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Hot Tweets: Who should lead the UFC when Dana White eventually retires?

Dana White post-fight
Dana White
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Happy New Year everyone. It’s now 2020 and though things are still a little slow right now in the MMA world, they’ll soon be heating up with the full UFC 246 promotional push that’s about to ensue. So with that in mind, let’s talk about the future of the UFC, namely, who should take over when Dana White eventually retires.

The Next Dana White and Khabib-Tony replacement

The second part of your question is very simple: there is no standby fighter yet but yes they should have one and his name should be Justin Gaethje. Put Gaethje on the fight card as the co-main event against like, Al Iaquinta or something and then, if something happens, Gaethje gets to step in.

For the first part of your question, the answer entirely depends on what you consider “the right man” to be. The most obvious possible successor to White would be someone in house who is intimately involved with all aspects of the organization, like Sean Shelby. Shelby would be an interesting choice and one who might have a much more fighter-friendly style to governance than Dana has but I have no concept for his business acumen or how he’d handle that end of things, so my choice would be Scott Coker.

Say what you want about Bellator, but Scott Coker is, for my money, easily the best promoter in MMA. Dana White had a few good ideas early on and had rich friends to help him buy the UFC and that carried him to where he is today. Fair play to the man, that’s more than most people accomplish. But it was a perfect confluence of events for Dana to be successful. If Dana walked away from the UFC right now, bought LFA, and then tried to build it into something, I’d honestly put money down that LFA would be worse off than it is under Ed Soares. Meanwhile, Scott Coker built Strikeforce into a legitimate organization and has turned Bellator into an increasingly relevant property through creative promotion, compromise, and willingness to work with his fighters instead of at their expense.

If I was WME and Dana walked, I’d make a godfather offer to steal Coker away from Bellator.

What champion will lose their belt in 2020?

We’re currently in a tremendously exciting time in MMA because of the 12 divisions in the UFC, eight of them could have new champions by the end of 2020.

The only champions who are truly safe this year are Amanda Nunes (in both of her divisions), Valentina Shevchenko, and Jon Jones. Outside of those divisions, every champion has very legitimate contenders waiting in the wings. Zhang Weili is taking on Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Israel Adesanya has Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa, Kamaru Usman has Leon Edwards and Jorge Masvidal, Khabib is on a collision course with Tony Ferguson, and Alexander Volkanovski and Henry Cejudo both have a bevy of contenders. That’s a lot of danger for each of them.

For me though, I’d say Stipe Miocic is the most likely to lose his belt in 2020. In his first fight with Daniel Cormier, Miocic was knocked out in the first round. In their second fight, Cormier was dominating the bout in the early rounds before abandoning his wrestling. In their trilogy match, I expect Cormier to employ a much more diverse attack and favor him to win the title back.

As a runner-up to Miocic, my pick would be Cejudo. At this point in his career, it’s still hard to gauge how good Cejudo is and the bantamweight division is a freaking shark pit right now, with Jose Aldo, Petr Yan, Aljamain Sterling, and Cory Sandhagen all providing interesting challenges for Triple C.

Mike Perry’s future

Mike Perry is 2-3 in his last five fights, including a split decision win over Paul Felder that could have easily gone the other way. It’s not time to cut bait with Perry but it is time to accept what he is and what he’s not going to be, namely, a contender.

Look, I had as much Mike Perry stock as anybody. When he made his UFC debut, I thought he was incredibly raw but he had a lot of tools to become a legitimate top-10 or top-15 welterweight. He had good power, was super tough, is an excellent athlete, and most importantly, he had a pretty advanced fight I.Q. for where he was at - i.e. he knew what he was as a fighter and stayed within himself at all times. But for all the potential Perry has, the technical skill has not developed with it and his fight I.Q. seems to have regressed.

That being said, there’s no reason to write Perry off. He’s still only 28 years old and he has a lot of tools. His disinterest in joining a major camp will always put a cap on what he could become but, even without it Perry is one of the premier action fighters in the sport right now and if you see his name on a fight card, you know you’re going to get your money’s worth. And that is nothing to sneeze at.

Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone

As with all things Conor McGregor, nuance is hard to come by but let’s go with a little of column A, a little of column B.

If McGregor comes out and has a five-round war with Cerrone, there will definitely be some detractors coming out of the woodwork. After all, Cerrone has lost two in a row and McGregor will enter the fight as a prohibitive favorite. More to the point, Cerrone is a great style matchup for McGregor. Conor can pressure Cerrone and work the body, two things that have long been problem areas for Cowboy, and Cerrone’s chin is certainly not what it once was. By all accounts, McGregor should have a great performance at UFC 246.

But if he doesn’t, that doesn’t necessarily mean that McGregor isn’t good anymore. Though McGregor is a just favorite heading into the fight, Donald Cerrone is still Donald Cerrone. He’s a future Hall of Famer and one of the gamest fighters that’s ever set foot in the cage. On top of that, Cerrone may be a bit past his prime but, if his chin can hold up, he still can compete with McGregor at any phase and can out-kick Conor at range. Plus, this fight being at 170 pounds almost certainly benefits Cerrone and will increase his durability. If McGregor vs. Cerrone ends up going a hard five rounds, it will probably mean that many people (including myself) severely underestimated how much Cowboy has left in the tank. Plus, if that happens, the fight will almost certainly be a serious Fight of the Year contender. No fight that features both of these fighters and lasts more than 15 minutes could possibly be anything other than thrilling, and a Fight of the Year will only serve to add to the legend of McGregor.

MMA Twitter World Champion

Honestly, it’s pretty slim pickings out there. Most MMA stars have incredibly mundane Twitter accounts. It’s strange because you’d think the people who are known as great talkers would be better at social media but really, it doesn’t much play to their strengths. Take Conor McGregor for instance, every once in awhile he might drop something fun but mostly all he does is retweet people talking about his whiskey. Or Ben Askren, whose Twitter feed is dominated by bitcoin retweets.

That being said, a couple of accounts I enjoy are Dustin Poirier, who interacts with fans extremely frequently; Sage Northcutt, who may be the most unintentionally hilarious person on the planet; Jon Jones, who gets all up in his feelings regularly; and Darren Till who has recently made a habit of getting drunk and Tweeting, to hilarious results.

But for the real social media MMA king, there are only only two options. Derrick Lewis is the reigning champion and has held the title for a number of years, essentially on the back of being an organically funny person and a heavy user of memes. But recently Israel Adesanya is coming on strong and making a play for the belt in his own right. Izzy blends fun fan interaction, elite trash talk, plus fun meme culture to great effect. Give him a follow if you haven’t already.

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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