What should the UFC do now with both the winner and the loser of the UFC 229 main event? And how on earth did we arrive at this choice of heavyweight title fight for UFC 230?
All that and more in this week’s Twitter Mailbag. To ask a question of your own, tweet to @BenFowlkesMMA.
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No, I do not accept the premise of your question. I will not start from a position of assuming that an immediate rematch between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor is an inevitability. I … I just can’t.
Why? Because the fight wasn’t the least bit competitive. It was a straight-up mauling. The result was clear and unambiguous. There’s no good reason to think it wouldn’t be exactly the same if they did it again in six months. Plus, you can’t convince me that we’d even be discussing this if McGregor had won.
This division has been held up too long. We went nearly two years between lightweight title fights worthy of the name. You want to know what Tony Ferguson should do next? He should fight Nurmagomedov for the lightweight title. End of story.
Look, there’s a reason the UFC has not adopted any kind of clear, formalized code of conduct that applies evenly to all its fighters, and it’s not because it just hasn’t gotten around to it. UFC management wants the freedom and the flexibility to get suddenly tough on minor figures while keeping the cash cows in circulation no matter what they do.
Is the unfairness of it obvious? Of course. Jason High got banned from the UFC for lightly shoving a ref away from him immediately after getting TKOd. UFC President Dana White admitted that he hadn’t even seen it when he made the decision to cut High. Meanwhile, McGregor can throw a hand truck through a UFC bus window and Nurmagomedov can start a brawl on the arena floor and it’s not grounds for termination.
The UFC likes it this way. It’s not going to change it of its own volition. If that change ever happens, it would have to come from the outside.
Maybe it’s because he spent most of the first round glued to the mat. Trying to fend off takedowns and then trying to keep from getting your head beat in when you get taken down anyway, that can take a lot of the pop out of your punches.
And when you look at McGregor’s resume, you don’t see a whole lot of late TKO victories. Based on the way Nurmagomedov spent the first round trying to control McGregor, not really opening up with ground-and-pound until later, seems like maybe he knew that.
I think it’s still too early for that. He’s got a ton of wins on his record (and zero losses), but what he doesn’t have is a ton of impressive names. McGregor and Rafael dos Anjos are by far his two biggest victories. And while those are both big ones, I’m not sure that puts him ahead of someone like B.J. Penn, at least when you compare what their victories meant in the context of the division at the time.
You know what could change my mind, though? A win over “El Cucuy” next.
I wrote a little bit about it yesterday, but mostly I’m stunned that it came down to a late scramble for a main event less than a month out.
Remember when the UFC in Madison Square Garden was just a distant dream? I do. I even remember getting sick of hearing these constant updates about the battle to get MMA sanctioned in New York. I also remember seeing the UFC’s projections for all the extra money it could earn from events in the New York market.
But now here we are, just a couple years after the UFC finally broke into New York, and an event at MSG gets treated almost like an afterthought. Like, hey, don’t worry, we’ll think of something. And when the original something was so uninspiring that even UFC commentators were publicly scratching their heads at it, then it’s a scramble to think of something else.
Maybe it’s just a study in how quickly you can learn to take something for granted. Even after you spent years chasing it.
I don’t hate this idea one bit. I also wouldn’t hate on a trilogy fight with Nate Diaz, now that neither one of them is standing in the way of a division’s progression. I could even get talked into a Georges St-Pierre fight, though I feel a little weird about admitting that.
Just, please, anything but an immediate rematch with Nurmagomedov. That’s the only way to go wrong here. And now I’m convinced that’s what’s actually going to happen …
Seems like you’re trying to bait me into admitting that it would be fun to watch Derrick Lewis post months’ worth of Brock Lesnar memes on Instagram, which, yeah, of course it would. And, with the way this fight came about, it’s hard not to root for Lewis, who’s such an underdog even he didn’t think he deserved a heavyweight title shot.
But for a little insight, witness Lewis’ comments to MMAjunkie Radio, wherein he accidentally stumbled onto exactly what the UFC is thinking with this match-up.
“If they’re still trying to make the Brock thing work, what sense does it make for me to fight ‘DC’ before he fights Brock,” Lewis said. “Unless they for sure think that ‘DC’ is going to beat me?”
Yep, that’s it. That’s what they think, Derrick. And the MMA gods sometimes have a way of punishing people who think like that. Such divine intervention might even be his best hope against Daniel Cormier.
The fact that Anthony Pettis didn’t beg Duke Roufus to let him keep fighting tells you it was the right move. He couldn’t do much with his right hand and he was taking a beating as the second round drew to a close. If anybody could look at Pettis and tell that he wasn’t himself, it’s Roufus, who’s been in his corner the whole way.
We do enough complaining when corners won’t stop fights. We should also offer some praise when they do.
Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMAjunkie.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Twitter Mailbag: The case against an immediate Khabib vs. McGregor rematch