Recently, Diego Sanchez become the focal point of the MMA internet streets for all the wrong reasons. Sanchez’s DQ win over Diego Pereira at UFC Rio Rancho, and his coach’s subsequent arrival in the MMA spotlight, dominated much of the conversation. At the risk of being added to the numerous people “bullying” Joshua Fabia, let’s discuss MMA’s latest Ido Portal. Then we’ll unveil my ideas for how to implement a UFC All-Star Weekend at International Fight Week plus, and the shortest path out of the woods for the light heavyweight division logjam.
Joshua Fabia and Diego Sanchez
at what point does all this Joshua Fabia stuff go from "oh ha ha ha ha that's so MMA" to "oh man someone should really do something about this"— Alexander K Lee (@AlexanderKLee) February 22, 2020
ICYMI, Diego Sanchez’s head coach Joshua Fabia came to prominence for his unorthodox methodologies and his contentious relationship with seemingly everyone in MMA.
Well, first, I feel compelled to argue that though the broad strokes of this “feels MMA,” the Joshua Fabias of the world are actually the antithesis of this entire sport.
The UFC – and as a result, modern MMA – was founded as a promotional tool to sell the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu combat systems, and it was a brilliant at doing so for one fundamental reason: the product they were selling was, in fact, superior. BJJ was a better and more practical martial art than karate or boxing or wrestling. The fights were real – if set up in a manner to favor BJJ – and so the product was showcased for what it was: a revolutionary way to approach fighting. It upended swaths of people that said, “Well, the dim mak death touch I learned from Buddist monks makes me the deadliest man alive,” charlatans that were discredited because ultimately, those “methods” did not work in the actual proving ground of the cage.
And now, we have another one of those swindlers trying to sell his wooden nickels to one of MMA’s foremost eccentrics; an eccentric who, if you had to guess which fighter would get get hoodwinked into some unusual coach, would probably be first or second on your list, depending on how you feel about Tony Ferguson. Remember when Conor had a “movement” coach hitting him with pool noodles, and then Nate Diaz cut through the bullsh*t with the genius “touchbutt in the park” comment? This is like that, only substantially more concerning, because unlike Conor McGregor, who was in the process of rising to the top of the sport, Diego Sanchez is obviously on the downslope of his career – a career that’s seen him take more strikes to the head than any other fighter in UFC history.
The fact of the matter is, while there may be some nuggets of wisdom buried in Fabia’s strategies, Diego partnering up with a man who, if his content or the results of Diego’s performance are any indication, knows very little about actual MMA fighting, and it’s genuinely concerning for his physical health. Cage fighting will never be a healthy activity to engage in, but there’s a difference between a reasonable amount of danger, mitigated through professionalism, and reckless endangerment through incompetence. When the best-case scenario here is that in his twilight years of competition, Diego is being led by a man of unorthodox and ineffective methodologies, you’re left hoping someone will intervene for the sake of his health.
Finally, if Fabia’s methods aren’t enough cause for concern, his reaction to criticism and his conviction that everyone in the sport is “bullying him” certainly should be. Good leaders and good coaches have to be able to take criticism, and Fabia thus far seems entirely unable to do so. He is bought in, full stock, to his own genius, to the point that he lashes out at anyone speaking against him. Well, there’s an old saying in the South (and probably elsewhere): If you wake up in the morning and run into an a**hole, you met an a**hole. But if you wake up and run into a**holes all day long, you’re the a**hole.
MMA ALL-STAR Weekend
Watching NBA all-star weekend and it’s always so sick. Got me wondering tho what can we do to add to international fight week? What's our versions of dunk contest and 3 point contest? What skills challenges can we do? What celeb games can we do? Celebrity BJJ matches?— Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) February 17, 2020
The fact that the UFC doesn’t do this is a little bit insane. I mean, they already do International Fight Week – just add this in. It would be a great way to boost fan engagement and interest, and it would even gin up interesting rivalries that otherwise might never come to light. At the very least, it would just be fun as hell to watch. Here is a list of my initial ideas:
- A Punch Off. The easiest one to do. The UFC already has one of those punching bag games. Just turn it into an actual contest, divided by weight division.
- Quintet Team BJJ Competition. Quintet is already awesome and already on FightPass. Another no-brainer.
- Celebrity BJJ. Would be much more difficult to pull off, but I’d watch the hell out of Halle Berry vs. Olivia Munn, or John Wick vs. my man Devon Sawa.
