(…and if you turn the poster over, you’ll see Ben and Seth, butt to butt.)
UFC 169 is poppin’ off this Saturday in Newark, featuring two title fights, a must-win battle between a pair of fading heavyweight legends, and a bunch of other crap that you may or may not care about. Join us as CagePotato founding editor Ben Goldstein and editor emeritus Seth Falvo debate the major storylines surrounding the event, from Urijah Faber‘s resurrected title hopes to our always iron-clad gambling advice (LOL), and much more. Enjoy…
True or false: Even though Urijah Faber has already been beaten once by Renan Barao, he still has a better chance of becoming champion this weekend than Ricardo Lamas does.
BG: True. Barao has proven that he’s a better fighter than Faber, but the Cali Kid is so talented and dangerous that nobody really outclasses him at 135. If Barao has a bad night and Faber has a good night, it’s within the realm of possibility that Faber could find a way to choke him out; their skills aren’t that far apart. And maybe there isn’t a talent-gap whatsoever. The fact that Faber’s five WEC/UFC losses have all come in title fights — and the fact that he’s still undefeated in non-title fights, after a full decade of competition — suggests that perhaps there’s some kind of psychological block that’s preventing the California Kid from firing on all cylinders when a belt’s on the line. (Then again, that’s probably the best reason to pick against him on Saturday.) But in this chaotic sport, anything can happen. No absurd win streak lasts forever, and sometimes the sun shines on an old veteran’s ass, so to speak.
SF: False, and not just because this column would be really boring if we both agreed with each other. No one is denying that Urijah Faber is an outstanding talent, but you pretty much made my point for me when you wrote “if Barao has a bad night and Faber has a good night” in regards to his chances of becoming the bamtamweight champion. Lamas, on the other hand…okay fine, his odds aren’t looking any better. Both men have the same slim chances of walking out of The Prudential Center with their respective division’s title, making “Faber has a better chance” technically wrong, and me technically correct. And everyone knows that technically correct is the best kind of correct.
Let’s say Barao defeats Faber on Saturday. Let’s say that he also never fights Dominick Cruz. Does that make Barao’s title run any less legitimate?
Benson “Smooth” Henderson is a talented fighter with a knack for winning the fights he loses. But on the oft-overlooked business side of MMA, Henderson is a dud.
As champion, he consistently failed to move the needle in terms of PPV buys and ratings. His rematch against Frankie Edgar at UFC 150 drew a paltry 190,000 buys—one of the worst buyrates in recent UFC history.
The UFC shipped Henderson off to FOX for his next two outings, presumably to build his name via fighting on a massive television network. Henderson headlined UFC on FOX 5 and UFC on FOX 7. They both earned modest numbers, with the former receiving an average of 3.41 million viewers (1.6 rating in the adult 18-49 demo) and the latter 3.3 million viewers (1.6 rating in the adult 18-49 demo).
Instead, “12 Gauge” and “Punkie Bruise-ter” (our tentative nickname for Curran) will now square off at Fight Night 57, which goes down on November 22nd from the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. This is normally the part of the article where we’d start listing Van Zant and Curran’s relevant/recent wins, but with a *combined* record of 6-1 and their only notable opponent being Tecia Torres (who defeated VanZant via UD at Invicta 4), let’s just skip the formalities, shall we?
Also joining Fight Night 57 will be a flyweight clash between Joseph Benavidez and Dustin Ortiz. After being KO’d by Demetrious Johnson in their rematch at UFC on FOX 9, Benavidez bounced back in style at UFC 172, submitting Tim Elliott with a guillotine so vicious that it forced him to tap with his feet. Ortiz, on the other hand, has made it two in a row since being outworked by John Moraga at Fight Night 35, notching split decisions over Ray Borg and highly-touted prospect Justin Scoggins in back-to-back appearances.
After the jump: Kailin Curran kicks the shit out of two interns on The Jason Ellis show. You know, for science.
(Best caption by the end of the day wins a T-shirt. Via Saunders’ Twitter.)
Less than a week ago, Ben Saunders was universally declared by one CagePotato writer with a history of making hyperbolic statements to be one of the greatest UFC washouts still competing on the professional circuit. Two days later, it was announced that “Killa B” had re-signed with the UFC. Coincidence? No, no it is not. The UFC has been blatantly using us to play matchmaker for years now and I demand satisfaction.
In any case, Saunders has received a date and opponent for his UFC return earlier today, and you’re never going to guess who it is, probably because you have never heard of his opponent before. The TUF 6 alum will welcome 8-1 Chris “Stump” Heatherly to the octagon at Fight Night 49 on August 23rd (that’s the one headlined by Ben Henderson vs. Rafael Dos Anjos, BTW).
The fight will mark Saunders first UFC contest in over four years, where he was last outgrappled by Dennis Hallman in a unanimous decision loss at UFC 117. While “Killa B” might be on the heels of a head kick knockout loss to Douglas Lima (his second such loss to Lima in as many fights), he has gone 4-2 in Bellator since 2012 and 7-3 overall.
Heatherly, on the other hand, holds notable wins over Dakota Cochrane (heh) and no one else, and last scored a victory via second round guillotine over Josh Cavan at RFA 16 (you can check out a video of the finish here). Prior to that, he was stretchered out of the cage after eating an illegal elbow to the spine in his RFA debut against Chidi Njokuani. Thankfully for Heatherly, he will only have to worry about protecting his forehead against Saunders.
