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Hot Tweets: Colby Covington vs. Jorge Masvidal, the rest of UFC 272, and Islam Makhachev’s risky gamble

UFC 272 Weigh-in Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

It’s been a crazy week in the MMA world and the best is still to come. Tonight, Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal finally settle their feud in the main event of UFC 272. We’ve got a lot to cover so let’s not waste any time. Pitter patter.

The promotion of UFC 272: Covington vs. Masvidal

No. Not at all. This card isn’t even the weakest pay-per-view of the year. In fact, purely from a star power standpoint, this is arguably the strongest pay-per-view of year thus far. After knocking out Ben Askren and winning the “BMF” belt against Nate Diaz, Jorge Masvidal is a bonafide star. The man sold 1.3 million PPV buys on short notice against Kamaru Usman the first time around and then, despite being thoroughly outclassed in that fight, he still managed 700,000 buys for the rematch. Masvidal is a proven draw at this point, and while Covington isn’t as strong in that respect as he would like to be, he’s still a noisy and well-known commodity. There is a strong case to be made that these two gentlemen and their heated backstory packs more promotional punch than the fabricated beef between Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane or the salty rivalry between Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker. And remember, it’s not like UFC 270 or 271 were star studded outside of the main events.

As far as the buyrate goes, I suspect it will draw more than 400,000 buys but the price hike does give me some amount of pause. I’ve had a number of people tell me that $75 for a fight card is too steep a price for them to feel comfortable paying, and given that UFC 273 is right around the corner, and it is STACKED, that may well depress the buy total somewhat. Still, this is a a big fight with one of the top-five stars in the sport and another decent draw, doing their level best to sell it. I think it’ll do around 650,000.

Where do we go from here?

Well it’s certainly not pointless as the two primary reasons to fight someone in MMA are making money and settling disputes — this is a two-for-one special in that regard — but I take your meaning. I have noticed some fans be less interested in this bout because for all the other stuff it comes with, both men have now lost twice to the current champion and are well out of title contention. The Rich Franklin Zone is a tough place promotionally and it’s even more difficult when both guys are there. That being said, I think we can find some fun things to do with both men after this fight is over, but it will depend largely on how the fight goes.

If Covington wins in his typical, grinding fashion (the most likely outcome), there are no shortage of other fights for him. There is no shortage of other fighters who despise Covington and would like a crack at him, the most obvious being a fight with Dustin Poirier. Meanwhile, Masvidal can go right back to rematching Nate Diaz or continue angling for a fight with Conor McGregor.

If it’s a close fight then we are probably looking at a rematch, regardless of who wins. It would still sell well and neither guy has anything pressing to attend to otherwise.

Lastly, if Masvidal “baptizes” Covington early, that’s the only one that could present problems. For Masvidal, it would obviously be great and he can comfortably pick and choose who he wants to fight next. It might even help him lock down a McGregor fight. For Covington though, a quick knockout loss given the circumstances would be a huge hit to him promotionally. At that point he would probably have to simply accept a fight with some younger welterweight contenders to build himself back up.

Regardless of what happens tonight though, neither man is walking away soon.

The co-main event

Since I already mostly addressed the first question above, I’ll just say that Shavkat Rakhmonov is dope but I’d prefer he not make that big a jump up. Give him a slightly lower ranked guy instead and build him.

As for the co-main event, a 160-pound catchweight bout between Rafael dos Anjos and Renato Moicano, that’s tricky.

RDA is a former lightweight champion and very likely on the last good legs of his storied career. In normal circumstances that would mean the UFC needs to fast-track a late-career title run, but the lightweight division is absurdly stacked and kind of broken. Justin Gaethje is getting the next title shot, Islam Makhachev should be getting one after that but who the hell knows (more on that later), Dustin Poirier is trying to fight money fights, five or six other guys are trying to climb the ladder but can’t because no one ahead of them will fight them, and Conor McGregor is looming. It’s an absolute cluster of a division right now and so RDA doesn’t have anywhere to go. He’s basically forced into fight down even so a win here basically means we are guaranteed to see the UFC rebook the fight with Fiziev.

For Moicano, all the same stuff applies as with RDA except the UFC has no real incentive to push him, meaning he will for sure be fighting someone behind him in the rankings, be it Fiziev or someone like Arman Tsarukyan.

Rafael dos Anjos

Because they’re a bunch of philistines.

Dos Anjos is not only a former UFC lightweight champion, he also challenged for an interim welterweight strap and should have fought Tyron Woodley for the welterweight belt but was denied by the UFC’s timeline (for what it’s worth, RDA would’ve stood a good chance of winning that fight). Not to mention that he was also supposed to fight Conor McGregor, another fight he had a great chance of winning, but got injured and then again lost his big fight because he was willing to carry water for the UFC and fight whenever. It’s a theme with RDA, who basically never turns down fight. That’s why he’s got more losses on his record than you might expect and it’s also why his resume of opponents is one of the most impressive in the sport. The dude has fought the best guys in two weight classes for a decade.

Fortunately, I think more people are coming around on how dope RDA is, especially with what has transpired this week, but it may still take some time for the broader public to register it and there are two main reasons in my opinion. First, the most memorable highlights of RDA’s career are losses — losing the belt to Eddie Alvarez, Jeremy Stephens hitting him with a Mortal Kombat uppercut — because his best wins are complete performances, lacking a flashy moment. Second, I think people forget about his lightweight title run because it started right after he got dominated by Khabib Nurmagomedov and, if we’re being honest, the only reason RDA ever got the belt is because Khabib had a very tough two-year stretch with injuries and the like that delayed his own title run. Both of those things just take some of the shine off what has been a sterling career, at least to the public at large.

