411 MMA Fact or Fiction 2.27.14: Ronda Rousey, Rich Franklin, More
Posted by Wyatt Beougher on 02.27.2014
Will the UFC induct Rich Franklin in to the Hall of Fame at Cincinnati's upcoming Fight Night? Will it be hard to market Ronda Rousey's next few opponents because of her dominance? 411's Robert Practor and Robert Cooper debate these topics and more!
Welcome back everyone to another edition of 411's MMA Fact or Fiction, and I'm your host, Wyatt Beougher. It's day two of this year's tournament, and Evan Zivin and Jarrod Atkinson really set the bar high yesterday, but I'm confident that today's competitors can keep the momentum going. If you missed yesterday's column, here are the brackets again:
And make you check out yesterday's column and vote for who you think won. Just like last year, the voting window for each column will be approximately 73 hours from the time they go live on the site, so you've got until midnight EST on Saturday to vote for yesterday's and midnight EST on Sunday to vote for today's. Today, we've got the other #4 vs #5 matchup, which pits Robert Practor against Robert Cooper. These guys have butted heads before and it was a very good contest, so I'm expecting nothing less today.
Will it be hard to sell Ronda's next fights as legitimate athletic contests?
1.) With Ronda Rousey's striking showing such marked improvement this year, and having so easily dispatched a woman who was supposed to be her toughest challenger, it's going to be extremely difficult to promote her next few fights as legitimate opportunities for her challengers.
Robert Practor:FACT The only potential threat to Ronda Rousey's throne would be ‘Cyborg', although I do not even see her as having that much of a chance against Rousey, not to mention the fact that the weight cut may be impossible, or at the very least very weakening. She could make it there and it would make for some good hype, but I just don't see it happening. She could fail in her attempts to make it down to 135, lose a fight, or frankly do or say something to piss Dana White off enough to keep her out of the company, so I will say "Fact" because I do not consider her as a realistic option. Aside from ‘Cyborg', Cat Zingano and Alexis Davis are the only other logical fighters that could face the Rowdy one anytime soon. Zingano holds a knockout victory over Miesha Tate, a fight in which she was in danger of losing before earning the stoppage in the final round, and was scheduled to face Rousey before suffering a torn ACL. It would be over 15 months out of action before Zingano would get the chance to challenge for the title and when you add on the fact that she has been dealing with the tragic suicide of her husband and head coach Mauricio Zingano, I don't see her being much of a challenge to the champ. The UFC could attempt to promote a nice comeback story for her but I don't believe many would believe any hype for her as a strong challenge for Rousey. Alexis Davis, on the other hand, doesn't have the weight cut issues and not even being under contract to the UFC like ‘Cyborg' has, and doesn't have the physical and emotional setbacks like Zingano, but she still flat out has no chance against Ronda Rousey. With a lot of experience and five straight wins, Davis may have been able to be marketed as having some sort of hope against Rousey, but the fact that she was barely able to squeak by Jessica Eye on the UFC 170 prelims doesn't bode well for any strong hype for her as the next challenger.
Robert Cooper:FICTION It was already difficult to promote her fights, but I don't think it's going to be THAT hard to market her opponents. We're talking about the company that used reach as a selling point to prove how close they were in skill. I think Alexis Davis is her next opponent, and they could market her in her perfect UFC record, 5 fight win streak, and maybe her BJJ black belt. I know it's not nearly as impressive as a perfect record of finishes and an Olympic medal, but it's not all half bad.
I also want to argue that while Rousey's striking HAS gotten better, I think marked improvement is a bit strong. Sure, she did get a striking finish last weekend, but it wasn't exactly the most technical of knockouts. I don't want to diminish that she actually did KO someone, because I never saw that coming, but just because it happened doesn't make her suddenly a dual threat.
Will Ronda/Cyborg be bigger than Gina/Cyborg?
2.) If Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino can drop to bantamweight and win the Invicta bantamweight championship, as is her current plan, it will set up the biggest WMMA fight to date against Ronda Rousey.
Robert Cooper:FACT There is a very big word here, and that is IF. I don't think Cyborg can drop to Bantamweight and stay there for long without losing power and stamina. Though let's say that she actually does make the weight cut with no problems or issues, and does win. That would open the door for a match between her and Rousey, and I think that it'd be by far the biggest WMMA fight to this date. Sure, Cyborg and Gina Carano was pretty big, but Carano isn't even sniffing Rousey's accomplishments or her popularity, so this has to be the biggest fight if it does happen. But that is assuming that Cyborg goes from Invicta to UFC in one match, so it's a lot to assume, but I'm going to bite and assume.
Robert Practor:FACT Despite my comments above about ‘Cyborg' likely not having a strong chance against Rousey and the reasons why I feel she won't make it to that point, if a perfect storm arrives with Justino being able to make the weight, remain unbeaten in 1-3 fights in the division, and change Dana White's attitude towards her, then the stage would be set for the biggest Women's fight to date. Any fight hoping to fit the bill of biggest WMMA fight would need to have Ronda Rousey in it and now that her rivalry with Miesha Tate is complete, there is nothing else anywhere near the horizon that could hope to be the biggest Women's fight.
