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Who would have guessed, a few years ago, that we would get so many superfights, we would be wishing for a regular champion who was content to just defend his belt in his own division? Yet, for some fans, that is now the situation the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the trend-setting Conor McGregor have put us in. It’s a welcome problem to have. In the past few years, we have been treated to Conor McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez, Georges St. Pierre vs. Michael Bisping, Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic, and currently on the schedule we have TJ Dillashaw vs. Henry Cejudo (with TJ fighting down a weight class, in a bizarre twist) and Cris Cyborg vs. Amanda Nunes. This is in many ways a great change, as these fights have, so far, been a lot of fun, but the danger is that the promotion threatens to further devalue belts already cheapened with interminable interim title bouts. No fighter has yet managed to win and defend two separate belts, meaning that they are, in effect, vacating one division for the next.
Max Holloway is a perfect example. He just defended his featherweight title in one of the greatest performances the 145-lb. division has ever seen, and was immediately inundated with questions about facing Khabib Nurmagomedov, Tony Ferguson, or Conor McGregor, all fights that would take place a division up at lightweight. While a champion taking non-title fights a division up could be fun — who wouldn’t watch Max rematch McGregor, after all — it seems unnecessary when lightweight is so stacked, and featherweight already has more than one rising prospect booked to determine the next top contender.
There was also the question raised, when discussing Max’s potential legacy at featherweight: which counts for more, defending the title many times in a row, as Jose Aldo did, or vaulting up a weight class to claim a second title, like Conor McGregor? Which adds more to the legacy of a fighter?
As one of only five men to hold UFC titles across two weight divisions, as well as one of the longest-running champions in UFC history, Georges St. Pierre is uniquely suited to answer the question: which is a more difficult feat? GSP thinks that defending a belt over a long period of time is more difficult, and he explained why.
I think taking contenders is the hardest thing, and I’m gonna tell you why. Because when you are the champion, you are the target. Everybody is looking at you, everybody is studying your game. So, everything you do, everybody has seen it before. When you are coming as a contender- you’re the contender, you’re challenging the champion- it’s like the guy is looking at you for maybe a few months… which, when you’re champion, people are studying your game every day of your reign. Every guy that come up, their dream is to beat you. So they know your game, sometime better than you know yourself. So, for that reason, its a different perspective.
— MMA on SiriusXM (@MMAonSiriusXM) December 13, 2018
Is George St. Pierre right? If he is right, should the more difficult feat- defending the title over and over- count for more in terms of a champion’s legacy than winning a second belt in another weight class?
Remember when Conor McGregor’s mindset was that the cage WAS his stage for excellence? It seems unlikely we will ever see a McGregor this focused in the Octagon again, but we can hope.
Jose Aldo is only entertaining to the point that he is being pushed by his opponent. Renato Moicano is young, hungry, aggressive, and skilled in the same phases of the fight Aldo is, to greater or lesser degrees- meaning, this fight is going to rock. The leg kick battle alone is going to be worth your time.
— Nolan King (@mma_kings) December 12, 2018
Some context as to the pace Moicano pushes:
Moicano lands an average of 2.26 more significant strikes per minute than he absorbs. That’s the 3rd-highest rate in UFC Featherweight history, behind only McGregor and Holloway
— MMA By The Numbers (@NumbersMMA) December 12, 2018
Scott Coker’s GIF game is strong
The UFC has scratched plans for UFC 233 on Jan. 26. No longer a head-to-head night with Bellator. Think Scott Coker is pleased about this news? https://t.co/J3A5wEJ1wS
— Mike Bohn (@MikeBohnMMA) December 12, 2018
These are some of the fights that had been booked
Standout fights on the now cancelled UFC 233 card included:
Robbie Lawler vs. Ben Askren
James Vick vs. Paul Felder
Joseph Benavidez vs. Deiveson Figueiredo
Kron Gracie vs. Alex Caceres
Cynthia Calvillo vs. Cortney Casey
John Lineker vs. warm body
— caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) December 12, 2018
“We should be friends, probably.” is an all-time great line after the fight Max Holloway and Brian Ortega had
From UFC’s Thrill and Agony series — Max Holloway talking to Brian Ortega immediately after the fight last weekend. I love this line. pic.twitter.com/VueGxzbiyD
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) December 12, 2018
Jon Jones fully looks the part of the killer here
Max Holloway cheers on his Hawaiian sister, Bellator flyweight champion Ilima Lane-MacFarlane
Robert Whittaker is a sellout!
Derrick Lewis on set
Israel Adesanya is, at heart, an unapologetic nerd.
Jimmie Rivera vs. Aljamain Sterling is another great bantamweight fight
RT @WritingMoore: Jimmie Rivera (22-2) will face Aljamain Sterling (16-3) at the UFC event scheduled Feb. 17 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix.
— Jon Anik (@Jon_Anik) December 12, 2018
What would you do?
Podcasts and Video
The most relevant fight to watch before Kevin Lee mauls Al Iaquinta this weekend, is undoubtedly their first bout:
Slips, Rips, KO Clips
What a round
20 Years Ago Today, Arturo Gatti fought Ivan Robinson in a non title fight for the second time in 4 months. Robinson would win via UD. With their first fight awarded Fight and Upset of the year, Round 3 of the 2nd contest was named Round of the Yearpic.twitter.com/UMrsHonIki
— KO Kings (@KOKINGS4) December 12, 2018
Defense is often more impressive than offense
Thiago Santos vs. Jimi Manuwa was awesome
And the award for Donnybrook of the Year goes to Santos vs. Manuwa. pic.twitter.com/8C61gqgoG5
— Kyle Johnson (@Maldobabo) December 12, 2018
After the slow apocalypse, this will be how we get lions, tigers and genetically engineered sabertooth cats back in North America
Drug lord Pablo Escobar’s private zoo wasn’t properly dismantled after his death so rural Colombia is now home to a rampant population of thriving hippos.
— Quite Interesting (@qikipedia) December 12, 2018