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Fightweets: Is Donald Cerrone up for Fighter of the Year?

Esther Lin

Conor McGregor, Donald Cerrone, Ronda Rousey, Gina Carano, Nate Diaz, and PEDs are all in the news. In other words, it was just another week in the mixed martial arts world.

So as you get ready for Ultimate Fight Night 46 (or read this afterward, whatever), let's jump right into another edition of Fightweets.

Cowboy up

@benulm: Cowboy has to be up for fighter of the year at the halfway point you agree?

I gave the nod to Ronda Rousey at the year's midpoint. No one was acting like Sara McMann or Alexis Davis were unworthy challengers until Rousey blitzed through them. But Donald Cerrone is on the short list of candidates for sure. He has three sensational finishes, two of them against legit guys in Edson Barboza and Jim Miller. If Cerrone can finish an elite guy in his next fight - and this is where he's always gotten KOd hitting his head on the glass ceiling - then absolutely you have to give him a strong look for Fighter of the Year. But for now, the award is Rousey's to lose.

Miller to 145?

@demonsneverdie: Having lost to the top fighters in the lightweight division, should Jim move down a weight class?

Dropping to featherweight is something Miller has repeatedly stated he doesn't want to do, but at this stage, it might be his best option. One of the things that absolutely sucks the most about following this sport is watching well-respected fighters who everyone likes hit the downside of their career. MMA moves at such a merciless, unforgiving clip. Miller made his name as the scrappy little guy who overcame his stature by fearlessly getting into position to win with his ground game. He's only 30, but he's got a lot of mileage on his tires and it's starting to show. And we've seen how he's come up short against guys like Cerrone, Diaz and Ben Henderson. So given all that? Maybe a drop down in weight to negate the size factor will splash a fresh coat of paint on his career. Can't hurt to try.


@TimKennedyMMA: What steps should the UFC take trying to eliminate PEDs? Who is next to fail?

Tim, I'm not touching the second question, since I don't feel like getting sued. As for the first one, it helps that the newfangled Nevada Athletic Commission has developed a spine, banned TRT, and has stepped up out-of-competition testing. The UFC needs to step up random out-of-competition tests as well, including blood tests. They also need to not reward multiple-time steroid cheats with title shots in their homeland. And fighters like you need to keep speaking out for doing the right thing, to keep the issue in people's consciousness. I could ramble on and on here, but it really it's this simple.

Mighty Mouse vs. Cariaso

@UzmakiBlk: UFC messed up by giving titleshot to @chriscariasomma , @johnlineker looked #Amazing n more deserving #UFCFail

Well, hang on a second. John Lineker has missed weight three times. He's made weight for his past two fights, but needed a second attempt before hitting before his loss to Ali Bagautinov. This isn't a small matter, especially when you consider he wouldn't have the one-pound scale allowance in a title fight.

That said, sure, if Lineker keeps winning fights, especially awesome ones like the victory over Alp Ozkilic on Wednesday night, he's going to force the issue eventually. But he needs to hit weight on the first attempt at least one more time before he finally puts real distance between himself and that issue.

As for Demetrious Johnson vs. Chris Cariaso, I'm not going to go acting like this is the greatest title fight the company has ever made. And it's a little weird the UFC made this decision now, in a week with two big flyweight fights.

But nor is it the outrage it was portrayed as in some circles. There's a subset of people out there who can't seem to go a week without getting their panties in a bunch about something or another. Granted, MMA provides plenty of opportunities for legit righteous indignation, but when that doesn't happen, there's always someone ready to rush in and gin up a dose of faux outrage.

Let's take a look at the flyweight division now: Mighty Mouse lost his obvious No. 1 contender fighter in John Dodson when Dodson had to sit with a knee injury. He's defeated Joe Benavidez twice, John Moraga, Bagautinov, and Ian McCall. DJ dominated McCall in their second fight after the first one was a controversial draw.

There's also a tier of guys on their way up who aren't quite there yet. Lineker still needs to prove that missing weight is well in his past. Brad Pickett, granted, is easily the most sellable potential fight of the bunch because of Pickett's WEC win over DJ at bantamweight. But even if Pickett beats McCall, then Pickett's flyweight wins would be over Neal Seery and a fighter in McCall who would have one win in his past five fights. Zach Makovsky is well on his way, but why throw him to the wolves so fast?

