It didn’t take long for Dana White to get back on his feet. After finally succumbing to the pressure to not hold UFC 249, it took Dana roughly a week to announce that the UFC would be holding a STACKED event for UFC 250 on May 9th. Outside of that though, coronavirus is keeping much of the MMA world demure so let’s answer some generic questions and then get to the most important hypothetical: Hunger Games on Fight Island.
The UFC Apex
What do you think the likelihood is that the UFC's current Apex plans come to fruition?— Alex Scaffidi (@alexscaffidi_) April 15, 2020
ICYMI, Dana White said the UFC Apex will play host to numerous live events starting next month, though he did not clarify if the planned UFC 250 card would be one of them.
At this point, I’m gonna say 60-40 in favor of UFC 250 taking place at the Apex next month and 80-20 that if not UFC 250, some other event will happen there by the end of May.
One of the greatest quotes in cinema history comes from the movie Men in Black. After finding out that aliens are real, Will Smith asks Tommy Lee Jones why the Men in Black don’t just tell the world, after all, people are smart and can handle it. To which TLJ responds “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky animals and you know it.” I think about that line a lot as droves of dumb people steadfastly refuse to listen to the very smart persons who tell us the best and safest way to combat the spread of COVID-19.
The UFC is not going to listen to the experts because they have bills to pay. They’re going to get back to the business of selling fights as soon as possible and that means fight cards next month. Dana White is not a man who takes losing lightly and for weeks he boasted that it would take an act of god to stop UFC 249. Instead, a scolding from Disney executives got White to blink and I can’t imagine that will happen again. If the Nevada government doesn’t rescind the non-essential business order before May 9, White will just take his show to Florida. Come hell or high water, White is going to put a fight card together and he has more than enough willing participants to make it happen.
Also, murder question: Did that Carol woman everyone keeps talking about really kill her husband?— Alex Scaffidi (@alexscaffidi_) April 15, 2020
The answer is pretty clearly no.
Murder is legal definition that, no matter the jurisdiction, boils down to “the unlawful killing of another human being.” That “unlawful” part can then get parsed in dozens of ways but one of the fundamental tenets of the American legal system is the concept of Reasonable Doubt. There are libraries full of case law dissecting Reasonable Doubt but in the interest of time, let’s use the shorthand of a juror cannot vote to convict a defendant of the accused crime if there exists “such doubt that a reasonable person would lack certainty” or to put it another way “the genuine possibility that the accused party is innocent.”
In the case of Mrs. Baskin, there obviously exists that possibility as Baskin has never even been charged with something in relation to the crime. That means there isn’t one person in the DAs office who thinks there’s enough juice there to get a conviction. So Carole Baskin definitely didn’t murder him.
Did she kill him though? Eh, probably not but she’s obviously less charismatic and interesting than that unmitigated piece of sh*t Joe Exotic so it’s more fun to take shots at her than the 10 other people in that show that are demonstrably worse human beings than she is.
Back to MMA
After the Quarantine Lifestyle passes and Covid-19 is over. Who do you think the most sought after fight will be for the UFC? The big fight that’ll force the eyes of not just the sports world but the world itself?— TheZoneMMA (@TheZoneMMA) April 15, 2020
The most sought-after fight for the UFC will always be the next Conor McGregor fight. McGregor is the only fighter who truly does bring the eyes of the whole world into our small little corner of sports. And the biggest fight for McGregor is either Khabib Nurmagomedov or possibly Jorge Masvidal. Both of those men are, ostensibly, booked though so expect Conor to have a trilogy fight with Nate Diaz to spin his wheels while waiting for the winner of Khabib vs. Gaethje (who is going to beat Tony Ferguson).
The featherweight title picture
Who would you say is most deserving of a featherweight title shot right now? Blessed is definitely in conversation and probably most deserving but is everyone sleeping on zabit?— Tre'Von Davison (@tdogg_51) April 15, 2020
Hate to disagree with you there but Max Holloway is not deserving of a title shot at this juncture. Holloway lost a clear decision to Alexander Volkanovski, so the man should go to the back of the line, or at least the middle. Immediate rematches are almost always garbage. In the case of a long-reigning champion, the immediate rematch only serves to invalidate the contenders win. And Max wasn’t even a long-reigning champion! He held the belt for three years. Just because Joe Rogan decided Max is the GOAT featherweight (a completely ridiculous notion) doesn’t make it so and if you lose an uncontroversial clean sweep on the cards, you need to get at least one win before you’re back in a title fight. Otherwise, just make it so every time the title changes hands, there’s an immediate rematch.
As for who deserves the first crack at Volkanovski, it’s Zabit Magomedsharipov. Personally, I’d love for Chan Sung Jung to get a shot but that would be more of a gift than something earned, and though Zabit’s resume lacks a truly top-tier win, his record in the UFC is sterling and he’s the most sensible next fight. Denying him a shot because he doesn’t have a top-5 win on his resume is more a condemnation of the UFC’s booking than of him as a fighter. Let Dagestani Abe Lincoln cook.
