411 MMA Fact or Fiction 02.26.14: Gilbert Melendez, Cyborg Justino, More
Posted by Wyatt Beougher on 02.26.2014
Is it surprising that the UFC matched Bellator's offer to Gilbert Melendez? Was Cris Cyborg wise to drop Tito Ortiz as her manager? 411's Evan Zivin and Jarrod Atkinson debate these topics and more in this week's Fact or Fiction: MMA!
Welcome back everyone to another edition of 411's MMA Fact or Fiction, and I'm your host, Wyatt Beougher. Today's the day - the first bout of the 2014 MMA Fact or Fiction tournament! I'll get into that more in a moment, but first, let's take a look at last week's results. Because Jonathan Butterfield was unable to compete, I stepped in to take on Dino Zucconi, and, just as he has the other two times we've faced off, Dino took me to the woodshed, 29-18. Congratulations to Dino, who be moving into the tournament with quite a bit of momentum on his side, as he secured one the top seeds in the tournament. As for me? Well, that's why I'm the host, I guess. One of these days, I'll get my revenge...maybe in the Movies/TV, Games, or Music versions of this column. So who exactly is seeded where, you may ask? Well, I went ahead and created a little visual representation for you, so let's take a look at it, shall we?
As you can see, we've got a very solid bracket this year with a nice mix of returning talent from the MMA Zone, as well as some outside talent from the Wrestling and Music Zones, and the previously-mentioned return of a former host/411 MMA legend in Dustin James! This week, and for the two weeks following, there will be three contests per week, followed by three weeks with two contests each, a week with only the final, and then we'll return to normal Fact or Fiction action. Today's contest is the 4 vs 5 bout from the East Bracket, which marks a quick turnaround for fifth-seeded Jarrod Atkinson, who last participated in MMA Fact or Fiction just two weeks ago. His opponent, Evan Zivin, has been out of competition just a little longer, but will that translate to an advantage for him?
Evan "White Tiger" Zivin, #4 Seed East
Jarrod "The Southern Dandy" Atkinson, #5 Seed East
Is anyone surprised that the UFC re-signed Gilbert after Bjorn Rebney's actions during their negotiations with Eddie Alvarez?
1.) It's no surprise that the UFC offered Gilbert Melendez a coaching slot on The Ultimate Fighter and subsequent title shot to prevent him from signing with Bellator.
Evan Zivin:FACT Depending on the terms of the deal that Gil agreed to with Bellator, I think UFC had to if they were going to match the terms. It wasn't a matter of whether they wanted to. It was about offering something that either materially equaled what was in the contract Bellator sent over to him or was satisfactory enough for Gil to agree to re-sign with the UFC. We don't know if UFC had to match everything piece by piece. It depends on the language in the UFC contract, which we aren't privy to because we don't make Dana White any money. It might be similar to the contract that UFC sent Eddie Alvarez when he was trying to sign with them last year, which said that UFC had to match the financial terms of any offer. That means UFC just needs to provide something that can be considered monetarily equal to Bellator's offer. If that is the case here, then I think the pay-per-view points UFC is giving Gil, which will supposedly kick in at a lower buyrate than for any other UFC fighter who gets points, will be more than sufficient in equaling the monetary value of the Bellator contract. The Bellator contract also allegedly offered Gil additional roles in Spike programming. I don't know if UFC had to counter that with The Ultimate Fighter, since I think another FOX main event would probably have been just as good, but it's definitely icing on the cake that shows UFC does recognize how important Gil is to the company and to the lightweight division. Plus, they needed coaches for the season anyway, so two birds. So I wouldn't say it's surprising but I also don't think UFC had to offer the show and the title shot to him. They may have had to but the rest of their offer may have been good enough. We don't know for certain. Either way, I'm glad they did it and I look forward to seeing "El Nino" take on "Showtime" in...ten months? Aw crap. Get settled in, people. It's going to be a while.
Jarrod Atkinson:FICTION I had written Gil off already as the guy that would rather take a paycheck and be the big fish in a little pond rather than stick it out in the UFC. Add to that Dana's dislike of Gilbert's manager and I thought he was as good as gone. I find it funny that not only did the UFC match Bellator's offer, but rolled out the deluxe contract package. "Hey, I think you should leave. Never mind, here's a contract, a title shot, and more exposure as coach on The Ultimate Fighter. By the way, what kind of car would you like?"
