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BJ vs. GSP for Welterweight Strap + More UFC News

BJ Penn Georges St. Pierre UFC MMA
(Penn and St. Pierre during their first fight at UFC 58 in 2006, which GSP won by split decision. Photo courtesy of Brawl Sports.)

Though Dana White has previously stated that the UFC 94 superfight between BJ Penn and Georges St. Pierre would be a non-title bout, Dave Meltzer is reporting that the UFC has changed their mind, and GSP’s welterweight title will be on the line. This would give Penn the opportunity to be the first UFC fighter to hold championships in two different weight divisions at the same time. Of course, he’ll have to win a five-round fight against St. Pierre to do so, which ain’t gonna be easy. UFC 94 is slated to go down in Las Vegas on January 31st, and will also feature the much-anticipated light-heavyweight scrap between Lyoto Machida and Thiago Silva. In other UFC news…

— If Anderson Silva makes it out of Saturday’s fight against Patrick Cote unscathed, he could possibly fight again at UFC 92 on December 27th, a card that’s already stacked with heavyweight and light-heavyweight title fights, as well as the match between Quinton Jackson and Wanderlei Silva. Josh Koscheck may have a quick turnaround as well.

Brock Lesnar will be profiled in a segment on ESPN’s E:60 tonight at 7 p.m. ET., in which he discusses, among other things, his disappointment in not making it in the NFL and his minor addiction to booze and pills.

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Rich Franklin, Retirement Talk, and the Trouble with Mixing Sports Metaphors

Right off let’s get one thing straight: I don’t want to see Rich Franklin retire. I like Rich Franklin. His wacky personal views aside, he seems like a good guy and an exciting fighter. I’m not trying to hustle him into retirement, though I see how it might seem that way. Here’s what I wrote in yesterday’s Si.com article:

Franklin, who moves up in weight in an attempt to revitalize his career as a 205-pounder, made the best choice. If he can’t beat Matt Hamill on Saturday, though, that glimmer of hope will also fade, leaving him with a choice between retirement and a steady fall from mediocrity. Neither road is appealing, but at least one is more dignified.

All right, that sounds like I am totally trying to hustle Franklin into retirement. Perhaps I should have phrased it more delicately. Our reactionary Canadian friends at Fightlinker think so, and I see at least part of their point.

For the record, I expect Franklin to beat Hamill. He expects the same thing, or at least that’s what it sounded like when he described Hamill as a good first match-up in the division because he is “not one of the top 10 205-pound fighters.”

If he wins, there’s certainly no reason for him to consider retirement. Even if he gets held down for three rounds, he can still chalk it up to a bad style match-up and make a lateral move in the division for his next bout. But there’s another question at the heart of this. What happens when a fighter goes from great to good? If you aren’t moving up, are you necessarily headed down?

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Great, Now Everyone’s Going to Want an Affliction Championship Belt


(Something has to keep a fella’s pants up. Might as well be an imaginary belt.)

When Vitor Belfort told Tatame.com that he was going to be fighting Matt Lindland “for the belt” at Affliction: Day of Reckoning (dun-dun-duh!!!), they took it to mean that it would be a bout for Affliction’s middleweight title, which the organization doesn’t currently have and which they may or may not be creating. No biggie, we thought. Either Affliction is planning to create a title belt, or else it’s a harmless misunderstanding.

At least, it was harmless. And then Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (aka Little Nog) found out about it. Now he wants a belt to be created so he can fight for it too. After all, Vitor’s getting one. It’s not fair!

“Minotouro” (it’s been said before, but really, these twin brothers with almost identical names have to have almost identical nicknames, too? come on) first heard about the situation from Tatame, and they later relayed the conversation in this crystal clear translation:

“I’ll fight in October 11th, but it’s not right yet against who. They’re speculating a lot of opponents, but they didn’t say anything yet”, told Rogério, that didn’t knew yet about Belfort’s fight. “Did they created a belt for him? Do you know if they’ll create a belt to light-heavyweight too?”, asked Nogueira.

After hearing a “no” as an answer, Nogueira promised win the belt – when Affliction creates one. “If they make one it’ll be great… I wanna be on top, and I’m ready. If I get this belt I can be a top 3”

Top three, huh? For winning the Affliction title that hasn’t been created yet? Okay. Eventually someone’s going to have to tell Little Nog that there are some serious problems with this logic. We’re just glad it won’t be us.

