411 MMA Fact or Fiction 4.23.14: Werdum, Nurmagomedov/Cerrone, More
Posted by Wyatt Beougher on 04.23.2014
Did Fabricio Werdum's win over Travis Brown at UFC on FOX 11 improve his standing against Cain Velasquez? Would Nurmagomedov vs. Cerrone be a good choice for a #1 contenders fight? 411's Mark Radulich and Alex Rella debate these topics and more!
Welcome to another edition of 411's MMA Fact or Fiction, and I'm your host, Wyatt Beougher. Last week's column was intended as a fun, palette-cleansing edition of what is normally a fairly serious column. I'll admit, based on the reaction that Dustin got when he used humor in the Fact or Fiction Tournament, I wasn't sure how well last week's experimental format was going to be received. Thankfully, I didn't get any hate mail, nor were the comments overly vicious, and, in fact, Dustin managed second place, with Steve Cook being our big winner. As I mentioned last week, Cook will be awarded the win, but the results won't count against Dustin or Jeremy (and especially not Todd, who managed third place in spite of not being able to compete due to real world obligations). Thanks to everyone who voted, and this week promises a return to relative normalcy.
With this week being the actual reset for the new "season" for the 2015 tournament, it's only fitting that the most prolific competitor from my Fact or Fiction tenure start things off, as Mark Radulich steps back in from a paternity leave from the site to share his opinions, and he'll be taking on the one and only Alex Rella, who returns to action after an unsuccessful bid to win back-to-back tournaments. Good luck to both competitors, and a huge congratulations to Mark on the latest addition to his family.
Was Werdum's win over Browne enough to make you think he can beat Cain?
1.) Fabricio Werdum's decision win over Travis Browne did little to bolster his standings as an underdog against reigning UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.
Mark Radulich: FACT I'm going to try to answer this as the average, casual fan and not as myself because I think I see things a bit differently than most. That being said, other than establishing a contender for the title, the entire fight did nothing to sell people on an eventual Velasquez vs Werdum bout. Werdum looked proficient in the fight and he had Browne soundly beat through most of it. However, it also looked like he kept backing off when it looked like Browne was in danger of being knocked out. It was the kind of performance that is both adequate and not memorable at the same time. Certainly most people did not walk away from that fight chomping at the bit to see Werdum take on Cain.
From my perspective, given his performances against Nelson, Russow, and Big Nog, I think Werdum stands a good chance of defeating Velasquez. On the one hand, Werdum has improved his standup a great deal and he continues to be the UFC's greatest submission artist at Heavyweight. On the other hand, Velasquez is coming off his second year long layoff due to yet another shoulder surgery. The thing people cite often about Velasquez is his wrestling. That may be his undoing against a guy who can submit you off his back with ease. I'm intrigued by the match-up and I'm rooting for Werdum to unseat Velasquez as champion. However, I also understand that I'm in the minority, especially after Saturday's performance.
Alex Rella: FACT I thought Fabricio Werdum looked awesome and dominant in his recent victory over Travis Browne this weekend. Some criticized his performance and said he should have tried to finish Browne off, but to me owning a guy for twenty-five minutes is just as impressive. Anyway, nothing that he did on Saturday would have changed his status as an underdog against Cain Velasquez. Maybe the betting odds would be a little different had Werdum killed Browne early on, but he would still be the underdog regardless. Every heavyweight in the world is an underdog when going up against Velasquez. He's destroyed every elite fighter he's gone up against and is quickly climbing the ranks of the greatest heavyweights of all time. I do think Werdum has a chance to pull off an upset and his status as an underdog is no knock against him, but just a testament to how good Velasquez has been.
Should these two fight for a shot at the lightweight champ?
2.) Khabib Nurmagomedov versus Donald Cerrone would be a fantastic bout to establish contendership in the lightweight division.
Alex Rella: FICTION Donald Cerrone is not ready to get thrown back into title contention just yet and it doesn't seem like he even wants to either. Cerrone is on a nice three-fight winning streak, but none of them were top ten fighters and Cerrone seems really committed to just fighting six times this year and making top money. Cerrone has faltered whenever he's been given a chance to compete for the UFC title and the UFC would be wise to just let him get on a nice long winning streak before putting him in that position. Even if you just do MMA math, Nurmagomedov recently beat Rafael dos Anjos, who dominated Cerrone last August. Plus there are a few better match ups for Nurmagomedov. Maybe he takes on TJ Grant if he returns anytime soon or the winner of Benson Henderson vs Rustam Khabilov. Hey I'd rather see Myles Jury in a number one contender fight than Donald Cerrone at this point.
Mark Radulich: FACT Given the need for name performers to top Fight Night cards and the amount of them scheduled until year's end, Cerrone vs Nurmagomedov would be sound matchmaking. Khabib looks to be headed toward the top of the Lightweight Division and Cerrone, whether he wins or loses, is always a live fight. I think these two would put on a good show and it would make for a more interesting main event than some of the other Fight Nights that have been booked.
Will Bisping be forever relegated to the middle of the division?
3.) Michael Bisping's window for contendership is officially closed after a loss to Tim Kennedy at the TUF: Nations finale last week.
