Twitter Mailbag: Cormier's future, Weidman's rough streak, best fights from pre-2012 MMA – MMAjunkie.com


In this week’s Twitter Mailbag, does the UFC light heavyweight champ have everything to lose and very little to gain at UFC 210? Should judges be forced to explain their scores? If you were sick and only wanted to watch fights from before 2012, what should you look up?

All that and more in this TMB. To ask a question of your own for next week, tweet to @BenFowlkesMMA.

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It’s true that Daniel Cormier has a lot more to lose than gain here. He could lose the UFC light heavyweight title, for one. It’s currently his, at least as much as it can be without a win over Jon Jones, and it won’t become any more his with a second win over Anthony Johnson.

So what happens if he messes around and gets himself knocked out in Saturday’s UFC 210 pay-per-view headliner? The good news is, Cormier has options. He’s fought at heavyweight before, and did well there, so he could conceivably switch weight classes if he had to. In that division, 38 doesn’t even seem so old.

But he could also stick around at light heavyweight, where the talent is deep in the top five but then falls off a cliff after that. His personal history with Jones would probably be enough to get him another title shot eventually, even with a loss to “Rumble.” And if by some miracle Johnson stays champion for the foreseeable future, hey, Cormier is 1-1 against him, and who doesn’t love a rubber match?

Then he’ll have lost three in a row, beginning with the first loss of his pro career, which also happened to be the loss that cost him the UFC middleweight title. If that wouldn’t constitute the sharpest decline in MMA history, it would at least be in the conversation.

At the same time, look at the current state of the UFC’s middleweight class. Look at who Chris Weidman has lost to. You’ve got Luke Rockhold, a former Strikeforce champ who’s beaten some of the best 185-pounders out there. You’ve got Yoel Romero, a terrifying force of sudden violence. And now he’s up against Gegard Mousasi, another former Strikeforce champ with a nice winning streak going.

A loss to anyone in that trio isn’t proof that you suck. It just looks a lot worse when they come all in a row, though that might say more about the depth of the division than about Weidman’s abilities. Not that that will be much solace for him if he can’t turn things around on Saturday.

Let me answer that question with a question of my own, and one that tells you everything you need to know about these interim titles the UFC loves to invent: What difference would it make? Seriously, name one thing that would be different if the answer was yes as opposed to no.

Would it radically alter Jones’ chances of finding himself in a UFC title fight upon his return from suspension? Nope. Would it change the way fans think of him, whether they regard him as the greatest light heavyweight alive or simply as a spoiled screw-up? Probably not. Would it affect anyone else’s ability to fight for a UFC light heavyweight title, whether actual or interim, in the meantime? Not at all.

It literally does not matter whether Jones is still the UFC interim light heavyweight champ, in large part because interim titles do not matter. They are made up, even more so than most title. They are a fiction represented by gold and leather. They’re an empty promotional tool.

If that’s not a good enough answer, fine, here’s the real one: Jones was stripped of that belt after his failed drug test before UFC 200, making him the first UFC champ to get stripped twice by the organization. So I guess I stand corrected. There’s one way those interim belts matter. They helped Jones make history, though not the good kind.

You know, I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, especially after the story I wrote on Wilfredo Santiago. For those unaware, Dan McGuane was a fighter whose conviction for involuntary manslaughter became a hot topic when he got signed by Bellator in 2012. A website called BanDanMcGuane.com sprang up, detailing McGuane’s crime and calling for him to be cut by Bellator and essentially run out of MMA altogether. It worked. Bellator released him without giving him a fight, and McGuane basically gave up all hope of an MMA career after that.

At the time, I could see the logic behind pushing someone with that type of criminal history out of the sport. I still can, to some extent. In his hometown, McGuane was known for causing trouble with his fists, to the point where many regarded him as a bully. He killed a 19-year-old man named Kelly Proctor, and his family is still dealing with the pain of that loss.

McGuane served his time and paid his debt to society in that sense, but does that mean he’s owed a fight career? Fighting professionally isn’t exactly an inalienable right. If it turns out that this is the one thing you absolutely can’t do for a living after you’ve been convicted of beating someone to death, would that really be such an unbearable restriction on your freedom?

