It’s good to be back!
There has been a ton going on the past few weeks, both in terms of events and in terms of my personal life, so we took a small hiatus from the Tweet-bag, but now it’s back to business, baby. We’ve got a lot to discuss from UFC 276, plus tonight’s main event, so let’s get cracking.
Alex Pereira, title contender
do you think it was fair that the ufc pushed pereira to a title fight by only giving him the 'easiest' highest ranked fights from a sporting perspective? considering other fighters dont have that privilege and have to do it the 'hard' way? obviously it makes sense money wise— Anderson Gold ️ (@frontkicked) July 6, 2022
It is quite obviously completely unfair to the other middleweights in the UFC, who have busted their ass trying to climb the mountain. But to paraphrase William Money, “fair’s got nothing to do with it.”
While some argue that MMA isn’t a sport (really, they’re just thinking themselves far too clever), the reality is that it is a sport, but one where outside-the-arena factors have an outsized effect on the in cage work. Now, this is true for many sports, usually in small ways. Stars in basketball get fouls called more often, that sort of thing. In MMA, it’s simply much more overt. If you have the power the narrative, the rest of the stuff will flow around you like water to get you where you need to be. It’s not exactly fair, but it is also true for all parties. Pereira happens to be on the good end of luck this time around. But the truth is, you also make your own luck, and no one else at 185 is doing so.
When questions like this arise, I always think of Leon Edwards. Old Leon is finally getting his shot at the welterweight title, and while some say it’s long overdue, I don’t. He’s getting it exactly when he deserved it, because he has proven incapable of making people care, and while being a great fighter is all well and good, get you a man that can do both. Leon couldn’t, and so he gets the title shot when there aren’t other options. That’s how it works. And because that is frankly true for anyone, it also is kind of fair, even if it’s a tough pill to swallow.
All that being said, if Pereira clobbers Adesanya when they fight (an extremely real possibility), it’s going to be hilarious that there are probably eight other middleweights in the world who can beat him. Then again, this is a division Michael Bisping once reigned over, so it’s not exactly a new phenomenon for 185.
Israel Adesanya’s snoozer
Why did Adesanya ruin the Show? And why the Cypto bonus is won by the worst fighter that night?— Gabriel (@Gabriel24778149) July 7, 2022
The Crypto bonus is going to the worst fighter on the card every weekend, because it’s going to the most famous fighters, and coincidentally, a lot of those folks have laid eggs lately. Like Adesanya.
First of all, I’m not here to say Adesanya is bad. He quite obviously is the best middleweight on the planet and one of the best fighters, full stop. But he is boring, and we don’t need to pretend like he isn’t to score internet points, or whatever. If you’re one of the people who has been getting irate at the backlash toward Adesanya for UFC 276, I would humbly suggest to you that it is OK to want more from your favorite fighters than simply winning. Fandom is supposed to be about fun, and outside of people gambling on Adesanya, you cannot reasonably tell me you’ve had fun for several of his UFC bouts. That’s not picking on him, it’s stating a fact.
Adesanya has become a boring fighter because his style, by nature, relies on his opponents to bring entertainment. Because winning is the single most important thing, Adesanya has made the logical choice to never put himself in harm’s way, and so he stays away from engagements, picks shots, and point fights, unless an opponent runs headlong at him, and because he has proven so good at blowing those fighters up, people aren’t running headlong at him anymore. That leaves Adesanya the choice to either win comfortable, uninteresting snoozers, or to accept a little more risk to deliver something more to the fans. He’s clearly chosen the former, and that’s OK. But again, it’s also OK for fans to not like it.
Now, this is where the Izzy Stans are screaming about blaming Jared Cannonier and sure, he has his part to play in it, but there’s a reason the heat comes at Izzy (aside from the part where he keeps talking a huge game and then lays an egg): his name is on the marquee. When fans pay hundreds of dollars to watch something, they’re doing so in the hopes of seeing a spectacle, and not only is Adesanya not delivering, he looks like he’s coasting throughout. If fans shelled out for a Formula 1 race only to watch Max Verstappen win while never getting out of third gear because no one else could get out of second, well, there would be complaints. This is the constant tension between fans and athletes. It’s not new, but it’s also completely reasonable.
I’ll finish this rant with a few odds and ends.
- This is one of those problems that exists now, but as time passes will lessen in importance. In 20 years, people will just look back at the resume, and think less about the disengaged performances.
- While Adesanya’s style is minimizing risk, there is also a good argument that it increases overall risk because it allows dangerous fighters to hang around for 25 minutes and try to land one big shot. It’s that sort of thing that got him killed by Pereira in their second fight, and it’s the sort of thing that could lose him the title.
- There’s a real cost to being boring. Adesanya is one of the biggest stars in the sport, but he’s seemingly been on the cusp of major global superstardom for years, and yet can’t quite get there because he’s not delivering the in-cage highlights. Wins are the currency of the realm for MMA, but popularity is a close second, and Adesanya is sacrificing the latter to keep up the former.
So in summation, it would be a lot cooler if Izzy did more dope stuff, but he’s probably not going to so get used to it, and if you’re Stanning Izzy, dare to dream bigger.
