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Hot Tweets: Jon Jones adding to his legacy and which fighters will have success into their 40s

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Hey there. How you doing? Been a while since last we spoke. What’s been going on in your world? Oh me? Nothing too much, you know, just WINNING MMA MEDIA OUTLET OF THE YEAR FOR A FOURTH YEAR RUNNING. No big deal, really. Cejudo ain’t got nothing on the quadruple champs. so now let’s get to some of that illustrious content that makes us an award-winning MMA website: college football and senior citizens fighting.

How does Jon Jones add to his legacy?

The easy answer here is “win in spectacular fashion” but that’s not really Jon’s MO these days anyway. Fortunately for him, the real answer is much easier, if more complex.

My esteemed and fellow award-winning media member Mike Chiappetta recently argued that for Jon Jones to really cement his legacy, he needs to hammer Thiago Santos this weekend and then move up to heavyweight. And while I take his point, I fundamentally disagree. For Jones to add to his legacy and build it to unquestioned GOAT status, all he needs to do is keep winning. The rest will take care of itself.

During the height of Demetrious Johnson’s title reign, when haters were pretending he wasn’t a top-5 guy or was scared to move up to bantamweight, I regularly maintained that Mighty Mouse was the only smart guy in the room. Champ-champ titles were this shiny new thing that everyone was enamored with but, I argued, there would soon be so many of those that the accomplishment would lose some of its luster and I think that was an accurate read. The entire situation has quickly devolved to where fighters seemingly only want to win their first title so they can then challenge for a second one while skipping the line. In the first 23 years of the UFC there were zero champ-champs. In the last three years we’ve had four. You know what we haven’t had though? Anyone defend their title more than Demetrious Johnson.

Because MMA has had a number of dominant champions, fans take for granted just how difficult it is to defend a world title. The change from being the hunter to the hunted is substantial and doing so over an extended period of time, where other fighters have years and years to plan for you and build their games in a way to defeat you, is one of the single most difficult things in sports. DJ’s record may never be broken but if it can be, Jon Jones is the guy to do it. And if he does that, just stays at light heavyweight and reigns for the next five years, he’ll be the GOAT by a mile. It won’t matter that in the moment people will write off his competition because looking back and seeing that Jon Jones was a 20-time world champion will be too unfathomable to comprehend.

So, in short, all Jon needs to do on Saturday is win. But if he did it with a gogoplata it wouldn’t hurt.

Holiday weeks


Here’s a true story. I went to the University of Georgia for undergrad and every year our Fall break - one or two days off in the fall - fell on the weekend of the Georgia-Florida football game. It was scheduled that way because such a huge percentage of the school would be going down to Jacksonville for the game every year. So it made no sense to have classes on Friday when no one would be there and every student would willing just use one of their allotted absences for that. It was just the reasonable thing to do.

In the same way, the days preceding or following national holidays should also be holidays. Honestly, how many people do you think skipped work on Friday? The answer is in the millions. Basically, anyone who could skip work did, so we should just take the middle man out and give people more time off. This country already works people too hard. Let them suffer their hangovers in peace.

Bobby Knux vs. Stylebender

ICYMI, Robert Whittaker vs. Israel Adesanya was made official this week.

I won’t get too into the weeds here as the fight is far away and there will be more opportunities to talk about it as it gets nearer but I favor Adesanya, just slightly. I’ve been a big Knuckles fan for awhile now but after he very obviously lost to Yoel Romero in his last fight and has now spend 50 minutes getting his head bludgeoned by one of the most terrifying men in existence, I have some serious questions about how his chin will fare. On top of that, I think Eugene Bareman is a sensational coach and Adesanya is a bad style matchup for Whittaker. Though Whittaker is a really good wrestler, that wrestling has been almost entirely used defensively. He’s a bit like Chuck Liddell in that way. He’s a solid enough striker but he’s not actually a great striker and so when paired against someone who is a superior kickboxer, I think he’s going to get marked up.

UFC PPVs in the UK

ICYMI, UFC 239 will be the first UFC event ever shown on PPV in the United Kingdom.

Oh you poor, sweet, naive young fatdrunk person. You seem to be laboring under the delusion that the UFC cares about you, the fan, when Dana White has repeatedly and for years told every fan who complains that they can “not watch it then.”

