It's another slow-ish August weekend, but at least we've had enough major fight announcements over the past couple weeks to keep people talking for quite some time.
So we'll talk mostly about the big end-of-year schedule in all its permutations, in addition to the usual hodgepodge of topics, in the latest edition of Fightweets.
Which fights are best?
@MorganWaltzUFC: With all the awesome fights @UFC has announced recently. Which 2 are you most excited for and why?
I'm going to tackle the latter, first. I'm not sure why, exactly, this UFC on FOX 17 fight caught my attention among all the other fights. This one's not likely to be a technical masterpiece. Maybe it's because of the backstory to all this, how they were supposed to fight for so long, and how Overeem has gotten under JDS' skin to the point dos Santos, who is usually just about the nicest guy in the world, has trash talked Overeem. Add in the stakes: JDS seems a win away from a title shot (assuming Fabricio Werdum again beats Cain Velasquez) and Overeem has revitalized his career after he seemed on his way out, and the considerable possibility of a highlight-reel knockout, and this just stands out to me more than so many other fights.
As for Edgar vs. Mendes, I mean, of course I'm looking forward to Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor like everyone else, but we've spent so much time pondering this one by now that it it doesn't seem like a shiny new toy anymore. Edgar vs. Mendes are the clear-cut next two in the division after the UFC 194 main eventers, it's a great style matchup, and the stakes couldn't be higher, with the eyes of the fight world getting to see, presumably, who will be next for the Aldo-McGregor winner. Aldo-McGregor will be a memorable spectacle and maybe even a memorable fight, but Edgar-Mendes screams "potential instant classic."
What if something goes wrong?
@KevinMuehleisen: Knock on wood but what could be potential backup plans if any of the upcoming fights fall through?
First off, I'm not buying into the whole attitude of "shhh ... we must not talk about December, or else we'll jinx it" that seems to be going around the MMA bubble. Screw that. I'm a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan, and all the ridiculous notions of curses and ghosts didn't keep the Red Sox from winning in 2004.
Regardless whether we pretend fight fallouts are the monster under the bed which needs to be ignored or whether we talk about it like adults, some fights will fall out between now and then. In case we needed a reminder, we got one Friday night, when Robbie Lawler had to pull out of his title defense against Carlos Condit due to a thumb injury. That's just the nature of the game.
Fortunately, UFC has a pretty airtight backup plan for the biggest show, UFC 194 on Dec. 12. They've got Edgar and Mendes slated to go one night before Aldo and McGregor, which means both fighters will be main-event ready if either Aldo or McGregor have to back out in the sunup to the fight. UFC 194 also features a middleweight contenders bout between Jacare Souza vs. Yoel Romero, which means someone, presumably Souza, would get a call if anything happened to Chris Weidman or Luke Rockhold leading up to their middleweight title co-main event.
It's not like every main event throughout the late fall/early winter run has as strongly detailed of a backup plan, but there are others. Ronda Rousey's the only truly irreplaceable fighter on the upcoming docket of big fights, but if her UFC 193 opponent, Holly Holm, should fall out, I mean, it's not like this would be the first time Miesha Tate stepped into a fight with Ronda, you know? And former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, who has been rehabbing from an injury, seems to be holding back to see if anything happens in the Rafael dos Anjos-Donald Cerrone title fight on Dec. 19 in Orlando before committing to any opponents of his own.
So yes, even if we lose fights between now and December -- and if we do, they'll happen regardless of we've spent time talking how great that month will be -- even a Plan B December schedule will still have the potential to be one of the best MMA months we've ever experienced.
Edgar-Mendes the right place/right time?
@ADillon_: What do you make of Edgar /Mendes as opposed to Edgar/Holloway and should the fight have been put on 194 instead?
Edgar-Mendes is fine where it is for the reasons I just mentioned above. Not only will one of the elite guys get to step in if either Aldo or McGregor pull out, but there will be no "short camp" asterisks attached if such a fight goes down.
UFC made the correct call going the Edgar-Mendes route, as well. Holloway is an impressive, young contender growing up right before our eyes, but there's still something about him that seems one fight away from challenging an Edgar or Mendes. All the circumstances are lined up for the top four featherweights to fight the weekend of Dec. 11-12, so there's no need to throw Holloway to the wolves.
@RuckerYeah: What's with all the guys retiring in their 20s all of a sudden?
Back when I worked at the Boston Globe, we used to joke that if a New York Times reporter walked into Starbucks and saw two people buy Frappucinos early in the week, you'd see an overwrought trend piece on Frappucinos in that following Sunday's Times living section.
Mein has 39 pro fights at age 25. That's equal to Fedor Emelianenko's entire career output. That's one short of what Anderson Silva has at age 40. Ten more than Chuck Liddell. His 10th pro fight was just after his 18th birthday. That's a lot of wear and tear on someone who basically gave up his teenage years for a brutal business. Even if there were fighters in their 20s retiring left and right, I'd still think his reasons for quitting were pretty unique.
If there is a trend starting, Perez makes a better example. On paper, there seemed to be no reason for Perez to quit, other than he's decided this isn't for him and it's time to move on, which is entirely his prerogative.
If, a few months from now, a handufl of similar fighters come to the same conclusion as Perez, then, sure, we're on to something. But let's wait and see before we call this one a trend.
WMMA's Mt. Rushmore
@Patkawesome: Who is your WMMA Mt. Rushmore?
Interesting thought exercise for a slow weekend, here. I mean, if someone doesn't think Rousey belongs, they should probably be banned from watching MMA for life. Gina Carano is another no brainer. She was the first breakthrough star, the one who proved women can headline major MMA events. Showtime was squeamish about airing Carano vs. Julie Kedzie in 2007 and had to be talked into including it on an Elite XC broadcast; by 2009, Carano vs. the then-Cyborg Santos delivered Showtime record ratings.
You have to reserve a spot for one of WMMA's pioneers. You know, the women, like Kedzie and Tara LaRosa, who made very little money at first, did it out of pure love of the sport, broke down barriers, and paved the way for others after them. You could certainly make a credible case for Japanese trailblazer Megumi Fujii, but I'm going to go with Marloes Coenen, who made more of a worldwide impact.
So that leaves the final spot, which for me, comes down to Cyborg Justino or Miesha Tate.
Justino's record in the cage speaks for itself, starting with mauling Carano and through her continued dominance of the featherweight division. Of course, she also has the giant albatross of her steroid suspension after a Dec. 2011 fight in San Diego on her permanent record.
As for Tate, if it wasn't for Rousey, we'd be talking about Tate as the greatest bantamweight of all-time. Would Rousey have become as big as a star as she was without Tate as a capable foil? Tate is the second-biggest star in women's MMA and had a solid run as Strikeforce champ.
I'm torn on which way to go with this one. How much does Justino's cheating affect her legacy, and is that enough to give Tate the nod over her? I'm curious what you guys and gals have to say.
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