So yeah, Johnson vs. Cariaso is far from the most appealing title fight the UFC could have put together. But given both the division and grand schemes of things, maybe save the venom for something that really matters.

Conor McGregor

@ryan211: If Conor McGregor backs up all his talk, does he become the biggest star in the UFC? Everyone seems to love him

For the record, I'm typing these McGregor-related replies on Friday afternoon and they're appearing on the site a few hours before the McGregor-Diego Brandao fight.

It's not a matter of making everyone love McGregor. It's a matter of turning him into that sort of transcendent star whom half the crowd loves and the other half wants to see get his ass kicked. If McGregor goes out and gets starched by Brandao with the whole nation of Ireland watching, then the McGregor hype train will turn into the worst transportation accident since the Titanic. But, you know what? Sometimes you have to gamble big to create a superstar. All the elements have to come into place. He's got the mouth to get attention and has the UFC's promotional machine behind him. McGregor just has to prove he can get the job done, which makes Saturday's fight card the most compelling overseas event the UFC has put on in quite some time.

@ELcujorino: Thoughts on the UFC so far putting fighters who tend to brawl, plot forward, & have no striking defense to fight McGregor?

In fairness, let's not forget McGregor was initially supposed to fight Cole Miller, whose ground game would have made for exactly the right test at this point in the Irishman's UFC career. But yes, eventually, McGregor either has to sink or swim. And if he beats Brandao, then the hype train only increases to the point that whomever eventually beats him becomes a star just by association.

Serra-Longo Fight Team

@sigep422wesg: After (Wednesday's) performance are we starting to see Serra-Longo as the NEXT great MMA camp??

Camp of the year seems like a two-way race at the midpoint between Serra-Longo and Team Alpha Male (Of course, when you make such statements, you also have to acknowledge places like Jackson's MMA and American Kickboxing Academy crank out elite fighters year in and year out to a degree they basically gets taken for granted).

Serra-Longo, of course, is the Long Island home of undefeated Chris Weidman, who could be a year or two away from challenging for the title of pound-for-pound best if he keeps improving at his current clip. Now add in Eddie Gordon making in an impression in winning TUF, and Aljamain Sterling looking like he's a five-star prospect, and yeah, all of a sudden, Serra-Longo has transformed from "the gym which produced the biggest upset in MMA" to one of 2014's most relevant camps.

Still though ... TAM already has T.J. Dillashaw's magnificent performance against Renan Barao. If Chad Mendes can defeat Jose Aldo, then it would be hard not to give them the nod. Or maybe just give it to Duane Ludwig. We'll cross that bridge if and when we get there.

News items which keep popping up

@RuckerYeah: Looks like Ronda vs. Gina is actually going to happen?

Sure does, as long as they can get the deal done. Look, Ronda vs. Gina on paper isn't remotely competitive. But then, neither was Ronda vs. McMann and Ronda vs. Davis. If Ronda is laying waste to everyone in her path anyway, then why not go ahead and make a fight which will be similar to Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock or Matt Hughes vs. Royce Gracie: Ones which boost interest in the whole product at the time the company needs the attention. We'd hope the UFC would be smart enough to load up the card with some of the prospects they're trying to break through to the masses as they try to replace lost stars, while they've got the sports world's attention, rather than just make it another PPV of the month. And in the meantime, this buys time to build Holly Holm and to let Cyborg take her planned first fight at 135. Ronda vs. Gina won't please the people who hate everything that happens in MMA to the point you wonder why they bother watching the sport anymore. But Ronda vs. Gina done correctly would be brilliant business.

@torontoufcfan: Diaz beat both Miller and Cerrone, Yet I imagine he's not too thrilled. What do you think of Diaz sitting out?

Nate's standing up for what he believes in, which you have to respect. White isn't about to set a precedent and reward someone who willingly signed his contract who has also lost two of his past three fights, which is understandable. There don't seem to be too many ways out of this one, but when push comes to shove, I'd be willing to bet that as a part of getting Nick Diaz to return (Anderson Silva fight, anyone?) big bro makes sure little bro gets taken care of as an inducement for big bro's big buy rate return to the sport.

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