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Hot Tweets: What Jake Paul’s signing means for the PFL, plus one more thing on Dana White

UFC 282 Press Conference
Dana White
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Let’s be honest, the first week of 2023 has been awful in MMA news. Mostly terrible stuff that I don’t want to talk about. I’ve (for the most part) already said my piece on the Dana White situation and don’t particularly want to continue talking about it, at least not right now. So instead we are (mostly) going to focus on everything else.


Imbeciles

I thought a lot about whether or not to engage with this, because on the one hand, treating it as anything other than something worth total scorn and derision validates it to some extent. But, this has been such a pervasive sentiment in the MMA community among those who are least capable of critical thinking that I ultimately decided to answer it.

The most basic answer to this is “because it wasn’t relevant.” Anne White striking Dana White “first” has absolutely no bearing on whether or not him hitting her is acceptable.

It is not. Full stop.

White himself acknowledges this and has made zero attempt to claim it as an excuse. No one else should either. Doing so really tells on yourself that you believe in beating women. And to those people, I say from the bottom of my heart: Please, seek help. Sincerely.

More importantly though, and the real reason I wanted to answer this, is because Anne White’s slap was NOT the beginning of the situation. She is CLEARLY not the aggressor. In the video, Dana White is restraining his wife, she turns to leave, and he grabs her wrist, which then precipitates the slap. White is the aggressor. To be clear, it wouldn’t matter if he wasn’t. If Anne White hauled off and slapped her husband without provocation, that IN NO WAY justifies him hitting her back. But that is not at all what happened here.

At this point I will also add that because the angle of the video, we cannot tell for sure what happens after Dana White’s first slap, but it certainly doesn’t look like anything good. And leaving that aside, I will simply say this: The immediacy with which Dana White struck his wife gives me great concern. It’s hard for me to imagine a scenario where I would strike a woman, and White did so with zero hesitation. That’s concerning.

Last and most important, the reason this matters, the reason people are so focused on this, is because domestic violence is a serious problem. If you need further proof, look at what came out just a few days after this incident. Look at the f****** statistics. One in four women experience it during their lifetimes. One in two female murder victims are killed by an intimate partner. Treating this incident as if it’s no big deal, as if “she had it coming” or whatever idiotic rationalization one wants to offer, only increases these very stats.

Anne White is the victim here. And if you do not believe so, you’re just telling on yourself.


On a happier note

It’s gotta be more. This has the potential to be a legitimate game-changer for the PFL.

Jake Paul is not an MMA fighter. Sure. But Jake Paul is one of the biggest names in combat sports, and the PFL now, at the minimum, gets to draft off that notoriety. More likely, though, is that he does end up fighting for the PFL, and that is going to draw eyeballs and interest. It will be on the PFL to convert that interest into a more lasting fanbase, but I actually think they are uniquely well-suited to maximize Paul’s presence within their brand.

By virtue of their league structure, the PFL is pretty easy to digest for any random sports fan. Plus, it insulates Paul from the other regular dealings of the company. They have their Super Fight division, and their divisional seasons. Like the way Bellator used to trot out a bunch of old stars to boost interest and hope their young talent caught on. Only instead of the desiccated husks of Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock, PFL is going to be working with a 25-year-old superstar. That’s a sweet deal.

All of that is to say that with this one move, the PFL has announced itself as a promotion with legitimate aspirations towards something more in the space. That makes them a dramatically more appealing place for any talent to sign (or re-sign) with, including Harrison. If nothing else, the Super Fight pay structure — splitting 50 percent of the revenue with the fighters — gives them a much bigger carrot to entice Harrison back with. “Hey, you can get in on 50 percent revenue sharing of a PPV with Jake Paul on it, instead of sharing revenue from just a regular PFL show, which probably amounts to $12.”

This signing, the fact that the PFL still has distribution through the best streaming service for their target audience, and Bellator continuing to underachieve, means that a new No. 2 MMA organization could be right around the corner.


More Jake Paul

Nate Diaz.

