A lot of things happened this past week, and coincidentally, many of them revolved around the featherweight division. So let’s discuss Patricio Pitbull, Max Holloway vs. Frankie Edgar, Jose Aldo, Conor McGregor, and just what to do with B.J. Penn and Anderson Silva.
It’s very possible that Patricio Freire is the most underrated fighter competing in MMA today. Freire only has four losses in MMA, three of them avenged and the other one after suffering an injury in a fight he was winning against the former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson. Now with his win on Saturday over Michael Chandler to become Bellator’s second ever champ-champ, the younger Pitbull may finally start to get the wider shine he deserves. (Also, on replay, the win shouldn’t be “controversial”. Chandler was definitely out at one point.)
But where he ranks on the pound-for-pound list is a much more complicated discussion. Though Pitbull’s record is sterling, the wins dotting it are not as good many of the single-division champions in the UFC. That’s not to say Pitbull would not excel under the UFC banner. He certainly would though I have my doubts that he would unseat Max Holloway from his featherweight throne. In his favor though is the fact that Pitbull could be competing as low as 135 and just knocked out a top-10 lightweight. All things considered, I don’t think you can put him above most of the fighters currently in the UFC’s top-15 P4P rankings (though those are not great) but I’d say he’s certainly a top-20 P4P fighter based on his resume.
Did the UFC plan on Aldo beating Volk to make them gifting Edgar a title shot less controversial?
— Leftwords_ (@leftwords_) May 14, 2019
UFC 240 is coming here to Edmonton with Edgar vs Holloway. Is this the right fight to make, and will you make the trek north for it?
— Chris Poole (@MapleBacon88) May 14, 2019
I think it’s fair to say that the UFC was planning to book Holloway vs. Edgar next anyway but I don’t think they were banking on an Aldo win to make that happen. That was the beauty of the Alexander Volkanovski fight: a win for Volkanovski sets up a contender but a loss doesn’t knock one off because they already had a plan in place.
As for whether that plan is the right one, I think it is. Yes, Volkanovski has done enough to warrant a title shot but his shot isn’t going anywhere. And as much as this narrative of “best featherweight ever” has arisen around Max, he still doesn’t actually have many title defenses. The Edgar fight lets Max defend his belt against an established name and gives Frankie one last title fight. Volkanovski can sit out and wait for the winner of UFC 240, and the UFC can even fly him to Edmonton to sit cageside for the event and build the fight between him and the winner.
Is it finally time to run back Conor McGregor vs. Jose Aldo? This time at lightweight. #HotTweets
— Mike J. Bautista (@MikeJBknows) May 14, 2019
As with all McGregor questions, it depends on what the hell he is planning on doing. Assuming Conor does intend to fight again (a safe assumption I think) there are only a handful of fights that make any sense for him at the moment. But with Donald Cerrone and Nate Diaz set with dance partners, the only fights left that would make sense are either an Aldo rematch or Justin Gaethje. My sense is that the Aldo rematch never happens — Conor has much less to gain. But a Gaethje fight is possible and we should all be hoping for it. Conor and Gaethje are two of the most exciting fighters ever and a fight between them is guaranteed to be a Fight of the Year contender.
As for Aldo, there aren’t many options left. After losing the belt to Max, Aldo should’ve moved up to lightweight but his insistence on not doing so limited his choices and with Volkanovski beating him soundly, his featherweight title aspirations are done. The only thing to do with Aldo are interesting superfights, but if he still doesn’t want to jump to lightweight there aren’t even that many good ones available. You can do a Brian Ortega fight and that’s fine, but it doesn’t feel right. The only fight (outside of Conor) that gets the juices flowing is a Dominick Cruz superfight.
But really what needs to happen with Aldo is a release from the UFC. In all of MMA, Jose Aldo vs. Patricio Pitbull is one of the best fights that can be made right now and would do gangbusters in Rio.
Will Conor headline the first Zuffa boxing event? Outside espn deal so gets PPV, can headline even though not champ, brings eyes, if he looses then optics not as damaging to value as getting choked.
— Matthew Stockton (@Monkey_King567) May 16, 2019
Ooooooo. I hadn’t thought of that and it does make a good deal of sense in a roundabout fashion.
I’ve remained of the opinion that Conor would always return to boxing at least once more and this would be the cleanest way to do it. If Dana White is serious about doing Zuffa boxing, and he maintains that he is, I’m not sure how they wouldn’t at least consider having their first event be Conor vs. Paulie Malignaggi. Bare Knuckle FC, a promotion with significantly less resources, is about to draft off of the drama of that beef to great success. That’s basically a free build up for Zuffa boxing to swoop in and deliver the one boxing fight that the general public would be super interested to see McGregor in.
Best next move for BJ Penn, and Anderson Silva. Should these two legends hang up the gloves, or start smashing tomato cans in Japan?
— Chris Poole (@MapleBacon88) May 16, 2019
It’s essentially impossible to tell fighters when to retire from MMA. Hell, we just saw Chuck Liddell come back after nearly a decade gone from the sport. But the major promotions certainly can refuse to book them and we are definitely at that point with B.J. Penn, and, to a lesser extent, Anderson Silva.
B.J. has lost seven in a row and despite the fact that he looked better than he has in years in his last fight, for the UFC to continue to book him would be promotional malpractice. No, he’s not getting knocked out cold, but neither did Ali. Repeated, subconcussive brain trauma is incredibly bad for your health. To allow Penn (or Anderson) to continue taking that trauma is a dereliction of duty. Sure, someone else will hire them *cough* Bellator *cough*, but the UFC doesn’t have to be involved in that game any longer.
That being said, I still want to see Anderson vs. Robbie Lawler.
Does Marlon beating Henry save the 25’ers?
— SenseiThePitbull (@Sensei_Pitbull) May 16, 2019
Nope. Maybe it delays the extinction, but the UFC is actively cutting ranked fighters. 125 is getting shuttered one way or another. It’s just a matter of how long it takes.
Hypothetically, if all MMA promotions across the world came together to put on a fight card for just one night—how many commentators would you put in the booth and who would they be? Being alive is the only requirement.
— Brandon Worley (@KroganFury) May 14, 2019
This is easy. Regardless of how many promotions are involved, no booth should have more than three commentators. Any more and they start talking over each other. Anik is definitely the play-by-play man, and for color we’re going with Mauro Ranallo; I think his bombast would pair well with Anik as the straight man. And for our third man in the booth, there can be no other choice besides Brian Stann. Stann was the best commentator in MMA when he retired so for this one-time event, we’re opening the checkbook to bring him back for a specialty showcase.
That was easy. Much more interesting would be what would this hypothetical fight card look like? Here’s my take:
And if I’m running the show, all of those are five-rounders. Sure the card will last for 12 hours but I would watch every damn minute of it and pay $500 for the PPV.
Thanks for reading this week. If you have any burning questions about the latest in MMA, you can send your Hot Tweets to me, @JedKMeshew. The best ones will be featured here next week.