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Belfort and Lindland at Affliction 2 “For The Belt”


(That’s right, we’ll use any excuse to post this picture again.)

Fresh off his victory after knocking out Terry Martin with a broken hand at Affliction: Banned, Vitor Belfort tells Tatame.com that he’ll face everyone’s favorite MMA politico, Matt Lindland, at the organization’s second event in Las Vegas on October 11. The broken hand is healing up nicely and won’t be much of an issue, says Belfort, and he’s not too worried about Lindland’s wrestling skills either:

“It’ll be a great fight, we’ll see who is the best of the world there”, said Belfort, that guarantees his style will be a problem for Lindland. “I saw his fight with Negão and he’s a warrior… He comes be over you, but I don’t think he has the strength to stay over me”, analyzes Vitor, that wants another knockout on his career. “I’ll go to knock him out… My punches are well-aimed and when it hits he won’t stand”, guarantees Belfort.

Belfort also says that he’ll fight Lindland “for the belt”. The only question is, what belt? It’s hard to imagine that it’s the WAMMA belt, since Lindland is currently ranked seventh in the middleweight class there and Vitor is, well, not mentioned. The Tatame homepage says it’s the Affliction belt, but we weren’t even aware there was one.

Then again, maybe there really is no belt at stake. Maybe Vitor just meant it as a figure of speech, kind of like right before the climactic fight scene in “Lethal Weapon” when Riggs asks Mr. Joshua if he wants a shot at the title. That was awesome, by the way.

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Jon Fitch is Feeling a Little Overlooked

Jon Fitch has a new blog entry up on UFC.com in which he discusses his training at AKA in preparation for the bout with Georges St. Pierre at UFC 87 next Saturday. Sounds like he’s none too pleased about all this GSP-B.J. Penn talk, as if it’s just a given that St. Pierre will walk though him en route to another meeting with “The Prodigy”:

Working like we do, when people are talking about how good certain fighters are, one of our first questions is, ‘who does he train with?’ That’s always a big question because I don’t care how good you are; if you don’t train with anybody at your level, you’re very limited in how good you can be and how good you actually are.

Outside of training, I’ve heard some talk over the last few weeks about BJ Penn moving up to 170 to fight GSP at the end of the year. Of course, they’ve forgotten that GSP has a fight with me first. But that just shows you where some people really are still in this sport and how they still have no idea what’s going on. There are a lot of so-called experts out there, but they know nothing about the sport. They’re spectators on the outside watching the sport through a telescope, and they think they’re on the inside and know everything, but they don’t. You can’t let that stuff bother you though. I think it’s funny and it’s just that little extra pleasure at the end of the day when you win and all those people are exposed.

Are we supposed to take this to mean that Fitch thinks GSP is generally overrated? We certainly hope not. Fitch’s win streak and overall skills make him deserving of the respect he’s getting, but so is GSP. Of all the strategic errors you could make when facing the welterweight champ, underestimating him really shouldn’t be one of them. Even if you are right behind him in the all-important Cage Potato Power Rankings.

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What Does It Mean To Beat The Champion?


(Photo courtesy of Sherdog)

Juanito Ibarro is mad. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson’s trainer told Sherdog that his fighter “was robbed” on Saturday night. He even plans to protest the decision — one of those great and entirely symbolic acts on par with kicking dirt on the umpire’s shoes or voting for a third party presidential candidate.

At the heart of Ibarra’s complaints, it seems, are two points: 1) the first round should have belonged to Jackson on every judge’s scorecard, perhaps even as a 10-8 round, since the most significant action of the round was a knockdown from his right uppercut, and 2) you have to beat the champion.

On the first point, Ibarra has something of a case. Calling it 10-8 for Jackson is a stretch, but knocking Griffin down in a round that saw no other major action should be enough to win the opening frame. On the second point, well, this is where it begins to get tricky.

The conventional wisdom in the fight game says that you can’t win the title with a close decision. You have to go out and really take it away from the champion, either by finishing him or absolutely dominating him. Griffin didn’t do that. Whether you think the decision was the right one or not, the fight was certainly very close. But should the title change hands via razor-thin decision?

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