This move into PPV in the UK was done for one reason and one reason only: money. They aren’t trying to ease the transition by picking an event better suited to your time schedules. They are picking an event that is headlined by (arguably) the two best fighters of all time, one of whom is probably the third-biggest star in the sport. If you’re a fan of combat sports, you’re going to watch this for that reason alone so they have decided they’d like to make the extra money that comes with that.

Don’t worry though, I’m sure UFC 242 will also be a PPV event.

DC vs. Francis Ngannou

You might be saying to yourself, ‘Self, that man cheated!’ Technically, you are correct but since this is my column and none of you hooligans asked about this and I wanted to talk about it, here we are. Ask the questions I want to talk about next time and we won’t have this issue.

Anyway, about 2 minutes after Francis Ngannou quietly ended Junior dos Santos’ title aspirations, I was struck by how interested I was in Daniel Cormier vs. Ngannou and how little interest I have in the Stipe Miocic rematch for DC. I have never understood why the UFC was so keen on it. For one, it’s not like Stipe is a star that demands to be in title fights, and for another, he doesn’t deserve a rematch. At all.

Immediate rematches should only happen if there is controversy in the first fight. A DQ win or a draw or a horrendous judge’s decision. But Stipe got KTFO in less than a round. Ain’t no controversy about that. In the words of Nate Diaz:

Also for the “Stipe is the longest reigning champion” crowd, GTFO. Stipe defend the belt three times in two years. That’s far from an unimpeachable dynasty. Really it speaks to how messed up the UFC heavyweight division is. Also, he apparently was only the longest reigning champion because the dude who bolted him in under five minutes spent a career chasing Jon Jones instead of dominating heavyweights.

The UFC going forward with that fight when they knew Ngannou-JDS was a title contender bout is dumb. DC could very well beat Ngannou. Or he could get uppercutted to the moon and then the Ngannou-Stipe rematch is much more interesting. Meanwhile, Stipe is now another year older and hasn’t fought in a year so, forgive me, but none of the PPV buying audience will care. That thing is gonna sell 300K buys.

Old man champions

Man, Paul keeps bringing the weird questions I like to answer. Be more like Paul, y’all.

Well, the easiest answer here is Stipe Miocic. Despite bagging on him just a few sentences ago, Stipe is the odds on favorite to become heavyweight champion when DC retires and heavyweight is basically the only division I foresee this being doable in. After all, Randy only did it at heavyweight and the division is arguably thinner now than it was then. That being said, I still don’t think Stipe does it either.

Moving down the line at heavyweight, no on stands out from the current crowd. They’re either too young to think they can hold a belt for a decade or too not good to think they can win the belt.

The next obvious choice is Yoel Romero. He’s already over 40 and should be the UFC middleweight champion right now, seeing how he beat the bejesus out of Robert Whittaker in their last fight (screw a blown weight). He has the shortest path to doing so, beating Izzy for the belt and then defending it in a rematch.

After Romero, Jon Jones is the next best bet, partly because he’s so much better than everyone and partly because eventually he too will go to heavyweight where everyone is worse. Even so though, Jones is still only 31. It’s kinda hard to imagine he has another decade of untouchable greatness in him (see above section about the difficulty of defending belts over and over again).

After those three though, pickings get really slim. Shevchenko is I guess my go-to answer as she is currently so much better than the rest of her division, she could possibly put together a decade-long run of dominance a la Jones but that still seems like a long shot. The one thing going for Shevchenko over Jones in this regard though is that she’s not fighting heavyweight and light heavyweights where the margin for error is much smaller. But even so, eventually after that long at the top, some young fighter is going to build a style perfectly designed to beat you (think Max Holloway and Jose Aldo. Aldo is the better fighter but that style matchup is atrocious, especially give Max’s youth advantage).

The two remaining fighters I can make a case for fall into the same category: they could do it but things would have to break really right for them: Ronaldo Souza and Tyron Woodley.

Jacare will turn 40 this year. He’s substantially more faded than Romero but if he can get a good win, he may get a “here’s for all the good years” title shot like Michael Bisping. Then he just needs to convert and defend one time. It’s a narrow window though.

Woodley isn’t as close to 40 but he still seems to be near the peak of his powers. I can see him having a Romero-like run as the most athletic man alive still into his 40s which gives him a shot at catching some lucky breaks and getting back to the title.

Of course, if the UFC ever opens up a seniors division, then all bets are off.

Thanks for reading this week and thank you for everyone who sent in Tweets! Do you have any burning questions about things 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.