Conor McGregor. Jose Aldo. Ronda Rousey. Part of you wants to roll your eyes after reading these names yet again, but you can't stop yourself from clicking on stories about them anyway.
These are the fighters you're talking about in mixed martial arts this week to the near-exclusion of everyone else -- especially Aldo and McGregor, in the aftermath of the UFC 189 media tour -- so I'm here to oblige.
One note before I get started: You may have noticed Fightweets has been on hiatus for awhile. I mentioned the reason for this on Twitter awhile back, but for those who didn't see it, I lost both of my parents in February, three weeks apart. Now that things are back to -- well, maybe not "normal," but as close to normal as you can get when you cover MMA for a living -- I'd like to take a minute to thank everyone who offered kind words along the way, especially to my teammates at MMAFighting, who gave me plenty of space to get back on track. And hey, if you're lucky enough to still have your elders as a part of your life, take a minute to let them know they matter to you. Trust me on this, you won't regret it.
Off we go ...
All things Aldo-McGregor
@RuckerYeah: I was at the Aldo-Conor day in Toronto. It was awesome. Can't wait for this fight.
You and a whole lot of other people, RY. The main thought I had looking at the UFC 189 tour as a whole is that it seems the UFC has finally figured out how to build new stars in this new world, the one with near-weekly fight cards in the post-Anderson Silva/Georges St-Pierre era. Looking back over the past several months, they took advantage of the legit heat between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier and built it into a monster fight, even with the injury delay. Jones finally seems to be embracing his inner heel, which is starting to pay off, and DC's popularity increased by leaps and bounds, even in defeat. Ronda Rousey has morphed into a mainstream star. And now McGregor, having been built properly, is in line for at least one gigantic pay-per-view event, and many more if he happens to win.
It only takes a few megastars to keep the machine cranking. The UFC can't treat every event like Jones-DC or Aldo-McGregor, but as long as they have a handful of blockbusters a year, they'll be fine. And judging by the interest readers like you have shown, RY, the approach seems to be working.
@pamdoraboxx: Why does is Dana putting up with and being a willing participant in this? What embarrassing and idiotic behavior.
Since this tweet came in Wednesday, I assume you refer to either McGregor grabbing Aldo's featherweight title belt on Tuesday and parading it overhead, or perhaps just the general behavior of everyone besides Aldo in Dublin. Yeah, I can't imagine why Dana White is allowing the guy whose charisma is singlehandedly turning a featherweight fight against a charisma-challenged champion into one of the biggest events in UFC history to get away with his zany antics. You'd almost think White was a fight promoter, or something.
In fairness, I couldn't help but feel a little bad for Aldo and what he put up with in Ireland on Tuesday. I have Irish roots and family in South Boston and know all too well the type of mouthy Irishmen who took to the mic. Of course, in Southie, those guys usually ended up laid out on the sidewalk. Aldo likewise, will have his chance not only shut up his antagonist on July 11, but also take home the giant paycheck which has eluded him up to this point.
All on all, Aldo showed remarkable restraint, the UFC got a final burst of publicity right at the moment you were wondering if things were starting to peter out (and let's face it, Brazilian fans weren't exactly gracious to McGregor when he was in their neck of the woods, either), and you've basically come out of the tour with the perfect storm for a major fight. Now, as someone whose name escapes me at the moment tweeted Tuesday, get these guys in bubble wrap for the next three months, pronto.
@Dr_Kwame: If Aldo wins should he move up or continue defending at 145?
I mean, what else would be left for Aldo to accomplish at featherweight? He's already beaten Chad Mendes (twice), Frankie Edgar and Ricardo Lamas. Cub Swanson, an eight-second Aldo victim back in the WEC days, probably had his best chance at a title shot slip away when he lost to Edgar. Dennis Bermudez needs a couple solid wins after losing to Lamas. Assuming he beats McGregor, afterwards, a rematch with Edgar is the only fight that really seems compelling. It was a close fight and Edgar has left no doubt he deserves a rematch since then. But if you're Aldo, you're nearing 30, you've struggled to make 145 for years, you've beaten all your major contenders in the division. Do you go back to the grind against guys you've already faced, or do you move up while you're hot, have a less horrible weight cut, and take on big names and fresh faces at 155? Seems an obvious choice to me.
@MikeJBknows: What's your take on Ronda Rousey's appearance at Wrestlemania 31 and how much should she be involved w/WWE?
I have to make a confession: I watched most of Wrestlemania, the first time I've seen it in about a decade. I'm fine with Ronda's appearance at the show. She's a huge wrestling fan, so she obviously had fun doing it, and the scenario they laid out for her, in which she pretty much cleaned house, couldn't have made her look any stronger.
While I have to admit I'd probably tune in again next year if they went ahead with a Rock and Ronda vs. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon match, I can't imagine the UFC allowing it. A buzz-generating cameo is one thing, but going all-out is another.
For one thing, despite what both try to claim, UFC and WWE are direct competitors in the marketplace. There are several reasons why Brock Lesnar hasn't been doing both at once, and that's one of them.
For another, there's the risk factor. Yes, wrestling is scripted. But it's also carries a real physical toll, of which the in-ring death of a Mexican wrestler in a fluke accident last month serves as a reminder. UFC has enough injury concerns without risking the woman the general public perceives as their biggest star getting hurt at someone else's event.
Would it be fun? Yes. Will it happen? Not unless Rousey decides to leave MMA behind.
@RyanBafo: How underpromoted do you think Mighty Mouse is? Seems like no promo/hype for 186. Seems to happen to him a lot.
You know what? I just can't get too outraged over this any more. UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson hasn't gotten over as a star, but it's not like the UFC hasn't tried, and the champion himself seems to indicate at every turn that he doesn't care all that much about the promotional end of the game. So if it doesn't matter to DJ himself, why should I waste energy getting angry on his behalf?
It's not like Mighty Mouse doesn't have a following. DJ might be the most skilled pound-for-pound fighter on the planet -- I've pretty consistently ranked him above everyone except Jones and Aldo -- and you would like to think that this alone, the ability to see one of the greats of the game do his thing in and of itself, would be enough to turn him into a star. But if that was all it took, then Aldo would have been a big-time PPV seller long before McGregor came into the picture.
Johnson's competition is the other side of the coin. Mighty Mouse hasn't had the right opponent come along to really move the needle. Joseph Benavidez is an interesting cat, but not one who inspires hatred. There seems to be legit beef between Johnson and John Dodson, who gave Mighty Mouse his most competitive fight, but Dodson's injury set him way back. Henry Cejudo, if he keeps progressing, could make for a compelling fight, but it's hard to see that one having the sort of grudge element which sparks interest.
It does seem like the UFC has sort of given up on pushing Mighty Mouse. They gave him a pair of network television main events, which is tremendous exposure, before taking a shot at having him headline a pay-per-view card. To say his UFC 174 fight with Ali Bagautinov didn't sell would be polite. Since then, Johnson's been scheduled on double title bills, the way Aldo's were, and had both fights end up as main events when others dropped out. Bottom line, until Johnson's McGregor comes along, and until the UFC renews its push of the champ, he's likely to stay in the spot he's in. But if DJ's okay with that, then I'm going to worry about other things.
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