana and Ben
@TweetDenmn: Why in the hell Dana keep playing games about @BenAskren?
Are you new to this whole MMA thing, Tweet? In some ways it's more newsworthy when Dana White doesn't respond to verbal bait than when he does. Askren has been trolling White, and trolling him, and trolling him some more. In doing so, he's succeeded in raising his profile more than any of his fights in Bellator or OneFC ever did or will.
As for why White specifically responded this time around, Askren was among those who criticized the UFC for signing CM Punk. It's not too hard to understand why, given White basically said Askren hadn't earned his way into the UFC back when Askren was a free agent. Askren, of course, isn't the only fighter to criticize Punk. Among the more vocal, Nate Diaz did so last week, and Anthony Johnson questioned it on Twitter on Thursday. Friday, Dominick Cruz proclaimed Punk will "get eaten alive" in the Octagon. By going after Askren, a fighter not on the roster, White can use Askren as a proxy for fighters disgruntled about the Punk move without have to get into it publicly with someone actually on the roster. So this time around, at least, White served a purpose by responding to Funky Ben.
Next year's big fights
@Auggie85: Fight of the year for 2014 and most anticipated fight of 2015 (already announced)
Well, we at MMAFighting.com will release our annual year-end awards over the holidays, and I've been assigned Fight of the Year, so I'm just going to leave you with that tease for now. Check the site for that one late next week.
As for what I'm looking forward to most in the loaded early-2015 slate, I mean, how can you go with anything besides Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier? You've got what essentially amounts to two undefeated fighters (thanks in advance for the laugh, person who inevitably leaves a comment claiming Jones' DQ loss to Matt Hamill was legit), in a grudge match in which the two people involved legitimately don't like each other, and it is an absolute tossup of a fight. I haven't even come close to making a pick in this fight and won't until fight week.
And yes, I say this knowing that Anderson Silva vs. Nick Diaz is also on the early 2015 agenda. That fight's all sorts of awesome for many reasons. But it's basically the ultimate "fun fight," while Jones vs. DC is the most consequential and meaningful fight that's come together in years.
Got a question for a future edition of Fightweets? Go to my Twitter page and send me a tweet.