On Saturday night, the UFC and Bellator go head-to-head in a rare Saturday double event. Even more rare, the Bellator card is arguably the stronger one. So instead of talking about any of those great fights, let’s discuss Jordan Burroughs coming to the UFC and who was a terrible UFC champion.
Jordan Burroughs in the UFC
In case you missed it, wrestling great Jordan Burroughs trounced Ben Askren recently and made comments about wanting to have an MMA fight after his wrestling career.
First off, let’s be clear about one thing: should Jordan Burroughs join the UFC for any number of fights, he would instantly become the greatest wrestler to ever compete in the sport. It would not be close. While several Olympic gold medalists have competed in MMA before, none of them have the level of acclaim that Burroughs does. And for that reason, I think he is one of the few fighters that it would actually make sense for his MMA career to start in the UFC.
Normally, I would be against a complete MMA novice jumping straight into fights against elite opposition. Have you seen Daniel Cormier’s early fights? They were awful. But that being said, if Burroughs is really only interested in a one-off fight, having him fight some scrub on the regional scene makes no sense. If he was transitioning full time, yes, let’s get him reps first. But for a one and done, let’s throw him in the deep and and see what happens. If MMA were the 100-yard dash, elite wrestlers have a 50-yard head start, and Burroughs’ pedigree should give him at least a 70-yard head start. Either give him Askren (for the worst kick boxing bout in UFC history) or let’s see if he can double his way through like, Darren Till or something.
Ben Askren and a title shot?
If Ben Askren beats Masvidal, is a title shot next?— Brever.in.a.tree (@obi1inatree) May 10, 2019
I think that is the most likely outcome, but there could be some wrinkles. First, Askren has to win. Second, so does Kamaru Usman. If Usman wins, it doesn’t matter if Tyron Woodley beats Robbie Lawler in their rematch, Askren vs. Usman is the fight to make. (Tyron is five wins away from getting a rematch with Usman - you just can’t sell that fight after the completely one-sided ass-kicking that was their first fight). However, if Usman loses, then things get tricky.
My best guess is that if that happens, Askren would step aside and let Woodley have the title shot - assuming Covington and the UFC want that. But would they? For all his talk, Covington sure never seemed to actually want to fight Woodley when the time came to sign for it, and frankly, the UFC would prefer for Askren to get the belt over Woodley. I think it’s fair to say that if Askren had beaten Robbie Lawler without controversy, they would have gone ahead and done Askren vs. Usman next over even Covington, so the question becomes would Askren take the shot over Woodley? I would hope so and then Woodley can jump to middleweight, where a dude he beat just challenged for the interim belt, because that’s what should have happened the moment he got washed by Usman.
Askren vs. GSP?
Will we see GSP vs Askren in 2020?— Chris Poole (@MapleBacon88) May 9, 2019
Speaking of ol’ Ben Askren, I think there is one more ancillary benefit to the UFC trying to get a belt on “Funky”; doing so would be their best bet to get one last fight from Georges St-Pierre.
Yes, GSP is retired but in MMA retirement is more a state of mind than a state of being. And though GSP seemed content to retire, he also made it clear there were other fights he was willing to take *cough* Khabib *cough* but the UFC wasn’t interested in playing ball. Should Askren get the belt, GSP would have to look at it as a chance to come back for one last legacy-shifting moment. Askren would certainly be game; he has aggressively lobbied for a fight against GSP for years. And GSP vs. Askren with a belt on the line is big business for the UFC.
How long until there’s a union? Do you think Stipe wins the rematch? Do you think we will continue to see fighters fight closer to their natural weight? What would 165 do for the UFC?— matthew chavie (@MattChavie) May 9, 2019
We’re changing the game, folks. That’s right, instead of answering one Hot Tweet at a time, I’m just gonna rapid fire Matthew’s numerous pertinent questions.
- Never. If a $4.2 BILLION sale couldn’t get fighters to collectively realize the value they are leaving on the table, nothing ever will.
- Nope. He certainly can, but DC is better. Took him all of 4 minutes to figure out Stipe and bolt him. I suspect it happens again.
- Not to a significant degree. The idea of a weight/power advantage has too much pull to it, despite the increasingly mounting evidence that fighters benefit dramatically more from speed and, ya know, not being completely drained from literally torturing your body for a week just 24 hours before going into combat with another professional fighter.
