An exciting new contender at welterweight, the latest hijinks between Anderson Silva and Michael Bisping, the passing of a legend, and a whole lot else went down this week. But CM Punk moved the needle like no one else, so let's start off by giving the masses what they want.
What's the deal with CM Punk?
@ShortyShortFuze: Don't you agree that something just ain't right about this CM Punk debut?
So, first things first: I don't wish any harm upon CM Punk, nor should you. The guy walked away from a successful, high-paying career, and decided to give mixed martial arts a shot while he was still theoretically young enough. Regardless of what you think about whether he belongs in the UFC, it's admirable he's trying, and it's not his fault for taking an opportunity that was handed to him.
That said, even granting that mid-30s is awfully late for someone to take up a vocation like combat sports, Punk's body has a whole lot more wear and tear than most his age. Pro wrestling has a casualty rate that makes rock 'n' roll look safe, and even those who have avoided that business's excesses -- which by all accounts Punk has -- have endured a brutal physical toll.
I have no doubt Punk wants to follow through on his MMA dream. But this isn't his first setback, he's not getting any younger, and while Punk stories click big on MMA websites, the fans get increasingly skeptical every time his debut gets postponed. No doubt he'll give training another real go. Yet should he suffer another setback before he gets to his fight with Mickey Gall, it might be best for all concerned to consider it strike three and pull the plug on this experiment.
Anderson Silva vs. Michael Bisping
@christopher_kit: Has age slowed The Spider down to the point even Bisping beats him?
Maybe I'm biased, because I was one of the relative few who got to see the wild open workouts in Torrance on Thursday for the Feb. 27 Silva-Bisping fight on UFC Fight Pass in London, which was unintentionally the best free show the UFC has put on in quite some time. But I'm really looking forward to this fight on a number of levels.
You have Bisping, the guy who seemed to be all but written off after a career in which he passed all his drug tests, and seemed to lose his biggest fights to guys who were dirty or on something technically legal but morally questionable. Now he's got a new life in a new system right before his career window shut.
And you've got Silva, the guy who held the title all those years Bisping was knocking on the door, looking for redemption in his first fight after a late-career drug test failure.
Meanwhile, Bisping is as mouthy as ever, and Silva remains as coy and witty as ever, leading to scenes like the one that played out in Torrance.
You couldn't script this any better.
And then there's the fight itself. Yup, if this went down in 2011, Silva likely kicks Bisping's head into the 200 level. Today? Who knows whether age has slowed Silva, as you ask? Or ring rust, for that matter? The fact we have no real idea how this one is going to go is just another reason why I'm looking forward to this fight as much as anything on the docket.
Has Stephen Thompson passed Tyron Woodley for a title shot?
@guihen93: Does Wonderboy or Woodley deserve the title shot or should they fight? Or do you think GSP will return UFC 200?
Well, this is a tough one, isn't it? In the history of worthy fighters getting screwed out of title shots, Tyron Woodley getting bypassed because Johny Hendricks crapped out on their fight, then Hendricks got beaten spectacularly by someone else, would be an all-timer.
And yet ... what would you rather watch right now? Lawler vs. Woodley? Or Lawler trying to figure out Wonderboy's unorthodox style? And that doesn't consider the possibility of Georges St-Pierre coming in and bigfooting everyone. Or Lawler-Carlos Condit 2. Fortunate, for the UFC, that they've got time to let things sort out while Robbie Lawler heals.
@Patkawesome: How great would a all WW or HW main card be now?
As great as it was the first time, when the all-heavyweight main card of UFC 146 delivered the most pure violence (oops, I mean "pure competition") per pound out of just about any card ever. The problem, of course, is that the stars have to align in order to make fight cards like this happen, with the right fighters healthy and ready for matchups big enough to fill out an entire PPV main card at the right time. As tantalizing as an all-star welterweight lineup with Lawler, Condit, Thompson, Woodley, Tarec Saffiedine, Matt Brown, hell, let's throw Nick Diaz in there, might sound, if it wasn't so difficult to pull off, the UFC would have gone back to that well by now.
Can Hendricks get back to the top?
@KevinMuehleisen: Is Johny Hendricks going to be a contender again?
Five-round wars are killers. In three consecutive fights, Hendricks went the distance against Georges St-Pierre and twice against Robbie Lawler. Oh, and sandwiching those fights are 15-minute affairs against Carlos Condit and Matt Brown, hardly anyone's idea of a night off. That's before you add in that Hendricks has plainly worn his body down over the years with weight cutting going all the way back to his wrestling days, and huge cuts to get down to welterweight, which have gone to diminishing returns.
I'm not going to kick Hendricks when he's down. He's rubbed some people the wrong way, but he's always been super polite and friendly to me. But that 1-2 combo of ring wars and weight cutting, at a time when he isn't getting any younger, is a difficult one to see him getting around.
Does Henry Cejudo deserve a title shot?
@mmafan_1996: IMO, @HenryCejudo doesn't deserve title shot. Should be Benavidez or him vs Joseph for the title shot
You're preaching to the choir on Joseph Benavidez. I've believed he's the No. 2 guy at 125 pounds pretty much since the onset of the division. He's also won five straight fights since his last loss to Demetrious Johnson in 2013 and is a perfect 24-0 when not fighting Johnson or Dominick Cruz, a.ka. the greatest fighters in the history of their respective divisions.
Likewise, Henry Cejudo seems like a guy who has all the tools, who could be the next great one at flyweight, but doesn't quite seem like he's ready to take on a dominant champion.
But, all that said, I understand why the decision was made to go with Mighty Mouse vs. Cejudo as the co-main to Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones at UFC 197. A third fight between the same duo when one guy not only won twice, but won the second time more clearly than the first, man, that's a tough sell.
And besides, the last time I thought the UFC was booking an undefeated potential future champion a bit too soon against a dominant titleholder, the challenger's name was Chris Weidman. So maybe the UFC knows something we don't. Either way, if Benavidez goes on to win his next fight in the meantime, it's going to be really hard to deny him the Johnson-Cejudo, no matter how many times he and DJ have already fought.
RIP Kevin Randleman
@RuckerYeah: Favorite Randleman memory?
It's a shame Kevin Randleman had so many of his greatest moments during the time the UFC was banned from cable television and barely limped by on DirecTV (which had far lower clearance 20 years ago than it does now) and videotape sales.
But if you want me to pick just one moment, I've got to go with the 2004 PRIDE fight in which he suplexed Fedor Emelianenko on his head. For one brief moment, the invincible Emelianenko looked mortal. Fedor rallied and won the fight, but it still served as a testament to what Randleman was capable of at any given moment.
I really can't add anything to the outpouring of grief from those who knew him well. Another one gone too damn soon. RIP, champ.