El Cucuy vs Showtime!

Hello Everyone!

Sorry for the long hiatus; I have admittedly been quite lazy regarding my posts, but I figured, why not post about the return of EL CUCUY! At the upcoming UFC 229, we will be treated to yet another lightweight matchup, adding to the already stellar matchups of Diaz vs Poirier and Khabib vs McGregor. Enter Tony Ferguson in his return from devastating injury, which derailed yet another opportunity to face Khabib Nurmagomedov, in an unanticipated, but nevertheless, high-profile matchup against former champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis, who just came off an impressive victory against fellow contender Michael Chiesa, in what appeared to be a return to form for the man who once cut through the division like a hot knife through butter.

Image result for tony ferguson anthony pettis

(Photo courtesy of http://www.middleeasy.com)

I’m sure that I can say with confidence that no one really anticipated such a quick turnaround for Tony Ferguson given the nature of his injury but, of course, Tony had to just prove us wrong with his insane mentality, work ethic, and hunger to get back in the octagon to do what he does best. I suppose it is characteristic of a champion to fight so hard in every respect to prove to both himself and the world that seemingly insurmountable obstacles are merely tests waiting to be passed by the truest warriors. The owner of a 10 fight winning streak, Ferguson will no doubt take this fight as an opportunity to show the world that no injury, regardless of the severity, can keep him from his place at the top of the mountain. He is arguably the most dominant, well rounded fighter in the division, and in every fight appears to show even more of his untapped arsenal, and fireworks may just be on the verge of bursting at UFC 229.

However, in order to maintain his spot, he will need to stave off an equally hungry and motivated Anthony Pettis, a former champion whom most had written off as a has-been and shell of his former self in the USADA era. Indeed, since his lone title defense against Gilbert Melendez, he has had a rather rough go of things in the UFC, keeping fans waiting for the resurgence of the fighter once known to electrify the crowd with slick submissions and devastating striking abilities. That all seems to have changed with his victory of submission specialist Michael Chiesa, who Pettis incidentally defeated via submission. In a win that no one seemed to have seen coming, Pettis showed people that he is simply not a fighter to be slept on. Very few ever make it to the top by sheer luck, after all, and Pettis may only now be digging deep to reveal his true self – a dexterous and dangerous fighter with tricks in the bag that may just pop out when you least expect.

Personally, I just think Ferguson will be too much for Pettis to handle, but that takes nothing away from my excitement regarding this bout. We have two hungry, former champions who are eager to reclaim what was once rightfully theirs, and this makes for an intriguing bout. Is Anthony Pettis ready for Tony Ferguson’s unorthodox style and relentless pressure? Is Tony Ferguson sleeping on Anthony Pettis, and unaware of what he brings to the table? These questions will be answered on October 6th, and I for one can’t wait to see what happens. We as fans cannot lose, but unfortunately, one of these guys will, so get ready for the action and don’t blink!

I’m So Torn! Stipe…or Francis??

What a matchup…

This may be the greatest heavyweight match-up put together by the UFC in years, and the first one I’ve been genuinely excited to see since maybe Cain vs Werdum. In that fight, we saw who was once a potential candidate for the greatest heavyweight of all time in Cain, and a Cinderella story in Werdum. As a UFC fan, I do love a good storyline, and much like those of Cain Velazquez and Fabricio Werdum, the storylines associated with Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou are so compelling that I find it so hard to root against either man. The thing is…who the hell do I root for?

Part of me wants to root for Stipe because he’s such a working class hero, and remarkably down to earth when compared to his fellow UFC champions (save for Demetrious Johnson). He’s a true champion who built his way up to the top of the division, taking a couple losses on the chin and subsequently steamrolling contenders en route to his title fight with Fabricio Werdum, in which he made a statement to the world that he was the rightful owner of the title, “Baddest Man on the Planet”. His defense of the title from Alistair Overeem, coupled with the fact that he doubles as a firefighter outside of his fight career, makes me such a huge fan of his that I can’t imagine how I’d feel if he were to lose his belt. I want him to make history and set the record for most title defenses in HW history, and I truly believes he deserves recognition and a lasting, legendary legacy. On the other hand…

How can I not root for Francis Ngannou? In fact, how can ANYONE not be a fan of Ngannou after seeing what he has gone through up to this point? This man came from abject poverty, worked menial jobs with absolutely no one telling him that he could do more than what his environment expected of him. He decides to become a fighter at an age where most combat experts would deem him a senior citizen, and instead of crumbling as expected, decides to make his way into the UFC. All of a sudden, we have some new blood in the HW division, but who the hell is this guy anyway? Just another random addition to the somewhat shallow division, right? Is he going to make a splash? Well, I think we all know the answer to that question, considering he’s fighting for a title just 4 years into his professional MMA career. It would truly be the feelgood story of the MMA world if Francis made the impossible possible and defeated Miocic for the coveted belt. Whether you’re a fan of his or not, you’d have to agree that Ngannou would be an undoubtedly deserving and inspiring champion, and one who would put the entire division on its toes.

