411 MMA Fact or Fiction 3.05.14: Bellator on PPV, UFC in China, More
Posted by Wyatt Beougher on 03.05.2014
Did Bellator make the right call in building their PPV around Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler? Should the UFC avoid China for another Asian version of The Ultimate Fighter? 411's Alex Watt and Robert Winfree 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. We're starting week two of this year's MMA Fact or Fiction tournament, and, with our first three contests in the books, let's take a look at the updated brackets, shall we?
Voting is now closed on last week's contests, but if you missed them and want to catch up, you can find them here:
Just like last year, the voting window for each contest 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 today's, midnight EST on Sunday to vote for tomorrow's, and midnight EST on Monday to vote for Friday's. Today, we're continuing with opening round match-ups, moving back to the east bracket, where third-seeded Alex Watt will take on sixth-seeded Robert Winfree.
1.) With an impressive victory over John Hathaway bringing his win streak to four, it's time for Dong Hyun Kim to again start taking on actual challengers in the UFC's welterweight division.
Alex Watt:FACT Dong Hyun Kim has looked tremendous since his unfortunate loss to Demian Maia in 2012 and his latest win over Hathaway was surely his most impressive yet. It should not be forgotten that although Hathaway's star has dimmed considerably since that shock win over Diego Sanchez back in 2010, the British Welterweight is still a tough opponent for any fighter due in no small part to his very un-British style. The fact that Kim was able to take down a good wrestler like Hathaway with such relative ease, goes to show just how good the Korean fighter's judo chops are. Even more impressive is how much "Stun Gun's" striking has improved. He rocked the Brit on several occasions, before knocking him out with that delicious spinning back elbow, which will surely feature heavily on numerous Knockout of the Year lists come January.
Kim, then, with wins over Hathaway, Erick Silva, Siyar Bahadurzada and Paulo Thiago in his last four is surely knocking on the door to the top 10 of the jam-packed welterweight division and should really be given an opponent ranked inside that top 10 in his next fight. The question is, who? The majority have fights booked already so, with the exception of a rematch against Demian Maia, Kim may have to wait a month or so to see how the playing field levels out before signing up for another fight. Unquestionably though, his recent performances warrant a fight against a top contender.
Robert Winfree:FACT Dong Hyun Kim has lost just twice, officially, in his UFC career. One of those was a TKO loss to Carlos Condit, the other an injury TKO off of a takedown against Demian Maia. Now he hasn't always fought the best of the best, but he's been nothing if not consistent. When you factor in that Kim has finished his last two opponents, a one-punch KO over Erick Silva and the impressive spinning back elbow KO to Hathaway, and the man is moving up in the world. Kim actually has a win over Matt Brown, but it was years ago and a split decision so a rematch there isn't out of the question, Tarec Saffeidine could provide a fun and relevant fight, even the vampire of all things good in the world of MMA Jake Shields does need another fight. Rory MacDonald isn't in the title picture just yet, he and Kim could fight to determine the next contender. At this point, Kim's most interesting fights are the guys right around him in the rankings, and he's one impressive performance away from a title shot with his current winning streak.
Was basing a TUF season in China a bad idea?
2.) The UFC would be wise to avoid China the next time they want to do an Asian season of The Ultimate Fighter, as this season is arguably the worst one to date.
Robert Winfree:FICTION Look, at this point it's kind of an anomaly if the next season of The Ultimate Fighter isn't one of the worst to date. The UFC is using TUF not to find top level fighters, but instead to fill up the roster with middle to lower level fighters and promote the fight between the coaches. TUF 20 will be a break from that pattern as it's introducing the female strawweight division, and the winner will be the first UFC strawweight champion, but beyond that is a break from form. The UFC is looking to expand into China, the country hosts right around 20%, or one fifth, of the population of the world. That is a huge untapped market, and the UFC has shown dogged determination when it comes to grinding away with TUF in a market place. With TUF not being terribly relevant in general, the UFC could do worse than trying to increase their exposure in a massive marketplace like China.
