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Hot Tweets: What is going on with Jorge Masvidal and the welterweight division?

Jorge Masvidal Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

In case you missed it, Jorge Masvidal echoed Jon Jones’ claims of wanting to be released by the UFC, citing that they were not paying him enough money. So let’s talk about Gamebred and the rest of the welterweight division.

Jorge Masvidal and the welterweight division

Well, Jorge Masvidal has found himself in a bit of a pickle. Like Jon Jones, Masvidal wanted the UFC to open up the checkbook - and with good reason. The UFC helped push Masvidal to stardom and even gave him his own, one of a kind belt (that they stole from Nate Diaz). Given all that, why wouldn’t Masvidal feels he deserves more money? He’s one of the biggest stars in the sport right now.

That being said, the UFC has never been one to offer up pay raises. The contracts are the contracts and that’s that. And unfortunately for Masvidal, there happen to be a number of other viable title contenders available right now. Leon Edwards would get no one excited, but has a claim to a rematch with Kamaru Usman, and Gilbert Burns is now the top-ranked contender in the division. I hate to say it, but Colby Covington was right: Masvidal is going to price himself out of a title shot.

Now, to be clear, Masvidal should do so. The man is a star and will be the one bringing the views to a potential fight with Usman. He should get paid accordingly. This problem is, like Jon Jones, Masvidal has very little leverage. With the advent of the ESPN deal, the UFC is no longer nearly as reliant on pay-per-view revenue as they used to be, since they get a flat sum for each event. Even if the old PPV model was still in place, fighters still had almost no leverage but to accept whatever scraps the UFC deigns to part with. And since fighters are completely unable to band together, they never will have that power.

So what’s going to happen here is this: we will star to see some more instances of this even happen, where fighters threaten retirement or ask to be released because they aren’t getting the money they believe they deserve, Dana White will criticize them in public, saying they’re asking for a ridiculous amount (despite the numbers he throws out as ridiculous being reasonable in any other sport), and ultimately the fighters will cave because making whatever the UFC is offering is better than not making anything at all. Given the short shelf-life of MMA careers, Dana White has all his “independent contractors” over a barrel and he knows it. So this scene is likely to play out more often.

In the meantime, Jorge Masvidal is not going to fight for a title. Dana White has already used Burns to publicly leverage Masvidal, and “Durinho” is ultimately going to get the next crack at Usman because he will say yes to whatever is offered. That will show Masvidal just how little power he has over Dana White, and “Gamebred” will then agree to a bout with Usman next.

Such is the way of the UFC in 2020.

Speaking of the welterweight division

ICYMI, the UFC rankings came out this week and Gilbert Burns jumped all the way to number one, while Tyron Woodley fell to number 4.

Depending on how you view the rankings, yes, he does. Though Woodley’s frequent claims that he is the best welterweight of all time were obviously wrong, Woodley was a phenomenal champion. He defended his belt multiple times, and always against the top contenders. During the peak of his run, Woodley had a legitimate claim to being the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, and he’s not too far removed from that run. Yes, he’s lost his last two in dominating fashion, but his body of work deserves respect.

That being said, if you were basing rankings off of how fighters would fare this second in a fight, then God no. Woodley is pretty obviously no longer an elite fighter and at this juncture I’d favor most of the top 15 to beat him. One of the clearest signs of a fighter getting old is an inability to pull the trigger. Inactivity was always Woodley’s biggest flaw, even at his peak, and now that he’s lost his offensive switch, it’s going to be a precipitous downfall for the former champion.

UFC 250

It won’t be, but it also won’t be good. The last PPV Amanda Nunes headlined drew 85,000 views. We can, perhaps, expect a small bump up because of the lack of other sporting options right now, but the fact of the matter is Nunes may be the GOAT, but she’s not a star.

Which is a shame because top-to-bottom, this is an excellent card. Both of the bantamweight fights on the main card are barnburners plus the UFC’s newest star who they will eventually alienate, Sean O’Malley, is on the card. It’s going to be a good event, even if the public at large won’t be that interested.

Jon Jones vs. Francis Ngannou

Because, for all his outside the cage fiascos, inside the cage, Jon Jones has been perfect. Now, you may, like me, believe Jones is currently on a two-fight losing streak. However, factually, he is not. Even if he was, his fights against Dominick Reyes and Thiago Santos were not clear victories. They were close, competitive fights. Francis Ngannou presents exactly the opposite of that. If Ngannou were to beat Jones, it would be by KO, and at this point, what else is there to watch Jon do? He’s beaten everyone across two generations. Let’s see him take on a bigger challenge.

Nom de Guerre

This one is very easy: Rick “The Ginger With The Intent To Injure” Pfeifer. Who doesn’t love rhyming?

Khabib Nurmagomedov

Well, Khabib already has a very good claim to being the greatest lightweight of all time, and given the superiority of the lightweight division to every other division in the sport, thus he is in the GOAT conversation right now, albeit as a fringe player. However, if Khabib smashed Gaethje in the same fashion he has everyone else - a big task - then he absolutely has 155 GOAT title locked up and at that point, he’s just stacking accomplishments on to make his P4P case.

Here is what I believe will happen for “The Eagle”. First, I do think he runs over Gaethje. The gulf in athleticism is massive and Gaethje’s pedigree is not going to hold up against the complex system of chain-wrestling Khabib employees. After that fight, the UFC will try to make a Conor rematch but Khabib is going to insist on fighting Tony Ferguson, despite Ferguson’s loss. Khabib is obsessed with his legacy, and has state on numerous occasions that he believes he has to fight Tony Ferguson to cement it. Now that the luster is off the fight, the MMA gods will finally allow us to have it and Khabib will smash Tony as well.

After that, it’s a great question. Khabib will almost certainly still angle for a fight with Georges St-Pierre but that seems highly unlikely. Perhaps after cleaning out lightweight, he would consider a second belt to add to his collection, but Usman would present a very difficult challenge for the greatest lightweight of all time. I think after Ferguson he probably fights Conor one more time and then retires at 31-0, with a strong case to be considered the best fighter ever.

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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