411 MMA Fact or Fiction 6.18.14: Demetrious Johnson, Chael Sonnen, More
Posted by Wyatt Beougher on 06.18.2014
Will Chael Sonnen be remembered more for his ability to sell a fight than anything else? Has Demetrious Johnson cleaned out the flyweight division? 411's Robert Winfree and Mark Radulich debate these topics and more in this week's Fact or Fiction: MMA!
Welcome back to 411's MMA Fact or Fiction, and, for the first time in three weeks, I'm your host, Wyatt Beougher. Hopefully the readership didn't miss me too much, as I left you in the ever-capable hands of Evan Zivin and the bossman himself, Larry Csonka. Huge thanks go out to both guys for covering for me while I was off getting married and enjoying the sights, sounds, and tastes of Portland, Oregon. But now I'm back, and we're back to business, and that means digging into the past seven days' biggest MMA stories. Last week, I eased my way back into work by competing instead of compiling the column, and I took on the ever-dangerous Jack McGee. Jack took me to the woodshed, picking up the 20-12 win. I'd like to think if I had managed to work a quote from a popular 90's comedy into one of my responses, I might've kept it closer; however, kudos to Jack for handing me my first loss in the new tournament cycle.
This week we've got a battle of MMA Coverage guys going head to head, as semi-retired Mark Radulich takes on the new go-to coverage guy, Robert Winfree. Will Winfree's voodoo curse carry over to Fact or Fiction competition, or will he be able to knock off his one-time mentor? More importantly, are you tired of listening to Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg blather on in their biased way? Do you want to know if a fighter is really a "killer" before he steps into the cage? Then you'll want to start checking out Mark and Robert's alternate commentary (joined by the always entertaining Patrick Mullin) for UFC main cards. The UFC 174 edition is here:
Fire up the replay on mute, sync up the YouTube video with the show, and tell me that's not about 1000000% better than the guys the UFC pays to actually know what they're talking about.
1.) Following a one-sided win over Ali Bagautinov at UFC 174, there are no compelling challengers left for Demetrious Johnson.
Robert Winfree:FACT I very much enjoyed the fight between Johnson and Bagautinov, and I didn't think Bagautinov looked out of his depth but I seem to be in the minority as far as that goes. The reality is that Demetrious Johnson is one of the most technically sound and well rounded fighters in the sport, much less in a still developing division like flyweight. The guy we thought could challenge him, Joseph Benavidez, lost twice and the second was a brutal first round knockout loss. Johnson has beaten the entire top five list at flyweight, and while a rematch with John Dodson seems to be on the horizon, I don't think the UFC has a flyweight under contract who could pose a legitimate threat to Mighty Mouse right now.
Mark Radulich:FACT Until Brad Pickett gets another win or two at Flyweight, Mighty Mouse has pretty much cleaned out the division. He's beaten the two best guys in the division (one of them twice) and now with a clean sweep of Bagautinov, there's really nobody left. There's been talk about a rematch with Dodson and while I wouldn't mind seeing it, it's not what one would call compelling. The UFC has some work to do in building up its Flyweight division because short of Dodson KO'ing Johnson in the next few months, there's just nobody left that even hardcore fans will care about.
Is Rory still one win away?
2.) In spite of his dominant win over Tyron Woodley, Rory MacDonald still has to win at least one more fight to earn a welterweight title shot.
Mark Radulich:FACT As was mentioned during the Alternative Commentary and on the 411 Ground and Pound show, at this point MacDonald should just stay in shape but not ask for another fight. It is likely that Hendricks, Lawler and/or Brown will injure themselves and he'll have to step in as a replacement. If that should garner him a championship fight then so be it. Otherwise yes, if all of the top fighters at Welterweight remain healthy then he needs one more fight to be considered a legit championship contender. Lombard is expected to face Dong Hyun Kim on August 23, 2014 at UFC Fight Night 48. If Stun-Gun gets injured that's another place MacDonald can fill in and even if the match takes place, MacDonald could fight the winner to determine the next contender after the winner of Lawler and Brown. Either way, as this very moment he is not deserving of a shot against Hendricks barring unforeseen calamity.
Robert Winfree:FICTION The winner of the upcoming fight between Robbie Lawler and Matt Brown is slated to fight Johny Hendricks for the title, but this is a sport where anything can happen outside of the cage as well as in it. If we get a disputed finish between Lawler and Brown, a failed drug test, an injury, one of thousands of things could happen that would result in MacDonald getting a shot at the belt. Heck, if Hendricks gets injured again MacDonald and the winner of Lalwer vs. Brown could wind up squaring off for the interim title. Mostly, I can't think of too many fights for Rory that make sense, he's ranked behind just two other guys in the division and if I were in his shoes I might just wait for the issue between Hendricks and Lawler/Brown to be decided and then go for a shot. Other than that, the only potential fight would be taking on the winner of the upcoming fight between Hector Lombard and Dong Hyun Kim, but in this sport there's a better than average chance MacDonald doesn't have to fight again before a title opportunity.
Will Chael be most remembered for his mouth?
3.) Five years from now, Chael Sonnen will be more remembered for his ability to sell a fight than for anything else he did inside or outside of the cage.
