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Hot Tweets: Daniel Cormier’s retirement, Jon Jones at heavyweight, and CamSoda’s Fight Circus

Jon Jones cups his hand to his ear
Jon Jones cups his hand to his ear
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

This past weekend, Stipe Miocic sent Daniel Cormier off to pasture, winning their trilogy fight at UFC 252. Then, Jon Jones stole all the thunder by vacating his title and signaling his intent to move up to heavyweight. So, let’s talk about those things and then we’ll wrap it up with a preview of the biggest event of the weekend: CamSoda Fight Circus!

Is Daniel Cormier gone for good?

In MMA, smart money is always on a fighter not staying retired. It happens so rarely, you’d have to be an idiot to think this one will stick. Which I suppose makes me an idiot because I do think we’ve seen the last of DC inside the cage.

At the conclusion of UFC 252, Cormier made it clear that he didn’t want to fight again unless it’s for a belt and that makes sense. At his age, what’s the point of hanging around? If he was in his late 30s, sure, but he’s on the wrong side of 40, and barring a last-minute replacement, he’s not getting another title fight, and even that strains credulity. Sometimes you’ve got to just hang them up, and if it’s not the storybook ending he was hoping for, DC still has one of the better retirements in the history of the sport (what a condemnation that is). He didn’t go out on his back, or suffering a savage beating. He lost a decent fight with a guy who will probably go down as the heavyweight GOAT. That’s a damn sight better than Cain’s exit.

All of this being said, man I really think Cormier is going to regret not sticking to his guns about retiring at 40. After he knocked out Stipe, Cormier could have easily never fought him again and no one would have thought less of him. He could’ve just come out and said, “Yeah, I wanted to fight Brock but that’s not happening. I’m 40, my back is trash, and I promised my family. I’m walking away,” and if he had done so, his career would have been remembered so much differently. Instead, coming back and losing a pair of fights to Stipe firmly drops him out of any GOAT conversation and probably puts him outside of the top 10 fighter conversation.

Damn. What a difference a year makes.

Jon Jones’ move up

There is roughly a zero percent chance Jon Jones takes any fight at heavyweight other than Stipe Miocic or Francis Ngannou, nor should he. You think Jon is gonna move up to heavyweight and take on Curtis Blaydes or some shit? GTFO. Jones has been the light heavyweight sort-of champion for almost a decade. If there is any man alive who deserves to jump up and get an immediate title shot, it’s him. And frankly, Dana’s contention that Francis Ngannou won’t get leap-frogged is insane. Yes, Ngannou has been on a spectacular run but you know who has been on a better one? Jon Jones! Not even factoring in that Ngannou already has lost to Stipe, that should be reason enough.

But fine, the UFC wants to wait and I think the reason is obvious: they want Ngannou to beat Stipe and then they can set up the Ngannou-Jones fight for the true heavyweight title. Talk about your money fights right there. And if Stipe does win again, then him versus Jones is less marketable but a fine enough consolation prize.

How will he fare?

I think Jon beats Stipe but loses to Francis, though I’m not especially confident about that.

At this point I’m well known as a “Stipe Miocic hater,” though I would quibble with that assessment. I just think Miocic is like, the fifth-best heavyweight in the world right now and would get done up by a number of top contenders, and so I certainly think the best natural fighter we’ve ever seen would thump up his meat and potatoes game, especially given that Jon is a tough match up for him.

Honestly, if you were looking for the best possible opponent for Jones to face in his move to heavyweight, it would be Stipe. Stipe’s great strengths are cardio, durability, footwork, and a decent jab. Jon is longer, leaner, equally as durable, would smother Stipe’s jab with hand-fighting which functionally neuters half of the champion’s offense. Stipe isn’t even an especially huge KO threat so Jon wouldn’t have to live in fear of getting one-shot. Seriously, I just don’t see what Stipe can do to win that fight. Is he gonna wall-and-stall Jon like he did with DC? Good luck trying that on the best clinch fighter in MMA history. Stipe gets done up in typical Jones five-round fashion.

Ngannou is a much more interesting proposition because Ngannou does have that true death-touch power. We saw how timid Jones was when facing a Thiago Santos without knees. Given that, there’s every possibility that if he ever got locked in a cage with Francis Ngannou he may never come within four feet of “The Predator.” Jones is the best fighter ever, so this isn’t to say he can’t win, but if he fights the way he has been lately, then yeah, he can’t.