The idea of Diaz joining the PFL in full feels a bit farfetched, but a one-off deal for an MMA bout with Paul, after Paul beats him in boxing, makes all the sense in the world. The PFL would likely be willing to even allow Diaz to co-promote with his own brand, Diaz can “get one back” over Paul, and it’s just good business. The fight would be huge, everyone would make a ton of money, and it won’t matter at all that Paul loses. Him coming to MMA at all is a win for him, and this then sets him up to fight some real can in his next MMA bout.


Last Dana White thing

Abject cowardice by TBS.

Everyone involved in the decision should lose their jobs. Not even a month after Dana White is caught on video slapping his wife, they’re going to show Dana White’s Power Slap League. Anyone with any sense at all would end this before it began. What a nightmare.


Marlon Vera

He gains nothing at all, save the paycheck, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t do it. The truth is, because bantamweight is such a cluster right now and the UFC appears to be set on giving Henry Cejudo a title shot (why, I cannot fathom), Vera is too far back in line to wait for a title shot. Sean O’Malley is going to fight the winner of Aljamain Sterling vs. Cejudo, and so at the earliest, Vera would be stuck waiting until late this year, more likely until 2024. The man is a prizefighter. He fights for a living. This is a great fight and it only furthers to build the reputation of “Chito.” All things considered, he could do much worse.


What could have been

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson is the only correct answer here.

I’m not even one of those people who was particularly captivated by the matchup. (Khabib would have absolutely mauled Tony, he was one of the easier matchups in the division). But what it represented, we may never seen again in the sport. Two men on 12-fight winning streaks, in the best division in the sport, polar opposites yet equally compelling — that stuff doesn’t come around all that often. We missed out on the greatest (on paper) fight in the history of the sport. It was simply too good to be true.


Justin Gaethje

No. Justin Gaethje rules.

First, Gaethje’s best win is Tony Ferguson. Tony was on a 12-fight winning streak. It was Gaethje that sent him tumbling into the abyss.

Second, his losses are to Khabib, Charles Oliveira, Dustin Poirier, and Eddie Alvarez (back when Eddie still had some juice). Those are totally fine losses, particularly when you factor in that Gaethje had real chances to win all of them.

Most important, though, is this: In 10 UFC fights, Gaethje has 10 performance bonuses and THREE Fight of the Year awards. He also finished third in 2017 and fifth in 2020. The dude isn’t the best lightweight of all time, but there has never been a more exciting fighter in the history of the sport. It’s impossible to overrate him.


Pain

If we’re talking about a single shot, I’d rather be kicked in the leg. If we’re talking about taking multiple shots, I’d much rather be punched in the face.

But body shot towers over both. Getting rocked to the midsection is among the worst pains in life.


Hypotheticals

Daniel Cormier seems the obvious choice. DC is smart, loves fighting, and in all respects appears to be a good person. He’d probably screw up a bunch, but it’s hard to imagine a more universally respected figure to take that role.

As for the second question, Carlos Condit vs. Robbie Lawler remains my choice for the greatest fight of all time, but Jiri Prochazka vs. Glover Teixeira is No. 2. The iconic image of Condit and Lawler both draped over the cage after the final bell, with nothing left to give, that seals the deal for me. If only they had gotten the decision right. [Ed. Note: If only...]


Top Five

Lightweight:

Champion - Islam Makhachev

  1. Rafael Fiziev
  2. Charles Oliveira
  3. Justin Gaethje
  4. Dustin Poirier
  5. Beneil Dariush

Bantamweight:

Champion - Henry Cejudo

  1. Merab Dvalishvili
  2. Sean O’Malley
  3. Petr Yan
  4. Marlon Vera
  5. Adrian Yanez

At lightweight I expect Islam to retain his belt and then defeat Dariush later in the year, Oliveira probably gets stuck with a fight against Fiziev and loses, Gaethje beats Poirier in a rematch, Dariush only fights the once and since he loses to Makhachev, doesn’t advance any in the rankings.

At bantamweight, I think Cejudo beats Sterling and then beats O’Malley. By the end of the year, he’s angling for a featherweight title shot. Vera beats Sandhagen but then loses to Yan. Merab beats Ricky Simon sometime in the spring, then fights Yan at the end of the year and wins, setting himself up for a title 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.

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