- Sh*t things up something proper. It adds another belt to an already busy weight range. People want to act like adding a division would ease some of the title strain because there are more belts, when what would actually happen is 155 and 170 (they aren’t getting rid of their historically greatest division, accept that) champions would want to go for another title, creating even more logjams in that division. Super not worth it just so we can all see Kevin Lee not win a belt again.
How much does it matter to fight in front of a home crowd?— Eric Stinton (@TombstoneStint) May 9, 2019
Definitely some, but unclear how much.
Statistically it would almost certainly be skewed towards having an advantage because promoters don’t often book hometown fighters to lose - that would be terrible promotion. Also, when you watch Jose Aldo decapitate somebody and then jump into the crowd and get mobbed by his countrymen, it’s hard to argue against the emotional boost a hometown crowd can give fighters. But I think maybe the biggest factor for being the hometown hero is the judging. Judges sit cage side and, like it or not, in close fights and close rounds, your perspective of who is winning can absolutely be influenced by crowd reaction. If every time Jessica Andrade lands a punch tonight, the crowd goes wild, meanwhile it’s silent when Rose works a jab, that’s gonna stick in the judges’ minds and may affect their scorecards.
Someone with an infinite amount of time on their hands should crunch the numbers and let us know.
Do you think fighters,who get PPV points, are now going to try and renegotiate their contracts so they get a bigger guaranteed purse to make up for the drop in PPV buys due to ESPN+ ?— Chris Packham (@cpackhamdrums) May 9, 2019
The big stars will, but whether they will succeed is another thing entirely. After all, that is rumored to be what actually derailed Brock’s return to the UFC. He wanted a higher base salary and the UFC refused. But with the truly dismal numbers UFC 236 did, any fighter with clout who isn’t asking for more flat money, is doing it wrong.
The Worst UFC Champion
Who is the worst fighter to ever win a UFC championship?— Paul Garcia (@hpaulg) May 8, 2019
I love this question. Aside from the fact that some people are about to get furious at me, this is great because it’s the exact type of nonsense, unanswerable question that one can spend hours overanalyzing. I’ll save you all the burden though, because I have the only reasonable answers.
“Answers? He asked for the worst! That means one!” you say. Fools, I respond. Worst is a term of art, open to interpretation and in this sense, there are two ways we should consider “worst”. 1) Who is the worst - flat out? 2) Who is the worst in comparison to their contemporaries?
For the first, the answer is pretty obviously Maurice Smith. The UFC’s second ever heavyweight champion, Smith was 5-7 when he won the title and retired with a record of 14-14. Now I know B.J. Penn is trying his damnedest to end his career as a sub-.500 fighter but that’s a little different. Smith is the only reasonable choice here.
Now the second is where I’m going to ruffle some feathers. Maurice Smith could easily be the answer here as well, since, as I mentioned, he was 5-7 when he won the title. But he did at least defend his belt one time (though that was against Tank Abbott), which is more than many UFC champions have ever done. For instance, Nicco Montaño. Montaño had a record of 3-2 before getting on TUF where she won a pair of two-round fights before winning one three-rounder and then claiming the title against a last minute-replacement. She then didn’t defend her belt for nearly a year before she was stripped of the title. Then she failed a drug test for ostarine and was banned for 6 months for a contaminated supplement. Montaño is still young in her career, so there is plenty of time to turn this around but as it sits, she currently holds the belt for person the most people would be like “wait, she won a title?!”
Though Paul asked for the worst fighter to have ever won a belt, I also felt like telling you the worst champions in UFC history. It’s a two-way tie with, again, both of the above mentioned champions meriting consideration as well.
First, Michael Bisping. Bisping’s title reign was a miracle the likes of which we may never see again. Bisping is a great fighter, and a sure-fire Hall of Famer. He was also so far past his prime when he won the title that Georges St-Pierre un-retired after four years away just to snipe a second belt. Bisping’s one title defense was against Dan Henderson - at that point not too different from being Tank Abbott - and he still tried his absolute hardest to lose. While he was champion, there were at least 12 different fighters who would have been betting favorites to unseat him. That is truly incredible.
Second, the man who took the belt from Bisping, Georges St-Pierre. GSP is the greatest fighter of all time. He also vacated his title after 33 days and literally no one except Dana White believed he would actually defend his title. He was a terrible middleweight champion.
Thanks for reading this week. If you have any burning questions about the latest in MMA, you can send your Hot Tweets to me, @JedKMeshew. The best ones will be featured here next week.