The best on-paper card so far in 2017 is finally here. But not without the usual doses of drama before we got here. So let’s get right into another edition of Fightweets:
@Inferrious: Where does Silva go from here?
Anderson Silva has legitimate reason to feel aggrieved after he ended up without a fight at UFC 212. He’s 42. He’s not going to have too many chances left to fight in his homeland of Brazil. He took his planned fight with Kelvin Gastelum seriously enough that he left his comfortable Southern California palace and returned to Brazil for a training camp.
Then the Gastelum fight fall apart (let’s pause for a moment and acknowledge the absurdity of marijuana-related suspensions in 2017), a suitable replacement couldn’t be agreed upon, and Silva decided to go home (the UFC deserves some credit for making refunds available to fans in Rio who had bought tickets specifically to see Silva fight).
So yeah, Silva has a right to be upset. The fact UFC president Dana White has said he needs to go out to Los Angeles to talk things out with Silva would seem to confirm this. Silva lost out on what could have been one of the final magic moments of his career. If he really does decide to walk away, would anyone blame him?
Still, this is far from the first time Silva’s gotten angry. And unlike in the past, when he was in his prime and could basically dictate his terms, the MMA world doesn’t revolve around Silva anymore. UFC 212 will go on without him. Jose Aldo vs. Max Holloway was the headliner before the Gastelum thing fell apart and stays that way afterwards. Maybe that’s the thing that, deepest down, is bothering Silva.
Either way, Silva signed a long, lucrative contract right before his career-changing knockout loss to Chris Weidman, and he’s not likely to make this type of money again in his life, so when all’s said and done, one gets the gut feeling he’ll get over this in the long run.
And what about GSP?
@ArpanLobo: If you're GSP, where do you go from here? Or flip side, what should the UFC do with GSP?
Good questions, both. We still need to see how things play out in the middleweight title picture before jumping to any conclusions. Sure, White’s saying the Michael Bisping-Georges St-Pierre fight is off, but it could just be a way to amp up pressure on St-Pierre to try to step up his timetable. The idea of the UFC going with Bisping vs. Yoel Romero could turn out to simply be a variation from the same playbook the company used for UFC 205, where Khabib Nurmagomedov was used as a pawn to get the Conor McGregor-Eddie Alvarez match at UFC 205 finalized.
Of course, this could also at least partially be for another reason: The fans aren’t exactly storming the gates demanding to Bisping vs. GSP right now. Nothing about the reaction in the weeks since the fight has been announced screams that this is going to be the superfight that some roomful of WME consultants who never worked a day of their lives in the fight business likely decided it would be.
I’m not implying that St-Pierre’s return won’t be a big deal when it happens. It will be. It’s just that the longer this drags out, the less impact there it will have. And the longer the top middleweights are left to twist in the wind, the less fans seem interested in seeing the champion bypass all his top foes.
As for GSP, again, we need to see how this all plays out. Maybe the pressure gets him to sign on for an earlier Bisping date than he’d like. Maybe GSP calls their bluff and we end up with the bout in November or thereabouts after all. Or, if the Bisping thing really does fall apart, there’s another guy out there, one the fans have clamored to see him fight for years, who also seems to need the right inducement to fight again. Coughcough just make the Silva-GSP fight already coughcough.
The Ballad of Chuck and Matt
@christopher_kit: Matt Hughes saying let him decide if he wants to fight made me think. What are your thoughts on his possible return and vs who?
The notion that Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes will be the next old-school names to come out of retirement picked up steam this week, and Bellator CEO Scott Coker, whose company would seem their natural landing spot, added fuel to the fire by saying they’d talk.
Dana White and the Fertitta brothers did the noble thing by giving their legends Hall of Fame status and well-paid ceremonial job titles to retire. Contrast that to more than a century of combat sports promoters using up aging fighters until every last dime is made and then discarding them. Then the big corporate machine took over and Liddell and Hughes’ jobs for life were gone. Can you blame them for wanting another big paycheck when someone is out there providing them?
I don’t know, maybe because the wrong part of my brain would be way too easily entertained by the buildup of a potential Hughes-Matt Serra rematch, I tend to be less opposed to a Hughes return than Liddell. Or maybe it’s because I saw Liddell suffer one too many brutal knockouts, whereas the UFC pulled the plug on Hughes before it could get to quite as bad, which makes me rationalize that Hughes’ return would be easier to take than Liddell’s.
Either way, we know it is wrong on some level, and we know that if either fighter’s return happens, not only will we watch, but way more casual fans will tune in than for, say, a Michael Chandler fight or either of the big Bellator welterweight matchups coming up over the next couple months. Call it good, call it bad, call it the best we create which constantly needs to be fed.
Does DC need Jones?
@JustinRE94: Remember when DC said he was never going to fight Jones and it was time to forget about him? Do you think he knew that was crap?
I think this is more one of those deals where Cormier at the time really wanted to believe this was true, but deep down, he knew the score. At the time DC was making these sort of statements, he was still feeling the sting of the UFC 200 dropout and of having the rug pulled out from under him again through situations that were no fault of his own. If you were in his shoes, you’d probably have the same thoughts.
Then reality sets in. Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson was the biggest fight left to make at light heavyweight that didn’t involve Jones, and their UFC 210 bout didn’t exactly set the box office on fire. After that? How much business is giving Alexander Gustafsson his 9,000th title shot (I exaggerate somewhat) going to do outside of Sweden? Cormier’s 38 and while he’s still one hell of a fighter, he’s got a limited window on making the biggest bucks (is this a recurring theme this week or what?). Between a payday and the chance to redeem his only loss, yeah, maybe Cormier needs Jones more than he cares to admit.
I have to admit, over the past couple weeks, when Cormier and Jones have beefed over Twitter, I’ve sort of rolled my eyes. They had a “been there, done that” feel to them. But I also have to admit the way Cormier and Jones went at it at Friday’s “Summer Kickoff” press conference in Dallas reeled me right back in. They really, really, don't like each other. Let’s hope this time, the fight actually makes it to the cage.
Saturday night’s fights
@johnny_davison: Just reviewed HW division contenders and noticed most are only on 1 fight win streak. So why JDS for the shot? (Not complaining though)
Why not? Fabricio Werdum is already locked up in a fight with Alistair Overeem (whom Miocic beat in his last fight). UFC’s gun shy on booking Cain Velasquez in a main event for understandable reasons, given his history with injuries. Francis Ngannou could be a contender, but he’s not ready, and Derrick Lewis, entertaining though he may be, is probably never getting there.
So why not JDS? Yeah, it’s a one-fight win streak, but if you push that out to three fights, he’s won two of three, with the other victory being over a certain fellow named Stipe. You’re not going to have to twist Stipe’s arm too hard to get him to accept an opportunity to avenge his only loss in five years, and hey, the first fight was pretty damn exciting. Buckle up, UFC 211 should be a fun one.