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Fightweets: Can Tito Ortiz deliver in his return fight?

Esther Lin

For a card which has been slagged and derided in so many corners as a waste of time and money, Saturday night's Bellator pay-per-view in suburban Memphis sure has kicked up a lot of conversation. So let's dive right into another edition of Fightweets, where we talk Bellator, Matt Brown, and an out-of-left-field topic or two.

Will Tito Ortiz fight be any good?

@dpop2: What do u think the odds are on who pulls out of fight first Tito or lil nog. I'm pulling for Tito

Wow, well, Tito's fight is about 12 hours from when this gets published, so that would really be something if Ortiz pulled out at this point, wouldn't it?

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But, since you mention Tito? I'm actually in the mood to play devil's advocate on the Ortiz-Shlemenko fight. Yes, Ortiz has allowed himself to become something of a punchline. But if we try to give him a fair hearing, this could be the card's sleeper fight.

Even on Ortiz's way down, as he kept losing fight after fight, very few of the bouts along the way were boring. Not only that, but three of his last four fights in the UFC earned bonuses: Fights of the Night against Forrest Griffin and Rashad Evans, and Submission of the Night for his win over Ryan Bader. That's against two former champs and one against a current Top 10 LHWer. It's not like he was getting knocked out by cans or something.

Granted, his last fight was two years ago, and that matters at his age, especially with his injury history and especially going up against a striker as lethal as Shlemenko.

I'm not predicting a fight of the year or anything even remotely close. Just a gut feeling that this will end up being the fight we're talking about come Sunday morning.

Should I buy it or not?

@RuckerYeah: Give me a good reason to buy this Bellator PPV on Saturday.

Rampage vs. King Mo. Why? Because this is one of the most deeply rooted grudge matches in MMA history. Rampage and Mo hate each other so much, you can barely even keep them in the same room together. I don't think we've seen this level of legitimate hatred in MMA since ...

(OK, I can't keep a straight face anymore. Just kidding. Wanted to make sure you're paying attention).

Look, if you've been following along with Fightweets over the past couple years, you know that it's something of a golden rule of mine that I don't tell anyone you should or shouldn't spend your money on anything. You work hard for your money, it's totally up to you to decide whether you want to spend it on a fight card, and it's not my place to judge whether you do or don't.

So, with that disclaimer ... Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler III is a fight I would have paid for if I wasn't doing this for a living and couldn't expense PPVs. It's the Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward of MMA, two guys who lifted one another in competition and carved out a little slice of history. The final chapter of the story would have been worth the price tag by itself.

Without it? Honestly, I'd be on the fence. It still an interesting evening in a hodgepodge sort of way. Chandler vs. Will Brooks is actually a fight I'd watch, or at least DVR, on a Friday night on Spike. Rampage vs. King Mo, for real, is a fight with big implications on both fighters careers. Particularly that of Mo, who just hasn't looked the same as a fighter since his staph infection. Tito Ortiz vs. Alexander Shlemenko, I discussed in the previous question. Blagoi Ivanov has a pretty remarkable backstory and is taking his next step. And YouTube sensation Michael Page steps up to his biggest spotlight yet.

So there's a mishmash of reasons. Are they good enough for you to hit the "buy" button? That one's your call.

Should I buy the Bellator PPV?

@MWierzba: What will Bellator have to pull in PPV wise to make this a successful attempt?

I tend to leave the specific PPV numbers talk to the master, our very own Dave Meltzer. But, two thoughts here: 1. Not having Alvarez vs. Chandler gives them a bit of a mulligan this time around. If they came out of their first PPV event with their strongest possible fight, and it tanked, what do you go to next? This time, assuming Brooks doesn't ruin the plans, if the numbers aren't hot, you can always go to Alvarez-Chandler next time out. 2. By focusing so heavily on Rampage and Ortiz, we're going to get a pretty accurate gauge of just how much of a certain segment of the hardcore fan base has stuck around: Will the anti-UFC fans who, say, filled up the Honda Center in Anaheim twice for Affliction events, who seemed to drop off in droves once Fedor Emelianenko retired, get a nostalgic twitch and order the show? That should give us our best indication once and for all whether Bellator's Ortiz/Rampage experiments were a good move.

