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Hot Tweets: Chastising fans who think McGregor vs. Cowboy was a work and discussing a 165-pound weight class

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Wow. There were a lot of questions this week and most of them were pretty good! So in lieu of doing a deep dive on just a few, and then answering one-offs like we normally do here, I’m going to rattle off as many of these as I can before the word count balloons to 4000. Here we go!


Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone - Not a fixed fight

This question/take cropped up a lot following UFC 246 and Conor’s 40-second KO of Cowboy so let’s go ahead and address it right out of the gate: no, Cowboy Cerrone did not take a dive against Conor McGregor. For one thing, he’s Cowboy f*cking Cerrone. For another thing, look at his face after the bout. If the fix was in, there are many, many better ways to throw a fight without giving yourself a sh*tty week. Hell, Cowboy could’ve even tapped to strikes, giving Conor his first submission in the UFC. Oh, and did I mention this is Cowboy f*cking Cerrone we’re talking about here?

To truly believe Conor-Cowboy was fixed requires you to either be a conspiracy lunatic, be a full-blown Conor hater, or have a fundamental misunderstanding of fight sport promotion. Perhaps all three. Conor vs. Cowboy was a “fixed fight” in that the outcome, while not directly predetermined, was a damn near certainty from the moment the fight was booked. Like locking a gazelle in a cage with a lion, or Khabib in a cage with anyone, the outcome of this bout was never in doubt. Cowboy Cerrone has fought more times in the UFC than any other fighter and as a result, his strengths and weaknesses are well known, and his weaknesses happen to line up perfectly for Conor. Seriously, if you were to create a legitimate world-class fighter in a lab (not some dude off the street) for Conor to beat, Donald Cerrone would be it.

This is a thing that happens in boxing all the time when promoters are grooming up and comers or building back up a fallen star. Every once in awhile it goes to hell when some dumb kid doesn’t know any better and actually wins, but the vast majority of the time, it goes according to plan. Just like it did this time.


Maycee Barber’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week.

Man, “The Future” had a rough one this week. First, she blew out her ACL in what appeared to be a pretty random occurrence. Now she’ll be on the shelf for nine months rehabbing and her plans of being the youngest champion ever are up in smoke. Then she suffered the first loss of her career to the lovable-but-generally-viewed-as-a-gatekeeper Roxanne Modafferi. Then she jacked the mic from Roxy after one of Roxy’s biggest wins, which was booty. Then her dad confirmed every suspicion you’ve ever had about him being that you’ve probably never actually thought about him once in your life, going full sports dad mode and claiming a win, despite Barber getting her ass kicked.

Honestly, it was all bad and none of it makes Barber look great, but in her defense, she’s 21 years old. We all do dumb things at that age and none of us can be held responsible for our parents. She’ll be fine, and when her knee is healed up, I’m sure she’ll keep improving and quickly become a legitimate contender.


The BMF Title

Well, I’m sure the UFC won’t be commissioning any more BMF titles. That being said, Jorge is certainly able to put up his own belt, which honestly would make it significantly cooler. A legitimate one of one that gets passed around to the rightful holder, no one keeping it forever. I’d dig the hell out of that, though I’d like a stipulation that the BMF title must be separate from divisional belts at all times. So if Masvidal won the welterweight title, the BMF belt would immediately revert to Nate Diaz. Or Masvidal could choose who gets it. Both have their advantages.

That being said, all of it seems unlikely. Jorge has already said he will only put up his BMF title if his opponent puts up something of theirs and that to me feels like he’s just saying no. At the very least, it’s certainly not feeling very BMF-y.


Speaking of Jorge

I mean, in a grand sense it’s all a matter of taste. I’m sure there are many fans who don’t believe so. But for me, most definitely.

The things that made Masvidal cool are the kind of things that universally make people cool. Confidence, swagger, quick wit, and a genuine lack of f*cks to give as far as what people think of you. Masvidal still has the first two in spades but now some of his witticisms come off as forced or manufactured, and he’s just kind of trying too hard. The whole “wear a robe that Conor wore” is the most try-hard move seen int he UFC since Jeremy Stephens valiantly tried to insert himself into the Conor conversation with “I’m the hardest hitting 145er” all those years ago. That’s not a man who gives no f*cks and it’s certainly not the man who hit Leon Edwards with the three piece with the soda and then had to glide on out of there. That guy needs to come back.


Bellator to CBS

No because Bellator is not competing with the UFC. They are also promoting in the MMA space, and attempting to reach as wide of an audience as possible, but the reality is that Bellator in a direct sense cannot compete with the UFC’s market share and in a grander sense isn’t trying to anyway. There is not one person alive on this planet today who knows what Bellator is but does not know what the UFC is. (I have no data to back that up but is there really anyone out there who wants to argue that?) So given that, Bellator’s chance of attracting new viewers to MMA is pretty low. But they can provide quality fights and storylines that can expand their own consumer base, which will almost certainly consist of people who casually view the UFC already.

CBS is a bigger platform and so by that very definition would be an asset to amplifying Bellator’s reach but just because they’re on network television doesn’t mean the UFC - who is now partnered with ESPN - is giving up an inch of ground. Remember Elite XC? I think if going to network television had made them the top MMA promotion in the world, we’d have heard about it by now.

Besides, we all know ONE Championship and its 500 million viewers per event is the real top MMA promotion in the world.