Will Sheborg be better able to make this shirt a reality now that she's dropped 200-plus pounds of dead weight? (pictured, l-r - Cristiane Justino, aforementioned 200 pounds of dead weight)
2.) Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino made the right call in firing Tito Ortiz as her manager, especially if she can successfully cut to 135 pounds and win Invicta's bantamweight championship.
Jarrod Atkinson:FACT Tito Ortiz is a moron. Thinking he could go into the management business and be successful was as smart as dating Jenna Jameson. He started off on the wrong foot by refusing Dana White's offer to loan Cyborg to Invicta while still paying her salary, and then got her into Invicta on her own. If Cyborg's goal is the Ronda Rousey fight that everyone talks about, being in Dana White's good graces is the best way to start. Having someone that Dana White absolutely hates as your manager is not the way to go. Now Cyborg is free to pursue the UFC without the giant, excuse-spouting, Punishment Athletics-pimping moron looking out for her career. By which I mean making himself the focus of the story.
Evan Zivin:FICTION I'm only saying Fiction because I haven't read anything that says Cyborg fired Ortiz. Everything I've read says that Tito resigned as her manager to prevent himself from being a barrier to her entering the UFC. Now, do I think that was the right call? I guess so. I don't necessarily think Tito was bad as Cyborg's manager. He's definitely bad at making public statements but there's a lot more to being a manager than just speaking to the press. His decision to sign Cyborg to Invicta with no UFC involvement, even though Dana said they would pay for her to fight there, seemed a little boneheaded but I can see how it makes sense. Tito probably figured that, if UFC was paying for her to fight in Invicta, there would always be pressure for her to drop to 135, something Cyborg was vehemently against at the time. So Tito just tried to do what he felt would be best for his client and, whether I agree with that decision or not, I can respect it. Other than that, there's really nothing that Tito did with Cyborg's career that could be considered bad, or at least detrimental to her career, and if Tito feels that his continued involvement in her affairs is going to keep Cyborg from attaining a UFC contract, then stepping down is the best, most noblest thing he could possibly do for her. Now Cyborg can focus on trying to make 135 safely while Tito can focus on finding someone to manage his own career as decently as he did Cyborg's. Hurry, before he tries pro wrestling again!
Is the risk too great?
3.) Even if Dan Hardy is correct in suggesting that every cardiologist that he's visited in the United States is only suggesting he has surgery in order to pad their pockets, it's difficult the fault the UFC for playing it safe based on his medical condition.
Evan Zivin:FACT Of course I wouldn't fault the UFC for playing it safe. While death from Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is considered rare, it can still lead to ventricular fibrillation, which is a very serious condition. It's not something I want to see happen to my worst enemies and it's definitely not something I want to see happen to an athlete in my favorite sport. While Hardy is free to feel however he wants regarding the medical opinions he has received thus far, heart conditions are no laughing matter. If I was the owner of an MMA promotion and I received a recommendation from a doctor that a certain fighter not compete, I'm not going to let them fight. I mean, what if the fighter has a heart attack in the middle of a fight as a result of the condition? That would be an absolute nightmare, liability-wise and perception-wise. Of course, that could happen to any fighter but if you know a fighter is at an increased risk due to a medical condition, you're going to be a lot more hesitant about letting them fight. If Dan Hardy thinks he is healthy enough to compete, then that's his opinion. If he doesn't feel he needs the surgery, then that's perfectly fine but he shouldn't expect UFC to let him fight again, at least not unless he can find a medical authority who says he is okay to compete. Until then, enjoy your new broadcasting gig, Outlaw.
Jarrod Atkinson:FACT Dan Hardy was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, and treatment varies from case to case, but relatively stable cases can be treated pharmaceutically. If every cardiologist he's seen is recommending surgery, I don't fault the UFC at all for taking the safe approach and not allowing him to fight. The last thing the world of MMA needs is a high profile death or serious injury in the cage, not to mention that Hardy needs to accept that he might actually need surgery. I understand he just wants to get out there and fight, but he also needs to look at the big picture.
Does he have a point?
4.) While Nate Quarry's comments regarding the UFC's treatment of fighters could be seen as sour grapes, if his assertion that the UFC will only provide a plane ticket and hotel room for the fighter and his head coach while leaving the fighters responsible for the rest of their team is true, that's an area where the UFC certainly needs to improve.