Mark Radulich: FACT You can never say never in the world of combat sports, but it is not likely we will ever see Bisping contend for the Middleweight title. He's now in a position where he needs to win at least 2 fights before even Dana White could conceivably book him in a title fight. There are at least two other fighters ahead of him at the top of the division (Belfort and Jacare) that would either need to be eliminated or get their shots first. Mark Munoz has a Fight Night scheduled against Mousasi where the winner would be ahead of Bisping. Also you have Luke Rockhold and now Tim Kennedy, both of which are ahead of Bisping. Short of a calamity that results in an interim title, it'll be a year or more before Bisping gets close to the title again. He's not getting any younger. I suspect he'll start thinking about retirement sooner than later. I just don't think a Middleweight Championship is in the cards for Mr. Bisping.
Alex Rella: FICTION This is a tough one, but I'm leaning towards fiction as of right now. Will he ever win a UFC title at this point? Absolutely not, but getting back into title contention is very possible. The UFC loves Michael Bisping and they've tried to get him into a title fight in the past, for good reason too. He's a talented fighter, true heel, and a big draw in England. It might take him a year or two, but all Bisping needs is a three- or four-fight winning streak to get back near the top of the middleweight division. Maybe even less, depending on who he beats and if things line up perfectly for him. Bisping lost a number one contender fight to Sonnen and he only needed one victory over Brian Stann to get into his personal number one contender fight with Vitor Belfort. I would not be shocked if Bisping was back in title talk in 2015.
Do you think people got a refund for this shirt?
4.) Bellator putting their lightweight and heavyweight tournament finals on the preliminary portion of their first PPV card in favor of a fight featuring Tito Ortiz and a pair of fights that don't feature any "name" fighters is poor decision making.
Alex Rella: FICTION Who cares really? Anybody that's really buying this ppv isn't doing it for the opening two fights and Bellator has very few name fighters anyway. They're buying the show to see the rubber match between Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler, Rampage vs King Mo, and Tito Ortiz returning to fight one of the best middleweights in the world today. The heavyweight and lightweight tournament finals are intriguing fights, but I don't even know if I'll go out of my way to watch them on TV. The two current opening fights are just as good to me. The opener has Michael Page, who is a very entertaining welterweight and possibly the future of the division. And Will Brooks is getting the next shot at the winner of the main event. It's not a bad idea to have him highlighted; maybe he'll even main event their next ppv. I see the complaint that switching the fights would put more importance on the tournament finals, but overall I think the card is pretty good as it currently stands.
Mark Radulich: FICTION This is the argument that is had regarding UFC prelims and the PPV matches. Every UFC PPV or even UFC on FOX card, people complain that this fight or that fight should be on the main card instead of the prelims. If the prelims weren't televised I would agree with the complaints for the most part. But as I've tried to explain to people since the Strikeforce days, the prelims count as a show and that show needs to draw ratings. There's a litany of variables to consider (such as ad revenue) which dictate the need for some degree of star power on the prelims. If you don't put name guys on the prelim shows, nobody is going to watch. If nobody watches, it is likely that you will have less people tuning in for the PPV. Prelims are your lead-ins. If you have a strong lead-in, then more than likely more people will stay tuned in to your show. Bellator is following the exact same pattern as the UFC. They want their televised prelims to be strong so that the folks watching that show will follow over to the PPV. The PPV is composed of a rubber match between Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez, the first-ever meeting between King Mo and Rampage, and Tito Ortiz vs one of the best fighters they have on their roster. These days if the UFC has 3 fights on their PPV that I care about that's a win.
Good pickup for OneFC?
5.) OneFC hiring Rich Franklin for an executive role is an excellent idea.
Mark Radulich: FACT Franklin seems to be a smart guy and his experience in the UFC should lend itself well to OneFC. I'm assuming this is a concerted effort to market their brand to a Western audience and Franklin should absolutely be able to help with that.
Alex Rella: FACT Yeah, why not. I'm not a big fan of OneFC, but they are a fairly successful company. Whether it be them trying to recreate the essence and violence of Pride or maybe just because they are homegrown MMA company in Asia, OneFC has managed to hang around for a couple years and make gradual improvements. They have a solid group of guys and some of their shows have had nice attendance numbers. Adding Rich Franklin into the mix can only help them. Ace is a very educated guy, he's now a successful business owner, he's set up foundations and done great things in the community, and in my opinion Franklin is one of the best fighters of all time. Maybe he brings in a new point of view when it comes to promoting or talent evaluation. It's not like Franklin is gonna run the company into the ground. I think this is a much better move than the honorary positions some retired legends get with the UFC.
So who was the winner in our return to normal action? Was Mark able to pick up where he left off in compiling one of the best records in Fact or Fiction competition, or did Alex pick up another upset win? Voting will be open until midnight EST on Saturday, so make sure you vote and make your voice heard!
Will DC be the one that backs down?
Bonus) With the continued strength of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it will be DC that moves Batman vs Superman so that it doesn't have to open against the third Captain America film, and not the other way around.
Alex Rella: FACT DC movies are just a mess compared to Marvel. Christopher Nolan's Batman series was great because he took his time with it and tried to make it as realistic as possible; this new one just seems like it's being rushed and it could end up a mess. I hope it's great, but as of now, they can't compete with the fine-tuned machine that is Marvel. Captain America 2 was amazing and I expect the third one to be even better after Avengers 2. One of them will end up budging cause it's just bad business for both if they come out the same week. My guess is it's DC and the production rate will likely be the excuse.
Mark Radulich: FACT I don't even think they are going to be ready by Summer of 2015. I have this sick feeling in my stomach that this dreck will test so badly that it will be stuck in production well past its most recent scheduled release date comes to pass. Marvel has the momentum on its side right now and there's no reason why it should have to move any its movies where its rival DC is concerned.
And that's it for today, but we'll be back next week with another 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!