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Hot Tweets: The ongoing saga of Cris Cyborg and what is the best gym in MMA?

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Man, the fallout from Cris Cyborg vs. Dana White is still coming down, so let’s talk about that plus some fantasy match-making and the best gyms in MMA.

Cyborg’s release

Sure felt that way, or at least that was a big part of it. The other benefit of letting her walk early is that it helps Dana and the UFC control the narrative. Looking at it now, it seems unlikely that Cyborg would’ve re-signed regardless of the terms offered to her which means that offering her terms would only set them up to get rejected publicly. Instead, Dana can take the lead and declare they want no part of her. Like breaking up with a girlfriend who you know is about to break up with you. I can’t speak for what actually goes on in Dana’s head, but I can’t think of any other explanation. Unless you think that Dana has completely turned a new leaf, and wants Cyborg to be able to fight as soon as her heart desires, and if you believe that, then you probably haven’t paid much attention to the last 18 years.

Cyborg’s possible opponents

Cris Cyborg vs. Julia Budd is a really good fight, in my opinion. I don’t say this often but I do believe Dana White was right in that Cyborg is past her prime and that a rematch with Amanda Nunes would be another drubbing. Julia Budd however, is a good fighter but not the greatest female fighter of all time like Nunes so I think that bout is pretty competitive and very fun. I also think it’s very likely to happen as I can’t really see a way Cyborg goes anywhere other than Bellator.

As for Kayla Harrison, I’m less confident that’s a competitive fight. Harrison is still so early in her career I can’t in good conscience think she’d be ready to take on the third-best woman of all time, albeit a diminished version of her. Maybe she’s a prodigy though, and if so, her grappling could at least make things interesting for a bit. I also think there’s a decent chance we see this as Bellator is not against co-promoting and that’s the kind of big fight that would be worth doing so for.

Robbie’s future

He’ll keep fighting and that’s fine. Lawler is well past his prime but he still is a solid welterweight, he’s just not gonna make a title run again. Now he’s entering that phase of his career where he should be taking legend fights against other past-their-primers that are competitive and stoke nostalgia juices AKA HE NEEDS TO FIGHT ANDERSON SILVA.

I’ve been calling for this fight for almost a year now and I don’t understand why it hasn’t been made. They are both former champions, both 1-4 in their last five fights, both have seen better days but aren’t completely inept, and both have the same issue - they can’t pull the trigger as easily as they used to be able to. Robbie used to fight at middleweight and Anderson has never been a huge 185er. There is no other fight that makes any sense at all for either man and I’ll keep advocating for it until it happens.

Dream fights

You mean aside from Silva-Lawler?

First and foremost is Conor McGregor vs. Justin Gaethje. I feel like everyone just completely ignores the possibility of this fight which is insane because it is legitimately the most exciting fight in MMA history on paper. Whatever your thoughts on McGregor it is impossible to argue he’s not one of the most exciting fighters in the sport. Even outside of the circus heading into the fight, Conor is a thrilling in-cage combatant. And of course Justin Gaethje is Justin F* cking Gaethje. There is literally no fight in MMA I’d like to see more.

Also, and I feel like a rube now, but I’ve somehow been tricked into really wanting to see Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Georges St-Pierre. I know, I know Khabib-Tony Ferguson is the fight to make but I’ve given up that that can ever happen. God himself seems to be against that fight taking place. And the more I think about it, the more fascinated I am with Khabib-GSP, even though I hate myself for thinking that.

I also really want to see Jon Jones vs. Francis Ngannou. Jones’ caution around Thiago Santos’ power rendered him almost completely inert so I am supremely curious to see if he’ll just implode at the thought of Ngannou’s punches. Conversely, we still have no idea if Francis Ngannou is actually a good fighter so maybe Jon runs him over. Either way it would be cool to see.

Khabib vs. Dustin

If Dustin strikes with the pace and volume he had in the Max fight, he’s going to win. But that’s because if he does that then that means he’s kept the fight on the feet. Sadly, that is not going to happen.

Dustin is a solid defensive wrestler and you can bet that he’s been working his ass off to improve ahead of Khabib and to take advantage of Khabib’s grappling tendencies, but it’s not gonna matter. Khabib is the best MMA wrestler I’ve ever seen. He has too many entries, too many tricks, and too many chaining combinations. Eventually he’s going to get Dustin down and when he does, he keeps him down. Just look at the Conor fight. Conor is actually a much better wrestler than he gets credit for and he was well schooled to fend off Khabib but it didn’t even come close to mattering. To beat Khabib you have to either hurt him early or pitch a perfect game. It’s not impossible but it’s gonna be damn tough and I don’t see a world where Dustin does it.

Tony vs. Conor

Man, remember when this was a fight that could have maybe happened? Those were the days. I think Tony vs. Conor is almost as exciting a fight as Conor vs. Gaethje, but there’s one big caveat: I don’t know who wins Conor-Gaethje but I’m fairly certain Conor mercs Tony.

