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Fightweets: Is Floyd Mayweather vs. CM Punk so wrong it’s right?

Esther Lin, Showtime

No longwinded Fightweets intro this week. Let’s get right into things:

Floyd Mayweather vs. CM Punk? Come again?

@TheHavokgamer: Is there any fire to this Floyd Mayweather vs CM Punk rumor or is it just smoke?

Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: If you told me we would never see CM Punk fight in a mixed martial arts bout ever again, I would neither shed a tear nor lose a wink of sleep. I saw everything I needed to see about CM Punk, the mixed martial artist, back when Mickey Gall made him look like a 1980s “Superstars of Wrestling” jobber back at UFC 203. If I ever see CM Punk in an arena again, I hope it’s doing pro wrestling, which is, you know, what he’s really good at.

But then along comes this week’s “wait, how did this become a thing?” thing in which Punk vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. in an MMA fight suddenly became something which was for some reason semi-seriously discussed.

In it’s own way, this preposterous fight actually has a certain amount of bizarre appeal. It would get attention. It would draw. It would bring Floyd Mayweather into the MMA orbit without clogging up the UFC’s divisional schemes.

Assuming a catchweight is agreed upon, such a fight is likely to go in one of two directions: 1. The “Tim Sylvia vs. Ray Mercer,” where Mayweather drops Punk at the outset (and leaves no doubt that we ever want to see him in a legit fight ever again); or 2. The “Randy Couture vs. James Toney” where Punk gets Floyd to the mat and makes him regret having the hubris to think he can cross cover to MMA.

But then we run into the reality of things: Mayweather, of course, would want Mayweather pay. And that’s where this little fantasy probably goes off the rails, because while CM Punk is a big deal in his own little world, he’s nowhere near Conor McGregor famous, and while Mayweather vs. Punk would be an interesting freakshow, it’s hard to picture it being big enough to make “Money” money.

I feel a little dirty for even thinking this fight through to this degree. But this Floyd Mayweather vs. CM Punk is so wrong it almost feels right. Almost.

Blatant fouls

@MichaelDavSmith: Would you favor a zero-tolerance policy for obvious, intentional eye gouging? Should the UFC have a policy that any fighter who uses an eye poke to get out of a submission is immediately released by the promotion?

Great question, former MMA Fighting staffer Michael Davis Smith.

We’re only a bit more than a decade removed from the UFC basically banning Renato “Babalu” Sobral from the company for life after he refused to release a choke on David Heath at UFC 74, an incident which happened a day after the two got in one another’s face during the weigh-in.

A decade later, not only did Li Jingliang not get the boot for damn near gouging out Jake Matthews’ eye during their UFC 221 welterweight bout, but he was given a Fight of the Night bonus after doing so.

But let’s back up a bit and focus on the first thing that went wrong, here: The referee basically just slapped Jingliang’s hand away from Matthews’ eye and then otherwise did nothing about it.

I understand the argument as to why so much cheating is condoned in the sport: Point deductions weigh heavily on the outcome of a fight, so referees tend to err on the side of warnings until they absolutely must take a point.

But there’s a difference between a minor foul, such as a fence grab, and a major infraction. In the past couple months, we’ve seen the literal only two things that were explicitly banned at UFC 1 -- biting and eye gouging -- go down in UFC fights, here in the sanctioned, enlightened Unified Rules Era. Jason Knight biting the fingers of Gabriel Benitez at UFC Fresno got a simple point deduction, and last weekend’s eye gouge went totally unpunished

I mean, FFS: I can understand the thought process behind not wanting to ruin a fight over a fence grab, but can we maybe be less gun shy about calling for a disqualification for the only things that were ruled out of bounds back when the sport’s entire marketing plan was “THERE ARE NO RULES!!!!!”? Can we at least set the bar there?