Regardless of what the judges said, Jon Jones lost to Dominick Reyes because he steadfastly refused to throw offense unless there was no chance he was getting hurt. He damn near lost to Thiago Santos in the same way and really, Anthony Smith was the same only in that fight Anthony Smith was not ass gung-ho aggressive so it was at least a clear win for Jones. This is like that stretch of Georges St-Pierre’s career where he couldn’t even finish Dan Hardy because all he was concerned about was putting himself at zero risk, only instead of taking people down and laying on them, Jon is oblique kicking everyone. That’s just not a strategy that will work on the kind of artillery Ngannou brings to the table.

All that being said, the most insane thing about Ngannou is that we still have no idea how good he actually is. He keeps knocking people out before we’ve had a chance to see if he’s improved or grown. I mean, I guess if you can swing it then it’s a good gig but we still know so little about what Ngannou’s actual game is like that it’s foolish to feel confident about him beating the best fighter ever.

Sean O’Malley

By default, yes. He’s still a young kid so the next time he steps into the cage, he will certainly be better than we’ve ever seen. That being said, I doubt he takes anything away from this loss. He certainly isn’t acting like it, though perhaps that’s just part of the persona.

I was never huge on O’Malley from the jump, largely because I don’t get his appeal. I think he’s a good fighter and his fighting style (and really everything about him) is so clearly influenced by Conor McGregor that he’s fun to watch, but he was still so young and hadn’t really done much. The Marlon Vera fight was his first opportunity to really announce to his fellow fighters that he was more than just hype and well, he didn’t. Sure, he can come back and still have a great career but maybe just cool it with the Cody Garbrandt talk right now.

Anthony Johnson’s return

Oh great irony of ironies that just when Rumble returns, Jon Jones abandons light heavyweight. I suppose the one solace we can take in it is that Dominick Reyes is the true 205 champion anyway. And after Reyes beats Blachowicz to get the belt that should already be his, the UFC would be idiots to do anything other than book Rumble for the next title fight.

With Jon Jones leaving and Daniel Cormier retired, one of the UFC’s marquee divisions just became as interesting as it has been in nearly a decade positionally, while being entirely devoid of household names. Rumble is one of those names. We have no idea if Rumble is even a shell of himself but it doesn’t matter, run that husk out there and let him fight Reyes and build your new champion up. Otherwise you run the risk of Rumble getting wrestled to death if you book him a rust-breaker fight. I mean sure, in a rational world he would need at least one win but the UFC has never been shy about doing stuff like this. Cave to your baser instincts Dana and give us this one.

Also, man, without Jones, DC, or Gustafsson, and even Shogun walking away soon, 205 is an empty, empty division at the moment. Vadim Nemkov really might be the best light heavyweight on the planet. Sheesh.

The Return of the Kings

For those of you not aware, CamSoda was responsible for quite possibly the greatest MMA event ever put on and it makes its triumphant return to the MMA space tonight via a partnership with Full Metal Dojo to create “Fight Circus.” Just watch this promo and tell me it’s not the best thing you’ve seen in months.

Okay, now that your appetite has been whetted, just look at the majesty of this fight card.

An organization that embraces the freakshow roots of this carnival sideshow “sport” is clearly destined to be an incredibly fun time. And while I’m excited for each of these fights in their own way, two of them stand out above all others.

First, Chitnuphong Sommuttirum, a bantamweight Muay Thai fighter, taking on Tang Mo a heavyweight boxer is just some spectacular matchmaking. I’m all for experimental matchmaking and this will help us start to solve the question of just how much of a factor size is for fighting. Can you, reader who has been going to a kickboxing class three days a week for five years, actually beat up a random huge dude if you had to? Let’s find out via our two proxy fighters here! It’s David vs. Goliath only instead of a sling, our hero has shin bones like steel beams and he’s gonna kick the shit out of Goliath and try not to get his head taken off in the process. That’s MMA in its purest form.

And then of course there is the real main event of the evening, the people’s main event: Brothers Bank & No Money taking on 1-1 middleweight Mikhail Vetrila. Yes, this is the SECOND two-on-one fight of the evening but I think it’s the most interesting. For one, the names are sensation. Bank & No Money? I’m not sure these brothers are going to have the best teamwork. And they’re going to need it because when you combine their weight, they barely outweigh Vetrila. Will their numbers advantage make it irrelevant? Will the brothers attack at the same time or will one sit in the back shadowboxing like you see henchmen do in the movies? If Vetrila sparks one immediately, does the other just a tap out? If so, how does that affect their brotherly relationship moving forward? There are so many questions and thank God, we’re going to get the answers, plus so much more.

Long live CamSoda!

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.

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