The mixed martial arts world will finally take a breather next weekend, with the schedule clear on Fourth of July weekend. But not before Bellator 139, which went into the books last night, or Saturday's UFC Fight Night headlined by Lyoto Machida vs. Yoel Romero.
So with the year just about halfway over, a reader question leads to some thoughts about what might be the year's best fight to date. Oh, and there's the usual assortment of weekly MMA nuttiness, from the latest in New York to the Kimbo Slice "fix." So on, then, to another edition of Fightweets.
Fight of the Year at the midpoint
@RuckerYeah: The year's half-done. What's your Fight of the Year so far? I go Arlovski-Browne.
Not a bad thought, but ultimately I disagree.
Andrei Arlovski's slugfest with Travis Browne at UFC 187, which ended late in the first round when Arlovski rallied from a knockdown and finished Browne, was absolutely the most exciting round of action so far in 2015. But much like the third round of Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez two years ago, one whirlwind round of brawling doesn't necessarily translate to best overall Fight of the Year.
Given that there's no one, clear-cut, shoe-in FOTY so far, I cast around on Twitter for your Fight of the Year candidates, and several fights came up, over and over. Some went for Arlovski-Browne. A whole lot of you liked Benson Henderson's comeback win over Brandon Thatch on Feb. 14. And there was a lot to love about that fight, as Bendo looked like a man possessed in taking the back-and-forth bout via submission late in the fourth round, and doing so while going up to welterweight, to boot.
Then there was the pair of memorable fights on consecutive nights in what, on paper, had looked like to a ho-hum weekend on the MMA landscape. First, at Bellator 135 on March 27, veteran bantamweights LC Davis and Hideo Tokoro put on a thrilling, all-over-the-map 15-minute battle full of twists and turns, with Davis winning via split decision. The next night, WSOF lightweight champion Justin Gaethje and unheralded challenger Luis Palomino threw down in the greatest fight in company history. Gaethje slowly wore his game challenger down and finished him late in the third round in front of his hometown Phoenix fans.
All things being equal, with a handful of great fights (and a couple other I'm sure I'm leaving out), I'm inclined to go with Davis-Tokoro and Gaethje-Paolmino as co-winners, simply because the whole weekend was such an unexpected treat. But I'm open to suggestions. Who ya got?
New York, again
@Dr_Kwame: Should the UFC give up on trying to get MMA legalized in NY?
I can't blame you or really anyone else for getting discouraged with the process at this point. With former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver getting TKOd on fraud charges, it seemed the path was clear for the Empire State's asinine MMA ban to get lifted once and for all. Of course, it didn't get done, for the eighth straight year. The Senate passed the bill with overwhelming support, again, and the Assembly refused to take it up for a vote, again. Whether that's simply because the clock ran out, or whether it's because Zuffa's political enemies have gotten a hold of the new Assembly speakers as well, is something that remains to be seen.
But yes, frustrating though it may be, UFC should continue to press forward in the effort to get MMA legalized. The potential money to be made in a state with so many major cities and venues is obviously the biggest reason. But it's also simply the right thing to do. There's so much talent, from Serra-Longo to Renzo Gracie's Academy to gyms all across the vast state, not to mention so many passionate fans who deserve the opportunity to see fights in their hometown, that yes, despite the odds, and despite New York serving as a model for everything we hate about our political system, the UFC (who are the ones doing the overwhelming majority of the lobbying) should absolutely continue to make New York MMA legalization a major priority.
Kimbo-Shamrock and the "fix"
@RuckerYeah: Did anyone really take the Kimbo fix talk seriously?
Enough people did to make fixing the topic du jour on Monday, at least. The notion that Kimbo Silce's comeback win over Ken Shamrock at Bellator 138 was fixed was dumb on about a thousand different levels. Bellator's Jimmy Smith did a great job slapping most of those notions down. But, I mean, really: Of all the ways to throw a fight in this specific instance, you're going to let Kimbo drill you with those sledgehammer fists, which is basically the only tool in his MMA toolbox? Shamrock worked as a pro wrestler for years; if he was going to fake it, he could have figured out a dozen ways to lose without getting cut open and concussed by a guy 10 years younger and about 30 pounds heavier. Anyway, with Kimbo setting the Bellator ratings record, He'll doubtlessly be fighting again, and if he wins again, I'm sure we'll hear "fix" again.
Asken and the UFC
@MacPherson9999: should I just give up any hope of ever seeing Ben Askren fight in the UFC?
Nah. It might seem right now like Ben Askren's never going to fight in the UFC, but if you follow this business long enough, you begin to understand you should rarely say never.
Did you ever think you'd see Randy Couture back in the UFC after Couture tried to walk out on on his contract while he held the heavyweight title in 2007? I sure didn't, and yet there he a little more than a year later, back in the UFC and fighting Brock Lesnar. Dana White and Tito Ortiz hate each other, but White brought Ortiz back when it was mutually beneficial for both go to back into business. We could go on down the line, here, with people you never thought you'd see again.
So, sure, Askren is getting quite a bit of attention as one of MMA Twitter's most successful trolls, jabbing at the UFC every time the opportunity presents itself. But you have to figure eventually, with his competitive drive, Askren's going to tire of playing can crusher in Asia and will want better competition. And White, for his part, has proven that he'll drop nearly every grudge except Frank Shamrock if the timing is right and there's money to be made. So, the notion of Askren in the UFC might seemed farfetched now, but let's not pretend that it couldn't happen if the planets align.
@dpop2 Any possible way this aldo injury is fake and he trying to get Conor to drop his guard?
Oh, he's 100 percent hurt. Our man in Brazil, Guilherme Cruz, has been all over this story. With the amount of money riding for the UFC on what's going to be the biggest fight of the year, not to mention the number of people flying in to Las Vegas from all over the world, if Aldo was trying to pull a fast one, UFC wouldn't have hesitated to let everyone know Aldo's not all that hurt. All in all, by keeping McGregor on the card and keeping Chad Mendes on-call in case Aldo can't go, the company's done the best it can to handle a tricky situation.
@XJuanPradax: What's the worst-case scenario for UFC189?
Man, are you trying to get me to jinx the show? Pass.
Got a question for a future edition of Fightweets? Go to my Twitter page and send me a tweet.