I still see that point of view, but I also see Santiago’s. He was born into a bad situation, where crime and violence were normal parts of life. He was a minor when he committed his crime, but kept paying for it well into adulthood. MMA seems to have been a positive force for him, something that’s helped him turn his life around and in turn inspire others who find themselves in similar situations. How can that not be a good thing?

The UFC usually emails copies of the final scorecards to reporters after just about every fight. Those don’t tell you much about the reasoning behind the numbers, and I’m not sure it’s practical to ask for quick little essays to go with each 10 or 9 between rounds.

What would be doable is to announce the scores during the fight like between every round or even just prior to the start of the last round. Boxing does it in some places, which really just reminds you how bizarre it is for MMA to be one of the only sports where no one has any way of knowing what the score is until the winner is announced.

A knowledge of the current score changes strategies on both sides. I’m not saying those changes would be uniformly positive, but at least they’d be fair.

Supplement companies get sued not infrequently, sometimes by private law firms, other times by government agencies. Cyclists who’ve tested positive due to what they claim were contaminated supplements have sued the manufacturers. It’s absolutely feasible for fighters to do the same thing.

Then again, it would also be feasible for fighters to legally challenge some of the more restrictive clauses of standard MMA contracts, but they don’t usually make it that far into the process. The legal system moves slowly on stuff like that, and it’s costly. Fighters have limited time and resources. How much do they really want to invest in suing some supplement maker? It might take just the right fighter under just the right circumstances for us to find out.

Oh man, not a C. diff infection. I definitely know what that is and am absolutely not lying about that right now. But if you want to fire up the UFC Fight Pass and go way back to the pre-2012 era, [*cracks knuckles*] I have some recommendations, presented here in no particular order, with the singular goal of entertaining you, and completely disregarding your request for a top 10 list:

–The entire PRIDE 2005 Grand Prix. They called this a middleweight tournament, but it’s the weight class we’ve come to know as light heavyweight, and this thing had some great ones. I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it, but does one MMA legend soccer kick another? Yes. Does a series of knees on the ground force all types of blood to come out of another legend’s head? Also yes. It’s a good time.

– Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg II. This is the fight I used to convince my dad that MMA was worth watching. He still brings it up. “Remember when that farm boy picked that other boy up and walked across the cage with him?” Yes I do, Dad. Yes I do.

– Tito Ortiz vs. Frank Shamrock. First of all, you won’t believe how young Ortiz was once. Second, this was one of the first fights where you could see the elements of modern MMA taking shape. It wasn’t just style vs. style. It was a new art form in itself, and it was awesome.

– Wanderlei Silva vs. Quinton Jackson II. Just … just take my word on this one.

– Randy Couture vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Maybe it’s just because I was there and I got to see these two old-timers bring the house down in Portland, but man, was this ever a lot of fun.

– Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Bob Sapp. Utterly ridiculous.

– Nick Diaz vs. Takanori Gomi. I don’t care if you’ve seen it before. I don’t care if the result got overturned. Just shut your mouth and watch it, OK?

I know a lot of people will say Anderson Silva’s gnarly broken leg (though the late Corey Hill probably suffered more long-term effects from a nearly identical injury), but I can’t seem to forget the time Evangelista Santos got his skull caved in by Michael Page’s jumping knee. The sound it made will live forever in my nightmare. The images afterward are no picnic either.

As far as injuries that don’t seem outwardly terrible, after writing a story on the after-effects of a broken jaw, I gained a real appreciation for how psychologically taxing that can be. Not that I wanted to break my jaw before that, but now I would really rather not experience it.

To answer the second question first, no, they won’t. To answer the first question second, what cross-promotional fight seems like it’s screaming to be made?

It was one thing when the UFC and PRIDE both had great heavyweights and light heavyweights who had never fought each other, but most of Bellator’s biggest names have been around the block enough that we pretty much know how they’d do against various opponents in the UFC. At least for now, Bellator vs. the UFC is a question in no immediate need of an answer.

First I’m looking forward to seeing if Thiago Alves makes weight. Then I’ll start looking forward to his fight with Patrick Cote on the UFC 210 undercard. That thing has slugfest written all over it, and I’ve got my popcorn ready.

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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