It feels a little weird waking up on the Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend and knowing there isn't a fight card at night, right? Fortunately, there's an event on Sunday night instead, and the UFC Fight Night 88 bout between Cody Garbrandt and Thoams Almeida promises to be worth the wait.
In the meantime, Nate Diaz spiced up a slow week with a wild appearance on The MMA Hour, so let's get right into that and whatever else might be on your mind.
The mind of Diaz
@MohammedNk166: Is Nate laying down the blueprint or what? and will the fight happen August 20th?
Diaz's appearance on a special edition of The MMA Hour certainly spiced up an otherwise slow-ish week, didn't it? Diaz went over a wide range of topics, from his thoughts on the ludicrous Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor talk, to fighters who don't battle to get all the money they're worth, to where things stand on getting the Diaz vs. McGregor rematch made.
If we've learned one thing about Diaz in recent weeks, it's that he knows he's more than just an interchangeable "B" side in the McGregor equation. Yup, McGregor's name alone brings a whole lot of eyeballs. But McGregor vs. Rafael dos Anjos sure wasn't bringing the reported 1.5M pay-per-view buys McGregor-Diaz at UFC 196 pulled, which was a considerably bigger number than McGregor's fights last year with Chad Mendes or Jose Aldo Jr.
If we've learned a second thing about Diaz, it's that he can clearly state what's on his mind in a way his older brother Nick has never quite been mastered. One of the most fascinating aspects about the Diaz brothers is they've always had gems of truth and wisdom mixed in with their street sense and liberal use of profanity. With Nick, things sometimes get lost in translation as the thoughts travel from his brain to his mouth, leading to rambling monologues. Nate Diaz has no such issues, and it's become clear that when Nate's on your TV or laptop screen, it's appointment viewing.
As for your question on whether the fight gets made in time for UFC 202, which was the proposed date, who knows? But as my man Chuck Mindenhall pointed out, this is the first time we've ever seen two stars so publicly work the angles against the UFC leading up to a huge fight, so get some popcorn and enjoy the show before the show.
Urijah Faber, Dominick Cruz, and the WEC
@passionatepatk: It seems that people forgot Faber legit had a title. It's not a UFC belt but at the time WEC was a real belt.
I wholeheartedly agree. After the WEC bantamweight and featherweight titles got absorbed into the UFC, the fact those belts were the world championships at their respective weight classes during the company's heyday sort of got lost in the shuffle (something which bugs Cruz, the current UFC and former WEC bantamweight champ, for one).
So yeah, in the buildup to UFC 199 over the next week, when you hear people dog Faber for not winning the big one, don't forget that he was the man at 145 pounds for quite some time. Without his charisma and innovative style for his era, the lighter weight classes might have never caught on to the degree they have.
Faber parlayed that initial WEC stardom into chance after chance after chance in the Octagon, and fans are correct when they point out he keeps coming up short. But when Cruz and Faber step in the ring, they represent a legacy that extends to everyone from Eddie Wineland to Mike Brown to Jose Aldo and to Renan Barao even current flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson, and that's worth remembering.
Stipe Miocic vs. Alistair Overeem
@grinderfoelife: Can Alistair win Sep 10?
Why not? This is the heavyweight division. Anyone can put anyone else to sleep at any given time. You'll have two of the heaviest hitters, on two of their hottest runs, at UFC 203 in September, when Miocic defends his belt against Overeem. This is a coin flip of a fight, which makes it all the more intriguing.
Kudos to the UFC for moving quickly to captialize on the momentum of Miocic's title victory and putting the card in his hometown of Cleveland. One way or another, Sept. 10 should be a memorable night.
Will Joe Rogan leave the UFC?
@RuckerYeah: Do you really think Joe Rogan would leave the UFC?
He kind of sounds like he has one foot out the door already, doesn't he? Rogan's contract is up in August. He said on last week's MMA Hour that he'll leave for sure if the UFC is sold. He's been at this a long, long time. With his standup comedy career at the level it's at and a very successful podcast and outside business interests, it's not like Rogan needs his UFC color commentating gig to get by.
That's one angle to consider. Here's another: Rogan is longtime friends with Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta. They've had his back every time Rogan's gotten heat for controversial remarks, in a way that's rare in the corporate world these days. How many public faces of companies have been let go for less than some of the things Rogan has let fly?
Let's say the UFC gets sold to a big corporation, or a hedge fund, or some other faceless corporate entity. Rogan will no longer have a longstanding relationship with an ownership who valued bucking the norms. Are the new owners going to be as likely to stick by someone who brings occasional bad press upon their new, multibillion-dollar entity as White and Fertitta have been toward Rogan? Highly unlikely.
I've ben critical of Rogan when he's occasionally gone off the rails. But make no mistake about it, he's a part as much a part of the scenery as any longtime, popular announcer becomes for any sports franchise. When he's focused, his commentary is as astute as anyone in the business -- particularly on his podcast, when he has time to opine at length about fight-related subjects. If he goes, he'll absolutely be missed. But if you're in Rogan's shoes, the timing may never be better to make the jump to the next chapter in his life.
Will Brooks to the UFC?
@ynneKrepmatS: Assuming Will Brooks signs to the UFC, who do you think he should fight in his debut? Barboza?
I would love to see former Bellator champ Will Brooks test himself against any of the top lightweights in the UFC, and believe he'd give a real solid accounting for himself against anyone in the division.
Unfortunately, Brooks didn't help his cause by demanding his early release from Bellator. Brooks already had a bit of a reputation for being difficult to deal with. By demanding out of his contract instead of fighting out the last fight, and making his unhappiness so public, he lost leverage.
So he's not likely to get as much money as he would have as a true free agent and he's not likely to get huge names as opponents to start. The plus side for Brooks? He seems to fight his best when he has a chip on his shoulder, and he's shown he'll put in the work in the cage. Brooks may have set himself up to take the long road to the top, assuming he signs with the UFC, but I don't doubt he can get there.
PPV vs. network TV
old_crow22: If a TV network was interested would the UFC make more money from a network and ads than they would from PPV?
I mean, the UFC's about making money. If there was more money to be made on their network events than pay-per-views, they would have made that switch a long time ago and never looked back. We'll see where things lead in a couple years when the UFC's FOX deal comes up, as ESPN is widely rumored to be interested in the right, which could lead to a bidding war. But as of now, the predicted death of PPV hasn't yet come to fruition.
If you'll allow me a personal item to finish this week: I'm doing a solo, two-day charity bike ride next month from Los Angeles to San Diego. The ride will benefit Hire Heroes USA, which is run by Brian Stann. I'm doing this for two reasons: One, as someone who weighed nearly 300 pounds as a teenager who can now bike 100 miles at a time in my 40s, I want to show others in my old position it's never too late to make real change in your life; and two, I lost my Dad last year, who used his Army experience to help his kids have a better life, and i want to help today's veterans do the same for their families through Hire Heroes. Please consider giving. Thanks! Here's the link to my fundraising page.