411 MMA Fact or Fiction 3.13.14: Jones/Gustafsson II, Guillard's Future, More
Posted by Wyatt Beougher on 03.13.2014
Would Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson II be the best-selling UFC PPV of 2014? With back-to-back lacking performances, is Melvin Guillard's job on the line? 411's Alex Rella and Koeddy Laemmle 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 week three of the 2014 MMA Fact or Fiction Tournament, and today and tomorrow will feature our number one seeds in action! If you haven't been keeping up, let's take a look at this year's brackets, which have been updated to include all completed contests:
Voting is now closed on our first two weeks of 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 yesterday's, midnight EST on Sunday to vote for today's, and midnight EST on Monday to vote for tomorrow's. Today, number one seed in the east and returning tournament champion Alex Rella takes on Koeddy Laemmle, who has already earned a win in this year's play-in round.
Will Jones/Gus II be the UFC's highest-selling fight of 2014?
1.) Should Jon Jones win his fight with Glover Teixeira next month, Jones/Gustafsson II will be the UFC event with the highest buy rate this year.
Alex Rella:FACT This fight will be the most intriguing title fight and pay-per-view main event of 2014. Weidman vs Machida might come close, but I think this one will get more buys for a few reasons. Jon Jones has never been a huge draw, but he is now acknowledged by almost everybody as the best fighter in the world since Anderson Silva lost his title and GSP is on hiatus. He's also the best light heavyweight champion of all time at this point. People are going to want to watch the best there is today, either to root for him or against him.
This PPV will also have the benefit of being a rematch from the best fight of 2013. Gustafsson pushed the champ further than anyone else and many thought he won that fight. Fans are going to want to see if he can walk away with the belt this time and if the rematch can be just as awesome as the first one.
Koeddy Laemmle:FICTION The first fight between Jones and Gustafsson was a certified classic, I know some people who make legitimate arguments that it was their favorite fight ever with it being as close a fight as they come. I am extremely excited for the possibility of the rematch but that doesn't mean it will lead to big buy rates. George St-Pierre and Brock Lesnar, the undisputed kings of PPV, prove that it's the biggest name that gets the highest buy rates at the end of the year and right now that is Ronda Rousey, this in addition to the rumors Gina Carano may be a possible opponent for Rousey creating the biggest women's "Super Fight" possible later year makes me seriously doubt Jones/Gustafsson II will be the highest seller of the year. Considering Jon Jones is their second biggest draw, I can see this being a Top 3 PPV seller of the year but not at the top of the list.
Does One Punch need to do more to get a title shot?
2.) In spite of calling out flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson after his win over Neil Seery (and Dana White saying he was in good position for a title shot after the win), Brad Pickett still needs to win at least one more fight at 125 before he challenges for the title.
Koeddy Laemmle:FACT Brad Pickett moved down to Flyweight as a way to rejuvenate his career after losses to the upper echelon of the Bantamweight division had him labeled as a gatekeeper (similar to Nate Marquardt moving to Welterweight in 2011). This isn't similar to the Daniel Cormier situation either, where he had previously been undefeated at his previous weight class and clobbered his opponent into oblivion either, since Pickett was 1-2 in his previous three fights. I see absolutely no reason why Pickett should receive a title shot after beating an unproven fighter making his UFC debut in Neil Seery. If Picket can beat his originally scheduled opponent Ian McCall, who is one of the top fighters at 125, then we can start talking about a potential title shot for "One Punch". I honestly say he should fight two more opponents before a title shot if his next opponent isn't a Top 10 ranked fighter in the weight class.
Alex Rella:FACT Everybody loves Brad Pickett, especially Dana White, but there's no way he gets a flyweight title fight after this. One of the most exciting fighters in the world today, Pickett is in good position considering the flyweight division is still fairly shallow and Demetrious Johnson has already defeated most of the top guys. Unfortunately beating Neil Seery isn't enough though. The guy is only 13-10 and not a UFC caliber fighter. My guess is Pickett will get matched up with Ian McCall again considering their Twitter feud and Ali Bagautinov will get the next title shot. Pickett should get his title shot if he wins that one and it'll make for an interesting fight since he already has a victory over the champ from back in the WEC.
Is Guillard one more loss away from losing his Zuffa contract?
3.) With only two wins in his last eight fights and Dana White criticizing his performance at UFC Fight Night 37, it wouldn't be surprising at all if Melvin Guillard's UFC career will be on the line in his next fight.
Alex Rella:FACT Melvin Guillard's UFC career will definitely be on the line in his next fight. We all know Dana White is forgiving of losses if you lose in entertaining or exciting fashion. Guillard will never be an elite fighter, but he usually made for a good fight with his knockout power and poor submission defense. His first round losses to Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller are forgivable in the eyes of White, but his two recent ones were lackluster decisions against Michael Johnson and Jamie Varner who are not at the top of the division. Plus his two wins in his last eight fights are over the recently retired Mac Danzig and the not good Fabricio Camoes. Anyway, being boring and losing is never a good combination. My guess would be the UFC tries to set up the rematch with Ross Pearson and Guillard could end up in Bellator if he loses again.