Robert Winfree:FICTION I'm not entirely sure in five years Sonnen will be remembered at all. Sonnen was a decent fighter with a specific skill set that he used to his advantage, but he never won a major title, is a convicted felon, failed multiple drug tests, and really only had one truly great fight, that being his first title clash with Anderson Silva. Sonnen is likely set as a talking head analyst for the UFC, a job he's not too bad at, but those guys come and go all the time. IF Sonnen is remembered, it will absolutely be for his ability to rip off a professional wrestling promo, I'm just not entirely convinced that will happen.
Mark Radulich:FACT Five years? More like five minutes from now. The only reason Chael Sonnen became a thing in MMA is because Anderson Silva danced a jig around Damian Maia and Dana White had blood in his eyes. Sonnen, a middlin' fighter at best, stepped up and sold himself at a time when White was willing to accept any hitter to take out the champ. Sonnen marketed himself well and nearly went all five rounds with the champ when pound for pound, Chael Sonnen could not carry Anderson Silva's jockstrap. People have deluded themselves into believing Chael Sonnen is a great MMA fighter; he's not. He's a fine wrestler but that's about it. Charisma and timing got Sonnen where he needed to be and once he got there, he kept himself in the spotlight by antagonizing a number of other Brazilian fighters with surprisingly thin skin. All anyone will ever remember about Sonnen was his gift of gab and maybe that he nearly defeated Silva by decision…once. A dubious legacy at best.
Should Jason High ever have the opportunity to fight for the UFC again?
4.) The UFC was right to release Jason High for shoving referee Kevin Mulhall after Mulhall stopped High's fight against Rafael dos Anjos, and, like Paul Daley, it's extremely unlikely that High will ever fight for Zuffa again.
Mark Radulich:FACT Wow, even in the WWE you are not allowed to purposely lay hands on the referee and we're talking about a company that puts women through tables (or at least did). I'm not sure what High was thinking (clearly he wasn't) but that sort of behavior has no business in a professional competition and there's no excuse for it. Not only will he most likely never come back, he should not ever come back. I would be extremely disappointed in the UFC if they were to ever resign him. It's one thing to be canned for poor performances or for being, "too damn expensive," or for getting popped for banned substances, etc but it's a whole other kettle of fish when you are putting your hands on an official.
Robert Winfree:FICTION I agree the UFC was correct to release High, in part for shoving the official and in part because his performances in the promotion haven't been stellar, but there hasn't been the heat towards High that there was towards Daley. High rashly pushed an official, but it wasn't terribly hard and things like that happen during the heat of the moment. High can likely fight outside the promotion, say his mea culpas, and could very well earn a return trip to the promotion. It might be a slightly harder road than others, but I wouldn't be surprised to see High get another shot as opposed to Daley who I believe will never be employed by Zuffa ever again.
Did Bjorn's latest rule modification benefit the company?
5.) Bellator officially modifying their rules to allow former tournament winners to earn title shots without re-entering divisional tournaments is a very smart business move.
Robert Winfree:FACT Sure, we've all be wondering why they abandoned their tagline of "Title shots are earned, not given" and now we've got an after the fact rule established. It's a good rule to establish, and it's good to have it on the books and not fly by the seat of your pants. Mostly this will clear up possible confusion moving forward, which does make it a good business decision.
Mark Radulich:FACT I've been calling for this since I began watching Bellator during the Fox Sports days. The biggest detriment to Bellator is that their development of title challengers is hamstrung by the very thing that makes them unique, the divisional tournaments. I've been saying for some time now that previous tournament winners shouldn't have to compete in tournaments again to vie for a title shot. This will make it a little easier for Bellator to load up the pipeline with challengers so their champs aren't going whole years without defending their belts. We need more of this in Bellator and less Tito Ortiz.
So who won? Did Robert finally break his voodoo curse, or did Mark keep his record above .500? You've got until midnight eastern on Saturday to vote, so make sure you make your voice heard!
Khal of the Seven Seas?
6.) Casting Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo on Game of Thrones) as Aquaman for the upcoming Batman vs Superman and Justice League films is one of the better casting decisions that Warner Bros/DC have made regarding their Justice League universe films.
Mark Radulich:FACT I would say that outside of Henry Cavill this is the first decent casting they've done. Gal Gadot has Wonder Woman sounds terrible and I'm not buying BatFleck. Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor makes me wretch. I'll see the movie and I'll be happy to be proven wrong but for now, Momoa as the King of Atlantis is about the only even remotely inspired casting they've for this monstrosity.
Robert Winfree:FICTION I'm not entirely convinced this whole Justice League film won't just end up back in development hell. That being said, this was nearly FACT just based on the track record for casting. Henry Cavill was good as Superman, but I'll believe Ben Affleck can be Batman when I see it, and my utter stupor at Gal Gadot being the choice for Wonder Woman continues. Momoa doesn't have the best track record at the box office, the Conan remake failed miserably and part of that falls on him, and Aquaman is going to be a tough sell as a deserving member of the Justice League to the general public. They could have done worse than Momoa, but I feel they also could have done much better.
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!