In an effort to write more regularly, I’m going to try and write shorter pieces on 5 things every other week. Here is that initial attempt.
The Ben Askren/Demetrious Johnson Trade
Demetrious Johnson is an incredible fighter, one of the best ever. The problem is, and you can lay the blame on who ever you want, no one wants to see him fight, or at least no one wants to pay to see him fight. That’s just the reality of the situation. Nobody who has seen Askren fight wants to see Ben Askren fight either. So, why would the UFC trade maybe the best fighter ever for a guy who gets booed for dominating performances? Because he talks shit. That’s the appeal for the UFC. Ben Askren could be the next Chael Sonnen.
There was a time, before Chael Sonnen’s WEC run, where no one, not one person on this planet, wanted to see Chael Sonnen fight. He was a mediocre wrestler who yelled when he got leglocked. He had less pull than Trevor Prangley. But he re-invented himself, talked all sorts of trash, justified or not, and made himself into a perennial headliner. He talked himself into main events, into fights with top fighters, into a talking head gig for life. Askren could have that kind of appeal, even if he’s fights aren’t appealing. GSP’s fights haven’t been barnburners for a decade, but he remains one of the biggest draws in the sport. Exciting fights are overrated, Olaf Alfonso never sniffed the UFC, Leonard Garcia eventually got cut, Cowboy Cerrone will end up toiling in the undercard. The sort of stuff that Askren tweets about, These sorts of tweets, comments like this, they can separate people from their wallets. They are the sort of thing that the UFC, in this incarnation, can get behind.
DC-Derrick Lewis is a fun fight. I don’t think it is a great fight, per se, in the long run it is more than likely one of the more inconsequential fights of DC’s career, but there is enough of a chance that Derrick Lewis could pull off the upset to keep me interested. Derrick Lewis seems to have an innate ability to just stand up when he gets taken down, but he hasn’t fought anybody with a wrestling pedigree like Daniel Cormier. Jared Rosholt is a good wrestler, but DC was a world class wrestler, and not in the Joe Rogan “guy won a state title in high school” kind of way, DC was on the Olympic ladder, it’s a difference in kind and not degree. So, if Lewis can just stand up from under DC, get Lewis to Colorado Springs so he can win some gold medals.
Plus, there’s the angle of DC building his heavyweight resume. He’s got wins over Stipe, Josh Barnett and Frank Mir. Those are all probably top 15 heavyweights. If he adds Lewis and Brock Lesnar, and anyone else, it’s not crazy to think that DC could end his career as a top 10 heavyweight and a top 10 light heavyweight.
Weidman-Jacare is a fine fight, but is either guy beating Robert Whitaker or Yoel Romero? No, that’s just nonsense. But, anytime you can get two top ten fighters fighting each other, it is worth watching. Other than that, we’ve got Hick Diaz and Israel Adesanya fighting, which is always cool. Plus, Dave Branch, confirmed draw, is fighting, which should move at least 500,000 buys.
When Dan Hardy fought Geroges St. Pierre for the title, the PPV started at 9pm. It was incredible. The show was over at midnight, a normal time for normal people. But, because life is pain, and MMA is pain, that never happened again. Main cards must start at 10pm. That is why Ed Herman entered the cage to fight Gian Villante at 11:42 local time. Imagine being in Moncton, it is almost midnight, and a guy who fights like he’s encased in carbonite is only just entering the octagon, and there are more fights to come. Imagine seeing Artem Lobov fight at 1am, just imagine it. God bless the people of Moncton, may the Wildcats win the Memorial Cup from here to eternity.
Oh, Anthony Smith is gonna fight for a title soon, he’ll probably lose.
You have to watch who you put in your Hall of Fame. I saw a tweet from the AP about UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonnar getting arrested for DUI. Would the Associated Press have reported on it if Stephan Bonnar was just a light heavyweight also-ran who placed second on a fighting reality show? No, I don’t think so. Matt Van Buren and Josh Haynes aren’t getting that kind of coverage. But, the UFC puts so much stock in the first TUF Finale, and that first season the show in general, and rightfully so. But sometimes, you have to draw a line, and that line should be putting Stephan Bonnar in your Hall of Fame.
I’ve been watching all the Rumble on the Rock events I can find online, for . . . reasons. I watched their 4th event over the last couple of days, headlined by BJ Penn and Takanori Gomi. I haven’t put a lot of thought into this, so I could be wrong, but I think that fight has to be the most meaningful fight to take place outside of a major organization. Is there another fight that is so pivotal in the history of a division that took place outside of the UFC or Pride? I don’t think so. Fedor-Arlovski is up there, same with Aoki-Alvarez, Rumina Sato-Pequeno, every top fight at 115 up to this point, and a handful of others. But do any of those hold the same weight as Gomi-BJ? Fedor is still Fedor without the Affliction run, neither Aoki or Alvarez measure up to BJ or Gomi, neither of them have ever been the best fighter in their division, and, as much as it pains me to say it, a lot of the Shooto fights and fighters have been eclipsed by fighters in the modern era. Maybe, I’ll do a write up on the biggest fights to take place outside of the UFC and Pride, so I can flesh this idea out, but for now Rumble on the Rock 4 stands tall.