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Hot Tweets: What’s next for Jorge Masvidal, Max Holloway, and the featherweight division following UFC 251

UFC 251: Usman v Masvidal Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

This past weekend, UFC 251 went down, and with Kamaru Usman and Alexander Volkanovski retaining their titles against Jorge Masvidal and Max Holloway, respectively. (Petr Yan also claimed the vacant bantamweight title, but nobody asked any questions about him so, sorry, Pete). With their title dreams now dashed, let’s talk about what’s next for the two losers from UFC 251, as well as who gets the next shot at Volko and, once again, judging in MMA.

What’s next for Jorge Masvidal?

Who Masvidal should fight and who he will fight are two different questions, but I’m gonna answer both of them.

For whom Masvidal should fight, he says he wants to get back to another title shot, so he needs to face a top contender. Kamaru Usman dominated the fight, but he didn’t really blow Masvidal out of the water – he was just better. But given the short-notice nature of the fight, the UFC has a readymade storyline to sell a rematch: “Masvidal was out of shape. Now he’s got a full fight camp!” They just need Masvidal to get one or two top tier wins to sell the idea. And given the reported PPV buys for UFC 251, they definitely want to sell the idea.

So that means Masvidal has pretty limited options. Gilbert Burns is going to get the next shot at Usman. That leaves only Leon Edwards, Colby Covington, and Tyron Woodley as the unmatched top-five welterweights. A Covington fight would make sense given the bad blood, but Covington’s real beef has always been with Woodley, and Woodley’s career appears to be nearing an end. The UFC needs to make that fight before it becomes lost entirely, which works out anyway, because Masvidal and Leon Edwards have a built in backstory the UFC can promote and would be the exact kind of win to get Masvidal back into the title picture. If he beats Edwards, then the UFC can do Masvidal-Covington as a No. 1 contender bout. That’s just good business.

However, Jorge Masvidal is not going to fight Leon Edwards, because no one other than his direct relatives care two tugs of a dead dog’s tail about Leon Edwards. Masvidal did not spend his entire career getting to a point of stardom only to come down and face Leon Edwards. He faced plenty of Leon Edwardses earlier in his career. Now is the time for marquee matchups.

Masvidal will either rematch Nate Diaz next, or perhaps get a fight with Conor McGregor. Now that Masvidal has proven himself to be a pay-per-view draw, there is much more enticement for McGregor to “come out of retirement” and square up for what would be one of the biggest pay-per-views in UFC history. And if McGregor instead opts to just hang around and wait for a lightweight title shot, then Masvidal will rematch Nate under the pretense of a bad stoppage in the first fight.

In the end, the money always talks.

Who is next for Max Holloway?

If you’re a Max Holloway supporter, you’ve got to feel for your boy. He came out and looked as good as ever and still came up short, albeit controversially. Still, that’s two official losses to Volko now, and a third crack at him is going to take some doing. Max is good enough to do it, but the question is whether he decides he wants to or not.

I saw a number of people throw our Calvin Kattar as a possible opponent for Max and while I’m not against the idea, I don’t see what’s in it for the former featherweight champion. Kattar is an up-and-comer, and the fight would be excellent. But that’s not a big name to stand opposite Max. And that’s a problem with the current featherweight division: It’s in a state of flux, and there aren’t many big names. If Max hangs around 145, he’s going to have to go through several hungry young guys, and that’s all well and good, but there are better options for his remaining prime years – namely, lightweight.

Max has never been a small featherweight, and a move up to lightweight would be an excellent choice at this point. His previous one foray into 155, he put on what would’ve been the “Fight of the Year” in most years against the second best lightweight in the world: Dustin Poirier. Max can more than hold his own up a weight class, and there are a number of incredibly fun matchups at lightweight for him. In particular, I’ve been advocating for a Max vs. Tony Ferguson Battle of the Angels. Now that’s one hell of a scrap.

The next shot at Alexander Volkanovski.

I think we’d all love it to be Chan Sung Jung, but that seems unlikely. As I mentioned above, featherweight is in a bit of an odd state right now. It’s a division deep with talent but few marquee names, and everyone has an air of “needs another big win to cement a title shot” to them. So given that, I think what we’re likely to see is the UFC fall back on an old strategy of theirs: a fight-off.

