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Hot Tweets: Could UFC 289 be Amanda Nunes’ final fight? Plus more

UFC 289 Press Conference Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

What’s that?! Hot Tweets on a Monday?! What’s going on here? That’s right you jackals, we’re making moves!

I love answering questions from our devoted readers, but with just how fast the MMA cycle moves these days, doing it over the weekends just isn’t tenable. The event of the previous week is all but forgotten and the next event is usually mere hours away. That’s not a viable shelf life. So we’re making a change: From now on, Hot Tweets is a Monday mailbag column. Cliché? Absolutely. Do I care? Absolutely not. I’m here to answer questions and help you kill time at your jobs, not reinvent the content wheel.

So with that in mind, let’s hop into our questions this week.

Was Kai Kara-France robbed?

People are certainly feeling some type of way about the main event this past weekend. (I’m assuming Mr. Way meant to say “judges.”) These were just some of the kinder things I saw out there, and I understand the sentiment. After all, when MMA Decisions looks like this, it’s easy for people to believe a robbery has occurred. But here’s the thing: That wasn’t a robbery. Kai Kara-France and Amir Albazi had a really close fight and the judges scored it for Albazi. Did I agree? We’ll get into that in a bit. But regardless of who you scored it for, you have to acknowledge the bout was close and reasonable people could score it for Albazi.

Here’s where I think people are getting mucked up though: Judge Chris Lee’s scorecard. Lee gave Albazi Round 4, which statistically looks real dumb, and even just the old eye test says is a bad score. So when Kara-France loses a split decision where one judge scored a bad round — a round that, had he scored it differently, the result would have changed — that gets people’s ire up. I get it. But again, even if I think scoring Round 4 for Albazi is bad, is entirely reasonable to give Albazi Rounds 1-3, meaning he wins the fight.

Essentially what I’m saying is the process was bad but the result was fair, and that’s kind of all we can ask for in this game.


I did score it for Kara-France, but with two major caveats. First, is that I was genuinely not watching the fight to score it. I was just at home, enjoying a beverage, and cheering on flyweight unders (sadly). I was not doing a committed accounting of things.

Second, and it ties into the first, I was in no way confident in my score. When the live odds showed that Kara-France was a sizable favorite in the middle of the fight, I was pretty surprised. The first two rounds were toss-ups, so I had no confidence in what the judges would render there. In situations like that, I tend to simply split the difference and give each dude a round. But that’s not how judging works, so I was willing to believe any scores were possible until the third round, which Albazi clearly won.

Ultimately, I’m fine with the decision and you should be too. It was a close, competitive fight, and while the phrase “Don’t leave it in the hands of the judges” is impossibly banal, I do firmly believe that if you want to win fights, you’d better go win a f****** fight. You don’t = have to go out and get a finish every time, but you should do your damnedest to make a statement, and not just try to eke out a point-fighting decision win. That sword cuts both ways, and this time, KKF was on the receiving end of it.

Referee Chris Tognoni

Hell yes, it was! And good on you Chris Tognoni for actually enforcing the rules of the octagon.

For those unaware, in a prelim bout, Tognoni deducted a point from Muin Gafurov for a headbutt to John Castañeda during a striking exchange. It was the first time the action had been stopped in the bout, and he just hauled off and took a point. No firm warning, no stern talking to, man just took a point. It was awesome.

As far as I know, MMA is the only sport in the world where breaking the rules leads to zero consequences. In football, if you commit a penalty, 15 yards. In the other football, if you commit a penalty, free kick and maybe a card. In basketball, free throws. F1, time penalty. Golf, stroke penalty. I could go on and on, but you get the point. Yet, in MMA we have for years allowed fighters to cheat with near impunity, in all but the most egregious of circumstances. WHY?! Because it’s too harsh to deduct a point? Bollocks.

