Will Michael Bisping get a title-shot in 2012? Is Jon Jones going to finish Lyoto Machida? Which Nogueira brother has a better chance of winning this weekend at UFC 140? How should the UFC handle Dan Henderson?
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 – Michael Bisping will fight for a UFC title in 2012.
Lambert: False. Not unless Dana White listens to BJ Penn and adopts regional champions. Then I’m sure Bisping will fight for the “UFC England” title since he is the company’s biggest overseas star. First, he has to beat Demian Maia, which I’m not 100% sure he’ll be able to do. If he’s able to do that, he’ll still be behind the winner of Chael Sonnen vs. Mark Munoz, which means he’ll either have to fight again in mid-2012 or sit on the shelf for most of the year. My guess is that he’ll choose to fight again since he didn’t look so good after sitting on the shelf most of 2011. So if he fights again, chances are he’ll fight the winner of Vitor Belfort and Anthony Johnson, and I’d favor both of those guys over Bisping.
Fact is, Bisping will have to win two more fights against two top middleweights in 2012 before he thinks about challenging for the title and I’m not sure he can do that. That’s also assuming that he and the champion stay healthy to possibly meet at the end of the year.
Conlan: True. All Bisping needs to do is beat Maia who he should have no problem with unless he forgets who he’s fighting and decides to dive into the crafty Brazilian’s guard. Maia is smaller, has vastly inferior stand-up, and isn’t much of a wrestler. He’s just terrific on the ground. He just won’t be able to get/keep things there in the same way Jason Miller wasn’t.
If Bisping takes Maia out I absolutely think he’ll sit and wait for a title-bout even if it means twiddling his thumbs for nine months. A victory over Maia would be his fifth straight with all of the wins coming against respectable competition, so he’d definitely have earned one in comparison to his peers, and he’s worked too hard for too long to risk fighting for the belt unless forced to. As I think the UFC recognizes the marketability of matching him up against Anderson Silva, or Sonnen if he beats “The Spider,” they will push to make it happen if possible rather than jeopardize the potential pairing.
And no, I didn’t list Munoz in the equation because Dana White recently backed off the notion of him getting a shot at Silva’s strap even with a win over Sonnen (which is unlikely in my opinion but certainly possible).
What should the UFC do with Dan Henderson now that Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis has been named as a #1 contender’s fight?
Lambert: Give him as much time off as possible. After his war with “Shogun” Rua, Henderson has earned some time off to heal up. That said, I’m not buying that Davis will be the #1 contender if he beats Evans. I know UFC is saying that the winner of the fight will get a title shot, but Dana said the same thing prior to Henderson vs. Rua and now look where we are. If Evans wins, I’m sure he’ll get a title shot, but if Davis wins, do you really think they’ll give him a title shot over Henderson? I’m skeptical.
If Evans wins though, Henderson should sit on the sidelines, maybe work on some new things, and most importantly study all the new footage he’ll have of his upcoming opponent.
Conlan: Giving him a nice vacation certainly couldn’t hurt. Fighting three times in 2011, Henderson was as busy as any of his peers who have a decade less wear-and-tear to contend with. Letting him rest for six months might not be a bad thing at all, at least if Evans beats Davis since I agree “Mr. Wonderful” isn’t guaranteed a title-shot anymore than Munoz is (and perhaps less so with Henderson waiting in the wings).
Not including this weekend, how many more times with Tito Ortiz fight before he retires?
Lambert: Once. Since I think he’ll lose this weekend, I think he’ll only have one more fight left in him and that will probably come against Forrest Griffin in the rubber match. I wouldn’t pick him to win that bout either, so with one win in his last nine bouts, I’m not sure why he’d stick around.
I think win or lose against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, he’ll fight Griffin next and that bout will really determine his future. While I still think a loss puts an end to his career, if he wins, then everything swings the other way because it would be three wins in four bouts, which, believe it or not, would put him right in the mix for a title shot.
