411 MMA Fact or Fiction 11.23.11: UFC 139, Bad Refs, New Bellator Champ, Wanderlei’s Retirement, More
Posted by Scott Kuczkowski on 11.23.2011
Was Shogun Rua vs. Dan Henderson a Fight of the Year candidate? Has Eddie Alvarez been overrated in the Lightweight Rankings? Should Wanderlei Silva retire now and go out on a win? 411’s Todd Vote, Robert Winfree, Wyatt Beougher, and Mark Radulich debate these topics and more in this week's 411 Fact or Fiction: MMA!
The Free for All
Welcome to another edition of 411 MMA: Fact or Fiction. As you have probably noticed, I am not your regular host, Todd Bergman; he's out sick. So I, Scott Kuczkowski, have decided to host a little bit of a free for all in his absence. So I threw out the challenge to the writers on this site and they haven't let me down. This week we're going to talk about how good the Shogun/Henderson bout really was, whether or not referees should be fined or punished when they miss a call that causes injury to a fighter, whether or not Eddie Alvarez's loss to a relative unknown Michael Chandler signals Alvarez has been consistently overrated in the Lightweight Rankings, should Wandlerei call it quits on a win, is Urijah Faber really the second best Bantamweight in the UFC, and has Ken Shamrock lost his mind. Without further delay, let's introduce the participants.
This week's FoF combatants are:
Name: Wyatt Beougher Fighting out of: The Great Northeast 411 Column: Five Quick Rounds Claim to Fame: Has wrestled an alligator…naked.
Name: Robert Winfree Fighting out of: The 411 Broom Closet 411 Column: Locked in the Guillotine MMA News Claim to Fame: Can drink a gallon of milk in under 2 minutes
Name: Todd Vote Fighting out of: Somewhere in Iowa 411 Column: 411 Games Top 5 Claim to Fame: Strongest thumbs at 411.
Name: Mark Radulich Fighting out of: Just outside the Buc's Stadium 411 Column: Covers most MMA events Claim to Fame: Watched all the Twilight movies with his wife – when she didn't want to.
Protect yourself at all times and come out fighting!
1.) Henderson vs. Shogun is a legitimate candidate for Fight of the Year.
Wyatt Beougher:FACT. Anytime a fight gets a "Best Fight Ever" reaction, no matter how knee-jerk it proves to be, it's definitely a candidate for Fight of the Year. Shogun/Hendo would be my personal fight of the year, outclassing Edgar/Maynard 2, Bendo/Guida, and Alvarez/Chandler based on the fact that it was a match-up between two legends, it looked like Hendo had the fight in hand at the end of round three, and there was a legitimate segment of MMA fandom who believed that Shogun did enough to merit a draw (I don't agree, but I'm sure plenty of other people do). Yes, Alvarez/Chandler had a finish, but I still don't think it was of the same magnitude as Henderson/Shogun, and I've watched both fights in full three times now.
Robert Winfree:FACT. Many times over. While perhaps not quite as technical as other fights you might consider fight of the year, I don't think any other fight had the same emotional roller coaster. Especially for Shogun to come back after a three round battering and spend most of the last round in full mount. I was actually bummed this fight wasn't ruled a draw, that's how close it was, and because I wanted to see Hendo and Rua fight again.
Todd Vote:FACT. That fight was amazing. I can see it being in the running for fight of the year. In addition to being an awesome fight, I don't think that the judging hurt the quality of the fight at all. Let's be honest, the fight score could have went either way. What Hendo and Shogun did was show that 5 Rd main events are a great addition to the UFC cards, and came out and put on a fight for the ages.
Mark Radulich:FACT. It is absolutely is a candidate for FOTY (I don't think it actually is THE FOTY, but that's a whole other story). Considering some of the other candidates are Bendo vs Guida and Chandler vs Alvarez, I would have no problem listing Shogun vs Henderson among that lot. Almost everything that has been said about that fight is true; it was an epic encounter between two giants in the business. Henderson and Shogun did give everything they had and a little more. The two extra rounds gave the match a huge main event feel that had been lacking in previous non-title main events. It was the definition of blood, guts and glory; everything a Fight of the Year should be. I have no problem seeing it as a candidate.
2.) Referees should be fined/punished when they miss a call and a fighter goes unconscious longer than necessary or a limb is broken.