But that brings us back to Jingliang getting a bonus for a fight in which he had been handily losing, and likely would not have reached Fight of the Night status had the referee done his job with the eye gouge. Referee leniency has led to this uptick in egregious fouls, but the UFC rewarding a fighter for engaging in them is a whole new level. Why should a fighter just flat out go for the gold on committing fouls if he’s going to take home more pay for his efforts? Maybe we’re not going to toss fighters, like Babalu and later Paul Daley, out of the company for unsportsmanlike antics. But maybe let’s not make a habit out of rewarding them, either.

Frankie Edgar vs. Brian Ortega

@JimmyTheTout: Can @FrankieEdgar stop @BrianTcity from giving him his first stoppage loss? Serious triangles

That question is the key to why the hastily made UFC 222 co-main event between Edgar and Ortega is such a tremendous matchup on paper, isn’t it? We’re in the process of seeing, with the rise of Ortega, just how far a specialist can get ahead in 2018 if he’s really, really, ridiculously bleeping great at his specialty.

Edgar, of course, has derailed the dreams of a whole lot of up-and-comers over the years. Most recently, he derailed the Yair Rodriguez hype train with a brutal efficiency. Rodriguez had nothing in his arsenal like Ortega’s chokes, though, and while it’s not that difficult to picture Edgar getting Ortega to the mat and going into beast mode, it’s equally easy to imagine Ortega taking everything Edgar can dish out and still finding a way to pull a Houdini act and get the choke out of nowhere.

I really don’t know which way this one goes, but I do know I can’t wait for this fight to get here.

Would DC stay at HW?

@RendonGarcia2: Chances if DC wins against Stipe he would stay at HW?

Should Daniel Cormier defeat Stipe Miocic at UFC 226 and become the first fighter ever to simultaneously hold the heavyweight and light heavyweight belts, he’s already hinted that he plans on hanging on as the light heavyweight champion. But then, Cormier also said after beating Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 220 that he had no interest in fight Miocic, and the fight was made about a week later.

And that, of course, is because Cormier, in addition to the considerable appeal to his legacy in the opportunity to win two belts, is going to make a hell of a lot more money fighting Miocic than he would have beating the light heavyweight contender of the month. And that would probably inform his decisions moving forward, should he defeat Miocic. DC has stated he’s not going to fight beyond his 40th birthday, which is in March 2019. That means he’s got even more pressure than usual to make all the money he can while he can. And if that means a heavyweight title defense is going to be a bigger deal than a light heavyweight bout, then you can be damn sure that’s the fight which will get made.

Middleweight title

@MNWhiteBelt: What’s the right move for the MW title? Romero won, but missed weight and has lost to Bobby Knuckles already.

I can understand why some are hesitant at first glance to give Romero the next shot at Robert Whittaker’s belt, since he did miss weight for his UFC 221 fight against Luke Rockhold. But really, in what other direction are you going to go for the next title shot? Rockhold needs to have a good, long break after suffering has second absolutely brutal knockout in two years. Chris Weidman has lost three of his past four fights. Jacare had a nice win over Derek Brunson, but he got absolutely mauled by Whittaker in his previous fight. Kelvin Gastelum isn’t quite there yet.

That brings us back to Romero. It’s not like we’re giving John Lineker a flyweight title shot here after he missed weight approximately a thousand times. UFC 221 marked the first time Romero ever missed weight in his career. He’s 9-1 in his past 10 fights. The only loss was in a razor-thin bout with Whittaker at UFC 213 which placed on the Fight of the Year list and in which the decision could have gone either way. For better or worse, after all the craziness in the middleweight division, we’ve got the two best fighters in the division in position to meet again. All that, to me, outweighs a first weight miss from someone who’s never done it before.

Here’s where maybe the weight miss should be held against Romero a little bit: He wants to have the Whittaker fight in his Miami backyard. Kudos to his agent, Malki Kawa, for floating the idea out there and making it part of the conversation. He does a better job advancing his clients’ interests in the media than any other agent in the sport and that’s admirable in its own way. But, no ... when you miss weight, you don’t get to dictate where your title shot will be held.

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