So here I am…still debating on who I want to root for tomorrow. Maybe they’ll fight to a draw, and it’ll give me some more time and analytical ammo to see who I’d root for afterward. Then again…that sounds pretty stupid. I have a feeling that someone is going to be finished, and I predict here and now that if it’s a Miocic victory, it’ll be by 3rd or 4th round submission. However, the only way I see Ngannou winning is by KO; I don’t see him being able to do anything in this fight if Stipe drags him to the ground, and Ngannou will need to end the fight in the 1st round. Either way, we’re in for a real treat here. Best of luck to both men. Whoever wins, the fans don’t lose.

Luke Rockhold is Sorta Right, But Needs to Chill

Look, I get it…

The middleweight division of the UFC is in a very rough place right now. The champion, Michael Bisping, has elected not to fight any top ranked MW contenders for his title defenses so far (with his lone defense coming against then #14 Dan Henderson, and his upcoming bout against unranked Georges St. Pierre), and has actually debated retiring after his fight against GSP. Naturally, this is upsetting to both fans and the strongest contenders, but this whole situation has perturbed one man more than anyone else:

Luke Rockhold, the former UFC Middleweight Champion, and current hot-headed contender on a warpath, hellbent on settling the score with his biggest adversary.

After he dispatched #9 contender David Branch in the second round of their grudge match recently, he decided to let GSP know that the former welterweight champion did not belong in his division. He has been vocal about his disapproval regarding this fight taking place in the first place, and he actually told GSP that he would be crushed by Bisping. This perhaps is the most interesting thing to have been said in a post-fight interview recently. Here’s why…

The fact that anyone would ever think that GSP would be crushed by a fighter that is either in the middleweight or welterweight division is preposterous to me. Even if you think he’ll LOSE a fight, there’s no need for this kind of hyperbole. In Rockhold’s situation, I can see it as being more of an emotional reaction catalyzed by his longstanding bitterness following his loss to Bisping in 2016. Was it painful? Absolutely. Could it have been avoided? Of course! Does it eat Rockhold every second of the day? It appears to be that way. But is Rockhold being a bit ridiculous in his prediction, and could it perhaps be a statement motivated more by his visceral hatred of Michael Bisping? Yes, and YES. GSP has every tool to defeat Michael Bisping, and I do believe that he will take the crown from the aging champion. But there’s more to this than just Rockhold’s prediction; we need to dig deeper as to what actually justifies this event’s occurrence.

Let’s call this fight what it really is: a spectacle. It is as much of an attempt to draw money as any superfight we’ve seen recently, and is part of an ongoing trend which has rubbed some the wrong way, while being encouraged by others as the new wave of the sport’s matchmaking. Bisping vs. GSP makes ABSOLUTELY no sense from a purist’s standpoint; we’re looking at a division in which the champion has yet to unify his title with a bout against the interim titleholder (Robert Whitaker, who just came off a scintillating victory over top contender Yoel Romero), and with plenty of able bodied, deserving challengers. Instead, we are given a former champion coming out of his retirement to cement his place in history. And that really is the key word…history.

If the UFC has a chance to allow history to be made, along with a LOT of money, would they really pass up the opportunity in place of the ethical and sportsmanlike route of giving a deserving contender a shot? OBVIOUSLY NOT!! What Luke Rockhold and the others in this division need to understand is that this is a business as much as a sport, and upper management is not interested in anything other than PPV draws and draining their cash cows. Top contenders like Rockhold may get their chance, but only after the UFC has had its chance. For Rockhold in particular, I feel that the opportunity is not terribly far out of reach. He is still an outstanding fighter, a physical specimen, and more motivated than ever to get back his crown. If it takes a little bit of waiting, so be it – he can use the time to fix the holes in his game (i.e. his boxing) and then take what he believes to be his when the time is right. Until then, there’s just no point of him coming out and saying outlandish things that will get him nowhere.

So let’s sit back, and wait for the middleweight division to bring itself back into a normal state. The chaos will soon be over my friends, and I predict that we’ll be seeing Whitaker vs Rockhold for a title shot next year. Only time will tell…