Mate I'm curious why the more Volk speaks the less you like him. Is it the double champ aspirations thing? Usually he just goes on about hard work & challenging contenders to make their case.— Dee J (@DtosiaC) July 7, 2022
Let’s start here: Alexander Volkanovski is probably the best fighter in the world and very possibly the best fighter that has ever competed in MMA. He has more work to do to surpass Jose Aldo as the featherweight GOAT (like beating someone other than Max Holloway), but he’s well on his way. That being said, I used to like the man and now the more he talks, the less I enjoy him. My issue with Volkanovski is simply one of personalities. I suspect strongly that having a beer with him would be fine but having a longer conversation would not go well, and I think that has come to the forefront with him more as he has settled into his reign.
This might sound weird, but Volkanovski comes off very much like Michael Jordan to me, only without the charisma and cool (so I guess like Kobe Bryant?). People love Jordan but if you watched The Last Dance, the only thing I could think was, “Man, this dude is legitimately crazy and an ass and would be awful to be around if you cared about things other than winning.” Volkanovski has a little of that going. His whole post-fight speech this past weekend about people doubting him and all that was so off-putting. Like, who doubted you? Some people on the internet? You were a -200 favorite! That means people weren’t doubting you! That’s the sort of thing hyper-competitive people do, and while that is great for success, it’s means I probably don’t really want to have a beer with you.
I feel similarly about the move to 155. I understand it completely, and some of this isn’t his fault, but this is a dude who spent years telling everyone that he didn’t want to keep fighting Max over and over again, he wanted to defend his belt and be an active champion. Well, keep that same energy. He’s beaten exactly three people in the UFC’s rankings. That’s not cleaning out a division. Do that, then we can talk about lightweight. Because he could probably do that in a year, if he’d just go full bore at it.
In the end, this is all my personal opinion. If you like Volkanovski, have at it. I love watching the man fight. He is sublime. But the less he gets on the mic, the more I’ll enjoy him, unless he goes back to being just a chill dude who doesn’t really give a crap what people think. Same with Adesanya, as a matter of fact. It seems to me, that both of them have taken a turn from their early days where they were unbothered by anything, to now having these chips on their shoulders, when they’re the champions of the world, and that’s just not something that I enjoy.
Over the weekend Charles Oliveira stipulated the would fight Islam next, if after he beat him Khabib would return and fight him. Do you think Khabib takes the bet?— Brian (@californicartel) July 6, 2022
Charles Oliveira is another champion who has not been stellar on the mic lately, but this is A+ stuff from him. Calling out Khabib in this fashion is low-hanging fruit, but low-hanging just means that it’s ripe and delicious. I have long argued that Khabib is MMA’s Michael Jordan, and that should the right circumstances arise, he will return for one final bout, and Chucky Olives beats Islam, that would constitute the right circumstances. Sadly for Oliveira, Makhachev will dust him up, should they ever fight. But the man’s head is in the right place.
Did Ian Garry’s performance at 276 change your opinion on him at all?— Reese (@spicygambler) July 8, 2022
It did, actually. I’m never been super high on Garry, primarily because he’s a defensive liability, but Gabriel Green is a tough dude and Garry looked exceptional. His defense is still a problem, and the moment he faces someone who can match his length and size, he’s going to have some real problems, but the kid is undeniably improving time in and time out and he’s showing off some extremely potent boxing. If he keeps this up, I think he can crack the top-10 of the division, though I still have doubts about his title aspirations.
Israel Adesanya’s walkout
Was Adesanya walk-out the greatest entrance ever?— Telvin Kipapa (@telvinkipapa) July 6, 2022
Fortunately for you, we wrote a whole article answering this question this week.
How long before like of Connor, Tony, and Hooker are kicked out of lightweight rankings?— Abdul Lateef (@A_Lateef11) July 7, 2022
There’s only one set of rankings that matter and it’s the MMA Fighting Global Rankings, and in those, Conor is out and Hooker is barely hanging on (and will likely be out when the rankings update next week). My personal rankings haven’t had any of those men in them for months now, and I’ve tried to convince my compatriots to shelve them, to no avail. But rest assured, I at least am fighting the good fight.
The Battle of the Rafaels
With this being a 5 round fight, how much does this favor RDA and what avenues does Fiziev need to take in order to win the fight— 4cornersports on YT (@4cornersportsny) July 8, 2022
I’d say the particulars of this bout favor Rafael dos Anjos pretty heavily. He’s been five rounds countless times, whereas this will be a first for Rafael Fiziev. That’s especially helpful since RDA’s pressuring style is even more effective over 25 minutes. Add in that they’re in the small APEX cage and things all align for the former champion to come out as the one true Rafael. Were he a younger man, I’d pick him comfortably, but given the looming presence of Father Time, there’s a real possibility that none of those advantages matter, because Fiziev just Deebos him.
As for what Fiziev needs to do, he either needs to clobber RDA with a big shot early, a la Eddie Alvarez, or he needs to stay on his bike and pick off the former champion as he cuts the cage, while avoiding eating too many body kicks. If RDA is able to corral Fiziev up to the fence, “Ataman” is going to have a long night. I have no idea if he can do it, but I’m stoked to see him give it a shot.
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.