Last weekend, Kamaru Usman successfully defended his welterweight title against Colby Covington at UFC 245. Now, what’s next for Usman is up in the air. Plus, the next UFC PPV is a Conor McGregor PPV so, in preparation for that, let’s lay down the ground rules for a fun game!
Kamaru Usman’s next title defense
Who's going to fight Usman next Masvidal or Edwards ?— Andrew Sims (@10Andrew01) December 18, 2019
Honestly, at this point it’s starting to feel like Leon Edwards is going to sneak his way in there, which is astonishing. If you had told me two months ago that Leon Edwards was going to fight the winner of Usman-Covington, I’d have bet a considerable sum of money against you.
And that’s no disrespect to Edwards, just an honest assessment of how matchmaking works. In a meritocratic world, Edwards probably has the best claim to a title shot right now, but 2019 was the year of Jorge Masvidal and he seemed destined to fight the winner of UFC 245. Try as he might, Edwards can’t seem to make the public care about him and I thought his best bet was to try and goad Tyron Woodley into a fight. But it turns out, I was very wrong.
After UFC 245, welterweight champion Kamaru Usman made it clear he believes Edwards is deserving of a title shot, and seems to be leaning towards Edwards as his preferred next opponent as a result. Meanwhile, Masvidal seems completely disinterested in an Usman fight now and is openly waiting for the result of Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone, hoping McGregor wins so he can have himself a red panty night.
So, improbably, the welterweight division is back on track. Unless the UFC decides it would rather give Masvidal the title shot, or Conor doesn’t want to fight Jorge next, those seem to be the fights that are being set up for the moment, at least among the fighters themselves.
The rest of the UFC 245 fallout
Was Aldo robbed?— Simon (@simon_maybury) December 18, 2019
Does Colby deserve an instant rematch?
Can anyone beat Nunes?
- Jose Aldo was not robbed. It was a very close fight and, though I scored it for Aldo, it’s easy to see how someone would score it for Marlon Moraes. Yes, it’s less than great that Moraes, at points, seemed absolutely petrified of standing in exchanges, but it’s on Aldo to make his opponent fight the way he wants. For the most part, Jose couldn’t track him down, probably in part because, over the last eight years, one of the best leg-kickers in the history of the sport has decided to just not do that ever again. It’s incredibly frustrating, but thems the breaks. Shouts to Aldo though for basically completely changing his fighting style against Moraes, playing the aggressor much more and looking rejuvenated at 135 pounds. It would be insane for him to get a title shot, but I wouldn’t hate it at all.
- What? God no. The man lost. No one ever deserves an immediate rematch unless they got outright screwed by the judges or the referee. If you want to argue that the stoppage was early, sure. I’m almost always in favor of letting a fight go one or two more punches. But stoppage or no, the outcome of the bout was decided already. One judge has Colby up 3-1, one had Usman up 3-1, and one had the bout split at 2-2. At the bare minimum, Kamaru is winning a split decision on the scorecards, and considering the last round should’ve been a 10-8, maybe a majority decision. Covington lost. He can go fight Woodley now in the grudge match that was always supposed to happen in the first place.
- Well yeah, Valentina Shevchenko already did it twice. She’d do it again a third time if they fought.
Amanda Nunes is the WMMA GOAT, you’ll get no argument from me. But Shevchenko is the best female fighter on the planet right now, and I think it’s pretty clear. Credit to Nunes for gutting through a tougher than expected win, but if Germaine de Randamie had even basic takedown defense, she may well have won that fight. Nunes’ old issues with cardio and technical striking defense cropped up hard against GDR and, if you’re trying to coach a fighter on how to beat “The Lionness” the GDR fight gave you things to work on - namely a sharp jab, footwork, and takedown defense. The only person right now who can do that is Shevchenko. Too bad we’ll never see a third fight between the two.
Is Justin Gaethje more of a threat to Khabib than Fergusson? I found it obvious but nobody is talking about that.— Wayne Dorman (@XarXarSupreme) December 18, 2019
Well, I think the reason no one is talking about it is because Ferguson and Khabib are going to fight each other next. Many MMA analysts have postulated that Gaethje might be the toughest stylistic matchup for Khabib though, and with good reason: he might be.
Justin Gaethje is hell on wheels for anyone. There may not be a pound-for-pound bigger hitter in the lightweight division than him, he’s got rock solid wrestling, a good chin, and he’s vastly more tactical than he’s given credit for. A lot of those skills present some kind of challenge to Khabib. Conversely, Tony Ferguson is not a great defensive wrestler and he loves to scramble. Those play into Khabib’s game very well.
But, I’d postulate a third person as the toughest test for Khabib: Kevin Lee.