That just got a bunch of people very angry. I get it, I understand. You love Tony and he can grapple and has a limitless gas tank, things that are potent against Conor. But he’s also ancient for lightweight (35) extremely hittable, and a slow starter. Everyone seems to forget that Tony mostly loses the first round of fights he’s in and then comes on strong. We’ve also seen him get rocked a few times recently. His cardio is insane so he can recover quickly but I’ve always thought he’s just too hittable, especially early, and that Conor would just bolt him inside of five.

I can’t wait to be labeled a Conor Stan for this.

Jorge’s next opponent

They’re both great fights but Jorge Masvidal vs. Nate Diaz is fun because of both of their personalities. The build up to that fight would be great to watch and the in-cage style matchup is pretty fun as well. Jorge is the better fighter and the better defensive fighter but Nate’s pressure and volume might give him the edge with the judges.

On the other end of it, even after beating Rafael dos Anjos, Leon Edwards is still the most underrated fighter in the sport. He’s incredibly good at everything and a legitimate dark horse candidate to take the strap. Edwards vs. Masvidal is the definition of elite, well-rounded mixed martial arts. In fact, it may be the best pure MMA fight that can be made today, considering all the skills involved. Plus it is a legitimate grudge match. So even if that build up will be excruciating to watch Edwards try and play the dozens with Jorge, that’s still the fight I’d like to see.


Speaking of Jorge . . .

Give me the Leon Edwards fight for all the reasons listed above. I doubt it will happen and that makes sense from a promotional standpoint (no one gives a hot turd about Leon Edwards) but I also don’t see another fight that makes sense for Jorge because there’s approximately a zero percent chance the UFC puts him in there with Conor.

The Ultimate Fighter

No one. Kill TUF. But if you insist, Shevchenko and whatever dead woman they want to put opposite her after she rolls through Carmouche tonight. Build up W125, promote your incredible champion, and no one will care that women’s flyweight will be put on hold for a year.

Bare Knuckle Boxing

Not a chance. Aside from the fact that BKB is basically just turning into the UFC legends league at this point, there isn’t the market for it so suddenly become this global phenomenon. I do think it or similar bare knuckle fight leagues are here to stay now though. Though hiring Alexander Emelianenko is not the right way to make people enjoy your product.

Drunken Boxing

As a sanctioned sport? God no. As something you do with your friends on the weekend? Look, I would be a liar if I said I’d never done it before but I can’t recommend it, both for legal reasons and because you wake up feeling like 20 pounds of crap in a 10-pound bag. But I can’t tell you how to live your life.

Unified Rules of MMA

Just time. Things move slowly in the world of regulation and getting all the various sanctioning bodies on the same page is like herding cats. Eventually we will have an actual Unified Rules of MMA instead of the 17 different Unified Rules of MMA we currently have.

Title defense record

Valentina Shechenko. There is no one even close to her in that division right now. If she decides to try and be super active over the next year and half, she could easily rack up a half dozen title defenses. The name of the game here is speed. In a few years, the division could catch up, she could get old, and fighters will have been gameplanning against her for years and years. The quicker you can get defenses under your belt, the better. That’s why I’ve always thought that title duration was an underrated stat for looking at champions.

Still though, I wouldn’t bet on it. Demetrious Johnson is destined to be one of those fighters we look back on and realize he was criminally underrated. That record is probably gonna stand for another decade.

The best MMA team ever.

The best team today is American Top Team. Full disclosure, I train at an affiliate, however, I still think that’s the correct answer. The amount of champions and contenders the gym is producing is ridiculous. For reference, the currently have four champions (I’m counting Yoel Romero because we all know he’s the UFC middleweight champion), two of whom own multiple belts. On top of that they’re home to another half-dozen legitimate contenders who may end up holding a title soon. Add in the fact that Mike Brown is probably the best head coach in MMA right now and I think ATT is the clear cut winner.

Having said that, I will also accept American Kickboxing Academy as the correct answer as they currently play home to two of the top-three pound-for-pound fighters in the world and their partnership with Khabib and the Dagestani Knuckle Game Cartel continues to produce some of the very best fighters in the world. So no disrespect to other elite camps and unheralded ones (shouts to City Kickboxing) but I think those are the at the head of the pack right now.

As for best camp of all time, that a trickier one and with all GOAT conversations, centers around what are the considerations. In this instance, I’m gonna choose to interpret GOAT Gym as what was the best peak of a gym in MMA and not take into account things like longevity. So given that, I’ll take the simple answer of saying Miletich Fighting Systems during the peak of its powers.

When MFS was running the show, they were really running the show. At one time they had champions in three of the UFC’s five divisions and middleweight champion Rich Franklin had a friendly relationship with them. Back then, when forum nerds would talk about an MMA Hall of Fame (like an actual building not an abstract concept) they would pose that it be in Bettendorf, Iowa. I doubt we’ll ever see a gym with such a clear stranglehold over MMA like early MFS so for that reason, I’ll crown them the GOAT gym.

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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