The SevereMMA Q and A

Mcgregor Jones Anderson Weidman

In an unusual turn of events, the UFC doesn’t have an event this weekend. So, it seems like a good time to step back and take a look at the state of MMA. I put out the call to the great people of Twitter for what they would like to talk about and they replied in their droves. Thanks for all the questions and if you want to discuss things further hit me up on Twitter or leave a reply in the comments section below and I’ll make sure to get back to you.

Generally, I’m against new weight divisions. We don’t want a situation in MMA, like in boxing, where every 3 lbs there’s a new belt and nobody knows who the champion is. But if I was forced, I’d implement a 162 lbs light-welterweight division between probably the two strongest and most filled divisions in the UFC, lightweight and welterweight. Guys like Gunnar Nelson, Benson Henderson, Donald Cerrone, Carlos Condit and more would be perfect for it and immediately make the division strong. After that, the women’s 105 lbs division is almost a certainty down the line with Limerick’s best prospect Catherine Costigan one of the best rising stars in the division currently topped by Michelle Waterson.

 


 

Heavyweight – Junior Dos Santos
Light Heavyweight – Jon Jones (Cormier is the best)
Middleweight – Yoel Romero
Welterweight – Johny Hendricks (Rory MacDonald is the best)
Lightweight – Anthony Pettis (Khabib Nurmagomedov is the best)
Featherweight – Conor McGregor
Bantamweight – Dominick Cruz
Flyweight – Joseph Benavidez
Women’s Bantamweight – Sara McMann


Since Conor McGregor’s name was mentioned around the UFC, wrestling has been brought up as a possible Achilles heel. And so far, it hasn’t been an issue and we don’t know if it will be until a world class wrestler tries to take him down in competition. What we do know is this. McGregor trains wrestling. It’s not like he has been throwing wheel kicks and hitting pads primarily for the last 7 years. He was recently pictured in Las Vegas with his wrestling coach Sergey Pikulskiy, a former 7 year veteran of the Moldovan nation wrestling team, who works in SBG. We also know that his teammate Cathal Pendred, who he trains with day in and day out, is arguably the best wrestler in the UK and Ireland. MMA fans will also recognise that McGregor’s low hands style of striking is helpful when defending takedowns as it’s quicker and easier to get the underhooks and raise your opponent from that position – something which McGregor has done in his fights for years. But, as I said, until he is faced with a world class wrestler we don’t know how he’ll cope. For the doubters, you won’t have to wait too long to get your answer.


It’s really between two – Paul Redmond and Joseph Duffy. If you would have asked me six months ago I would have said Redser is a certainty but due to his injuries/inactivity and Duffy’s extremely impressive return to the cage it’s now pretty much neck and neck. If I was pushed, though, I’d say Redmond. Duffy is clearly a huge talent but after only two fights back in the sport it may be a little soon. Redmond on the other hand has shown great improvements of late and another win on New Years Eve at Cage Warriors in Dublin could seal the deal. And, with both Paul Redmond and Joseph Duffy on the brink of a UFC call and are both possible fighters on that New Years Eve Cage Warriors card – why not match them up? Redmond has long been touted as the next guy to follow the likes of Norman Parke and Conor McGregor into the UFC and if he could get a win over the man who beat both of them it would look extremely good for him. That aside, it would be a wonderful fight and an absolute blockbuster in front of the Dublin crowd.


In my opinion, over the last three years Cage Warriors has been the second best MMA promotion in the world. Now maybe they don’t have the biggest names at the top challenging for belts but what they do have is an unbelievable amount of talent production as well as a well run and broadcast product. More so than Bellator, WSOF, Titan or anywhere outside of the UFC. The problem is, rumours have been circulating about CWFC removing the UFC clause in their contracts which would stop fighters from leaving if the UFC came calling. That’s bad for fighters who have dreams of one day fighting on the biggest stage and bad for the promotion because it will stop those fighters from wanting to sign exclusive contracts with them. What has made Cage Warriors so great over the last few years is its ability to act as a revolving door. Not just people going out, but new, quality people coming in as well. They had McGregor, then Pendred, then Alers, then Seery, then Ray, then Duffy and the list goes on. They thrive when building stars up and when those people good enough to go to the UFC there is another bunch right behind to fill the void. And, without a shadow of a doubt, they’ve proven they can do that over and over again. If they struggle to get the talent to sign, though, what they have now is what they will have to use for the foreseeable future.



