Despite the new Showtime deal will Gilbert Melendez still join the UFC if he wins tonight against Jorge Masvidal? What’s next for Frank Mir? Will Miguel Torres be back in the UFC within the next year? Is Gegard Mousasi better off at 185 pounds?
Keyboard warrrrriors….come out to plaaaay-yay!
Better late than never, 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 – Gegard Mousasi should fight as a middleweight.
Lambert TRUE. Although my answer would change if he successfully defeats Ovince St. Preux this weekend. Since I think OSP will pull off the upset though, and he’ll do so by using his size, strength, and wrestling, then it might be best for Mousasi to drop to middleweight where he won’t be at such a size disadvantage. Really though, until Mousasi improves his takedown defense, he’s going to have a tough time against an elite level fighter at any weight class. He’s a good fighter but a bit overrated given the level of competition that he’s faced.
Conlan: TRUE, though not necessarily for any of the reasons Lambert listed since I’m confident Mousasi will pull out a decision win over St. Preux and I can’t remember ever thinking he was THAT undersized for the light heavyweight division. I simply feel he’s shown he can make 185 in the past and should take advantage of a thinner division where he can shine rather than a shark-infested pool like 205 where any fighter other than Jon Jones can lose on any given Saturday.
Who should Frank Mir face in his next match-up?
Lambert: Cain Velasquez. Whether you like it or not, Mir is one win away from a title shot. He’s won three straight and there’s no one else in the division who is on a run equal to Mir’s. I know people will want to see Brock Lesnar vs. Mir 3 if Lesnar loses, but matching up a guy whose lost two straight against a guy whose won three straight isn’t good match-making, even if it would do a huge PPV number. Although Cain is coming off a loss, it was a quick TKO and there’s not much top level depth at heavyweight so a win for Cain over a top fighter like Mir could definitely earn him another title shot.
Conlan: I hadn’t thought of Velasquez but I love the match-up. Fabricio Werdum might also be an interesting option if he gets by Roy Nelson in early February. He’s got BJJ on par with Mir’s if not better and has improved as a striker since his first run in the UFC. He’s also a big guy meaning he’d match up well physically with Mir too.
Cris “Cyborg” Santos will be MORE/LESS dominant at bantamweight than she is as a featherweight.
Lambert: More, pending she can make weight and not be completely drained on fight night. She’s still going to be bigger than everyone in the division and that’s what has allowed her to dominate at 145 like she has. It also doesn’t hurt that she’s a talented fighter who hits like a truck, is a good striker, seems to have a good chin, has solid takedown defense, and an above average ground game. She already destroyed Marloes Coenen, who may have been undersized at 145, but if Santos drops to 135, then everyone will be undersize compared to her.
Conlan: Less. I think the “pending” Jeremy added could be a huge factor since she’s already said making 145 can be a struggle at times. Even if she slims down and is a similar competitor at bantamweight I think the divisional depth has to be taken into account. With fighters like Sarah Kaufman, Liz Carmouche, Ronda Rousey, and Miesha Tate waiting in the wings “Cyborg” has a much harder road ahead of her than she did prior.
Most likely to lose in 2012: Anderson Silva, Georges St. Pierre, or Jon Jones?
Conlan: St. Pierre. Silva already took Chael Sonnen’s best and still stopped him, while I don’t see Mark Munoz or Michael Bisping posing much of a threat to him on any front. Jones certainly has a few challenges in front of him as well in terms of Rashad Evans/Phil Davis and Dan Henderson but, similarly to Silva, I also don’t see him stumbling against anyone in the bunch. That leaves St. Pierre who will face either Nick Diaz or Carlos Condit when he returns to the ring late in the second-half of 2012. Though I think GSP certainly has what it takes to beat either, when they lock horns next year he’ll be coming off an eighteen-month layoff and testing out a new knee as well. Based on those factors I think he’s definitely at risk of losing his belt, at least in comparison to Jones/Silva.
Lambert: I’m not sure “Bones” Jones will ever lose again, much less in 2012. Silva will have a tough test against either Sonnen or Munoz, both of whom are great wrestlers, and Sonnen, who has relentless ground and pound or Munoz, who has brutal ground and pound. Still, I have to agree with Bren that GSP is the most likely of the three to lose thanks in large part to the layoff and knee surgery. Diaz and Condit aren’t really great welcome back gifts for “Rush” given their ability to take a shot and just keep walking forward with an aggressive style that give plenty of fighters fits.
Will UFC pick up Gilbert Melendez if he wins tonight?
Conlan: Yes. I know Dana White came out recently and said Strikeforce fighters are staying put but Melendez is the #2 lightweight in MMA. As such, why would Zuffa keep a guy with his credentials in a lesser organization as opposed to pairing him with the UFC’s 155-pound elite. In baseball terms, it would be akin to having Albert Pujols play for your AAA team as a means of establishing the smaller squad rather than calling him up to shine in “the show” to play against comparable talent.
Lambert: I sure hope so. Not just because Melendez is one of the top lightweights in the world, but also because, who the hell is left for him to fight in Strikeforce? As much as I’d love to see a third fight between him and Josh Thomson, Josh is coming off a loss (not like that matters in Strikeforce) and I’m fairly certain he’ll just get injured before the fight anyway. Point is, there’s no one to challenge Melendez in Strikeforce. Even Masvidal seems like a stretch, although I’m pretty excited for this weekends tilt.
BUY/SELL – Miguel Torres will be back in the UFC by 2013.
Conlan: BUY. Torres was cut from the roster based on a bad joke and his lack of accountability in its aftermath, not because he didn’t perform up to par inside the Octagon. He’s not a drug-user or criminal – he’s just a guy who made a few mistakes. If Torres picks up a few wins outside of the UFC and toes the line outside of the ring I can definitely see him getting a second chance. At 40-4, and with the bantamweight division needing as many stars as possible, it makes too much sense not to do.
Lambert: BUY. Of course he’ll be back. Dana kind of sorta proved a point by making an example out of him and now he’ll forgive him. In fact, I think he’ll be back after just one victory in a smaller promotion, as long as he doesn’t say something stupid between now and then or sign with Bellator. I’d advise Miguel to spend less time on twitter though, because with the amount he tweets and the amount of his Tweets that are sarcastic or funny to him, he’s bound to get himself into more trouble.
PHOTO CREDIT – STRIKEFORCE/UFC