Welcome to the MMA Roundtable!
Sorry for the day delay, but hopefully the quality will make up for it. This week Roni, Collin and David talk Mark Hunt, lack of 265ers and UFC 178! Enjoy!
1. Is Mark Hunt a viable contender, or is this a making of just a wafer-thin division?
Collin: Mark Hunt is a viable contender, and it is somewhat the product of the eternally thin heavyweight division. For some reason somewhere along the line people decided that Mark Hunt was some kind of a joke, but the reality is that he is one of the best strikers in the division. He is a K-1 World Gran Prix champion, the most prestigious title in all of kickboxing. Beyond that, his style translates to MMA better than most K-1 stars. He is always one of the toughest outs in the division, especially now that his takedown defense has improved so radically. He is a huge guy with a granite chin that hits like a coal train and moves like a middleweight. His submission game has lacked in the past, but the reality is that he is one of the best in the world if he can stay vertical, and it is proving pretty tough to get the massive Samoan on his back these days.
David: I think he is still a solid gatekeeper. He’s still the same fighter, he’s now just putting together better gameplans and showing an improved takedown defense against non-wrestlers.
Roni: Not yet.
He is 1-1-1 in his last 3 fights, and would need to beat up a top 4 to get there.
2. If you were Dana White, what would you do to bulk up the division?
Collin: I don’t think there is much he can do. There simply isn’t a ton of heavyweight talent out there right now. Cain x Werdum is probably the best title fight in years in that division, as far as skill level of both competitors. I still think that the best way to build stars is with a high profile tournament, but the UFC barely is getting these guys 2 fights a year at this point, so that is out of the question. Maybe what they should do is just not sign the guys who are clearly not top talent. When you see the way some of these guys move, it is ovbiosu they have no future in the UFC. The heavyweight fights that bring up these questions are never guys like Barnett, Arlovski, Overeem, Browne, JDS, or Hunt; its always the like of Ruan Potts, Chris Tuchserer, Walt Harris and Derrick Lewis who leave people going “Boy, HW is getting pretty thin…” If you ever saw those guys out of the UFC, you know who terrible they really are, the real question is why are they getting signed?
David: I think they need to sign some one-off fighters and put them on the undercard. Just pull a Bellator, find 4 locals, and slap them on FIght Pass. Every now and again, there may be a guy the impresses.
Roni: They need to make a better effort to find HW fighters around the world. I am sure there are prospects around the globe fighting on local circuits they can take & build them up.
They can also try to entice fighters from other Martial arts (i.e. Judo fighters, boxers, etc).
The can also do another TUF Heavyweight division.It did give them Schaub, Roy and Mitrione, didn’t it? OK, maybe not great examples, but it is better than nothing! 🙂
Collin: At this point I hope not. I have no great desire to see post-TRT Vitor crucified as a punishment for a failed drug test. TRT Vitor earned the shot, and he doesn’t exist anymore. Not to knock him, as Vitor is one of my all time favorites, but is anyone really excited about this fight anymore?
David: I don’t think so. The way Vitor is deflating, he might be getting a title shot against Jose Aldo. Vitor is getting older and he needs to fight. Weidman has had to pull out from a fight twice this year. Can it still happen? Sure. But I’m starting to get concerned.
Roni: Who knows? More time for Vitor to be randomly tested; more time without TRT. Looking at the other guys who were under TRT, if it takes too long, Vitor might have to move to WW 🙂
Collin: There are indeed many other fights that have me more excited than the title fight/main event. Cerrone x Alvarez is probably number 1 on my list, as this is one of the coolest matchups of the year at 155. Anytime Cowboy or Eddie is in there I will be excited, and that excitement gets squared when they fight each other. Howard x Ebersole is higher on my list as well. Brian Ebersole is one of my absolute favorite fighters to watch, and the cool stylistic clash between him and “Doomsday” Howard is sure to be something I care more about than some paper thin division. DJ might be the best fighter in the world, but I’m sorry to say that no one will care about him until we have some idea who these guys he’s fighting are.
David: It’s barely 5th on my list.
The Dustin/Conor fight is the fight I am most excited about, and to be honest- I’d be thrilled if Dana came out and said this was the UFCs first 15 round fight. I hate this fight, as I love both guys. Next up is Cowboy vs Eddie. Alvarez has been waiting forever to get the top 155 spot in the world, and now its put up or shutup time. If he pulls a Lombard, then Bellator looks like poo and I don’t think they can recover in the eyes of many as a contender in cage for the UFC. Cowboy is as dangerous as it gets for a first time fighter. If Eddie barely wins, then he’s looking at guys like Diego to try and get that title shot, if he impresses, we might finally get that Second-Tier 155-Title Unification Fight that we never got. Third is Kennedy/Romero this could steal the show if Conor puts Dustin to sleep or his takedown defense is as bad as some think it is. Fourth is Cruz/Mizugaki Cruz hasn’t fought since UFC 8, it seems, and The Miz isn’t exactly a pushover, and I expect him to push the pace and test those wheels.Number 5 is the title fight, since I expect Mighty Mouse to win in a walk, but lets face it, Mighty Mouse has thrown 187 punches since I started writing this answer.
Roni: I love this card. Every fight looks good to me. But let me build the crescendo like you did:
5) Zingano & Nunes. Cat was supposed to fight Ronda. I am looking forward to this fight, because Ronda lacks someone dominant, and Cat could be it. (I just hope she trained how to avoid armbar while she was out) 🙂
4) Johnson & Cariaso. I don’t think Chris can beat Johnson, but I do like to see a fight in slow motion just to be able to see what happened 🙂
3) Above that, it has to be Poirier & McGOAT. Not much because of title implications, but expectations are so high for Conor, that this becomes a high-profile fight just because of it.
2) Next on my list, it is Cerrone & Alvarez. I want to see if Alvarez is as good as people claim him to be. It will make him or break him in the UFC, and I expect him to act as such. Because on purpose or not, the way he fought with Bellator, then the concussion right before his third fight against Chandler looks very fishy to me. So now he needs to prove he belongs, or he will fall in disgrace, as a journeyman who “could have been” the reigning champ in Bellator. Say what you will, but he’d be making much more as Bellator champion than as a journeyman in the UFC.
1) On top of my list, it has to be Dominick Cruz. He’s finally back, and I want to see if he is still the same. If he is, I am looking forward for the top 4 fighting each other (TJ, Barao, Cruz and Faber – hey! It’s a grudge match!!!)
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