The continuing prominence of cash grabs

There may be a kernel of truth at the center of this idea, but it’s definitely overstating things. The rise of the short-term superfights and money fights is just basic economics: more people want to see these kinds of fights, so the UFC now makes them more often. Yes, it screws up divisions and creates logjams, etc, but the only people who care about that are so deep in the MMA weeds that it doesn’t really matter. If you’re reading this right now, you’re probably not going to up and quit watching MMA just because Justin Gaethje isn’t getting a title shot.

This type of thing has always happened in the UFC - remember when f*cking Royce Gracie fought Matt Hughes for some unknown reason?! - but it just feels more prominent because there are more divisions, more fighters, and more fighters pushing for things like this. Welcome to the new world.


Cowboy’s losses

  1. Donald Cerrone has a number of losses but he’s rarely gone on huge losing streaks and cutting him would be insane.
  2. Best I can tell, that dubious record belongs a man mentioned just a few paragraphs up, Jeremy Stephens, who has accumulated 16 losses in the UFC. Both B.J. Penn and Andrei Arlovski have assembled 13 losses to Donald Cerrone’s 11 (though to be fair, Arlovski would be at 14 losses had Walt Harris not tested positive for a banned substance resulting in a change to no-contest) and Diego Sanchez and Joe Lauzon have 12 a piece. There are probably some guys I’m forgetting in there but you get the idea.

Dominick Cruz

As a man who has watched this sport for over 15 years now, if there’s one thing I know for certain it’s that predicting when Dominick Cruz will actually return to the cage is a fool’s errand. No one, including Mr. Cruz has any idea when the MMA Gods will decide to finally leave him alone but give recent history, I’m not betting it’s anytime soon.

That being said, should he somehow manage to make it to the cage there is one correct fight and one fine fight. Aldo is the fine fight but the correct fight is Frankie Edgar. Besides, Aldo has a title shot coming his way, and as an unabashed and unrelenting Aldo mark, I’m not allowed to say anything negative about him getting a title shot. They’d throw me out of the club.

(Also, for serious it doesn’t bother me. If this were a real sport, there are like four dudes who deserve it over him but it’s not and Aldo is one of the four best fighters ever so legend rules apply.)


Would you rather?

Justin Gaethje is the most exciting MMA fighter of all time. I don’t think this is really debatable. Conor McGregor is the biggest showman in the sport and one of the five or 10 most exciting fighters of all time. And on top of that, each of their offensive skills match up very well against the other’s defensive deficiencies. On paper, Gaethje-McGregor is the most exciting possible fight in MMA history, and that we likely won’t ever get it, should eat at us all.

Also, while Masvidal-McGregor would be pretty good, Jorge more than likely whips the sh*t out of Conor so it’s less interesting to me than the true coin-flip nature of the Gaethje-McGregor.


Tyron Woodley-Leon Edwards

Very Machiavellian but no. Edwards should record his own song to walk out to, dissing Woodley. If only because it has a decent chance of being better than Tyron’s songs.


Predicting the future

Neither are especially likely to happen as for the first one to happen, he’d have to . beat Jon which is . . . improbable. Still, of the two that’s more likely as Cormier is definitely D-O-N-E following the trilogy fight, win, lose, or draw.


Patricio Pitbull

Jose Aldo is still technically ranked at 9 in the featherweight rankings, and he’d definitely beat Pitbull. Other than that, I like Patricio’s chances against the rest of that lot.


PPVs

Well, pretty sure UFC 246 did not decline at all. But to answer your question, probably not. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a huge add on to have to get ESPN+ from a consumer standpoint but for ESPN, it is a huge add on to get more subscribers. I’m sure someone has done the math internally on this but I’d wager ESPN and the UFC would only consider moving back to traditional PPV if the ESPN+ thing was costing them hundreds of thousands of buys, which it probably isn’t.

And no. The UFC will likely live on ESPN for the rest of our lives. It’s a partnership that makes sense for both parties and one that has already paid big dividends.


165

It would be great. Know how I know how? Because it already exists and it’s called welterweight. I genuinely do not understand the fascination with 165. It’s five pounds less than a current division. Do you know how much five pounds is? That’s roughly the same weight as a two-liter of Coke. That is nothing. Fighting does not need to be this weird thing where people want everyone to be the exact same weight despite that never being the case anyway and that aspect of fighting being BY FAR the least interesting part of it.

I get why fighters want it: it’s another weight class, another opportunity for a belt, and they “feel optimal” at that weight. But honestly, that’s just insane. Do they really believe the five-pound difference at welterweight is going to ruin their chances? No. It’s entirely a mental thing, and it’s just adding more belts because they’re shiny.

As fans, you can just want to see more lightweights take on more welterweights. We don’t need a whole other belt to add into the fray which will then inevitably logjam divisions because 170-pounders and 155’rs will both try to fight for it (Lol, if you think the UFC is turning 170 into 175, it’s their most storied division with their greatest fighter ever in it).

Honestly, the older I get the more I want the UFC to do away with weight classes altogether. Jon Jones would probably be fighting some welterweights, Donald Cerrone would definitely have fought Stipe Miocic at least once, and literally every single male fighter on roster would be constantly calling out Conor McGregor. Give me that chaos over super lightweight any day.

That being said, if they were going to do it, Masvidal should just be the champion and the BMF title is the belt. Diaz and Masvidal had the rare opportunity to force the UFC’s hand if . they had both agreed to come into the bout weighing 165. Then Masvidal (as winner) could demand of his next opponent to make 165 or he won’t give them the belt if they win - since it’s not the UFC’s to give anymore. And on it would go until eventually the UFC just caved. But instead they didn’t do that so now if the UFC does ever pull the trigger just make it Cerrone and Diaz. Give one of them a belt and let the division shake out afterwards.


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.