Does it make sense to induct "Ace" in his hometown?
3.) Even though Rich Franklin has said that he's not ready to step back into the Octagon for his final contracted fight, the UFC will use the Fight Night card on May 10th to induct him into the Hall of Fame in front of his hometown fans.
Robert Practor:FICTION I am not going to use this space to discuss whether Rich Franklin should be inducted into the Hall of Fame or not, as that is not the question being posed here. The question is whether the UFC will use the Fight Night card on May 10th to induct Rich Franklin into the Hall of Fame and my answer to that question is no. Yes, the card is in Franklin's hometown of Cincinnati but come on, it's a Fight Night event. If or when Rich Franklin (or any fighter in the future for that matter) is inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, I'm sure it will be around a higher-profile event where it can be a bigger deal and garner more publicity.
Robert Cooper:FACT Sure, that sounds like a good idea! I don't see why they wouldn't do this, especially since this is the first time they've had an event here since 2007, when Rich Franklin got kneed into oblivion by Anderson Silva. I feel like Rich Franklin deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame, the dude was the man in the Middleweight division until Anderson Silva came along and even after that remained a great fighter in the company. Though the guy still has a fight to fight, that's fine, I'm pretty sure Chuck Liddell fought after he went into the hall, so it's all fine and dandy to me.
Can Ben Askren help make One FC a global power?
4.) Ben Askren will not help One FC grow into a "global power", which he has stated is one of his goals in signing with the promotion.
Robert Cooper:FACT Hell no he won't. Ben Askren is a fine fighter, no doubt about that, but him growing them into a "global" power is kind of silly. At least him alone won't be doing that. They have some pretty great names in Shinya Aoki, Bibiano Fernandes (who they stole right from under the UFC's grasp), and now they have Askren, who is a nice name, but you have to get people for him to fight first. Their inaugural Welterweight title match is between former WEC Welterweight title contender Brock Larson and Nobutatsu Suzuki, who is coming off of a win over Phil Baroni (so is everyone). That's a good start,but I don't see them becoming anything close to a "global power", hell, I don't see Bellator as a "global" power, and they have a lot more name value than One FC. But I hope I'm wrong so that the UFC can get some more competition, they need it. Plus, they do have big sponsors and ESPN on their side, so it is something, though not UFC levels yet (not near it).
Robert Practor:FACT Ben Askren was the dominant, undefeated Bellator Welterweight Champion and I would argue that Bellator was not and is not a global power, so I don't see how he could bring One FC to that level. It's as simple as that. Askren will likely dominate mid-level (at best) Welterweights during his time with the company but it won't grow into anything significant besides possibly opening the door for Askren to finally earn a UFC contract.
Are they hurting their case more than helping it?
5.) Lyoto Machida and Ronaldo Jacare Souza both saying that they don't want their next fight to be against a fellow Brazilian (but that they'll fight whoever the UFC puts in front of them) has all-but-ensured that they will square off against one another.
Robert Practor:FICTION I'm not sure what part of Machida and Souza's comments would lead anyone to believe that Machida and Souza would fight each other next… What is all-but-ensured is that Lyoto Machida will fight the winner of Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort. That seems to be the general consensus of most fans, media, and most importantly, Dana White. If Machida and ‘Jacare' were healthy I suppose it would be possible that they could be matched up but 1.) the UFC doesn't need to burn through their two top contenders by pitting them against each other and 2.) neither of them are healthy. ‘Jacare' went on record stating that he considered pulling out of the Carmont fight due to an arm injury and will likely need a fair amount of time off to heal. Machida also came out of Fight Night 36 beat up, as he injured his foot. While the injury won't require surgery, it will cause him to require a decent wait before returning to action. Timing and logic does not work out for a Machida-Jacare fight and it is all but guaranteed that Machida will fight the Weidman-Belfort winner, so this is 100% fiction.
Robert Cooper:FACT I think that the two of them fighting is the only logical step to determine a #1 contender for the Middleweight title. You have Machida, who is coming off a solid, yet unspectacular performance against Gegard Mousasi, and Souza, who comes off a good win while injured over Francis Carmont. I think if the two of them would have said that they didn't want to fight a fellow Brazilian next, they might not have had to and gotten to face the winner of Weidman/Belfort, and the UFC might have tried to give one of them the winner of TIm Kennedy/Michael Bisping. But since they decided to say..."but I'll fight anyone they throw at me", it's pretty much cemented that they would be fighting one another. That is a fight I can't wait to see, by the way!
Who do you think won this first-round contest? Did Practor earn your vote, or was Cooper the winner? Voting will be open until midnight EST on Sunday, 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 Play-In contest for the eighth seed in the East! 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!