Conlan: Also once and he’s said as much himself with there only being a single scrap left on his contract. I’m glad Jeremy pointed out the likelihood that Ortiz might reconsider too if he beats Nogueira this weekend and Griffin (or Rich Franklin) in his next bout. I don’t see him as a “retire on top” guy so much as one who would extend his career by a bout or two if he was really within arms’ reach of the divisional title. However, if he stumbles at UFC 140 he’ll definitely call it quits win/lose in his next appearance.
Which Nogueira has a better chance of winning this weekend: Rodrigo or Rogerio?
Conlan: I’ll go with the Rogerio Nogueira or as we call him in the South, “Lil Nog”. Tito Ortiz’s only claim to fame over the past few years has to do with catching Ryan Bader, then submitting him. Other than that he’s lost with consistency. If Matt Hamill can beat him soundly so can Nogueira, while “Minotauro” faces Frank Mir who has looked far better than “The People’s Champ” (shudders) as of late.
Lambert: MINUS TWO to Bren for actually calling Ortiz by that nickname. I do agree with him that “Lil Nog” has the better chance though. I’m actually picking both Nogueira brothers to win, but I feel far more confident about Rogerio defeating Tito than I do about Rodrigo defeating Mir for various reasons. Tito’s only real shot at winning is to get takedowns with consistency and damage Nogueira on the ground. If he gasses (likely) or fails on those takedowns (also likely) then he’ll be stuck striking with a much better boxer. At least Mir is a competent striker who can hang with “Big Nog” on the feet, has the power to finish him, or can win a decision if he takes the first two rounds and then gasses in the third, which I kind of expect him to do.
Will Jon Jones finish Lyoto Machida at UFC 140?
Conlan: Yes. Machida works primarily from the outside where Jones thrives. I absolutely see “Bones” catching him with enough shots to drop him to the mat or at least take him down, then pound him out from above. Machida was finished by Mauricio Rua so it’s clearly an achievable feat.
Lambert: If it happens, I think it’ll happen late. Machida is a very patient fighter. The one time he did turn up the aggression was against “Shogun” in the second fight and we all saw how that turned out. So I doubt he’ll make that mistake again, even though being aggressive is probably his best option against Jones. Anyway, I don’t think Jones will finish Machida. I see this being a slow, mental fight, where both guys take their time as neither man will want to make a mistake. Jones will stay on the outside, at his range, but he’ll be weary of Machida’s speed and timing on the counters, which will make him pick his shots a bit more than he did against past opponents. I think the fight will be pretty underwhelming if you’re looking for an action packed fight, but a great human chess match if you’re into those things.
Are you more likely to watch Bellator or TUF 15 on Friday’s in 2012?
Conlan: I’m going to watch both because I’m fairly certain the shows won’t conflict with each other. There’s no reason Bellator can’t run their events from 8:00-10:00 PM EST with TUF 15 showing from 10:00-11:00 PM EST as it normally does. However, if forced to choose I’d probably go with Bellator and tape TUF 15 since you’re talking about a full card with respectable talent facing off in comparison to a single bout with up-and-coming guys surrounded by “reality show” fixings.
Lambert: For some reason I had the idea that they’d be running head to head, but Bren is right, Bellator should run 8-10 and TUF 15 should run 10-11. If Bellator is dumb enough to run their events from 9-11 then that’s a terrible mistake on their part. Anyway, I have two different answers so here goes:
First, I’ll be watching both since I have two (now three) TVs up in my man cave. This answer was for you Samer Kadi.
Second, I’ll be watching whichever one Bren tells me to cover for the site. Mr. Conlan is usually a fair man (except when he forces me to watch Natasha Wicks videos when all I want to do is listen to my Taylor Swift CD) so I’m sure he’ll give me the option of covering one over the other, but like a soldier, if he needs me to cover Bellator instead of TUF one night, I’ll be all over Bellator like I’m Darrelle Revis on Chad Ochocinco.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC