411 MMA Fact or Fiction 3.28.14: Shogun/Hendo 2, Chael/Wandy, More
Posted by Wyatt Beougher on 03.28.2014
Was Shogun vs. Henderson II a letdown considering their first fight? Should Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva be moved back to UFC 173 after Chris Weidman's injury? 411's Dino Zucconi and Robert Practor debate these topics and more!
Welcome back to another edition of MMA Fact or Fiction tournament action! With four weeks of the 2014 MMA Fact or Fiction Tournament in the books, we've completed all eight opening round contests, our play-in bout, and the first half of the quarterfinals, so let's have a look at the current brackets, which have been updated to reflect the results of all completed bouts:
Voting is now closed on our first four weeks of contests, but if you missed any of them and want to catch up, you can find them here:
As I mentioned last Wednesday, we're down to two contests a week, and they'll run on Wednesdays and Fridays. This will be the schedule for the next two weeks, until we've completed our quarterfinals and semifinals, at which point the finals will take place in Fact or Fiction's normal Wednesday spot, and things will return to normal from there. Just like last year, the voting window for each tournament 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 Wednesday's and midnight EST on Monday to vote for today's. With our final quarterfinal contest today, we've got Dino Zucconi, the only remaining top seed, taking on Robert Practor, who won his first round matchup in pretty dominant fashion. Will Dino be the only 1, 2, or 3 seed to advance, or will we end up with a quartet of underdogs in the semifinals?
1.) While the first two rounds of Shogun/Hendo 2 were certainly good, the fight was still not as good as their first encounter.
Dino Zucconi:FACT This was a really tough one for me, actually. The first one, yes, is one of (if not the) greatest UFC fight of all time. And yes, it was 5 rounds of unreal action with a crazy momentum shift. However, the rematch was essentially the same thing, but in reverse, with less time, and with a savage finish to end it all. I really wanted to say Fiction, but the more I thought of it, the more I realized I was just being a Dan Henderson fanboy and overreacting on how good the rematch was just because of the finish. The second fight was really fun, but there's no way it's better than the first one.
Robert Practor:FACT Absolutely. The first fight between Shogun and Henderson was a classic. It was a PPV headliner, featured five rounds of back and forth excitement, and seems to have been before both fighters took a downturn in their careers. This fight was a Fight Night headliner and comes after we have seen both fighters rapidly decline and suffer many losses between them. To be quite honest, the fight was a bit uncomfortable for me to watch as both have taken an absurd amount of damage throughout their careers and should really consider hanging it up instead of putting their bodies and brains through any more trauma. Hendo got rocked multiple times in the fight and his notorious chin is clearly fading. Still, he managed to pull off a comeback victory in the third round with an absolutely nasty KO punch that shattered Rua's nose. Henderson seems to believe he has another title run in him and that is simply not going to happen at this point in his career. The fight was exciting at times and it is their decision to continue on with their careers, but I frankly don't want to continue watching them go through more battles and I feel this would have been a good fight for both men to hang it up after.
Would the UFC been better off had Shogun won?
2.) Dan Henderson beating Shogun Rua on Sunday was the worst possible outcome for the UFC, considering it will be Henderson's last fight with the aid of TRT.
Robert Practor:FICTION Continuing on what I wrote in response to the first question, with what we've seen these fighters endure throughout their careers and with both of them clearly declining in front of us, the "worst possible outcome for the UFC" could have been something more drastic. Regarding TRT, he was on the "therapy" when he suffered losses to Lyoto Machida at UFC 157 as well as his Fight Night bout against Vitor Belfort. I don't see what the issue is here. Hendo won fights and lost fights while on TRT and now he and everyone else will no longer be able to receive exemptions for it, so that's that.
Dino Zucconi:FICTION I'd be more keen to this if Shogun was some contender that Henderson just ruined, but let's be serious here- before he dropped James Te Huna, a lot of people (myself included) were writing him off as shot. And sure, the KO of Te Huna was pretty impressive, but Te Huna himself isn't a top 5 guy, either. Shogun bought himself some time, got a fight with a higher level opponent, and got KO'd again. Then yeah, having a top contender lose his spot to the guy on his final TRT fight might be a bit of a bummer. Instead, we got another fun main event between two legends who look to be getting closer to the end, and it really does nothing to the rankings at all. If Hendo had clipped a higher ranked name, I might buy into this. As it stands, I'm going Fiction.
Does the UFC need to do more research before hiring fighters?
3.) While the UFC was certainly well within their rights to cut Will Chope based on the discovery that he was dishonorably discharged from the Air Force for physically abusing his wife and threatening her with a knife, the fact that Zuffa only learned about Chope's history after Bleacher Report reported on it reflects poorly on how the company vets its fighters before hiring them.
Dino Zucconi:FACT Absolutely agreed, with the sticking point being that they found this offense to be worth cutting someone immediately over. Wouldn't you want to cover those types of offenses while you're accepting new fighters? I would view it a bit differently had UFC known about it and decided he deserved a chance for redemption, only to later cave in or change their minds. But to simply not know about such a violent encounter? Yeah, that's not the best piece of news I've read lately. I don't expect them to be able to know every bad thing every guy they employ has done, but I absolutely expect them to search a bit harder for the more violent offenses. Absolutely.
Robert Practor:FACT While I certainly agree with Chope's release, I would like to point out the UFC's inconsistency in their handling of such matters. While the UFC immediately released fighters like Thiago Silva and Will Chope, Abel Trujillo, just to name one fighter, has multiple domestic battery convictions, yet he has stayed with the company and even recently earned an extra $125,000 in bonuses for his fight in February. That being said, there is really no excuse for the company not knowing about Chope's past issues and it clearly reflects poorly on how they vet their fighters. Let's hope we see them become more careful and thorough (and more consistent, too) in the future.
Will Wanderlei/Chael get moved back to UFC 173?
4.) With Chris Weidman's injury forcing him to withdraw from his fight with Lyoto Machida and the fight itself to be rescheduled, the UFC's best option for a new main event would be to move the Chael Sonnen/Wanderlei Silva fight back to UFC 173, where it was originally scheduled.
Robert Practor:FICTION No, I do not believe moving Sonnen-Silva back to be the headliner of UFC 173 is the best option. While the UFC is likely in a scramble to find a late replacement headliner, Sonnen-Silva is a second or third from the top PPV bout and is best suited as a free Fight Night main event. While we are only two months out from UFC's Memorial Day weekend event, there are still some options to pull off a more acceptable main event. With the glut of free fight cards on Fox and the Fox Sports channels, PPV's pretty much need to be headlined with title fights. The only acceptable non-title fight I could see headlining UFC 173 would be Alexander Gustafsson vs. Daniel Cormier to determine the #1 Contender for the Light Heavyweight Title. That would be a better, more relevant main event than Sonnen-Silva, although that's also not the headliner I'd prefer. As for title fights, the Heavyweight, Light Heavyweight, Middleweight, Welterweight, and Lightweight titles are all out of the equation for one reason or another, mostly related to injuries. That leaves us with the UFC's four lower weight classes. Women's Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey has pulled through for the company on short notice once and could very well do so again. Rousey is currently filming the "Entourage" movie and could enter a training camp to take on Alexis Davis if need be, as she has trained for a fight while filming a movie once before. Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson is healthy and has been awaiting his next opponent since a quick victory in November and could headline this event if the UFC selects a contender. Bantamweight Champion Renan Barao has stated he hopes to fight in June or July and he could be convinced to fight challenger Raphael Assuncao a bit earlier than his desired timeframe. Lastly, we have Featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo. Aldo last fought in early February and seems locked to be defending the title against Chad Mendes this summer. I feel the smartest plan for the UFC to deal with losing their big Middleweight Title fight between Chris Weidman and Lyoto Machida is to have Jose Aldo vs. Chad Mendes for the Featherweight Title as their new headliner. A title rematch between Aldo and Mendes co-headlined with Junior dos Santos vs. Stipe Miocic would be a solid enough card. Then UFC 174 in June can be headlined with Barao-Assuncao and a Johnson title fight. Of course, these title fights can be swapped based off of who is most willing, but I'm sure either Aldo, Barao, Johnson, or Rousey will step up. It is true that Aldo and fellow lower weight champions have not drawn big PPV numbers but then again, not many fighters have as of late. Any of them defending their title would definitely be a better option than choosing to headline their Memorial Day weekend Pay-Per-View event with Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva.
