411 MMA Fact or Fiction 7.09.14: Rousey, Weidman's Legitimacy, More
Posted by Wyatt Beougher on 07.09.2014
Did Chris Weidman's win over Lyoto Machida help legitimize him in the eyes of casual fans? Will Ronda Rousey's time off due to knee surgery hurt women's MMA as a whole? 411's Evan Zivin and Mark Radulich debate these topics and more!
It's another Wednesday, so that means another 411 MMA Fact or Fiction, and I'm your host, Wyatt Beougher. I hope all of our American readers enjoyed their Independence Day weekend, and that our international visitors had an enjoyable July weekend. Last week's contest, between Jonathan Solomon and Dan Plunkett, was every bit as evenly contested as I expected it to be; unfortunately, that only translated into five votes, with Plunkett picking up a 3-2 victory. I have to say that I'm disappointed in the lack of voter turnout last week, and here's hoping for a better turnout this week.
In one corner, we've got Mark Radulich, who made his return to live coverage for the site this past weekend after taking a few months' paternity leave, and in the other is Evan Zivin, who is currently doing a better job weekly on Five Quick Rounds than I ever did in my seventeen months writing it. I'm expected a good, clean match-up this week, so let's look at the Tale of the Tape.
TALE OF THE TAPE RED CORNER
Evan "White Tiger" Zivin
Columnist, Five Quick Rounds (MMA Zone)
Was this the biggest win of Weidman's career, in terms of mainstream perception?
1.) Chris Weidman's win over Lyoto Machida did more to legitimize him in the eyes of casual MMA fans than either of his wins over Anderson Silva.
Evan Zivin:FICTION Readers, keep in mind Wyatt is asking about casual fans, not the more devoted followers of the sport whom I imagine make up the majority of those who will read this and decide my fate at the bottom of the article. First off, great statement, Wyatt. Way to set me up to get my ass kicked from the get go. Now, does the Machida victory legitimize Weidman in the eyes of casuals more than the Silva victories? No. It doesn't. The Machida wins give Weidman more legitimacy in the eyes of us hardcores because it showed he can go five rounds with a dangerous opponent and win the fight convincingly. Weidman possessed all the tools to defeat Machida and he came into the fight with the right mindset and the right gameplan to win the fight. It was impressive in a way the Silva fights weren't because, even though Weidman was winning those fights, the manner in which they both ended allowed for people to still question Weidman and whether he really is that good. The Machida victory leaves no doubt. Weidman is that good. He went toe-to-toe with one of the toughest opponents of two different weight classes, who is also a former UFC champion, and beat him soundly. That is impressive. Weidman deserves respect for that.
That all being said, I think the Silva wins still mean more to Weidman's reign as champion in the eyes of casual fans because it's Anderson friggin' Silva. Machida is good but Anderson is still considered by most to be the greatest Fighter of All Time. Machida has been beaten before in the UFC. Anderson went 8 years undefeated in the UFC. He's the most dominant champion the UFC has ever seen and Weidman defeated him. That is huge, even moreso because Weidman didn't just beat Anderson once. He beat Anderson twice. Weidman is the only man to have accomplished that feat. He even knocked Anderson out. The man who possessed the best head movement of any fighter in MMA was knocked out cold by Chris Weidman. The manner of those victories may be slightly questionable, but I guarantee you that's not as important to casual fans as some of you may think, even less so the further removed we get from those fights. Weidman beat Machida? Wow, that's really impressive. Weidman beat Anderson Silva? Holy shit, are you freakin' kidding me? At least that's how I see it. Now we just wait to see if the UFC 175 buyrate is in line with that line of thinking compared to the one million buys UFC 168 did.
Mark Radulich:FACT No matter how many times I've defended Weidman and his performances against Silva, many people still regard them as flukes. We all know the story now; in the first fight Silva got caught dancing a jig and in the second he broke his leg off of a checked kick. Now, in both cases Weidman had to be good enough to take advantage of SIlva but that doesn't seem to register with many fans. In his fight with Machida, Weidman tested his stand-up against one of the trickiest fighters in the UFC. He also went all 25 minutes, which he'd never done before. He absorbed some pretty hard shots late in the fight and persevered. What more can you ask for? Machida, despite the fact that many of his fights aren't fun, is one of the best in the world and Weidman definitively bested him 4 rounds out of 5. There was no flukey victory here or even a flash KO. He proved he was the champ, 'nuff said.