Jarrod Atkinson:FICTION To start off, yes, Nate Quarry can be seen as bitter, but the UFC doesn't need to provide more travel and hotel accommodations for fighters. Yes, they are the world leader in MMA and could easily afford it, but why? You don't need an entourage to fight. Also, those hotel rooms can fit more than one person. If you care about your team and your team wants to be at your fight, you'll find a way to get there. Nate Quarry is bringing this crap up to keep himself in the news. His crappy Spike TV show didn't last and he probably needs some work. There's always going to be something to complain about, and this is just the latest thing to cycle through the news.
Evan Zivin:FACT Obviously, this is a question of ethics and etiquette. When it comes to preparing and traveling to a fight, what should a promoter be expected to provide to its fighters and what should the fighter be expected to cover him or herself? My answer is the promoter should at least pay for flights and rooms for the fighter's entire corner. C'mon, no one at the UFC level has just one person in their corner. Not anymore. The promoter should help take care of them all. The UFC is supposed to be the big leagues of fighting and a policy of only providing a plane ticket to a fighter and one coach doesn't sound very big league to me. The same goes for the policy of only allowing fighters to use the hotel gyms for free that Nate also complained about. A fighter's corner is crucial at every step of the fighting process, including being in the hotel gym, helping the fighter cut weight and get in last minute preparations before the fight. It's all part of training for a fight so it would seem silly these things aren't taken care of by the UFC, assuming of course these policies are still in place and haven't changed since Nate last fought. Now, the argument can be made that these are expenses that should be part of a fighter's pay so the fighters should handle it themselves but, again, that's not a very big league way of approaching the situation. If the UFC wants to conduct business that way, that's their prerogative but I really hope they don't, and if they do, then I hope that they someday get the business to a point where it doesn't have to be that way anymore.
Did Pendred do the right thing?
5.) If Cathal Pendred did vacate the Cage Warriors welterweight title to be a contestant on season 19 of The Ultimate Fighter, he should be applauded for not leaving their championship in limbo while he competes.
Evan Zivin:FACT Absolutely, although I don't think of it as Cathal being some sort of benevolent leader looking down on the poor Cage Warriors welterweight division and decreeing that it will not suffer while their champion is off competing on TUF. First off, there's a good chance he's not coming back to the promotion (at least not now) so there's no reason for him to remain champion as he moves to the UFC. Second, vacating the belt was just something he needed to do. Just a necessary part of advancing his fighting career. He presumably got this opportunity to enter the UFC and to do so, he needs to leave Cage Warriors behind. It's not like the UFC would allow him to compete while he's still the active champion of another promotion anyway, right? Besides, Cathal's exit from Cage Warriors wasn't going to leave the division in limbo since no sooner was it announced that Cathal vacated the championship that Nicolas Dalby vs. Sergei Churilov was announced to crown a new champion. The company is going to be fine. They're probably thrilled that they can claim another UFC fighter as one of their alums. Even better if Cathal goes on to win the show, which is a possibility. So congrats to Cage Warriors and good luck to Cathal. He might need it if he's on BJ Penn's team, having to deal with the mood swings of a malnourished Hawaiian wondering why he agreed to take a fight at 145.
I'm kidding, of course. I love BJ's. And Penn is pretty good too, I guess.
Jarrod Atkinson:FACT Pendred did the right thing vacating his title. It gives the promotion the ability to move on with the division and not look like the girl waiting for the guy to call to ask her out if his first choice had plans. And if Pendred did vacate the title, it's a pretty clear indication that he is indeed in The Ultimate Fighter house. This way he hasn't burned any bridges and can always come back if he doesn't win the tournament or get a UFC contract. Everyone comes out of this situation looking good. Pendred can go test his skills in America, and Cage Warriors gets a nice bit of publicity and has a division that isn't on hold.
Who do you think won this first-round contest? Did Evan's blend of humor and logic win your vote, or did Jarrod pull off the upset? Voting will be open until midnight EST on Saturday, so make sure you vote and make your voice heard! This tournament can't progress without you!
And that's it for today, but we'll be back tomorrow with the West Bracket #4 vs #5 showdown! As always, if there's anything you'd like to see featured in a future edition, leave your statement in the comments and I'll add it in. Let us know what you thought in the comments, on Twitter, or on Google+. And please, be sure to vote!