Alex Watt:FACT I must first caveat my response by noting that I have not seen a single solitary second of The Ultimate Fighter: China. Considering that I still generally make an effort to watch TUF, even the Brazilian versions, that in and of itself does not speak highly of the drawing power of the first Asian season of the reality show.
I commend the UFC's aim to push Mixed Martial Arts and their own brand into new markets but the fact of the matter is that China does not have enough of an MMA scene to draw a significant number of fighters from. Whereas the likes of Brazil and Australia have a relatively large talent pool from which to pick fighters, China's MMA scene is still emerging. It showed in some of the contestants on the show. The cast of this season legitimately included 0-0 yoga instructor Li Jin Ying who had no prior MMA experience whatsoever. That alone is a damning indication that this was not a good season. Add in the fact that Tiequan Zhang (1-3 in the UFC) and Hailin Ao (retired) were the "star" coaches and you have something which almost resembles an inside joke from the UFC.
If the UFC does plan to do another season of The Ultimate Fighter for the Asian market then may I suggest that they look to Japan? There are plenty of high profile Japanese fighters on the UFC roster who could act as coaches on the show and, although the Japanese MMA scene is not as strong as it once was, there are more than enough talented, up-and-coming Japanese fighters who could appear on the show.
Still, although TUF: China may have been a weak season by all accounts, it got one thing very right; the team names. Team Sky Dragons and Team Flying Lions are far cooler titles than anything which has appeared on the eighteen U.S based seasons of the show. Up your game, America!
Will Zak Cummings fight in the UFC again?
3.) Based on Dana White's comments about the matter, Zak Cummings missing weight by eight pounds for the TUF: China finale pretty much ensures that he'll never fight in the UFC again.
Alex Watt:FICTION The fact that Dana White called the incident "a career killer" certainly doesn't bode well for Mr. Cummings. Missing weight is mostly inexcusable but missing weight by eight pounds? That's downright criminal.
What we can say with a degree of certainty is that Cummings will not be fighting in the UFC again any time soon. However, as Anthony Johnson has demonstrated, if a fighter can go away and pick up wins elsewhere, while proving that they've learnt their lesson and actually make weight for those fights, then they could still be brought back into the fold.
Most importantly, Alberto Mina and his camp's decision not to accept the fight at a 178lbs catchweight does not appear to have had any negative ramifications for Mina. Nor should it. Fighters should not feel pressured into competing in a fight after their opponent has missed weight significantly (Yoshiyuki Yoshida vs. Anthony Johnson anyone?) and should be paid their entire show and win money. Mina did his job, Cummings did not. The UFC did the right thing by the fighter here.
Robert Winfree:FACT Look, Dana White has reneged on claiming guys are done with the promotion before, but generally those have to do with personal problems, conflicts with the promotion, or behavioral issues. Missing weight is a big issue for Dana White, he's made no bones about how much he hates guys missing weight. Now there's some leniency depending on circumstances, and the amount of weight missed. Eight pounds isn't missing weight. Eight pounds isn't trying to make weight. If you miss by eight pounds, you weren't even close to being on weight, you weren't really trying to make weight, it's embarrassing to everyone involved if you miss by that much. People who miss weight by that much aren't ready for the big time, and shouldn't be allowed to embarrass the promotion.
Best possible main event for Bellator's debut PPV?
4.) Bellator is making the right decision by having the third fight between Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez as the headlining fight for their PPV debut in May, rather than relying on ex-UFC talent as the main draw on the card.
