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Fightweets: Don't count out UFC 205 just yet

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Weight-cutting issues, fighters jostling for position, fighters threatening to walk away, and so forth. On and on, south of heaven. On to another edition of Fightweets ...

Whither UFC 205?

@logankader: Is WME to blame for the 205 fiasco?

In fairness, I'll point out that you sent this before Friday's announcement of Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz for the UFC strawweight title and the return of Miesha Tate.

So given that, and given we've also got a killer welterweight title fight between Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson, and also have Donald Cerrone and Frankie Edgar on the card, then maybe we shouldn't call UFC 205 a "fiasco" just yet.

But the perception that this card's not as big as it could be is also the UFC's own making.

We've been conditioned over the past couple years to expect a few absolute blowaway shows per year, from UFC 189 to UFC 194 to UFC 200. The UFC's debut in New York City seemed a no-brainer for supercard treatment. For all the effort the company put into legalizing the sport in the Empire State over the years, UFC 205 shouldn't be just another card. It should be a celebration of just how far along the sport has come.

So when the lineup shapes up, and you don't see Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey, Georges St-Pierre, a Diaz brother, etc., then you're left with the perception that we're not quite getting the event we should at Madison Square Garden.

Still, there are a few days left before the UFC's big press conference in New York, and the company is giving the distinct impression there's another big announcement or two coming about the show. So let's hold off a bit before we get the pitchforks ready, and even if this doesn't turn out to be a megacard, a show with Woodley-Wonderboy and JJ vs. KK in and of itself isn't one to scoff at.

@FellowsMark: Why is Weidman not yet confirmed for 205, pay dispute?

So that's one thing which bears watching over the next several days. Chris Weidman vs. Yoel Romero has been rumored for the card, but has yet to be formalized, for reasons which haven't yet bubbled to the surface in public. There absolutely appears to be a bit of push and pull between the UFC roster and new ownership. The fighters seem less inclined to jump on command for their new corporate overlords than they were for Lorenzo Fertitta, with whom many had a personal relationship. Either way, it would be an absolute shame if Weidman, who did so much of the legwork in helping to get mixed martial arts passed in New York, didn't end up fighting on the first show in Madison Square Garden. So let's hope whatever is the holdup gets resolved.

Cyborg weight cut madness

@ngjenkins: How can we make UFC understand we don't want to see unsafe weight cuts like Cyborg's?

This week has marked a turning point in Cyborg Justino's public relations battles. All along, the onus has been placed on the Invicta featherweight champion to move down from featherweight if she wants to make big fights.

For most of these past several years, Cyborg's would-be nemesis, Rousey, used her bully pulpit to frequently and loudly discredit Justino and set quite a high bar for the two to meet (To the point one would question if Rousey actually wanted any part of Cyborg, but that's for another day). UFC president Dana White publicly siding with Rousey only reinforced matters.

And of course, there were several unforced errors on Justino's part. No one made her use performance enhancing drugs. And Justino herself, it's often forgotten, made a big show of saying she'd drop to bantamweight on her own, then never followed through. So she hasn't done herself many favors.

But it's a different ballgame now.

The UFC's stated reasons in forcing Cyborg to go down to 140 pounds no longer hold water. For Justino to make 140 for a superfight against the likes of Rousey, Tate, or Holly Holm? Sure, it was worth a shot. But what does the UFC stand to gain by forcing her to go to 140 against Lina Lansberg, who said she would have been fine fighting at featherweight? Because there's no featherweight division? Wait, didn't the UFC have a random women's flyweight fight a couple months back, or did I just imagine that? Or that the UFC featherweight champion has twice fought a lightweight at welterweight this year? Is that also a figment of my imagination? Don't try to hold one fighter strictly to one standard when you're playing games with divisional schemes yourself.

Watching Cyborg have to drop about 25 pounds in the days leading up to the fight is all the more startling given what excellent work the UFC has done this year in addressing issues related to weight cutting. The reason there are vast improvements in weigh-in procedures across the board is in large part because the UFC saw how well things went in California at UFC 199 and ran with it. But this also serves to make what they're doing to Justino less acceptable than ever before.

Cyborg is a draw. If the UFC didn't think so, they wouldn't have her headlining a show against an opponent you never heard of. Making her continue to drop to 140 at this point seems more about showing a fighter who's the boss than in maximizing the money to be made promoting fight cards. Which, from the outside looking line, seems like something the UFC is doing quite a bit of, these days. Speaking of which ...

Al rages

@jorgerabelo: The Al Iaquinta case. Tough not to sympathize. But is he playing it right? Why not fight out of his contract?

Okay, before we delve into the rest of the issue, two little things that struck me while reading up on Iaquinta's plight: 1. It was pretty dumb for Iaquinta to post pics of himself at the beach while he was telling the UFC was sick. Any 12-year-old who has ever successfully skipped school could have told Iaquinta that one. 2. If the UFC actually did tell Iaquinta he's ineligible for post-fight bonuses, as Iaquinta claims, that's dumb, as well. If the UFC is going to use post-fight bonuses as a major incentive, they need to also need to have a level playing field when handing them out. There's already enough angst over pay in the company without giving the perception they're putting a thumb on the scales. If you're another fighter on the roster, and you've been passed over for bonuses on nights you might have deserved them, the knowledge the UFC considers some fighters ineligible isn't going to boost your confidence in management.

That said, it's hard not to sympathize with Iaquinta's plight. This is a guy who put in a training camp to fight Gilbert Melendez, worked in good faith, and had the rug pulled out from under him. He hasn't fought in a year and a half and he risks breaking even at best if he loses to Thiago Alves. In a $4B, network-televised company which represents the major league of your sport, this simply should not be a thing.

And yet, I ultimately come to the same conclusion I usually do on these matters: Nothing's going to change until the fighters at the top of the scale use their leverage to help everyone. A few months back, Mark Hunt sounded the war cry for a fighter's union. From there, we heard Ben Henderson chime in with support ... and then ... (crickets chirping). And as long as this continues to be the case, we can sympathize for a rank-and-file guy like Iaquinta, but little is going to change.

Why Bisping vs. Hendo?

@mikeyM99: What sense does having a Bisping Hendo fight??  Way way better fighters then Hendo. UFC is losing fans lately....

Well, they must not be losing fans in Manchester, England, considering they just sold out a 21,000-seat arena in six minutes flat. Maybe I'm a little biased because I just went to a media day with Bisping and Hendo and enjoyed the trash talk, but, at the end of the day, given the storyline, given what happened in their first fight, given that Bisping is an improbable champion and Henderson has an improbable chance to retire as a champion, and given there's a bit of a muddle with the rest of the pack that can sort itself out with Jacare-Rockhold and Weidman-Romero fights, if you put all all those factors together, then I'm okay, in this case, with both writing one seriously run-on sentence and also okay with this fight.

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