Last week, Conor apologized for going wild, Stipe reignited the heavyweight GOAT debate, and Nate Diaz started his own belt. Let’s talk about all that plus Yoel Romero, true middleweight king.
Conor McGregor’s apology
What do you make of conor interview, pr move for damage control or he finally realizes that he is going down the rabbit hole and he wants to turn it around— eric patry (@rushgsp1987) August 23, 2019
ICYMI: Conor McGregor had an extended interview where he basically admitted he’s being going wild and needs to chill the F out.
A little of column A, a little of column B. When the interview with Ariel started, I thought this was entirely a PR move, in part because he went full court defendant mode with his dress and appearance. I mean, look at this.
Moments ago I spoke to @TheNotoriousMMA. It was a 41-minute, wide-ranging interview on many different subjects, including the video released last week in the bar and his fighting future. A portion of the interview will air today on @SportsCenter on @espn at approx. 5:45 pm ET. pic.twitter.com/GDklQqlDn2— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) August 22, 2019
That’s a man who is trying to feign contrition more than a man who is actually sorry for anything he’s done. And to be clear, I still believe that was a part of it. After all, Conor has had a year of terrible optics - from punching the guy in a bar to the phone smashing incident to the reports of sexual assault allegations - and began looking like a man who was truly spiraling downward. A cut and paste statement from his PR rep isn’t gonna cut it. He needed to come out and speak on the matters (though one of those points was conspicuously absent from this interview).
However, even though this was more a conversation than a grilling, I think we can take some of Conor’s words to heart on their own merit. There is a real difference between having an extended interview and answering a few quick questions with your own pre-canned answers, and Conor’s answers here were certainly thought out beforehand but not rehearsed, per se. If Conor really had no sense that things were getting out of hand, we could have expected a pretty standard: “I’m embarrassed by my actions, I need to do better and I will do better,” and while we got some of that we also got this:
“I’m in a position that not many fighters, very few, I can make this generational. I can either be rich and spoiled and blow it all in this generation and leave it all behind in ruins or I can get my head together and build it and make it generational. The children of my children’s children. If I have this opportunity before me, if I don’t execute this and get this right and make this happen for the children of my children’s children, all of my success, everything I have achieved will be void, it will be meaningless to me.”
That’s real. And the fact that on at least some level Conor recognizes that is a good sign that maybe he’s gonna pull it together. Here’s to hoping.
Nate makes good points about being able to survive the UFC wood chipper. Who will still be a prizefighter in 2025, Nate or Conor?— SenseiThePitbull (@Sensei_Pitbull) August 23, 2019
Look, I like a fictional belt as much as the next guy but to say Nate has a point about who the best fighters are is a stretch. Hell, by this reasoning, Anthony Pettis who is 4-6 in his last 10, is among the very best fighters in the world. We know who the best fighters are in MMA, because they actually fight and that’s how we settle things. It’s more than okay to love Nate Diaz and he’s low key incredibly smart about a lot of things - for instance, his belief that the belt is meaningless is correct but not because bad fighters get the belt, it’s correct because prizefighting is about getting the biggest prizes and right now he can make more money not fighting for the title - but we don’t have to take everything he says as true.
As for your question, in six years, Nate will be 40 so I hope he’s not still fighting. He’s already taken an unhealthy amount of damage. But Conor will almost certainly still be fighting in six years. He fights about once a year and every time he does, it’s a massive and profitable event. Conor is about to embark on the Floyd Mayweather era of his career where he just sits out and waits for fights he wants, and stacks paper the whole time.
Baddest motherf*cker title
How do you see Diaz Vs Masvidal playing out? I can't shake the feeling that Masvidal hits harder and that it can subdue Nate over 15 to 25 minutes.— Try harder (@the_hardie) August 21, 2019
My gut says Diaz wins it. Masvidal’s issue for most of his UFC career is his tendency to feel comfortable when he’s winning a fight subtly. Seriously, Masvidal has a very good argument he’s won every fight in the UFC except for the Stephen Thompson one. But he gets complacent with being an excellent defensive fighter and so has lost a number of split decisions to fighters who landed less but threw more and so outworked him. Diaz’s volume is going to give Masvidal plenty of opportunities to counter but my guess is it also overwhelms him at some point. But it’s a tremendous fight and I can’t wait to see it.
Speaking of fake belts
Where does Middleweight Champion Yoel Romero go from here?— Matt Gioia (@gioiabeans) August 21, 2019
Yoel Romero is the best middleweight in the world. He has been for about five years. He does not have the belt and likely never will. This is a failing in judging and promotion and probably humanity but alas, those who know, know.
You know how we know he’s the best? If the Earth went to war with an alien species and we had to send one middleweight avatar to defend us, it would be Yoel Romero. That Robert Whittaker somehow won their second fight is one of the more insane things that has happened in recent MMA judging and Paulo Costa didn’t win their fight either, though at least it’s completely reasonable to give Costa the win. The issue is that Costa was reeling before nut-shotting Romero and Costa was set to get got in rounds 4 and 5 had Romero been actually defending his title as he should have been.
So, Romero remains the true middleweight king and next he will defend his title against Jacare Souza. Unless he moves up to light heavyweight and dominates literally anyone there not names Jon Jones.
