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Grappling with Issues – 6/1/11

Is Lyoto Machida a better match-up for Jon Jones than Quinton Jackson? Does Clay Guida deserve a title-shot if he beats Anthony Pettis this weekend? Are you excited about Jason Miller and Michael Bisping as coaches on the next season of TUF? When should fans expect to see Brock Lesnar back in the Octagon?

Keyboard warrrrriors….come out to plaaaay-yay!

Welcome to Grappling with Issues, our site’s regular weekly feature highlight insight and opinion from myself and resident workhorse Jeremy Lambert whose “Walk Out” and “After Party” event-breakdowns can be regularly found on Five Ounces. As always, just because we staffers get the fancy set-up, please don’t hesitate to offer your own take on the topics in the “Comments” section below.

Better match-up for Jon Jones – Lyoto Machida or Quinton Jackson?

Lambert: For Jones, the answer has to be Jackson. Machida would give Jones a million different angles and diversify his attack while with Jackson, you know what you’re getting. Even though Jackson mixed things up a bit more against Matt Hamill than he has in recent performances (most notably going to the body), he’s still a guy who is going to throw almost nothing but power punches (usually two at a time) and not check leg kicks. Plus Jackson has a tough time with speed fighters and Jones certainly has the luxury of being faster than your average light heavyweight.

The thing Jackson has that Machida doesn’t is that one-punch power. Sure Machida has power but not many people have that kind of KO power that Jackson has. I think Jones would take his chances against Jackson’s power rather than trying to figure out the speed and timing of Machida though.

Conlan: Though I ultimately think it’s probably splitting hairs given the immense talent both Machida and Jackson possess, I have a hard time disagreeing with anything in Jeremy’s take on the topic. Jackson has rarely if ever shown the desire to remain “elusive” and prefers to go toe-to-toe, an approach giving Jones less to prepare for as far as I’m concerned. He’s also shown questionable conditioning in the past giving Jones another angle to work with. Then again, he also hasn’t been stopped in a fight since 2005 whereas Machida was rendered into goo against Mauricio Rua a year ago, so like I said in my opening I think the difference between the two is marginal at best. It’s essentially choosing whether Jones would be better off stepping into the cage with a lion or a tiger.

I also think “Rampage” is a better opponent for Jones from purely a fan’s perspective. He’s experienced crossover success and is one of the sport’s legitimate stars. A championship bout featuring a relative icon who knows how to sell a match-up to media is a lot more appealing to the masses (myself included) than one with a guy whose English is shaky and barely moves the mainstream needle.

Would Brian Stann vs. Jorge Santiago been named “Fight of the Night” if the event hadn’t taken place on Memorial Day Weekend?

Lambert: I don’t know, maybe we should get Jesse Ventura on the case? Probably not since I think Thiago Alves vs. Rick Story and Miguel Torres vs. Demetrious Johnson were better overall fights but the crowd was super into Stann vs. Santiago, it had enough action, and it had a finish. I’m sure it helped that Stann is a veteran and UFC thought it would look nice if they gave a veteran a bonus but no one really knows why they got the bonus over the other fights except for Dana and company.

Conlan: Absolutely not. I don’t disagree with the UFC’s jingoism in principle, as Stann’s credentials as a legitimate American hero are not in question and the notion of giving a veteran “Fight of the Night” on Memorial Day brings out the red, white, and blue in all of us. However, in terms of the actual quality of the bout it was relatively one-sided in favor of Stann and in my opinion FotN honors should be handed to the best combined showing. Story/Alves and Johnson/Torres were energetic, entertaining back-and-forth affairs where the win could have gone either way, and those qualities are the things I look for when picking the best from the bunch. As such, I would have been fine with Stann getting an extra “Knockout of the Night” bonus alongside Travis Browne, but as far as “Fight of the Night” goes it shouldn’t have even been a contender.

Should Clay Guida be given a lightweight title-shot if he beats Anthony Pettis this weekend at the Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale?

Lambert: Yes. I’ve been saying this ever since the fight was announced. I know Jim Miller has a very strong cage for a title shot as well but lets face facts, Guida is 10X (if not more) popular than Miller and that matters in this sport. A victory for Guida would give him four straight wins including a victory over the perceived #1 contender. I’m a firm believer in that, if one guy is going to get a title fight with a victory, and he loses, the guy who beat him should get the title shot. Sometimes UFC match-making makes that a hard rule to live by but I don’t think that’s the case with this fight.

