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Grappling with Issues – 12/22/11

Will lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez face a Strikeforce or UFC fighter next?? What would you like Dana Claus to bring you this year for Christmas? Would you lock horns in the cage with Cristiane Santos for the right price? Who in MMA deserves a lump of coal in their stocking this year?

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.

Also, Merry Christmas to all from the GWI staff or, if you don’t roll that way, have a fun-filled, safe weekend and watch out for over-nogged drivers!

Who would you like to see Gilbert Melendez face next, and who will he actually mix it up with?

Lambert: I’d like to see him in the UFC facing the winner of Frankie Edgar vs. Ben Henderson, but I’m not holding my breath for that happen. I’m going assume that UFC will send over one of their top lightweights, otherwise the only guys for him to fight in Strikeforce are K.J. Noons or Josh Thomson. So who will red rover, red rover, Uncle Dana send over? It shouldn’t be someone coming off a loss, because that would be doing a disservice to Melendez. So it needs to be someone coming off a win, but also well known/good enough to make the fight intriguing. With that reasoning, I’m going with the winner of Jim Miller vs. Melvin Guillard. Both guys are near the top of UFC 155 division and if Melendez can get by either guy, it’ll further prove that he belongs in the Octagon.

Conlan: I too would like to see him against Edgar/Henderson but, like Jeremy, I’m also under the impression that scenario is about as realistic as Randy Couture winning an Academy Award for his work in Expendables 2. I like the thought of Miller/Guillard for the reasons Lambert listed. I think the winner of Joe Lauzon vs. Anthony Pettis could also be a possibility. However, I have a feeling the UFC won’t send one of their guys over until mid-2012 so Melendez’s next defense will come against someone from his home-promotion instead (likely Noons who Strikeforce wanted to pair him with anyways before Jorge Masvidal ruined their plans).

How would Gegard Mousasi fare in the UFC’s light heavyweight division – poor, average, or excellent?

Lambert: Average. He’s a good striker, solid on the ground, and his wrestling looked much improved against Ovince St. Preux, but I still don’t think it’d be good enough to stop the takedowns of guys like Rashad Evans, Jon Jones, Phil Davis, or even Quinton Jackson if he decided to wrestle. Mousasi would fall in line with guys like Rich Franklin, Forrest Griffin, Stephan Bonnar, etc. where he’d win some fights, lose some fights, but always stay “in the mix.”

Conlan: Somewhere between “average” and “excellent”. I also question his ability to stop superior wrestlers and let’s face it – he fought to a Draw against Keith Jardine. He may have deserved the judges’ nod in their bout but it was still close enough to call the result into question. To be an “excellent” 205er you need to be mopping the canvas up with “The Dean of Mean”, not going the distance while occasionally being put in bad positions. I also think he’d need to bulk up some since he’s a natural middleweight and would be undersized in comparison to some of the folks in Jeremy’s response.

What is one thing you’d like Dana Claus to bring you this year for Christmas?

Lambert: Half his bank account would be nice.

Honestly though, while Dana can’t really do anything about this, it’d be nice to have a healthy roster to use in 2012. So many fights in 2011 either fell through or had to be re-scheduled due to injury that it got tough to get excited when fights were announced because I always had that feeling that the fight would end up getting canceled. Unfortunately we’re already off to a bad start with Georges St. Pierre being out for over half the year and guys dropping like flies on UFC 142. I guess St. Dana isn’t real.

Conlan: I’m sure White would be happy to give Jeremy half of his bank account…the part with the zeros that is.

I’ll go with a tournament or two. The UFC has already booked a four-man competition for the company’s inaugural flyweight championship so clearly they can’t be too opposed to the idea and it would be a good way to rain some on Bellator’s parade, taking away one of the unique aspects of Bjorn Rebney’s group. Tournaments would also help in determining a clear-cut, deserving contender in divisions where there is a logjam at the top.

How much money would it take for you to step into the cage with Mrs. Cyborg?

Conlan: You couldn’t pay me enough money to do so on a legitimate level and not because I’m afraid but because it’s a lose/lose situation (similarly to the same reason Zuffa will never toy with the idea of having her fight a male opponent). In the end I would either be fighting a female or getting beaten up by a girl, the more likely outcome I assure you. However, for a few thousand dollars I’d gladly follow in the footsteps of another B.C. (Bo Cantrell) and instantly take a dive as though she was a beardless, Brazilian Kimbo Slice.

Lambert: One million dollars……sorry……one hundred million dollars.

My face is my money maker, that’s why I spend all day behind a computer. I can’t have Mrs. Cyborg ruin my face for chump change, I need Brock Lesnar money at the very least. I’d be worth it as well. Because I wouldn’t just go in there to take a dive. I’d hype up the fight better than Frank Mir against Lesnar and I’d take training super serial by working out with the likes of Gil Martinez. I guarantee I last longer than Hiroko Yamanaka because I would follow the game plan.

Book a heavyweight bout featuring a UFC heavyweight and an incoming Strikeforce heavyweight.

Conlan: The twisted side of me wants to go with Daniel Cormier vs. Cain Velasquez just because it’s a match-up that will never happen.

On a more serious note, and avoiding any of the guys who have already been booked for UFC appearances, I’ll go with Josh Barnett vs. Mir. Both men have good stand-up plus polished ground-games. Beyond that, each knows how to promote the hell out of a show so the pre-fight trashtalk would be epic, and it would also be one of those iconic UFC vs. PRIDE pairings that fans like me have dreamed about seeing for years.

Lambert: Ben Rothwell vs. Valentijn Overeem. Why? Well, why not? It probably wouldn’t last longer given Overeem’s track record, but can you imagine this thing going past the five minute mark? Oh boy, the Tweets my fellow 5 OZ writer Samer Kadi would send out! I love obscure heavyweight fights as long as they don’t involve top heavyweights and it doesn’t get much more obscure than Rothwell vs. Valentijn.

Name one fighter who should get coal in his stocking this year.

Conlan: Chael Sonnen. Sure, he’s as entertaining a personality as you’ll find in MMA but in the context of coal we’re talking about naughty/nice. In 2011 Sonnen was convicted of money laundering, ratted out his associates in the same case to reduce punishment, served a half-year of his suspension for performance enhancing drug use, blatantly lied to the public, made statements about smacking another man’s wife on the ass, insulted an entire country, and beat up an American hero in Brian Stann. However, I’m pretty sure Sonnen would tell you that he is Santa Claus and the reason he gave himself a lump of coal is because he has plans on transforming it into a diamond with his mere grip.

Lambert: Miguel Torres. It hasn’t been a good year for the former WEC champion. He had an extremely boring with Antonio Banuelos in the first ever UFC bantamweight bout on PPV, he lost to Demetrious Johnson, and had another pretty lackluster fight against Nick Pace capped off with some wacky rolling kick. Then outside the cage, he got in trouble on twitter and was released from the company and made an example of. I like Torres but he didn’t deliver in the cage or out of it this year.