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Grappling with Issues – 10/19/11

How much gas does Rich Franklin have left in the tank? Will Alexis Vila cruise to the Bellator Season 5 Bantamweight Tournament crown? Is Roy Nelson at risk of getting released without a win at UFC 137? Should Bellator consider holding events on a new night come 2012?

Keyboard warrrrriors….come out to plaaaay-yay!

Welcome to Grappling with Issues, our site’s regular weekly feature highlighting insight and opinion from myself and resident workhorse Jeremy Lambert whose general contributions and “Scorecard” 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.

TRUE/FALSE – Rich Franklin will fight beyond 2012.

Lambert: TRUE. He’ll be 38 entering 2013 and I know he was disappointed in recent comments made by Dana White about him ducking Alexander Gustafsson, but as Franklin himself said, he’s a “company man.” UFC is always going to find a fight for him and because of who he is he’s always going to get solid fights against good opponents. They’ll match him up with other “name” fighters like Tito Ortiz, Rogerio Nogueira, Quinton Jackson, etc… at 205 or he can move down to 185 and fight guys like Cung Le, Chris Leben, Michael Bisping, etc… He’s not going to compete for a title ever again, but as long as they give him guys who the fans know and respect, he’ll fight them.

Conlan: FALSE, at least I hope so. I am a fan of Franklin’s without question but there’s nothing left for him to prove in the UFC. He’s gone 6-4 in the ten fights since his facial reconstruction from Dr. Anderson Silva without any truly impressive wins in the bunch. He’s good for a few more “money” match-ups but other than that it’s time for “Ace” to consider hanging up his pink-and-brown trunks while taking on a role inside the UFC. He’s a great spokesman for MMA and could be a huge success representing the company in a suit rather than inside the Octagon.

Will the UFC cut Roy Nelson if he loses to Mirko Filipovic?

Lambert: First, I honestly can’t envision a scenario where “Cro Cop” beats Nelson next weekend. But, for the sake of the question, I’ll play along. It really depends on what kind of shape Nelson shows up in. If he’s his usual fat-self, which Dana White hates but really I don’t think it’ll make a huge difference, and loses then he’ll probably be released. But if he’s trimmed down a little bit and he “comes to WAR” then he’ll be given at least one more fight. Honestly, if Nelson can’t beat the 2011 version of Mirko, he probably should be released anyway.

Conlan: Jeremy makes a great point regarding Nelson’s form, as “Big Country” has apparently gone to “Not-As-Big” status with a new diet. However, he’ll still be rotund to an extent, so unless he looks sharp against Filipovic in defeat I think he’s probably in line for a pink-slip with a loss. Dana White hasn’t held back expressing his dislike for Nelson’s physique in terms of being a true player on the UFC heavyweight scene so I’m under the impression he will gladly part ways with Nelson if given even a semi-understandable opportunity to do so.

Closer to a title-shot with a win at UFC 137: Donald Cerrone or Tyson Griffin?

Lambert: Griffin, just because there’s a shorter line at 145. After Chad Mendes, the field is wide open and Griffin has the luxury of being one of the more well-known fighters in the division because he’s been in the UFC for so long, he’s fought good competition at 155, and he’s produced five Fight of the Night bouts. Cerrone on the other hand would have to wait for the Clay Guida vs. Ben Henderson winner, then possibly Gilbert Melendez, and who the hell knows who will come out of the blue in the lightweight division since it seems to change on an event by event basis.

Conlan: No argument here. The featherweight field is fairly wide open after Mendes mixes it up with Jose Aldo. Given Griffin’s name value and success at 155, I could see a win over Bart Palaszewski on October 29 giving him enough momentum to earn a title-shot with one more victory. Perhaps a bout against Hatsu Hioki (if he beats George Roop at UFC 137) on the same card as Mendes/Aldo in early 2012 would make the most sense?

What night should Bellator Season 6 air on?

Conlan: Fridays make the most sense by far. The move would eliminate the direct competition for ratings currently taking place on Saturday nights when the UFC typically airs events while also avoiding the occasional Sunday Fight Night or UFC Live card (or the NFL for that matter). The shows could easily be marketed as a way for fans to start their weekends out right; as incredibly entertaining, free, live MMA action that’s over early enough to let folks head out for the rest of their evenings as well or simply keep the party going at home. Not a bad package, eh?

Lambert: Friday’s are usually a ratings disaster night. Networks move shows to Friday because they want to kill them off, not to keep them around. Plus, the new season of The Ultimate Fighter will be airing on Friday’s as well on FX, so they’ll still be against the UFC.

I’m going with Wednesday. People already think of Wednesday as a night for fights thanks to SpikeTV having UFC Unleashed marathons and TUF. With UFC moving off of Spike, Bellator can fill that void on Wednesday. Plus they could run that night on MTV2 and Spike could continue to run UFC programming as a lead in for them. Then, when Bellator eventually ends up on Spike, they can continue to run on Wednesday, people will still associate that night with MMA, and Bellator won’t have to once again move days.

Would Vinny Magalhaes win a fight should he return to the UFC?

Conlan: Absolutely. He’s steadily improved since falling to Ryan Bader and Eliot Marshall inside the Octagon, winning seven of eight with all of the wins involving some form of stoppage. He’s also shown his striking has evolved enough to make him more than a BJJ wiz with no stand-up to speak of. Magalhaes is also relatively young (27), meaning he should keep getting better, and always shows up to fight in great shape. There are plenty of on-the-bubble guys on the UFC roster lacking those characteristics, as well as his background on the mat, so I have no reason to believe Joe Silva couldn’t put Magalhaes in the cage with one of them with the result being Vinny’s first win under the promotion’s banner.

Lambert: Magalhaes has improved a lot since his first UFC run, but his chin is still very suspect. Plus his wins are over some really bad competition. Of course it really depends on who Magalhaes fights. Would he beat a guy like James Te Huna? I don’t think so. But could he beat Ricardo Romero? I’d say yes. Just looking at UFC 205 roster though, I wouldn’t favor him against many fighters on the list. I think UFC would give him a good match up in his return fight, but I’m not sold on him enough to say “yes” to this question.

Who do you see meeting in the Bellator Season 5 bantamweight finals?

Conlan: Eduardo Dantas and Alexis Vila. Beyond being extremely talented, both bantamweights had a far easier road to the semifinal round based on how their wins came about. In comparison to their quick knockout wins, Marcos Galvao and Ed West went three full rounds at Bellator 51 including a fight close enough to result in a Split Decision where Galvao’s success was concerned. With a tournament involving the necessity for fighters to remain active for three consecutive months the difference between a fast finish and a hard-fought victory can ultimately be $100,000 and a shot at the Bellator title.

Lambert: I’m going with West and Vila. I’m not concerned about West having gone to a decision in his opening round bout because the guy always seems to go to a decision. He ended up in the finals of the season 3 tournament after picking up decision victories in the first two rounds, so I’d say he’s used to it. Plus I think his wrestling is going to give Dantas problems. As for Vila and Galvao, I’m picking Vila simply because he KO’d the self-proclaimed baddest man on the planet, thus making him the baddest man on the planet, and I don’t go against the baddest men on the planet until they lose. And I like his power against Galvao’s chin.

PHOTO CREDIT – UFC