At the moment, British MMA is probably at an all-time low. Michael Bisping had a smashing career but is maybe five fights from the end and won’t ever fight for the UFC title. The same exact thing could be said for Brad Pickett. Ross Pearson is a good fighter too but he probably won’t ever get to a title shot either while Jimi Manuwa is getting on in age but is still in there with a chance of climbing the ranks. Then you have the really exciting Michael “Venom” Page and Liam McGeary but, unfortunately for them, they are in Bellator and will pick up no steam this side of the pond. Joanne Calderwood from Scotland is probably the best fighter in the UK today and will likely challenge for (or win) the UFC title in the next year. Ireland is the exact opposite. This is undoubtedly the best time for Irish MMA ever. Conor McGregor is a certainty to fight for a title soon while Seery has the power to have an Indian summer to his career and Pendred/Holohan are constantly improving


In the current MMA climate in America, is anyone a draw? The extended schedule, the economy, the lack of stars, the low ebb of the sport and the easily available illegal streams all combine to lower the average buy-rate of PPVs. For someone to break out of that you must get the perfect storm. After Cormier’s brawl with Jon Jones earlier this year, their fight on January 3rd is expected to be a blockbuster and draw from anywhere in the region of 500,000 buys to over a million. If Cormier wins and a rematch is made it will probably be another huge fight. To me, if he can stay injury free which has curtailed Cain’s ability to really break out, that has the makings of the perfect storm to build a draw. He just needs to do the small matter of beating Jon Jones now.


First of all, both incidents were wrong and never should have happened. Secondly, these fighters work too hard and are paid too little, in my opinion, to fine them anything. For me, the UFC should have some sort of a clause in the contract which makes fighters partake in some community service for indiscretions like these. Better to have a fighter teach some kids and do something productive than to take their hard earned money and give it back to the UFC brass. Turn the terrible negative into a positive.


If Frankie Edgar was to go on and beat Jose Aldo for the featherweight title he would definitely be in the picture for the best lighter weight fighter ever. To secure it, he would have to beat him twice. The problem for Edgar is a lot of his fights are close decisions and it’s hard for him to build momentum. From the very first title shot of his against BJ Penn it has been a toss of a coin who has won the fight. Early on it worked for him, but later he lost three championship fights in a row – that’s hard to forget when looking at the bigger picture. At the moment, Jose Aldo, Dominick Cruz and Demetrious Johnson are the best lighter weight fighters ever, Edgar has plenty of work left to do to change that.


In his fourth UFC fight Conor McGregor fought the #5 ranked fighter in the world. If that’s being spoon fed cans then there isn’t much hope for the division. Let’s be honest here, a large section of people look for reasons to hate McGregor and show no respect for his ability. On one hand, he’s being rushed to the title and on the other they’ll keep feeding him easy fights. Why not just skip the middleman? Because, simply put, that’s how you build a star. Cub Swanson lost three times to wrestlers but before he fought Edgar nobody even mention him needing to pass a wrestling test. Anthony Pettis lost to Clay Guida and was put nowhere near a wrestler after that, yet nobody claims he has been fed cans. People say things that fit their opinion. Win or lose in his next two fights, Conor McGregor will fight a wrestler and probably the best featherweight of all time in 2015 – no spoon necessary. Until then, enjoy the show.


Eventually it does, but not until the current government representative leaves his post. When that happens, I think it will be legal within two years. My PPV card would be as follows.

Jon Jones vs. Cain Velasquez
Chris Weidman vs. Yoel Romero
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Anthony Pettis
Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Hunt
Frankie Edgar vs. Chad Mendes


If you were to believe what he tells you, Dana White has taken himself away from media scrums because his quotes are taken out of context and now he will only give interviews to respected outlets. And that’s definitely what has happened. But, it wouldn’t have happened five years ago. The UFC has clearly tried to become a more clean-cut respectable business in recent times and, even though White is well able to fit that mould, it’s better to lessen the chance for him to break from it. For the UFC, having an interview with partner channel Fox or UFC.com after or before a fight gives you control over what the narrative is in a safer manner than going in front of all the media. It might not be as fun, but it’s not going to change any time soon.


If you don’t know the background, UFC welterweight #1 contender Rory MacDonald grappled JT Torres last Saturday and said afterwards that he would rather let his arm break than tap out. He also later said that the UFC immediately agreed to let him take the match beforehand. I think that might change. The UFC benefits in no way by letting their top fighters compete at Metamoris – only bad things can happen. The fans may love seeing the UFC fighters compete against the best BJJ practitioners but for the promotion it’s better safe than sorry.


After breaking his leg, Anderson Silva’s return should be a ‘we will see how it goes’ sort of thing with fun match-ups like the Diaz one his new career path. Instead, Silva signed a 15-fight contract after signing a 10-fight contract a year or two before putting people on alert. There were two reasons he signed such a long contract. 1, he has to have long term title aspirations for his sponsors and 2, he is coaching the Brazilian version of TUF which itself is reason to sign a new contract. The amount of fights is almost irrelevant. On the second part of the question, If he beats Diaz I don’t think he’ll be put back into title contention yet. Big fights with Bisping, GSP and a few more are still there for him. That’s probably the way he goes.


For me, an I may be a little biased here, Ireland is the place to do it. I know Aldo is the champion and MMA is huge is Brazil but make no mistake about it – McGregor is the draw. Despite his undoubted talent, Aldo has struggled to build momentum because of injuries and inactivity. McGregor, conversely, has struggled to QUELL the momentum. A stadium show in Brazil could definitely be a success but you would have to stack that card with the likes of Anderson Silva, Shogun, Junior Dos Santos and maybe another title fight. In Ireland, 80,000 would turn up to see Conor McGregor shadow box. Croke Park in May under a marquee is the way to go.

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook Facebook.com/seansheehanmma

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