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Hot Tweets: Is Frankie Edgar stepping in for Brian Ortega a good thing and are we worried about Ortega’s future?

Brian Ortega
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Last week, The MMA Gods took their first tribute in order to ensure Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson actually takes place this time: Brian Ortega withdrew from his fight with Chan Sung Jung due to a partial ACL tear. It was a blow to be sure, but if this is the sacrifice we have to make to appease The MMA Gods and finally get Khabib-Tony, then so be it.

So let’s talk about Ortega, Frankie Edgar, Khabib vs. Tony, and a whole host of other stuff.

Brian Ortega’s injury

I mean, you’re not the only one more excited about it. I’m sure Frankie Edgar’s family is pumped about it but yeah, you’re basically on an island on this one.

Ortega vs. Chan Sung Jung was an awesome fight on paper and, in my opinion, much more likely to result in a Fight of the Year contender than Korean Zombie-Edgar. Not trying to bag on Frankie here at all, but he hasn’t won a FOTN bonus since 2013, the year he dropped to featherweight. Frankie’s one of the 15 best fighters ever and, in a broad sense, a fun fighter to watch, but KZ is one of the best action fighters ever and Ortega is the perfect combination of vulnerable and offensively potent. That fight was guaranteed fireworks and now there’s a very real chance Frankie just wrestles CSJ for the entire fight, knocking off Zombie’s title hopes and then exiting the division so nothing good comes of it.

That being said, this is a huge upgrade for Edgar. Cory Sandhagen is an absolute monster and I was confident he was about to hand Frankie his own ass. I know Frankie and the UFC are planning for that fight to still happen but you don’t really square of with Zombie without some scars to show for it, so I’ll be shocked if Frankie gets away clean enough to fight on the quick turnaround.

How does this affect Ortega?

This is the thing I think not enough people are talking about.

By no means am I throwing dirt on Ortega’s grave but this was a bad year for Ortega on the injury front. If memory serves, he broke both hands, his foot, and his nose, requiring multiple surgeries, and now this? Fortunately for Ortega, this is only a partial tear so instead of the 9-12 months out he’s probably actually looking at 5-6 (2-3 for recovery, then a training camp) but that still means Ortega will end up on the shelf for 18 months following his title shot, and have lost a year of his fighting prime. On top of that, the thing about injuries is they often beget more injuries. Fighters rush back too soon and re-injure themselves and if that happens, then we’re in the territory of a Dominick Cruz situation.

Look, Ortega is 28 years old and seemingly still improving as a fighter. This isn’t a death sentence by any means. Lesser fighters have come back from worse circumstances and Ortega is a UFC darling so even if he’s out for a while, he’s still not far away from big opportunities. But I’m definitely more concerned about his future than I was this time last year.

Why is the UFC tempting The MMA Gods?

Yeaaaaaaaaaah. I think one of the first things I (and several other media members) thought when this was announced for the Barclays Center was “Great. New York has the worst possible commission to set up a cursed fight.” But the real answer is pretty obvious: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson is going to be big business which would normally mean Las Vegas but since Khabib hates Vegas after The Flying Eagle Brawl and subsequent fines, instead they’re doing this one in NYC.

Ultimately, it should be fine. Yes, New York has a bad history but let’s be honest with ourselves, this fight was going to fall apart long before then anyway because MMA fans can’t have nice things.

Speaking of the Cursed Fight

Well, the division would almost certainly be more “solved” than it is right now, and by that I mean we’d have a truly undisputed champion and Justin Gaethje would be fighting that man for the title instead of two guys who are almost co-champions. Gaethje is waiting in the wings, but might get jumped by Conor McGregor because $$$$.

I’ve always been of the belief that Khabib beats Tony and that it’s probably one of his simpler fights. Though he’s got the wrestling background, Tony has not been a great defensive MMA wrestler, and anyone who gets taken down by Khabib is going to get mauled, unless it’s like, maybe Demian Maia. Plus, like with Poirier, Tony isn’t going to stall on the ground. Conor dragged the fight with Khabib out by stonewalling as hard as possible. He didn’t really try to get up he just tried to not get f*cked up, which doesn’t lead to winning but it also doesn’t lead to Khabib winning the scramble you create and then beating your goddamn head in. Ferguson is going to try to create scrambles but Khabib is better in them and Ferguson is going to get worked over. Think the first round against Kevin Lee where a staph’d up Motown Phenom beat the brakes off him before gassing himself all the way out.

So with that in mind, Khabib beats Tony, he still fights Conor and Poirier with the same result and now he’d be set up to face Gaethje, with Conor still fighting Donald Cerrone, and Ferguson and Poirier now staring each other down for the co-main event of Khabib vs. Poirier.