Thanks for everything, Baby Jay.
2.) After a third defeat at the hands of Frankie Edgar, BJ Penn choosing to retire was the only choice that made sense.
Mark Radulich:FACT Samer Kadi, Larry Csonka, and I all said this was a terrible idea when it was announced last September. We were proven right (seriously, go listen to the podcast). BJ Penn looked terrible against Nick Diaz, he looked worse against Rory MacDonald and he should have stayed retired. Dropping to 145 wasn't going to suddenly make him younger and better suited to fight Frankie Edgar. Much like Rich Franklin and Chuck Liddell, it's time for BJ Penn to take his place amongst the old guard elite and ride off into the sunset.
Evan Zivin:FACT You want us to decide what makes sense as far as BJ Penn's career goes? How about retiring after the Rory MacDonald fight. That would have made sense. I don't think anybody thought the idea of BJ returning to fight Frankie Edgar one last time was a wise one. I get that it was hard for him to stay away. BJ is a fighter at heart and he's going to keep trying to compete until he's convinced he can't do it anymore. Well, hopefully Sunday convinced him. Hopefully it gave him the closure he needed on his career and the realization that, at least as far as competing at a high level goes, he's done. If the fight we saw on Sunday is the kind of fight he's got left in him, then he needs to stop. As a big fan of BJ (also, the fighter), it was hard to watch that fight. That was one of the worst beatings he's ever received and, considering what Rory and Nick Diaz did to him in their fights, that is saying something. I don't want to see BJ in another fight like that and I don't think anyone else does either. BJ, I know it's hard to walk away but, unless you want the rest of your career to play out like your old rival Jens Pulver's did, it's time to stop. For your family, for your health, for your fans. Take it easy. You've earned the right to. We'll see you again when you get inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, Baby Jay.
Will the Rowdy One's time off hurt WMMA?
3.) With Ronda Rousey's absolute dominance over the women's bantamweight division and her standing as the de facto face of women's MMA, the women's side of the sport will suffer while she misses time due to knee surgery.
Evan Zivin:FICTION It's hard to say right now because we don't know how long the surgery will take her out for. The news sites are describing it as a "minor knee surgery" so it could mean she's back and training a few weeks after, keeping her on schedule to fight at least one more time this year. Now, if this question is alluding to the bigger question of if women's MMA will struggle without Rousey, then of course it will. She's the biggest women's star MMA has ever had and her star is still rising. She's scoring massive victories inside the Octagon and she's about to score a massive victory at the box office with The Expendables 3 coming out next month. Yeah, the title fights might be more competitive without her but there's no one else in the division who can draw attention the way Ronda can. She's got that polarizing kind of charisma that can turn anyone into a star and she has the skills to back up anything she says. Women's MMA can definitely survive without Ronda, and it will only help once the strawweight division is introduced and its first champion is crowned, but women's MMA does need Ronda. It needs her a lot more than she needs it. Either way, I expect her to be fighting again before the end of year so this shouldn't be much of an issue moving forward. Well, for now, at least.
Mark Radulich:FICTION Don't get me wrong, I love me some Ronda Rousey. Not since Brock Lesnar have I been so excited to see someone fight. The look in her eyes is just psychotic before a fight and she takes it to her opponent like an absolute animal. That said, the division needs time to catch up to her and make new contenders so her being out for a bit is an actual benefit to the division. With her on the back burner the UFC has some time to work things out with Holly Holm, Cat Zingano has time to remind the world who she is, and others have an opportunity to make a name for themselves. Let Rousey take some time off and the bantamweight division will be better off for it.
Nothing but respect for fighting on that foot, though.
4.) Uriah Hall is easily the most disappointing fighter to not win TUF and still get brought directly into the UFC.