Let’s say Phil Mickelson had a one-stroke penalty at the Masters this year (which they would absolutely give him if he did something illegal), you know what that would’ve meant? Dropping from T2 to T3, and losing over $700,000 in the process. And yet the golf world doesn’t lament officials enforcing the rules of the game. You never see a referee pick up a flag because it would be “too harsh” to call pass interference in the end zone, or not whistle for a PK because “I don’t want to interfere in the game!” You know what interferes in a fair fight? One dude cheating!!

And here’s the thing: This isn’t some sort of fantastical crusade I’m on to change the rules of MMA. This is how the rules currently are supposed to work! Fighters meet with the referee backstage before their bout to go over the rules, where they can answer any questions or seek clarification. THAT is their warning. After that, everything is live fire and referees can deduct points for any foul. The issue is they don’t choose to do so. This time, Tognoni did. Gafurov did an illegal action, that action clearly impacted his opponent negatively, and Tognoni punished him appropriately. Now if only every ref would always do that, most fouls would be out of the sport for good.

Flyweight unders

Oh man. It’s been a rough journey this year, that’s for sure.

If you’re a listener of No Bets Barred (you should be, check it out) then you’ll know that Conner Burks and I discovered a can’t-miss bet: All flyweight unders. In 2022, they were something absurd like 24-8. But in 2023, things have been spotty to say the least — we’re sitting at 9-8 overall after another two losses at UFC Vegas 74. We’re still up on the year with them, but the past few weeks have been enough to rattle the confidence, for sure.

I’m not positive how Conner is feeling about them moving forward, but tune in to NBB this week where we will for sure discuss their future.

Tim Elliott

It actually does, yes.

I thought there was a very good chance Tim Elliott would come out like a man possessed given all the turmoil in his personal life, and the fact that he basically said as much beforehand. And then on Saturday, Tim Elliott Tim Elliotted all over Victor Altamirano, winning another professional decision. Hard to blame the guy, a win is a win and that’s all that matters to him, but I will say I was a bit buoyed post-fight by the fact that he didn’t intend to blow smoke beforehand. He really wanted to do some crazy stuff in there, it just didn’t work out.

Amanda Nunes

Amanda Nunes defends her women’s bantamweight title this Saturday against Irene Aldana in the main event of UFC 289, and there’s a very real possibility that it’s her final fight. But not if she loses.

Nunes just turned 35 years old, she has done everything that one can do in this sport, and she’s got a baby girl at home. Nunes is not long for this sport, on that we all can agree. I thought there was a decent chance she’d retire after beating Julianna Peña, but then she didn’t. Even so, I still think there’s a good chance it happens if she wins on Saturday, because then she really won’t have anyone else worth fighting, and increasingly fewer reasons to risk her reputation.

But with a loss? Well, if she loses, I firmly expect Nunes to try and get the belt back. For years her whole thing has been being a dominant “two-division” champion. She’s not trying to go out on an L, especially after she already once came back to reclaim a belt she lost.

So yeah, if Nunes loses on Saturday, she’s got at least one more left in her.

If she wins, though, different story.

UFC 289

At the risk of people thinking I’m being hyperbolic: This is the worst UFC pay-per-view in some time. I’m not trying to be negative, but how do you look at this and come to any other conclusion?

Let’s start with the prelims: Of the eight fights currently set for the prelims, what ones would you clear out time from your schedule to watch? At best, one: The Nassourdine Imavov vs. Chris Curtis matchup. Then we can jump to the main card, where you’re getting a solid title fight that isn’t getting anyone’s blood pumping, a fantastic co-main event where the winner probably gets passed over for a title shot, and a guaranteed barnburner in Dan Ige vs. Nate Landwehr, and then two other fights that could easily fill out an APEX prelim. For that, you’re supposed to shell out $80? Come on!

The last pay-per-view that was this bad was UFC 279, but at least that had Nate Diaz on it so casual fans were into it. This has no real appeal for anyone other than the biggest UFC simps. That’s not to say the fights won’t be good. Hell, they might be fun, and maybe Aldana pulls of the upset, and that’s cool. But if your choice is drop $80 on this or buy a medium-sized LEGO set and get your Brandon Moreno on, then call me “The Assassin Baby,” because it’s time to sling them bricks.

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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