Conlan: Lambert took the words out of my fingertips. Miller is undoubtedly more deserving from a performance perspective but Guida is extremely popular and a win over Pettis, not to mention his success against Takanori Gomi and the fact his last two losses came to recent contenders (Ken Florian/Diego Sanchez), should solidify a shot at the title or at minimum a date with Miller if the New Jersey native gets by Ben Henderson in August. Guida also has a penchant for turning in “Fight of the Night”-quality performances which doesn’t hurt the cause either since in the end MMA is as much about entertaining the public as it is an athletic competition.

Are you satisfied with Jason Miller and Michael Bisping as TUF 14 coaches?

Conlan: Not particularly. I understand the inherent entertainment value involved when Miller steps in front of a camera and there’s no doubt Bisping will provide more than a few soundbytes of his own. However, the actual match-up doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. “The Count” is on the cusp of middleweight contendership with a trio of consecutive wins in the past year over solid opposition while “Mayhem” has only had his hand raised three times since 2008 with none of the victories being particularly notable in nature. In fact you have to go back an additional year to find a relevant example of in-ring success on his record (Tim Kennedy).

Another aspect of the pairing I dislike is the notion Miller will have have been out of action for about fifteen months when he finally faces off with Bisping in December. I would have much rather seen him fight Aaron Simpson at UFC 132 to get his career back on track than have the UFC sideline him in hopes of improving the Ultimate Fighter’s sagging ratings based on his sense of humor and silly antics.

Lambert: I’m with Bren. I’m alright with Bisping as a coach, although I don’t like when they recycle coaches, but Miller doesn’t make sense for the reasons Bren already laid out.

I think the better choice would have been Stann. The guy came off like a huge superstar this past weekend and his personality isn’t forced or likely to get tiresome like Miller’s. Plus Stann vs. Bisping is a legit #1 contenders fight for the middleweight strap based on lack of other contenders, their string of victories, and popularity. It’s pretty telling that Miller vs. Bisping isn’t even going to be on PPV and will instead headline the TUF 14 Finale show. Maybe it’s just a bone to Spike TV, who they’re about to negotiate a new contract with, but I think it’s a bit more than that.

TRUE/FALSE: Brock Lesnar will be back in the Octagon by Super Bowl Weekend 2012.

Conlan: Is this a trick question or does Lambert know something ESPN doesn’t in terms of there actually being a NFL season next year? Regardless, for the sake of discussion I’ll say “false” since Lesnar is going to be recovering from his recent surgery for awhile and is expected to lose a significant amount of weight due to a liquid diet he’ll be on throughout the process. Even if the Super Bowl is played a month later than usual I’m not confident it will be enough time for the former heavyweight champ to fully regain his strength or shake off the ring-rust brought on by his medical condition, and I don’t see any reason for the UFC to rush him back unless he’s 100% ready to go.

Lambert: Of course there’s going to be an NFL season. And not only will Lesnar be back in the Octagon on Super Bowl weekend, but Cam Newton will be playing that weekend as well.

Okay, so I don’t actually believe either of those things to be true. I know Dana White said that they’re hoping for Lesnar to return in early 2012 but there’s no reason to rush this thing. Lesnar has already admitted that he felt he rushed himself back after his first battle and I’m willing to bet that he won’t make the same mistake twice. He’s not going to risk his career by stepping back into the Octagon before he’s 100% healthy and unfortunately, I don’t think that’s going to be until at least summer 2012.

How did you score Miguel Torres vs. Demetrious Johnson?

Conlan: I would have given the nod to Torres but there have certainly been worse decisions rendered in the history of MMA. It was a competitive, entertaining scrap and one I wouldn’t mind seeing again down the road. The real shame is Torres essentially got “robbed” twice since the UFC opted to hand out the $70,000 “Fight of the Night” check to Stann/Santiago instead of to the bantamweights for their brilliant battle on the ground.

Lambert: I scored it 30-27 Torres but the fight was much closer than that score would indicate. I don’t think it was a “robbery” (a term that gets thrown around far too much) but the scoring on this fight is proof that being on top on the ground accounts for far too much. Torres was more active off his back in going to submissions and sweeps but because Johnson was able to maintain top position for the most part, while doing absolutely no damage, he got the nod. Someone explain to be how being aggressive on the feet (even if it mains getting your butt kicked), leads to victories but being aggressive on the ground leads to losses.


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