Dino Zucconi:FACT Though we've basically gotten to the point where a UFC ppv has to have a title fight as a main event, just due to how many free shows we get. No, it's not logistical, but it's a sentiment I'm starting to see spouted off here and there. And for those fans, there's no way Chael/Wandy is an acceptable replacement for Weidman/Machida. I'm not quite that reactionary, though, and would consider that fight as a replacement just fine, thank you. I'm really looking forward to this fight, and I don't expect it to be competitive in any fashion. Still, the hype for it should be good, and you have one of the UFC's better talkers against an MMA legend. Unless they could get Mighty Mouse in there on time, I'd go with Chael/Wandy, no problem.
Remember when GSP/Anderson Silva seemed like a real fight that might actually break buy rate records for the UFC?
5.) Between GSP's hiatus, and injuries to Anderson Silva, Johny Hendricks, Renan Barao, and now Chris Weidman, what was shaping up to be a weak year for UFC PPV buys is now looking even worse.
Dino Zucconi:FACT Definitely a bit of a bummer in that respect. Much has been said about the injuries to the champs this year, not to mention the loss of GSP and Anderson as draws for the time being. The action is still there, but the names just aren't. Instead, we're getting to see opportunities given to guys on the upswing, and I don't consider that a bad thing at all, but they're just not getting the buys for the events. I don't expect any high selling ppvs for the rest of this year, really, unless they can get Jones vs. Gustafsson 2 booked. That might be their best shot at a high drawing PPV, unless Weidman proves to be a draw on his own.
Robert Practor:FACT I don't know how this could be answered as anything other than ‘fact'. The only thing I could debate here is the statement that Renan Barao is injured. I don't believe he is injured at all, and have heard nothing of the sort. Anyway, onto the champions who are actually injured. Heavyweight Champ Cain Velazquez, Middleweight Champ Chris Weidman, Welterweight Champ Johny Hendricks, Lightweight Champ Anthony Pettis, not to mention the loss of the UFC's top PPV draws Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva. Silva has gone on record stating that he will not return in 2014 and frankly, I thought it was a bit unrealistic and unfair for anyone to expect that in the first place. GSP will likely not return in 2014, although I bet Dana White is holding out hope they can lure him back for a huge fight at December's UFC 181 in Montreal. I stated in my year-end edition of What's Next that the company would need to rely on Jon Jones and Ronda Rousey as their top draws and biggest earners in 2014. We have since found out that the Jones-headlined UFC 165 and Rousey-headlined UFC 170 each drew around 300k PPV buys, which appears to be their new ceiling without a GSP or Silva fight. When Jon Jones and Ronda Rousey are pulling numbers like that and many other champions are out with injuries, the UFC is going to be relying on lighter weight champions like Jose Aldo, Renan Barao, and Demetrious Johnson and they are frankly not to the point of being able to draw. The UFC has not only been damaged by injuries to key fighters but also by their own doing, with the ridiculous amount of fight cards being presented. Take a look at the UFC's SCHEDULE (so and so's column) and you will see that there are eight events in the next two months. I understand the company's thinking as they are branching out into new countries and markets with most of these Fight Night events, but the sheer amount of events is flooding the market and making UFC events too commonplace and less special than they used to feel. To sum this up, yes, the UFC's PPV numbers seem to be guaranteed to hover around that 200k-350k range and for many reasons, I don't think we will see that average rise anytime soon.
Who do you think won this bout? Did Dino remain unbeaten, or did Robert eliminate one of the two remaining non-MMA Zone guys (and only remaining top seed)? Voting will be open until midnight EST on Monday, 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 next week for our semifinal bouts! 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!