Conversely, if Tony won, things would be vastly different. Tony gets the Conor fight and I also think Conor beats Tony (basically I think Tony is a great fighter who’s three worst stylistic matchups are Khabib, Conor, or Poirier). So then we’ve got Conor back on top of the world and there’s not a chance in hell he ever fights Khabib. Instead he probably does try and angle for Tyron Woodley, lightweight is back to being a complete fustercluck, and Khabib and Poirier end up fighting for an interim belt.

Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington

The first two parts I think so (or at least, I’m starting to), but the last one is a definite no. But as the song says, two outta three ain’t bad.

Unless Usman just goes full wrestler mode, Covington is going to outpace him on the feet and win an increasingly lopsided decision and, as much as I love Masvidal the fighter, Covington’s style is kryptonite for him. Jorge basically has the first round to land something game changing and get Colby out of there or it’s done.

But Conor is not the next man up after that; it’s Israel Adesanya. Colby is smart (in terms of handling his career). Adesanya is a winnable fight for him and an easy call out for him to make: “I already beat one Nigerian champ, let me have the other one so I can make sure we keep all the belts right here in ‘Merica!” Now whether or not the UFC will be interested in that will largely come down to if Colby can actually turn into a star. If so, superfight; if not, Tyron Woodley. And poor old Leon Edwards will keep hanging around and never coming close to a title shot.

Lightning Round

Justin Gaethje is literally the most exciting fighter in MMA history so it’s obviously him. I personally find Khabib fights fascinating but they’re all basically two true outcome fights: either you can avoid getting smashed or you can’t. And since no one has been able to avoid it, they’re really all just one outcome fights.

Certainly. Bigger 170 pounders will be able to eat his punches more easily but this fight is basically just a lightweight bout without weight cutting - so, you know, how fighting should be.

To be clear, they’re both in their primes right now and I think Max probably chews him up. That volume game and pressure would give Conor a lot of problems and I just don’t know if Conor can actually hurt Max.

False. Conor will fight one more time in 2020 and whoever it is against - Diaz, Masvidal, Khabib, Ferguson - will be bigger. But Conor-Cowboy is number two.

Celebrating the five-year anniversary of you asking me this question.

But seriously, he’s a good fighter and will probably hang around the top-10 for a while. Don’t think he’ll ever get the belt but may challenge for it.

Everyone got scared off by CM Punk’s failure in the UFC, completely forgetting that the weight class was the real problem. Punk needed to be fighting at heavyweight to be most effective.

Because, and you may want to sit down for this, the UFC is bad at their jobs. The UFC often feels like it succeeds in spite of itself and booking the presumptive No. 1contender fight for your dominant champion—a guy who may well be the best fighter ever—behind a paywall that, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say they won’t promote super well, is completely insane. There’s a real chance this fight ends up extra tedious, but if it doesn’t, then the UFC is going to have missed a real opportunity because of the things they are good at, promotion is absolutely not one of them.

Hot Take

Now this is how you throw out a hot take and honestly, I don’t hate it. I mean, I wouldn’t put money on this, even with great odds, but I can envision a world where this happens. What if Jon really is past it and the Thiago Santos fight was just the precursor to a full-blown Johny Hendricks spiral? Or, What if Reyes really is that good? Then he would beat Jon twice in a row and really, after that it’s not a big leap to imagine a twice defeated JBJ struggling against a top heavyweight.

Again though, not gonna bet on it.

Best submission of all time

The best submissions of all time are, in no particular order:

Anderson Silva’s Hail Mary against Chael Sonnen.

Ryo Chonan’s flying scissor on Anderson Silva

Demetrious Johnson’s suplex-armbar of Ray Borg

Fabricio Werdum triangle-armbars Fedor Emelianenko

Miesha Tate’s RNC over Holly Holm

Toby Imada’s inverted triangle of Jorge Masvidal

Korean Zombie’s twister of Leonard Garcia

Nick Diaz’s gogoplata of Takanori Gomi

You could definitely add more to the list as far as important or paradigm shifting (Nate-Conor, Royce-Shamrock, etc...) but those are, for my money the clear cut best subs in history by the simple metric of they stand out among the crowd of quality submissions because of how completely insane they were, either on their own merits (MIGHTY MOUSE THREW ANOTHER PROFESSIONAL CAGEFIGHTER IN THE AIR AND THEN ARMBARRED HIS FALLING BODY LIKE A GODDAMN WIZARD) or because they did not seem possible given everything we knew (Fedor Emelianenko is invincible and beat the hell out of Big Nog from inside his guard so Fedor cannot be tapped).

For me, my favorite is the Mighty Mouse Trap because, again, he threw another trained, professional cagefighter, a man who was one of the very best in the entire world, into the air and then armbarred with the same ease he would to you or me. All these years later it remains one of two moments in MMA that my brain still can’t comprehend (the other being the Showtime Kick) and, for my money, it’s unquestionably the greatest submission in MMA history, knocking off Anderson’s Hail Mary Triangle to defeat Chael.

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.

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