@DrPhilosophical: Why isn't Evan Tanner in the UFC Hall of Fame?

This question does a serviceable job of encapsulating the flaws with the UFC Hall of Fame.

No disrespect to the deceased here, but my first inclination is to think no, Tanner wasn't a Hall of Famer. He was UFC middleweight champion, but he already had a lot of miles on the tires by the time he got here, his run on top was short, and became more pronounced when the 185-pound class gained some depth.

If you were using the general standards of the major pro sports Hall of Fame, Tanner is more like a player who had an All-Star year or two, but didn't produce at the highest level long enough to earn HOF honors.

But then you look at the things through the UFC Hall of Fame prism. If you wanted to make a case for Tanner, a former champ, to get in, pretty much all you have to say is "but Stephan Bonnar is in the Hall." And if you want to make the argument passing away in and of itself doesn't necessarily mean he should get into the Hall, well, Charles "Mask" Lewis is in, and it's not like he ever fought in the Octagon.

So, to sum up: By regular sports Hall of Fame standards, I don't think Tanner quite makes the cut. By UFC Hall standards, well, they put in anyone they feel like inducting. I assume if they felt he was worthy, he'd be in now.

Floyd vs. Pacquiao or Ronda vs. Cyborg?

@DrPhilosophical: What will happen first in the fight universe; Rousey vs Cyborg or Pacquiao vs Mayweather?

You're off to a flying start here, newbie. This one's easy, though: Rousey vs. Cyborg. Floyd Mayweather could sign a fight against department store mannequin, then shoot an HBO 24/7 series which consists of nothing but Floyd gloating that he's ripping all you suckers off, and the boxing public would still be gullible enough to put $50 million in his pockets. He's the highest-paid athlete on earth going up against hand-picked foes, so why would he even bend to Pac-Man and Bob Arum's terms?

Rousey, meanwhile, is fast running out of sellable opponents. She wrecked Sarah Kaufman in under a minute; she beat Miesha Tate twice; she's already gone through the Olympian vs. Olympian angle with Sara McMann. Alexis Davis is such a placeholder fight that they're dropping Rousey to co-main event at UFC 175. The public is catching on to the fact the Rousey is lapping the field in her weight class.

Eventually, and especially if the UFC doesn't bust out of it's current buy-rate funk, they're going to have to go to the well. Maybe it will be Gina Carano, maybe it will be Holly Holm, maybe Cyborg will prove she can make 135 in the interim and get in position. But either way, given the parameters you've laid out, Rousey is going to need Cyborg sooner than Mayweather will need Pacquiao.

Vitor Belfort

@Tjohn224: Chael and Hendo got licensed with no problems but Vitor had to take extra time. Should we be suspicious?

I think I've answered about eight different variants of the "suspicious of Vitor" question over the past couple months. So in the absence of further breaking news, let's leave it at this: Is there any compelling reason left not to be suspicious of Belfort?

Next up for "The Immortal"

@TheJoeBax: What makes the most sense for Matt Brown next? Lombard? Diaz? Alves?

While the thought of Brown and Nick Diaz throwing down is admittedly tantalizing, I think it needs to be a top five guy and nothing less. In terms of a welterweight title shot, Brown's seven-fight win streak is an impressive feat, for sure. But, remember when Jon Fitch had to win eight straight to get a welterweight title shot? As he was putting his win streak together, Georges St-Pierre, Matt Hughes and B.J. Penn were all ahead of him in the pecking order, and Matt Serra forced his way into the picture. Likewise, at the moment there are a handful of top guys ahead of Brown. So Brown's best off cooling his jets for the next month or so, seeing how Robbie Lawler vs. Jake Ellenberger and Rory MacDonald vs. Tyron Woodley pan out, and taking things from there.

Got a question for a future Fightweets? Go to my Twitter page and leave me a tweet.

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