Wyatt Beougher:FICTION, but mainly due to the wording. I agree with the first part (about unconsciousness), but not the second, as I feel it should be a fighter's decision whether to tap or risk a broken limb. Granted, it's stupid and will realistically cost the fighter a year of their career, but the complaints would be never-ending if referees started ending fights because of a possible limb break. Different guys have different levels of flexibility, so what may be a limb-breaking hold for one fighter might just be uncomfortable for another. Plus, if referees are constantly worried about being fined, you're going to see a lot more premature stoppages, and that's never a good thing. I think the athletic commissions need to get together and create a committee like the NFL has, that reviews every play of every game and grades the officials based on that. Better graded crews get assigned to more important games (including the playoffs and Super Bowl), so there's an incentive there to do the best possible job. If they implemented a different pay scale for title fights or whatnot, that should give officials the incentive to do their best work (and continue to be further educated as to what to look for when deciding to stop a fight). Ideally, this means Steve Mazzagatti will only officiate preliminary fights from now until forever, and I'm okay with that.
Robert Winfree:FICTION based on the wording more than the sentiment. I absolutely think referees need some kind of oversight and there should be an inquiry of some kind when that happens, but automatically punishing or fining is quite steep. I think the Lawlor/Weidman fight wasn't as bad as people are making it out to be. Yes Lawlor was out, and yes the referee should have been checking his arm for signs of consciousness, but it wasn't a hugely late call and Lawlor chose to go to sleep rather than tap. It certainly could have been handled better, but it wasn't some horrific oversight either.
The Budd vs. Rousey fight on the other hand, well it's a very different situation. Firstly the injury wasn't visible from the position the ref was in, but Budd didn't tap either. The ref should have moved to a better position when it was obvious Rousey had a tight armbar, but it wasn't like the ref saw the injury and ignored it. There should absolutely be some kind of oversight and inquiry for referee's when something like this happens, but instantly punishing or fining is too faulty a system to implement.
Todd Vote:FICTION. How many times have we seen a ref stop a fight when one guy looks to be in trouble only to get ripped into for an early stoppage? Look at Johnson vs. Brenneman, Brenneman only would have taken more unnecessary punishment had that fight continued. The ref stopped it and everyone was all like "Brenneman was okay, he was waiting for Rumble to come in at him". Had the ref allowed it to continue and Brenneman ate a load of fists and been knocked unconscious again, people would be questioning why the ref let it go so long. I don't like it when a fighter gets beat on when they are unconscious, but a ref shouldn't be punished for it occasionally happening. If the same ref continues to allow it to happen fight after fight, perhaps a punishment is in order.
When it comes to broken limbs, I don't think you can ever fault the ref for that. Look no further than Tim Sylvia vs Frank Mir. Mir had Sylvia's arm, Sylvia didn't look the least bit like he was in pain from it or anything like that. Within seconds Mir had snapped the forearm, the ref jumped in, called the fight, and Sylvia was pissed he stopped it. You never can tell just how much pressure a bone will take before it breaks. How long did GSP have Dan Hardy in the Kimura? Hardy didn't tap, and nothing was broken.
Mark Radulich:FACT. I'm arguing FACT because to not punish a referee in some way ultimately encourages poor referring by default. Incentive plays a large role in behavior and when there is no consequence for a certain behavior you tend to see said behavior over and over again. If a referee suffers some small punishment for endangering a fighter then they will be more vigilant in their duties. Also, the ones getting busted won't be used as much or at all in favor of those with better records.
3.) Eddie Alvarez's loss to Michael Chandler more or less proves Alvarez has been consistently overrated in the Lightweight rankings.
Wyatt Beougher:FICTION, I think it's too early to tell, but if it does, then Gilbert Melendez is the best lightweight in the world, because Alvarez took far less damage in the loss to Chandler than Edgar did in either successful defense against Maynard. In all honesty, I'd say it means Chandler has been underrated. Saying Eddie Alvarez has been consistently overrated because he lost to an unheralded challenger would be akin to making the same claim about Rich Franklin after he lost the middleweight title to Anderson Silva - the line at the time of their first fight had Silva (then ranked #9 according to FightMatrix) as a slight underdog to the then-number one-ranked Franklin, but the past five years have borne out that Franklin was an excellent middleweight fighter, but Silva was on an entirely different level. That could yet be the case with Chandler, so it makes no sense to rush to judgment yet. Again, according to FightMatrix, Chandler was the 29th ranked fighter going into his fight with Alvarez (now he's fifth); Alvarez dropped from 6th to 9th. That he only dropped 3 places after being finished tells me that a computer program would tend to agree with me. Not exactly the strongest argument in my favor, but it eliminates the human emotional reaction, so I'll go with it.