If Masvidal fights Diaz. Who should Edwards fight next?— FantasyFightWeek.com (@WeekFantasy) August 21, 2019
What do you think is next for the heavyweight division? Trilogy match with dc and stipe? Jon Jones moves up for a double belt? Or ngannou vs stipe??— Crto (@CarterLevine6) August 23, 2019
All of these things happen, but the trilogy happens first.
Will Nick Diaz ever come back?— Daniel Vitu (@dannyewis) August 22, 2019
Who is the toughest test for Jon Jones? At light heavy or heavy weight— adamblois (@adambl555) August 21, 2019
Francis Ngannou. Thiago Santos’ power had Jones so shook he actively avoided fighting him for 25 minutes. There’s an outside chance he jumps out of the cage if Ngannou is standing across from him.
Why is @TonyFergusonXT getting looked over? They gave that clown Mcgregor the alternate spot at ufc242, and not Tony???.. #ChampShitOnly— B. iriye (@maniak_11) August 22, 2019
Tony Ferguson is doomed to be overlooked. That’s just his lot in life. Think about this: there’s a legitimate case to be made that Tony has been the best lightweight in the world for like, five years and he’ll never hold the actual title. Now, I don’t think that’s true but it’s crazy for that to be the case.
Why does MMA attract weirdos?— Kyoji’s mochi (@p4pmemes) August 21, 2019
It’s a sport centered around violence but caters largely to the wealthy. Boxers are almost entirely comprised of people from low-income walks of life, in large part because training boxing is pretty cheap as a kid. MMA is filled with people from affluent walks of life who just want to hurt people. That’s a weird-ass Venn diagram. Also, I think we underestimate just how much MMA being the first internet sport has influenced it. The internet is an insane place and MMA would have likely died without a bunch of weirdos on the internet keeping it alive in the dark days. Add it all together and you get a sport of misanthropes and oddballs. It’s beautiful.
If Spielberg or another legendary filmmaker we’re to make a movie based on a real world MMA fight/feud/story, which one should it be?— Blake (@Woolman7242) August 20, 2019
Daniel Cormier. His life story is one of the most compelling and fascinating things I’ve ever encountered. It has it all. Tragedy, self-inflicted defeat, and ultimately, triumph. Speilberg, get on that sh*t.
Who wins a fight between 100 miniature Jorge Masvidals and one giant Nate Diaz?— Dave Doyle (@davedoylemma) August 22, 2019
Well, as we all know Nate Diaz is already 10 feet tall and made of railroad ties. That’s how he was able to best Conor in their first outing. But 100 badger-sized Masvidals is basically just 100 badgers. Nate wouldn’t stand a chance.
Who is the HW GOAT?
Jed you’re the only one who can answer this question:— Paul Garcia (@hpaulg) August 21, 2019
Who is the best Heavyweight of all time?
If you watched UFC 241 then you undoubtedly heard Joe Rogan hammering home the idea that Stipe Miocic is the greatest heavyweight of all time. He said it so many times that it felt like he was trying to will it into existence more than that it was an outright fact, and that’s because he was. Stipe is not the greatest heavyweight ever, though his comeback win over DC was a huge step towards claiming that title. However, that title has been in the same place it’s been for the past 15 years, with Fedor Emelianenko.
Stipe Miocic has had a great run and with the win over Cormier has moved solidly into second place on that list but there are a number of factors at play that make me think Fedor is still solidly the GOAT.
- Recency bias is damn near overwhelming in MMA. It’s why Rogan insists Max Holloway is the GOAT featherweight despite that being obviously absurd on its face. Just because he’s the most recent, doesn’t mean he’s the best.
- Stipe’s run is a little inflated. It’s not his fault but Stipe happened to rise to prominence amid an era of fading older glory. Jon Jones suffers from this too. All his best wins come over guys who are very clearly past their prime and still occupy the top of the division because heavyweight has a dearth of talent. Fedor’s resume is littered with trash and outmatched competition, but he also has wins over a number of all time greats at the peak of their powers.
- His title streak was only 3 years. Rogan harps on how Stipe is the most accomplished heavyweight ever, which is technically true (though also technically he and Randy Couture have the same number of heavyweight title wins) but is one of those stats that really doesn’t mean much. It means he’s defended the belt three times which, when you think about it is really an indictment of the UFC’s heavyweight division more than a shining example of Stipe’s greatness. Fedor was the undisputed HW king for damn near a decade.
- He doesn’t have a mystique - and never has. Stipe Miocic is the best heavyweight in the world. And at no point in time has anyone ever thought, ‘Wow, he’s gonna kill that guy’ about the next opponent. Fedor, on the other hand, was thought to be invincible for a decade. Now, admittedly, this is a very subjective measure to bring to a GOAT debate and has a lot to do with personality but I genuinely think stuff like that matters, even if it’s small.
- Jon Jones exists. Low key one of the biggest knocks on Stipe’s entire run as heavyweight king is the fact that Jon Jones exists and would probably knuckle Stipe up in decided fashion. It’s hard to be seen as the baddest dude on the planet when probably the best fighter of all time would come and take your cookies at any moment, should he so choose.
Stipe is an all-time great and substantially better fighter than I probably give him credit for, but he’s not the GOAT and he’s never been the GOAT. Beating DC, a legitimate top-5 heavyweight near his prime is a big step towards getting there though and if he wins a couple more, maybe I’ll start giving the claim credence.
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.