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Hot Tweets: Paulie Malignaggi’s fight promotion, Conor McGregor, more

Conor McGregor Esther Lin, Showtime Sports

Paulie Malignaggi’s fight promotion

In case you missed it, Paulie Malignaggi spit on Artem Lobov at their BKFC presser this week. He then said he hoped he put Artem in a coma. Needless to say, things have turned ugly.

I suppose “too far” is in the eye of the beholder. Personally, I would say spitting on someone is always too far, just as part of a society. But as part of fight promotion? I suppose that’s fair game. However, I do agree with you that Paulie’s actions this week have detracted slightly from this fight, for me at least. Basically the only reason that a fight between an elite boxer and a T-Rex armed, 500 MMA fighter is interesting at all is the very real beef that sits at the core of it all, and Paulie’s nonsense this week has shifted that to the background of this cartoonish bafoonery.

But does the public writ large share that feeling? I’m skeptical. My gut reaction is that while some people may be turned off by Paulie turning things to 11 so quickly, the bulk of the viewing public is probably eating this up and with a few weeks of distance, a promo showing Paulie spitting on Artem is going to get everyone interested, which will only incentivize Paulie to go even more in when he and Conor inevitably fight.

Jesus, that’s gonna be a sh*tshow.

Speaking of Conor McGregor

This week, Justin Gaethje renewed his calls for a fight with Conor McGregor. However, McGregor reportedly suffered a hand injury while training and is now targeting a late summer return.

It’s the only fight to make at this point. Khabib Nurmagomedov is fighting Dustin Poirier in September for the lightweight title. Tony Ferguson is taking on Donald Cerrone, and the winner of that is next in line for a title shot. Nate Diaz, the only other fight that makes sense for McGregor, is taking on Anthony Pettis at the end of the summer. That leaves very few options for McGregor unless he wants to wait for the winner of Diaz-Pettis. Even if Conor wanted to return to 145, he can’t get an immediate title fight since Max Holloway is already booked against Frankie Edgar, with Alexander Volkanovski waiting in the wings.

The only other options for Conor right now are a Jose Aldo rematch (which lost all the appeal for Conor after Aldo lost again), Rafael dos Anjos (wouldn’t even earn him a welterweight title shot), or Gaethje. Gaethje by far makes the most sense as both a winnable matchup for Conor (also a super losable one) and the fight that will most quickly put him back in line for a title shot. If Cerrone upsets Ferguson and Conor styles on Gaethje, the UFC is giving Conor the rematch with either Khabib or Poirier. Plus, that fight bangs. Hard. On paper it is the most exciting fight in MMA history.

As far as who would win? Give me Conor. A few years ago and I’d have gone with Gaethje but after seeing him finally broken by Eddie Alvarez and Poirier, both less offensively talented fighters than Conor, I think Conor can gets it done.

Three division champion

For the first 23 years of the UFC, there had only ever been two multiple-division champions. Then, Conor McGregor won a second title and opened the floodgates. In the two and a half years since Conor won the lightweight title, the number of multi-division champions has doubled. It’s no longer a question of if someone will win belts in three divisions, it’s only a matter of time (assuming you don’t count Valentina Shevchenko, who is the rightful flyweight, bantamweight, and featherweight champion, having beaten Amanda Nunes in their rematch).

As far as who will be the fighter to do that, the best odds are with someone who already has won two belts, meaning they’d only need a couple lucky breaks to pick up a third. Daniel Cormier is never making 185 pounds, so he’s out. Similarly, I wouldn’t expect Amanda Nunes to be cutting an extra 10 pounds unless she has a leg surgically removed. Georges St-Pierre, B.J. Penn, and Randy Couture are all retired. (‘B.J.’s not retired!’, you say but you are wrong. He retired in 2011 after losing to Nick Diaz). That leaves Conor McGregor with the shortest path to accomplishing the deed, and he’s definitely the best bet to do it.

Conor already has two belts and, all he needs is to move up to 170 and KO RDA to give himself a chance. His name value means any welterweight champion will want to fight him and if things break right, maybe Conor could snipe a good matchup and sneak his way to the title. He’d have to wait though. Kamaru Usman is a hellacious fight for him.

Aside from Conor, I could see Max making the move to 155 permanently and doing well when he fully adjusts to the division. Plus he has the right frame to also move up to welterweight eventually. Other than that, there aren’t too many good options right now. The big caveat to all of this is if the UFC does eventually add a 165 pound division. Then you’re looking at a lot more opportunity for a great lightweight to pick up a pair of extra titles.

Which division is gonna go first?

This question presumes that both flyweight and women’s featherweight are doomed in the UFC and, at this point, I think that’s totally fair. Just check out the UFC ranking page. The UFC has cut so many flyweights that they no longer even have 15 ranked competitors. They’re down to 13, including the champion who is about to fight at 135. And of course, they’ve never had women’s featherweight rankings, just a champion.

Which one will get the ax first though depends on what happens over the summer. If Cejudo beats Moraes, the flyweight division will probably be cut a few months later. If he loses, that probably gives flyweight life support until the end of the year. Similarly, if Nunes loses to Holm, featherweight probably sticks around so they can do the rematch there. If Nunes wins, the only reason 145 hangs on is because they like promoting Nunes as a double champion. Unless they finally do the sensible thing and just fold 145 completely and make everything above 125 into “women’s heavyweight”.

As far as will divisions be added? That’s a “hell” and a “no”. Dana is already trying to shutter two divisions, one which was headed up by a future Hall of Famer and their winningest champion ever. And he’s made his feelings on 165 quite clear. We aren’t getting any other new divisions anytime soon.

Bonus Round

Eryk Anders did not ask me this question but this is both a great one and exactly the kind of nonsense I hope to see in my Twitter mentions everyday when I log on.

And the answer is definitely yes. Captain America has spent 80 years buffed to the max, and has never required constant re-ups on his dosage. Whatever was in the super-soldier serum he took wasn’t just your run of the mill HGH. That stuff hangs around longer than Jon Jones’ picograms.

The super-soldier serum didn’t just max out Steve Rogers’ stats, it fundamentally altered his entire make up. USADA’s tests likely couldn’t detect half of what was going on in his system and the half they could detect wouldn’t make sense. It would be like a scene in a movie where the doctor comes in and says “according to your test results, you should have died three weeks ago.” He’d be USADA proof.

Of course, none of this would matter because he’d never be sanctioned for any athletic contest ever. Once it becomes apparent that Captain America can pick up a car and run a two-minute mile, no athletic commission is ever sanctioning him to do anything, much less fight other people in a cage. It remains the height of absurdity that GSP lasted more than four seconds against Cap.

Thanks for reading this week and thank you for everyone who sent in Tweets. 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.

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