Robert Winfree:FACTish. Mostly it depends on where he was ranked, because that is a key point here. Prior to his loss, I don't think ranking him in the top ten was too out of the question, but higher than about eighth or so was questionable looking at it objectively. Alvarez was mostly fighting over-matched competition, but he was also fighting the best that he could outside of the Zuffa umbrella. Also, we're talking about the lightweight division here, which is incredibly difficult to get a handle on. Alvarez seemed to rise or fall based more on how others around him in the rankings did than based on some spectacular performance of his own.
Todd Vote:FICTION. Anybody can have an off night. Alvarez vs. Chandler was a four round war. Alvarez got caught with a few solid shots that put him down, and he wasn't able to recover. How he fares in fights moving forward will tell us whether or not he was over-rated. Not to take anything away from Chandler or what he accomplished, until we see how Alvarez is moving forward, we can just say on that night Chandler was the better fighter.
Mark Radulich:FICTION. That's not particularly fair to Michael Chandler. Could it be that it is not that Alvarez was overrated as such but rather Chandler was underrated? Alvarez's record currently stands at 22-3 with his other two losses being Shinya Aoki (a top 10 lightweight) and Nick Thompson. In addition to a record that is pretty darn good, of his 22 wins, 19 are finishes. He doesn't suck folks. This is the sort of thing that irks me about peoples opinion of Nick Diaz. It is just assumed by many that he can't beat the top 4 or 5 UFC welterweights so therefore he's overrated. It's the same thing with Alvarez. It is assumed he can't beat Edgar, Henderson, Maynard, Cerrone, Melendez et al. and therefore he's overrated. The funny thing about fighting is that one well thrown punch can turn conventional wisdom in its ear. Remember, Dos Santos wasn't supposed to beat Cain Velasquez either until both he and conventional wisdom were knocked silly. Alvarez is a top lightweight. He was beaten by the better man on that particular night. And while even Michael Chandler will tell you that he hasn't earned to the right to call himself the best or a top 5 lightweight, there's no reason why he couldn't be in a fairly short amount of time. Unless this was a fluke win (which it wasn't) the fight is more demonstrative of a star being born than it is Alvarez being overrated.
4.) Despite an impressive win over Cung Le, Wanderlei Silva is best off retiring from MMA.
Wyatt Beougher:FACT. Looking at the list of contenders in the middleweight division, the only guys I'd really give Wandy a chance against are Mayhem (who's actually ranked below Wand), Bisping, and Maia, and even if he was able to defeat all three of them in succession, I don't think that's enough to earn him a title shot. So if he's not going to be the champion or even a contender, then how do you use him? I don't want to see him trotted out and thrown to up-and-comers to see if they're ready for the upper echelon of the middleweight division, as I think the past three or four years have seen him lose enough luster off of his career. In the end though, it's Silva's decision, but I think he'd be further ahead to retire.
Robert Winfree:FICTION based on selfish reasons. Wanderlei is one of my favorite fighters, so seeing him retire would sadden me greatly. Plus, I think he needs one more fight at the UFC show in Japan before he retires. I don't know who he'd fight, but Silva made his name in Japan and I think one more fight, win lose or draw, at the Japan show would be his last and a very fitting way to end his career.
Todd Vote: FACT. To be honest, I expected Le to finish Silva in the first round by KO. It's much the way I expect any fight Wandy is in to end lately, when he isn't fighting someone named Bisping. He got a win, he can go out on a high note. As much fun as he is to watch, I say it is best for him to hang it up.
Mark Radulich:FACT. I'm afraid for Silva's long term health vis a vis brain damage. Being knocked out on an ongoing basis is no way for a man to live and that ultimately is the risk he's putting himself under. While it was nice to see him take it to Cung Le and get an impressive victory, do we really need to see him fight until he can't? I'm not opposed to the sort of Randy Couture type marquee fight every once in a while but even that has the potential of ending badly for him. He's better off retiring while he still has relatively good health and can give back to the sport in other ways, much like Chuck Liddell.
5.) Urijah Faber is the best challenger for Dominick Cruz's title that the UFC has to offer.
