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Fightweets: What to make of Holly Holm's next fight?

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The next busy stretch in the mixed martial arts schedule kicks off on Sunday, when Alistair Overeem and Andrei Arlovski tangle in the Netherlands at UFC Fight Night 87.

In the meantime, we actually had a more or less sane week in the sport, with the biggest item of note (aside from an absurd thing that popped up on Friday that barely merits response) being an interesting choice for former UFC women's bantamweight champion Holly Holm's next fight. So we'll get into that and whatever else is on your mind in the latest edition of Fightweets.

Holly Holm vs. Valentina Shevchenko

@McBroccoli123: Plenty of big names to put her against.  Giving her an easy W to setup Rousey fight in November

So, first things first. Valentina Shevchenko isn't going to be an easy victory for anyone in the women's bantamweight division. Ask Sarah Kaufman, who got Shevchenko on nine days' notice and lost, how "easy" an opponent she was.

When I first heard Holm-Shevchenko was going to be the main event of UFC on FOX 20 in Chicago, my reaction was, essentially, "WTF." And I think that was the same for a whole lot of other people.

But thinking it through, there are layers to this matchup, some good, some not as good, but it's not the disaster of a main event it first seemed.

First off, there are only so many names to go around at the top of the 135 class. It's all about timing and who's available to fight at any given time. Miesha Tate is defending her title against Amanda Nunes at UFC 200. Cat Zingano is fighting Julianna Pena. Ronda Rousey's comeback isn't expected until November at the earliest. Kaufman's contract is expired. There just aren't that many fighters in Holly's class available.

From the UFC's perspective, there's also an upside in having Holm, who's popular with casual fans, fight on FOX, and of having her fight a mere two weeks after UFC 200 with it's two big fights in the division. Ideally, we'll come out of July with real clarity on where bantamweight is going. And, who knows? Holm will be in training in the buildup to UFC 200 and we know a whole hell of a lot of big fights have already fallen out this year. If either side needs to drop out of Tate-Nunes, maybe Holm fights at 200 after all.

On the flip side, it's a bit hard to make sense of why this fight's good for Holly. She's fighting a very tough, underrated foe who doesn't have a ton of name value. Winning at best keeps her at her current level, a loss fairly or unfairly, sets Holm up for a tumble. If nothing, it's clear Holm wants to fight and never backs down from a challenge, so credit to her for being a gamer.

The last variable is that this bout being positioned in the main event, ahead of Anthony Johnson vs. Glover Teixeira, a fight which promises fireworks between two fighters who have already headlined FOX events. My best guess here is that the UFC and FOX is gambling that Holm has enough casual fan name value due to her huge victory over Rousey that putting her in the headline slot will bring in the casual fans who make the difference in the ratings. If Rumble or Glover had brought in big numbers in the headline slot when they had the chance, they'd no doubt be back there.

Should Mighty Mouse go up?

@theonlydondada: What's better, DJ stepping up a weight class or UFC finding fighters that are prepared to step down a weight?

i mean, the problem here is that there is a limited pool of elite male fighters who can get down to 125 pounds in a healthy manner. Even a world-class competitor like Henry Cejudo had trouble getting the hang of making the flyweight limit at first.

Then again, maybe some fighters who would otherwise go down to 125 are avoiding it because Demetrious Johnson has been so damn dominant at his weight class. Why bother trying to starve yourself when you've got the longest-reigning champion waiting for you, a guy who has already beaten the Nos. 2 and 3 guys (Joseph Benavidez and John Dodson) twice each and sent one of them back up to bantamweight?

I, for one, would love to see Johnson go up and challenge bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz in a superfight. Not only was their first fight competitive, but Mighty Mouse is just light years better than he was nearly five years ago. I'm not saying Johnson wins, but I wouldn't call Cruz a lock, either, and I'd love to see how it plays out.

Or we could watch DJ-Benavidez 3, or watch him fight someone the UFC scraped up on TUF. You tell me whether you'd rather see one of those, or see Cruz-Mighty Mouse.

TUF stuff

@kopxpert: Your thoughts on the hate Joanna's getting from her behavior in TUF23. Many fans are starting to root for Gadelha b/c of this

The fact people are simply talking about TUF 23 is a great thing. I had forgotten to even DVR the season premiere, but when I started to hear feedback over the show and the obvious lack of love beween Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha, I got caught up. Jedrzejczyk doesn't need everyone to love her to become a star. The big draws are the ones who have half the crowd loving them and half the crowd hating them. I and so many others who watch the sport closely was looking forward to the strawweight title rematch as soon as it was announced. If TUF still has enough juice to hook some folks from the general public into watching the fight, well, the more the merrier.

More UFC 200

@auggie85: How awesome is ufc 200? How would you rank the fights top to bottom? Who makes the PPV, FS1, & Fight Pass?I feel like I've answered this question in various forms over the past couple weeks, so I'm going to put a moratorium on "How stacked is UFC 200?" for awhile after this week. But you've got a new wrinkle in asking which bouts land where, so let's take a look. There are three title fights, so you have to accommodate the potential for all three going five rounds into the pay-per-view wind . As nuts as this sounds, Cain Velasquez vs. Travis Browne is looking, at best, as the main card opener, and who knows? It could even end up as the FS 1 feature bout if they really want to drive last minute PPV buys. But then, where do you put Cat Zingano vs. Julianna Pena? Is Sage Northcutt put on FS1 or on Fight Pass? And both Diego Sanchez vs. Joe Lauzon and Takanori Gomi vs. Jim Miller are the sort of fights the UFC has been inclined to make Fight Pass feature bouts. The card us so deep that figuring out who ends up on which portion of the card, aside from the obvious headliners, is part of the fun.

That Conor thing

@RednckTruckrHat: Which is more likely? Conor vs Floyd or a Dana White presidential run?

This is really the only question that deserves to be answered on the subject of Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor, which a U.K. newspaper basically decided to pull straight out of their ass for the sake of clicks on a slow Friday morning. Not only would we see White run for president before we see Mayweather fight McGregor, but we'll see him win, and then win re-election, and then end up on Mt. Rushmore first. Now let's hope this is the last we hear about this.

(I've finally gotten around to creating a professional Facebook page. If you've been a loyal Fightweets reader over the years, do me a favor and like the page to help me get it up and running. Thanks!)

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