No. 2 ranked Zabit Magomedsharipov is going to face No. 5 Yair Rodriguez later this summer, and at this point, it seems likely that No. 4 Korean Zombie is going to square up with third-ranked Brian Ortega. I suspect what will happen is the UFC will wait for both of those fights to happen, and whoever wins the most impressively of the two will earn the next title shot.

So in short, Korean Zombie is still in the running, but he’s got some work to do first.

Most wanted fight

There is only one reasonable answer for this: Justin Gaethje. Gaejth vs. McGregor is the most entertaining fight in the history of the sport, on paper. Gaethje is without question the most exciting fighter MMA has ever seen and, Conor is, at worst, like fifth in that ranking. Between the two of them they have 19 bonuses is 19 fights. They are both action-fight all stars, and stylistically, they match up in the most combustible way. Conor has a wide stance and piston left hand. Gaethje has some of the best kicks in the game, but gets hit a lot. Gaethje uses a high guard, Conor attacks the body. Gaethje is a massive puncher, Conor keeps his hands low. A fight between the two has only three possible outcomes: Fight of the Year, violent KO, or both.

If you put Conor McGregor in with anyone, it will be exciting (other than Khabib, who will just Khabib the sh*t out of him, because that’s what Khabib does to everyone). But if you put Conor and Gaethje in the cage together, that’s something special.


So, some of the outcomes at UFC 251 were a tad controversial and, as always, controversial scorecards led to renewed calls to fix judging in MMA. I’ve spoken at length about this topic and offered a number of possible solutions, but as the first question points out, the core problem remains the same: The 10-9 round, under it’s current interpretation, covers too broad a series of events. A razor thin win and a dominant – but not damaging – round are both, by rule scored the same. And that is piss-into-the-wind level dumb.

The reality is the 10-point must scoring system is not well-suited for MMA, at least as it sits. Judge’s need to be incentivized not just to score more 10-8s, but also to score 10-7s and to be allowed to use all the numbers available in the range. Quite seriously, just score the round on a 1-10 scale with the winner getting 10 and the loser getting something in between. That’s an intuitive scale system, one that fans could easily understand, and then it singles the problem down to a question of degrees instead of a question of competence.

To be clear, doing this would not stop poor judging and would create nearly as many problems as it solves, but it would get us closer to the correct format for scoring, so then it’s just a matter of refining. I would also suggest that implementing this system would necessitate open scoring so fighters could have clear sense of where they are in the fight.

Now, having said all that, there is another way to mitigate most of this nonsense, albeit one that will never happen: We make fighting more like real life and remove the rounds entirely. Just one 15 minute scrap, and judges select a winner at the end based on damage.

If you watch your friends fight, no matter how long it goes on for, everyone generally has a good idea of who won. But if instead of just fighting, your friends were playing a complex game of point scoring that closely resembled a fight and often overlapped into one, it gets a lot tougher and can lead to unsatisfying outcomes. Take Rose Namajunas vs. Jessica Andrade II. Rose won the bout, and scoring it for Andrade is objectively bad. But Andrade won the fight. Take out the judges and the prize money, who would you rather be at the end of that fight, Andrade or Rose? I’ll take the woman who didn’t have her face broken 10 our of 10 times, for 500, Alex. Shouldn’t that be the real indicator of who won?

Anyway, none of this will happen. Fights will continue to be judged in the same way, and that’s honestly fine. It’s not perfect, but it’s decent. The thing we need most is accountability for the judges. That’s how we’ll see improvement.

(And on the “more fighters need to be judges tip,” that won’t help. Fighting and judging are different things, the same way fighting and coaching are different things. There are a number of fighters that would make trash judges, and their experience competing is not particularly relevant to their ability to judge fights. Even great fighters might totally suck at it. Hell, just imagine Dominick Cruz judging fights. the winner would always be the person who got the most underhooks, regardless of the rest of the fight.)

Tipping fighters

There was a promotion that did this once. A groundbreaking, visionary promotion that was too beautiful for this world and thus was not allowed to live. I’m speaking, of course, about CamSodaLegends, that majestic event that was hosted by a porn site where Crazy Horse punched Colby Covington in the face. They had a tipping feature which, aside from being legitimately awesome, also played a sound bite on the broadcast, causing fans to hear “Kick his ass, Sea Bass” every 20 seconds or so. The tipping feature also led to the peak of MMA, as seen below.

And none of this even includes the announcer cutting a promo on the UFC for cutting Alex Nicholson of all people.

God, I love this carnival sideshow of a sport.

CamSodaLegends never die.

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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