Robert Winfree:FICTION Bellator is making the wrong decision by having a PPV event. I have no idea why the company seems so dead set on the idea, the reality is they're more than likely going to lose money on the venture. The promotion doesn't have the necessary profile to run a really successful PPV event. The UFC has been having some pretty awful buyrates lately, and that's the biggest and best MMA company in the world struggling to generate the same level of interest they had a year or two ago. Now as far as main events go, Chandler and Alvarez 3 isn't the worst option for fight quality but it's also not going to draw in people who haven't heard of either guy. Much as the notion of the prior main event for PPV, Rampage vs. Ortiz, made me a little nauseous it made sense as both men have a high profile. Alvarez and Chandler are known to the Bellator faithful, but no one else. I just feel PPV is a bad move for the promotion at this point, low market share and low visibility tend to lead to low interest and low buyrates, and low buyrates lead to loss of money.
Alex Watt:FACT Absolutely. Alvarez vs. Chandler has produced the best two fights in the history of the company, they've split the series 1-1 and are the biggest "homegrown" stars that Bellator has. It's such an easy sell. Although I could understand the logic behind having two big, well-known names (Tito Ortiz and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson) to the casual MMA consumer slated to headline the ill-fated first PPV, it was also inherently flawed. If you're trying to sell your product as an exciting alternative to the UFC, then having two former UFC stars headlining your first ever PPV sends out completely the wrong message.
By all means, have legends like Rampage somewhere on the PPV card because his name value could potentially draw in a small number of casual fans but don't build your entire big show around a fighter or fighters who are past their best. By placing Alvarez vs. Chandler III as their PPV main event, Bellator are playing to their strengths and aiming to present themselves as a viable alternative to the UFC, as opposed to a cheap knock-off version.
Should Rampage be the favorite in the LHW Tournament Final?
5.) After an impressive win over Christian M'Pumbu at Bellator 110, Rampage Jackson should actually be the favorite in his season 10 light heavyweight tournament final bout against Muhammed Lawal.
Alex Watt:FICTION Knocking out a former Bellator champion is impressive but the performance didn't really tell us anything we didn't already know about Rampage. Even though he is well past his prime, the fact is if Jackson lands one of his fists on your chin, you are going to be staring at the lights. That's the kind of one punch knockout power the man possesses.
Nevertheless, this performance still had all the hallmarks of Rampage's recent performances. He got kicked in the legs a lot, failed to land a punch for almost two minutes, kept throwing his hands up in exasperation that his opponent was sensibly trying to maintain distance, and he was unconvincing in the clinch.
When Lawal said, "You're too slow, dog. You're slow with a capital s" it was hard to refute that opinion based on the evidence Rampage has put forward in recent years. Personally, I still slightly favour King Mo in the Light Heavyweight tournament final. I think he has enough speed to avoid the power punches of Jackson and I fear that Rampage, in his current form, will be unable to prevent Lawal from taking him down, no matter how much Quinton might argue to the contrary.
Most importantly of all, if you are going to do a pro-wrestling inspired pull apart, the least you could do is watch the likes of Austin/Tyson or Samoa Joe/Kurt Angle and actually commit to doing it well. Rampage and King Mo's pathetically half-hearted tribute act only reminded us that MMA fighters need to stop trying to be pro-wrestlers. It never works.
Robert Winfree:FACT Wait, you mean he wasn't before? King Mo has never really impressed me, his impressive wrestling credentials haven't translated as well into MMA as everyone might have hoped and his striking is incredibly rudimentary. The man just hasn't been able to really succeed at the highest levels, and given the state of his overall MMA game that's far from surprising. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson may not be at the elite level anymore, but he's not a pushover, or a tomato can. Rampage still packs serious power in his punches, and Lawal doesn't have the best chin in the world, or the best striking defense. Lawal's only real hope is to outwrestle Jackson for three rounds, or just two rounds and avoid being KO'd in the other one. Jackson may not be the fighter he once was, but he's likely the best in that division for Bellator right now while Lawal has simply failed to take a step forward during his Bellator tenure.
Who do you think won this bout? Did Watt continue his run of strong performances, or did Winfree get back into the win column? 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 more opening round action! 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!