Wyatt Beougher:FICTION, because it should be Renan Barao. He's on a 27-fight win streak and three of his four Zuffa fights have ended decisively (the fourth went to a decision, but it wasn't a close fight). On top of that, he's a fresh match-up, while Cruz just beat Faber approximately two weeks ago.
Robert Winfree:FICTION speaking objectively. I think Joseph Benavidez is the only guy who has a chance of beating Cruz, but the UFC hasn't handled him properly. Faber is a draw, and while I know that counts for something, I don't think Faber has a chance at beating Cruz. Benavidez fought Cruz to a split decision for the title back in the WEC, and he's the only guy to come close to beating Cruz. Faber is better known, and I certainly don't object to watching him get beat again, but Benavidez is the only guy who might beat Cruz right now.
Todd Vote:FACT. I can't think of anyone else in the division who is ready for a shot. Cruz has pretty well dominated any and all competition in the division, aside from Faber. Add in the fact that everybody seems to want to witness the final chapter in the trilogy, I'd say Faber is definitely the best choice right now.
Mark Radulich:FACT. The bantamweight division is simply not that deep and those that are in it, besides Faber, have not proven themselves consistently dominant enough to warrant a title shot. That is the plain truth about it. The bantamweight division needs a year like the lightweight division had. Due to Edgar and Maynard II coming to a draw and subsequently being out until October, the lightweight division had time to groom and eventually eliminate a contingent of possible contenders. The UFC should make Cruz and Faber coaches for TUF in 2012, thus tying up the title until June/July and ultimately past that for any other contender. That gives in all probability, 9 – 10 months from the start of 2012 for the UFC to identify and match up 8 or so guys and then promote them throughout the year as possible title contenders. That way, by the time Faber vs Cruz III ends and the subsequent title holder is ready to fight again, there will be a clear line of contenders in the bantamweight division, just like there is now in the lightweight division. Until then, it's a Faber and Cruz's world and the rest of the bantamweights are just living in it.
6.) Ken Shamrock's recent comments about steroids in MMA (and every other sport, both amateur and professional) belittle him as a pioneer of the sport and were made only for their shock value.
Wyatt Beougher:FACT on the belittling, FICTION on the shock value. Yes, these comments reflected poorly on Shamrock, like almost every time he's opened his mouth in the past decade; however, I honestly don't think Shamrock is saying these things to get a reaction. I think that, in his own warped mind, Shamrock actually believes these things, because he's spent so many years convincing himself that there was nothing wrong with using steroids because everyone else was doing it too.
Robert Winfree:FICTION sort of. I think what he said was done partially for shock value, and also partly because somewhere he thinks it's at least partially true. We all know Shamrock has a pretty good case of "head up your own ass" most of the time, but that also doesn't mean he's just spewing things to keep his name mentioned.
Mostly fiction because it doesn't belittle him at all as a pioneer of the sport. In the early days there was no drug testing for steroids, other PEDS, or painkillers. In fact you can't hold a conversation about a former PRIDE guy without someone pointing out that they can't juice here in the states and that's why they were better in Japan. Plus plenty of other sports have had steroid scandals, so while I seriously doubt it's as pervasive as all that you can't in good conscience say it doesn't happen.
Todd Vote:FICTION. I think they have less to do with shock value, and more to do with the fact that Ken Shamrock has completely lost touch with reality. Seriously, how out of touch is this cat?
Mark Radulich:FACT. As I tried to say on the 411 Ground and Pound Radio show, there is an argument for allowing the use of steroids in MMA under certain conditions. However, Shamrock probably shouldn't be the spokesperson for this argument as his intentions (no matter how innocent they may be) look too much like he is rationalizing his previous bad behavior. The use and allowance of performance enhancing drugs is a topic that warrants serious discussion and debate. But any serious discussion must firmly lie within the bounds of sound science and common sense policy, not personal bias and gain. Unfortunately for Shamrock, because of his history, it is nearly impossible to separate advocacy for the allowance of PEDs from the personal gain he would achieve. Not to mention that if he's going to carry the flag for the pro-PED movement, he needs to do it without sounding like and angry moron. When Bono talks about Africa he doesn't go on a rant and then start throwing out random accusations that ultimately detract from the point he's trying to make. What validity there was to Shamrock's argument, he did himself no favors by delivering his argument in the fashion he did.
And there we have I folks, another tough battle between grizzled writers, many of whom didn't even know they were going to get roped into this week's debacle. How is that for spur of the moment writing? So who walks away with the big win?