So…Saunders by submission or KO? Or Heatherly via whatever a stump’s primary method of attack is?
Are Chris Weidman‘s chances for an upset as good as everybody seems to think they are? Is Tim Kennedy better at talking than he is at fighting? Does UFC 162 feature the most stacked Facebook prelims in the history of curtain-jerking? And Dave Herman‘s getting fired, right? Read on as CagePotato founding editor Ben Goldstein and staff writer Jared Jones debate these topics — and so much more — and be sure to come back tomorrow night for our “Silva vs. Weidman” liveblog, beginning with the FX prelims at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT.
Chris Weidman has become the fashionable pick for an upset against Anderson Silva. You don’t actually believe he’ll pull it off, do you? I mean, you’re not a moron, right?
JJ: Now,I may be a moron, but there is one thing I am not, sir, and that, sir, is a moron.
If we were to have this debate immediately after Weidman had finished knocking Mark Munoz into an ice cream cake-induced depression, I would have told you that Anderson Silva was a dead man walking. “Weidman brings the kind of grappling prowess that, like Chael P. Sonnen before him, will all but completely suffocate Andy’s offense,” I would say whilst smoking a corncob pipe and farting into a wine glass, “And his striking, while clearly not on Silva’s level, has improved enough to keep the soon-to-be former champ hesitant in those rare moments when he won’t be fighting off his back.” I would have mocked you for daring to claim otherwise, then had security escort you out of my chalet bungalow when you inevitably lost your cool like a common miscreant.
BG: I feel like this wave of Weidman-support isn’t so much based on realistic analysis of the matchup, so much as fans’ natural desire to see some change after seven years of having the same champion dominating the competition, and other UFC fighters’ totally understandable self-interest in having that dominant champion go away for a while. It’s wishful thinking, basically.
The good news is, Weidman has a long career still ahead of him. Three years from now, Anderson Silva might be retired, and Chris Weidman will still be beating up top contenders. He’ll have his moment. Saturday night will not be that moment.
Tim Kennedy seems to talk a lot for a guy without many significant wins. Will Roger Gracie silence him for once, or will Kennedy finally live up to his own hype?
(Cain doesn’t see an enormous head. He sees a big, beautiful, blood-piñata, just waiting to burst open and spill its bounty. / Photo via MMAFighting.com)
BG and Danga are back mahfuckas, baaaaaaaaaaaaam! [*cough*] Excuse me. What I meant to say was, UFC 160 goes down tomorrow night in Las Vegas, so CagePotato founding editor Ben Goldstein and staff writer Jared Jones have teamed up once again to discuss all the important themes surrounding the event. Which heavyweight fight on the main card is more likely to end in an upset? Should we write off KJ Noons as nothing more than UFC shark-bait? What’s a Nurmagomedov gotta do to get some respect around here? Read on, and throw down your own opinions in the comments section.
It seems pretty obviousthat the UFC is trying to set up Dos Santos vs. Velasquez III, but who stands the better chance of throwing a wrench in their plans, Hunt or Silva?
Ben: I hate to agree with this jackass — and how dare you try to persuade me by linking to a track from Primus’s underrated Rhinoplasty EP, Jared — so for the sake of argument, I’ll go ahead and say ARE *YOU* KIDDING *ME* WITH THIS?? Mark Hunt has built up a dubious win streak slinging haymakers against guys who allowed him to do so. Junior Dos Santos is far too disciplined to become another victim of the same old rock-’em-sock-’em Super Samoan routine. In a brawl, Hunt has a chance against anybody. But this won’t be a brawl — it’ll be boxing match, and JDS is about as good as they come in that department.
And sure, Hunt has scored a string of upsets against guys like Cheick Kongo and Stefan Struve. Meanwhile, Antonio Silva has scored far more unexpected and dramatic upsets against guys like Fedor Emelianenko and the aforementioned ‘Reem. Bigfoot has heart for days, and fists big enough to dummy up anybody in the heavyweight division on any given night, including the current champion. How many times are you gonna sleep on this guy? #BigfootEra
Gray Maynard vs. T.J. Grant: Who will earn the right to suffer a narrow split decision loss to Ben Henderson next?
Yesterday, to the delight of bored MMA fans worldwide, former UFC welterweight kingpin and Hall of Famer Matt Hughes waged twitter warfare with former Bellator welterweight champ/serial leg-humper Ben Askren.
Despite being one of the most talented/accomplished wrestlers in the sport (if not the most talented/accomplished), and despite his blatant attempts at trolling his way into the UFC, it seems that “Funky” simply does not meet the standard of the world’s premier MMA organization. If only he had been born in Tuvalu, perhaps this glaring oversight could have been avoided. Dana White recently spoke with USA Today about the former Bellator champion’s future:
He’s a nice guy. You know, we just won’t be signing him. There’s competition for him at World Series of Fighting. This kid will probably sign with them. I don’t know (since) they’ve got to come to an agreement and a deal. But if he does, there’s actual competition for him there.
I think it’s crazy that he’s ranked in the top 10. He hasn’t fought anybody (Ed note: Way to kick Jay Hieron while he’s down) and has no challenges. The best thing that could’ve ever happened to that kid was leaving Bellator. Now he has the opportunity to go to World Series of Fighting and show what he’s got.
You’re right, Dana. There is plenty of some competition to be had at WSOF. Unfortunately, it appears that Askren is well on his way to signing with One FC, who we weren’t even aware had a welterweight division until earlier today. Join us after the jump for the details.