Kevin Holland, the welterweight

I’m very interested in it. On the one hand, Holland was clearly a bit undersized at middleweight and so dropping down should be an easy enough cut for him (he certainly made a statement coming in at championship weight), but on the other hand, Holland’s main issue has been his wrestling defense, and welterweight has a lot more elite wrestlers to contend with. But I think Alex Oliveira is the perfect first test for him at the new weight class. Oliveira is an underrated wrestler and a good, lanky athlete. Holland should win but he’s going to have to work for it and probably will have to do a bit of defensive wrestling as well. It’s a perfect litmus test for him in this new division.

Marina Rodriguez vs. Yan Xiaonan

Unfortunately for Rodriguez, unless she delivers the greatest knockout of all time, she’s not getting the next strawweight title shot, that’s going to Carla Esparza. Aside from having a win over her (contentious or otherwise) Esparza has done all she needs to for her shot and even Dana White has finally admitted so. More to the point, you don’t bury a fight between two top-five fighters on the prelims if you think the winner is getting a title fight. Whoever wins this one is going to have to get one more win before facing the winner of Rose Namajunas and Esparza, perhaps on the same card as that fight, whenever it takes place.

Greg Hardy

The UFC should not have signed Greg Hardy in the first place and they certainly shouldn’t re-sign; however, they obviously are going to do so regardless of the outcome tonight. It’s incredible but true that this will be Hardy’s 10th fight in the organization and the fact that they continue to book him in premium spots is proof that they love this guy, and honestly, I can see why. Sure, Hardy isn’t very good at fighting, but he has a lot of promise given his athletic background and he’s one of a handful of fighters who are good on the mic. He’s not some promotional genius about selling his own fights or anything, but if you just watch him in a scrum versus almost anyone else in the UFC and you will see a clear difference. He’s had legitimate media training and it shows.

Would Hardy be be better served by fighting on the regional scene and getting a lot more experience? Of course. He’d either improve markedly or he’d lose on the regionals and retire. If it’s the former, at least there would then be a reason for him to be in the UFC beyond his name, and if it’s the latter then we never have to care again. Alas, that’s not in the cards and at this point, whatever. In the immortal words of Max Holloway, it is what it is.

Islam Makhachev

This entire story is the most classic bit of MMA tomfudgery imaginable. Everybody here is doing or did something tremendously dumb, any or all of it could be a lie, and the end result is going to be everyone being worse off than they were at the start of the week.

First let’s establish the clear and obvious point: Makhachev doesn’t need to fight anyone else to get a title shot. He should unquestionably get a crack at the winner of Charles Oliveira vs. Justin Gaethje and if you disagree, you are insane. No, he doesn’t have any top-five wins but it’s not for lack of trying and he is clearly one of the four or five best lightweights in the world, if not the outright best. Denying him a title shot for any reason at this point is pure hateration.

Second, let’s talk about Dana White. White frequently just says stuff so taking his comments about Makhachev needing to face Dariush at face value is perhaps not the wisest idea. That being said, there has never been a promoter in human history who has been a bigger fan of cutting off his nose to spite his face in the name of pettiness than White so it could also totally be true. This would, of course, be incredibly idiotic as Makhachev is quite possibly (probably?) the best lightweight in the world. Remember when stupid stuff like this kept Khabib from winning the lightweight title for like, three years despite him obviously being better than everyone else? And then remember how Khabib’s title reign got cut short by tragedy and so instead of having an immensely promotable Fight God as their champion for half a decade, Khabib came and went in a blink? The UFC should super not do that again. (Also, stop throwing your fighters, especially future champions, under the bus because they didn’t do exactly what you wanted at all points in time).

Third, the reason they are probably going to do exactly that again is because people still like to pay money to watch Conor McGregor and with his contract nearly up, and McGregor almost certainly heading off to lucrative boxing matches with Jake Paul and Nate Diaz (where he gets the lion’s share of the revenue) once it is up, the UFC is going to get all the juice they can out of the man. Add in that both Oliveira and Gaethje want the McGregor payday instead of fighting Khabib Redux for a quarter of the money and I’d bet money that is what’s coming down the pipeline.

Finally, Islam Makhachev (or his management) what the hell are you doing? Don’t throw your name in the hat for something like this if you aren’t going to accept. Hell, don’t throw your name out there unless you will for sure take it, no questions asked, and with no stipulations of your own. The UFC M.O. in situations like this is extremely clear: a lot of people will opt in, they get a feel from the scheduled fighter what he or she is thinking, and then they will offer the fight to a few people and go with whoever creates the least fuss/takes the smallest paycheck. Then if you aren’t the one they chose, or if you just turned down their offer, they are absolutely going to blame you for the fight falling through. This is rookie stuff to have screwed up on, ESPECIALLY when you were likely locked in for a title fight next anyway. If Makhachev (or his manager) had simply said nothing, no one would have batted an eye about the circumstances given that he literally just fought. Islam would still be the frontrunner for the next title fight and he wouldn’t have his own promoter publicly s***ing on him. It’s unfathomable to me that this all happened.

Anyway, to my original point, this is all very stupid and served only to make everyone involved worse off.

Thanks for reading and thank you for everyone who sent in Tweets! Do you have any burning questions about things at least somewhat 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. Send them to me and I’ll answer the ones I like the most. Let’s have fun.

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