Gaethje has a lot of strengths when you look at the composite parts of his game but, I believe they all form part of a necessary whole. Essentially, if you take away one of his weapons, the others will be vastly less effective. And against Khabib, Gaethje won’t be able to leg kick as that is just gift-wrapping the single-leg for Khabib. Without those kicks, Gaethje’s striking is going to be less dangerous and thus, allow more opportunities for Khabib to get his game working.
Conversely, Kevin Lee’s striking game has almost never served as part of a larger whole. When he strikes, he strikes and when he grapples, he grapples. Lee is a good enough defensive wrestler that he can fight off some of Khabib’s attempts and he is one of the few fighters in the division with athleticism to match Khabib (neither Tony nor Gaethje have that). Add in the fact that Lee is one of the few fighters who could take Khabib down and work effectively from top position and I think he poses the most interesting challenge for the GOAT lightweight.
Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone
What changes, if any, do you think we'll see from Comboy's game going into the Conor fight since he's training with Rufus for the camp?— Cain Wock (@CAW0139) December 19, 2019
I doubt we’ll see any. As the old saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks and Cowboy has been more or less the same fighter for the past decade. Sure, he may add in a new wrinkle here or there or focus on specific triggers in a training camp, but by and large we’re going to see the same Cowboy we always see.
Duke Roufus is an excellent trainer but the man still hasn’t been able to train Anthony Pettis how to not back straight up into the fence, and he’s worked with Duke for 15 years. I’m skeptical one training camp with Roufus is going to teach Cerrone how to effectively pivot out either.
Why did my boy Aldo get Robbed?— ♞ Flex ♞ (@FlexUbad) December 19, 2019
As discussed above, Aldo did not get robbed. I thought he won the fight but it was a close fight and just an unfortunate one in that Moraes had less than zero interest in exchanging with Aldo so it ended up being kind of boring.
I what submission will tony land off his back when he fight khabob?— skrt skrt (@bootbamp47) December 19, 2019
He will not. He will try and get smashed. If Tony wants to win, being on his back is not the way to do that.
Prime Mike Tyson and Gsp vs khabib and Cejudo— emp1234 (@empBP4) December 19, 2019
No one can handle GSP’s riddum.
what are the larger ramifications of swanson obliterating his knee in a jiu jitsu tourney? will there be more contractual language to prevent fighters signed to major mma promotions from competing in non-organizational events?— Bruce Lee, PhD (@B_Lee253) December 20, 2019
I doubt any. Fighters can get injured for any number of reasons and the way Cub injured himself is not far off an average training session roll. Sometimes things just happen and you’ve got to live with it.
What proportion of the ufc female fighters would beat an untrained man in a street fight?— johnbob97 (@johnbob97) December 21, 2019
100 percent of them. Go into any gym in the world and you can see female BJJ blue belts whip the sh*t out of male white belts. People vastly underestimate the difference between being a professional cage fighter and just being some dude. Seriously, if you haven’t trained, you probably don’t know anything about how to actually fight. It’s why UFC 1 was so captivating - it clued people in to just how little they knew about fighting.
The Conor McGregor Press Conference Game
There must be made a Conor McGregor press conference drinking game. I trust you to be the man to make the rules!— Andi Ben List Jakobsen (@AndiNightFire) December 20, 2019
As I, being the upstanding and respectable citizen that I am, cannot encourage drinking and certainly can’t encourage drinking to excess, I sadly cannot offer the terms of a drinking game. I can, however, offer the rules of a betting game and what you choose to bet, be it currency, slaps, or beverages, is entirely up to you. So, without further ado, I present to you the Conor McGregor Press Conference Game:
- Every time Conor says the word “money” = .5 point
- Every time Conor says “Fook” = .5 point
- Every time Conor interrupts his opponents = 1 point
- Every time Conor stands up = 1 point
- Every time Conor says Proper 12 = 1 point
- Every time Conor says suggests he’s out of his opponents’ league/calls his opponent a bum = 1 point
- Every time Conor references his belts = 1 point
- Every time Conor’s opponent calls him an easy fight = 1 point
- If Conor wears sunglasses to the presser = 5 points
- If Conor throws something = 5 points
- If Dana White has to physically restrain Conor = 5 points
- If Conor drops a soon to be iconic line (AKA “Who the fook is that guy?”) = Finish the whole thing.
And finally, one wild card rule: before presser starts, each person picks a color. Whoever guesses Conor’s suit color correctly gets 5 points to assign as they see fit.
I’ve probably left out some good ones so feel free to tell me what I missed. I’m sure you’ll all do it in a cheery and respectful fashion.
Enjoy and play responsibly!
Thanks for reading this week and thank you for everyone who sent in Tweets! Do you have any burning questions about at least tacitly related to combat sports? Then you’re in luck because you can send your Hot Tweets to me, @JedKMeshew and I will answer them! Doesn’t matter if they’re topical or insane. Get weird with it. Let’s have fun.