Henry Cejudo’s old man tour
Why is triple douche dodging top contenders? Ppv buys can’t be that much different between sterling/yan and aldo/cruz/edgar. It’s not like he’s headlining either, ppv buys will be the same.— Daniel Pompilio (@elpompilio) April 16, 2020
Just to be clear: I don’t believe Henry Cejudo is “ducking” anyone. It’s practically never the case that a professional fighter is scared to fight someone. For one thing, they all have a psychopathic certainty in themselves that would preclude such fear, and for another, they’ve all had their ass kicked before and understand that getting your ass kicked is really not that bad.
But to suggest the bantamweight champion isn’t avoiding fights against guys like Aljamain Sterlin and Petr Yan would also be disingenuous. Cejudo is the champion and those are the number two and number three ranked contenders respectively. If he wanted to fight them, the fights would happen. Cejudo is avoiding those fights for one very simple reason: consistently defending a title against the top opposition is the single most underrated thing in MMA.
Being a true fighting champion is a great and honorable gig that can open up a world of other opportunities for you, but if you’re doing it right, it’s also an absolute meat grinder. Every time you defend your title, you’re getting someone’s best shot and, by virtue of you having the shiny metal waistband, you’re more famous, more notable, and more influential. There are diminishing returns to defending your title against the next hungry challenger because people will progressively care less about your triumph. So instead, it’s simpler to try and defend your title against other big names to raise your influence. Very rarely does it ever happen that the top contenders of a division are also all big stars - that’s one of primary reasons Jon Jones is considered the GOAT by so many, the top of the light heavyweight division was littered with the faded husks Hall of Famers for Jones to defeat without it seeming like squash matches.
So in Cejudo’s case, it’s not about the money but is it about math and a title in the hand is worth two in the cage. Cejudo is actively incentivized to not fight guys like Sterling and Yan. If he does his job correctly and how he believes he will, neither of those men will ever hold a title and if he were to fight them and beat them, in 10 years time, when someone reviews his resume they will see a list of men who never were champion. Instead, if Cejudo can beat Jose Aldo, Dominick Cruz, and Frankie Edgar, that’s a combined 22 UFC titles (WEC belts count, don’t @ me) he can boast on his record.
Which one of those would you rather have?
Jon Jones, destroyer of worlds and himself
How interconnected are Jon Jones’ self-destructiveness and competitive greatness? If you subtract the impulsive recklessness from his personality does he become a better or worse prizefighter?— Eric Stinton (@TombstoneStint) April 17, 2020
They are inextricably linked. You cannot parse people from their personality and to be an all-time great at anything you have to be absolutely psychotic. It means you gave so much of a sh*t about something that you channeled all of your energy into it to the point that you beat out 7 billion other people. And when the primary facet of that thing you excelled at is rendering violence unto another human being, there’s definitely something a little off.
Except with Jon, that first part is not necessarily true. Jon is so naturally gifted that he doesn’t need to obsess over being the best. He just kind of is it and that sort of inherent power is intoxicating and dangerous and rarely leads to sound decision making (just ask any rich person’s kids about their younger years). Which is why, as he’s gotten older, he’s tried to fight that and in doing so has lost much of his spark.
As evidence for my theory, I present to you the two versions of Jon Jones the fighter. In his first iteration, when he was still learning things off YouTube and just vibing out there, he did a lot of things that made people say, “Oh sh*t!” and he did those things all the way to the UFC light heavyweight title at a nearly unprecedented age. In Jon’s second iteration, he is a defense-first out-fighter despite that being the worst facet of his game. By prioritizing measured, structured actions, Jones has arguably lost his last two fights, including one where his opponent had zero functioning knees. Taking the recklessness out of Jones has made him a demonstrably lesser fighter.
Fight Island Battle Royale
If every fighter on the roster was dumped onto Fighter Island in a Hunger Games style Battle Royale who is your pick to be last man standing?— Craig Moore (@craigmoore02) April 17, 2020
The thing about the Hunger Games is that just being a great fighter or survivalist doesn’t ensure success. You should have a cursory skillset in those areas but really, the most import ability is social politics. If you dropped every active fighter onto an island, no one is going to win going it alone. So you need someone who can fall in with a group, make alliances, and handle things when sh*t gets hairy or when his/her team winnows the crowd down and the numbers are more manageable. For me, there is a clear cut answer and a clear cut second best option. Let’s start with the runner-up.
Aside from very possibly being a government Black Ops agent, Valentina Shevchenko is an elite fighter and proficient in firearms. She also speaks at least three languages and is charismatic enough to draw people to her without being such an overt threat as to cause them to gun for her immediately. Plus she has the built in bonus of having a sister on the island with her to give her one unwavering piece of support.
But the clear best answer is Luke Rockhold. Rockhold has very few of the qualities that make Shevchenko a good choice but he does have one massive advantage: Luke Rockhold is friends with Khabib Nurmagomedov, and if we’re dropping every fighter onto Fight Island, Khabib has a ready-made army at his back already. The AKA-Dagestan alliance would work their way through the rest of the fighters on Fight Island but as their numbers got lower, Rockhold would definitely be the one to break the confidence first. and in this game, it’s got before you get got. So long as Khabib hasn’t been practicing his left hook, Rockhold is coming out as the King of Fight Island.
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.