- Skills challenge. Easy enough to pull off, but tricky to make sure the skills are interesting enough to make people care. My first rough-draft of the obstacle course looks something like this: Punch five moving targets (think swinging tennis balls); run 30 feet and hop over a cage wall; suplex a grappling dummy from one identified section to another; run another 30 feet and hope another cage wall; 15 punches on a speed bag; and then finish it off by breaking a big confetti-orb with a flying knee. I’m sure we can improve on that, but it’s visual, it’s interesting, and I’d watch the hell out of it.
- KO Contest. This is trying to be a good analog to the Dunk Contest, but it’s tough to find a good way to let fighters display both creative and violence without putting someone else at risk. We’d have to make some kind of blend between a ballistic dummy and a piñata that would explode in a cool way when we let Edson Barboza wheel kick it.
I’m sure there are other events or activities we could add, but that seems like a good start. If you have more ideas, throw them into the comment section.
Most active UFC champions
In light of Valentina's quick return, who have been the most active champions in the ufc?— johnbob97 (@johnbob97) February 20, 2020
This is easy to answer as there are cold, hard facts to back it up. As there are only 10 champions in UFC history who have successfully defended their title five or more times, let’s set that as the cutoff line. Here are those champions ranked in order of average days between fights (this includes the title fights for champions who lost the belt as they were still active champions):
- Matt Hughes - 136 days
- Ronda Rousey - 153 days
- Joanna Jędrzejczyk - 161 days
- Demetrious Johnson - 178 days
- Jon Jones - 187 days
- Tito Ortiz - 210 days
- Amanda Nunes - 223 days
- Anderson Silva - 223 days
- Georges St-Pierre - 229 days
- Jose Aldo - 231 days.
Matt Hughes was the most active UFC champion.
The logjam of the light heavyweight title picture
Can you solve where the 205 division goes from here? With Santos, Reyes, and Smith around is Jan really next for Jones? Is it the best move for the division? Where does Corey A restart from this loss?— SamuraiPizzaCat (@OCSPizzaCat) February 19, 2020
I sure can!
Compared to my genius fixing of the broken judging system last week, clearing up the light heavyweight title picture is easy.
Let’s start with the simplest one: Anthony Smith is not in contention. God love “Lionheart,” but of the three most recent title challengers to Jones, Smith had by far the worst performance. Dominick Reyes should’ve beaten Jones, and Thiago Santos also had a case for winning, despite having no knees. Conversely, Smith was functionally blanked on the scorecards, losing 48-44, and that’s with Jones having two points deducted. For Smith to deserve another crack, he needs to beat a number of other contenders.
Meanwhile, Reyes and Santos find themselves in a similar boat, having arguably won but now being swept up in the rapid currents of UFC title contention. Reyes deserves an immediate rematch, but that’s not going to happen, so the easiest way to resolve this is just have Reyes and Santos fight each other for a No. 1 contender spot. If nothing else, the winner of that bout should have a pretty clear case as the next challenger.
And so in the meantime, that means Jan Blachowicz is the next man up, and I believe that is good for the division. In the last few years, Blachowicz has massively improved as a fighter, he’s on a very good run, and he’s a new challenger for a longtime champion. Those are the types of fights that All-Time Great fighters should have plenty of to build their case as G.O.A.T. Go check out the records of the 10 fighters in the above section. Many of them have their own Jan Blachowiczs on them, and those kind of wins tend to age better than Jon Jones’ cavalcade of middleweight title victories.
But beyond that, Blachowicz is also the perfect challenger for Jones because he presents the champion with one of his best chances to return to world-beater Jon Jones form. Blachowicz is durable, reasonably skilled, and hits with some power but he presents limited serious threats to Jones and does not have near the athleticism to match “Bones”, meaning the champion can feel comfortable in going back to the days of doing exciting, thrillingly violent things instead of bad counter-boxing.
If I’m Sean Shelby, I’m booking Jon Jones vs. Jan Blachowicz for this summer, calling the event “UFC Jon-on-Jan,” and booking Reyes-Santos as the co-main event. The co-main event winner can call out Jones and set that fight up and in the main, Jon can reignite the excitement of all the fans who haven’t seen the old, fun “Bones” in a while.
Thanks for reading this week, and thank you for everyone who sent in Tweets! Do you have any burning questions about at least tangentially 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.