Koeddy Laemmle:FACT I wouldn't doubt his UFC career was on the line in his last fight and they cut him now. Melvin Guillard is pretty expendable at this point, 2-5 with 1 no contest in his last eight fights speaks for itself, and the Lightweight division is one of the more stacked weight classes at the moment. "The Young Assassin" also doesn't have a strong enough fanbase to justify keeping him on the roster with such inconsistent performances (the story of his UFC career). If Guillard does fight again in the UFC, I think he will try and make Featherweight but I really think they're probably just going to let him go elsewhere and get some wins out of the promotion before coming back much in the fashion Anthony "Rumble" Johnson has recently. Whether or not Guillard has that potential will take time to see, personally I don't think he does. So my answer is yes, if Guillard gets another fight under with them, his UFC career will most certainly be on the line.
Are these guys on their way to retirement with the end of TRT in sight?
4.) Dana White is right - if fighters like Vitor Belfort, Dan Henderson, and Chael Sonnen can't fight at a high level without TRT, they should retire.
Koeddy Laemmle:FACT Sports media has always been cruel to to older stars who want to continue on their career when they are long past their primes (Brett Favre, Kobe Bryant, Hulk Hogan, etc.) but this is a case where guys were using a now-banned substance in order to perform at elite levels. No matter how you spin it, that just flat out isn't fair and takes away from the integrity of the sport. Anybody having to use synthetic testosterone in order to perform at the level required for their job should probably look for a job elsewhere. It's like not having the right qualifications for the job. Sonnen and Henderson have been inconsistent enough as of late even with TRT to the point where I personally don't expect either fighter to have much left in the tank anyways. With the ban of TRT, I wouldn't be surprised to see both men retire by the end of the year.
Alex Rella:FACT I've never been one to call for the retirement of fighters as I don't think this is my right as a fan. Fighters are their own people and it's up to them to decide when it's time to go. That being said, a lot of guys are going to have to make big decisions if they can't fight without TRT. These three fighters also represent the spectrum of TRT users. Belfort who is a past steroid user, Hendo is an older fighter trying to hang on a little longer, and Sonnen who is the only person who truly knows if he really needs it. If they can't fight at the same level they are going to put themselves in dangerous situations. All these guys have too much name value off of their past success to fight against lower competition, so in most cases, they're going to go up against top fighters in the middleweight or light heavyweight divisions who can do some serious damage to them since they're older. Belfort still has his title shot, but the other guys are kinda just holding on. Henderson is on a three-fight losing streak and Sonnen is 1-3 in his last four and all the losses are by TKO. Those two and other fighters who are in the same TRT boat might have to call it a quits before White cuts them.
And now, Jon Jones with a bunny!
5.) With Alexander Gustafsson on deck and potential contenders like Daniel Cormier, Phil Davis, and even Anthony "Rumble" Johnson making cases for contendership, the light heavyweight division is deeper now than it has been in several years.
Alex Rella:FACT I had to think about this question for a little bit and I do think this is the deepest the light heavyweight division has been for a couple years. It has Jon Jones at the top, who is the best UFC light heavyweight champ of all time, and then the number one contenders Gustafsson and Teixeira. Then you have top guys like Cormier, Davis, and Johnson, who could all make title runs. I think all those guys pose a threat to Jones too. Rounding out the top ten are veterans like Rashad Evans, Chael Sonnen, Shogun, Wanderlei Silva, Ryan Bader, and Little Nog. The combination of contenders and veterans with name value make it the best division in the UFC today.
Koeddy Laemmle:FACT The light heavyweight division has consistently been a major staple of the UFC, but over the early course of Jon Jones' run as champion, we saw him lead a changing of the guard that saw a lot of the older stars at 205 take a tumble in the rankings (Rashad Evans is really the only guy who has remained a legitimate contender and that's mostly due to a string of injuries that kept him out for periods of time). Due to Jones breaking out so much faster than everybody else and disposing of the big names first (he beat Shogun before Gustafsson and Machida before Davis), it seemed as though the list of contenders would dry up quickly and we would be left with Jones running through the same list of faces over again, but instead, new faces have popped up and brought some fresh blood and excitement into the weight class, forcing Lyoto Machida to move down to middleweight and Rampage Jackson to become obsolete and not even fight in the organization anymore.
Who do you think won this bout? Did Rella continue to be unbeatable in tournament competition, or did Koeddy's nascent winning streak continue? 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 our final opening round contest! 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!