Mark Radulich:FACT I don't always agree with Dana White and his propensity for hyperbole but in the case of Uriah Hall I couldn't agree more. The guy doesn't have a mind for fighting. He has natural skill and there's certainly potential but some guys just don't have it upstairs. Hall seems to be missing that killer instinct and aggression one needs to be competitive at the higher echelon of MMA. If the UFC weren't in a position where they needed cheap bodies, he'd be gone by now.
Evan Zivin:FICTION Wyatt's going a little overboard on this one, I see. I get what he means, though. Is Uriah Hall one of the most disappointing fighters to compete in the UFC after losing on TUF? Obviously. The show made him look like a killer and he's been doing nothing but laying eggs since then. There have been plenty of guys who got contracts after losing TUF, but most of them weren't expected to amount to much. Hall looked like he had unlimited potential but the only thing about him that's unlimited is his ability to underperform. Now, is he THE MOST disappointing? That's hard to say but I can think of at least one TUF loser who is at least as disappointing, if not more disappointing, than Uriah: Phillipe Nover. Remember him? No? Exactly. He was the lightweight runner-up of Season 8 who Dana White was calling the next George St-Pierre. After the show, he lost three straight fights to relative nobodies and got canned. At least Uriah can say he's won a UFC fight. He's won two so far, so it's safe to say that, as disappointing as he's been, he could be doing a lot worse.
Is Newell's arm a detriment or is Gaethje just that good?
5.) Nick Newell's loss at WSOF 11 on Saturday was more because of just how good WSOF Lightweight Champion Justin Gaethje is than Newell's inability to fight at the highest level as a one-armed fighter.
Evan Zivin:FACT I take absolutely nothing away from Nick Newell after his performance on Saturday. Newell is a really good fighter who has accomplished a lot in spite of his physical limitations. He came into the Gaethje fight with an 11-0 record and 10 finishes, all in the first round. The level of competition he faced to compile that record may not have been the greatest, sure, but he was doing what good fighters should against those kinds of fighters: win in quick, dominant fashion. None of those fighters were anywhere as good as Gaethje but you aren't going to find too many fighters like him outside the UFC. He's one of the best talents WSOF has been able to find and he's been tremendous as their Lightweight Champion so far. It would definitely help to see Newell fight a similar level of fighter next to see if he truly can compete at that level, but I attribute the fight on Saturday more to what Gaethje did than what Newell didn't.
Mark Radulich:FACT Jesus, it's his first loss in 12 fights; give the guy a break. Of course it was a matter of how good Gaethje is. Newell cut through his previous opponents like a hot knife through butter and only now has run into resistance. It won't be the last but I also suspect Newell will come back harder and greater and eventually win a belt in either the WSOF or Bellator.
So who won? Did return to the win column after dropping a tough decision to Todd Vote the last time out, or did Evan pick up his first post-tournament win? You've got until midnight eastern on Saturday to vote, so make sure you make your voice heard!
Should the UFC steer Struve toward retirement?
Bonus) Between his bicuspid aortic valve and a fainting spell this past Saturday night, the UFC would be wise to recommend retirement for Stefan Struve.
Mark Radulich:FACT The last thing the UFC needs is Struve dropping dead in the middle of the cage and then Nancy Grace saying it was steroids and horse tranquilizers. Struve has some mental health work to do and at some point, fighting just isn't worth it. They'd be wise to cut him loose and he'd be wise to work on himself for the next year or so.
Evan Zivin:FACT UFC may have to, but I'd like to hear more from Struve's and UFC's doctors before saying he should retire, which I hate doing. I hate saying a fighter should retire. It's not my place to say when anyone should step away from what they love. Part of the issue with Struve that complicates matters is what caused him to faint and whether it could be a regular occurrence. I think they need to get Struve another fight, heavily monitor his vitals through his camp and in the lead-up to the fight, see how he's doing, and then make a determination based off that. If fainting is something that has a strong chance of happening every time he fights, then yeah, he may have to think about retiring (or the UFC may have to make that choice for him). I hope that doesn't happen. Struve is still improving as a fighter so it'd be a real shame to see him walk away before finding out what he's truly capable of inside the Octagon. Let's wait and see what happens here and if UFC tries to book Struve in another fight. I'm sure Mitrione can wait, especially if he gets paid no matter whether the fight happens or not.
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!