Jose Aldo and Max Holloway square off in the main event of UFC 212 tonight, which leads us right into our first question, so let’s not waste any time, here …
@BRayos_ 38s: Is Jose Aldo’s legacy on the line this Saturday?
Was Steph Curry’s legacy ruined because LeBron James’ Cavs beat the Warriors last year? Are Tom Brady’s five Super Bowl victories ruined because the Patriots’ defense faltered twice against the Giants? Are the turn-of-the-century Yankees tainted because they blew that one World Series against Arizona?
No, no, and no. Jose Aldo is on the short list of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport. If you count his six-year WEC/UFC featherweight title reign as one linear world championship reign — and I do, even if it’s not officially recognized as such — then he’s the second-longest-reigning champ ever under the UFC/WEC/Strikeforce umbrella.
Aldo got caught against Conor McGregor, one time in 19 fights over damn near a decade. That happens to the best of them. McGregor included. Those who like to troll Aldo about the McGregor fight with “13 seconds” seem to have erased the existence of Joseph Duffy from their minds.
And how did Aldo respond when he got knocked off his longtime perch? He didn’t go directly into career tailspin mode, like Anderson Silva. Nor did he take three years off, like Georges St-Pierre did after taking a beating and getting a gift decision against Johny Hendricks. Instead, Aldo got back on the horse and put on an magnificent performance against another of the sport’s greats in Frankie Edgar, absolutely shutting the former lightweight champ down at UFC 200 in one of the most splendid displays of footwork and accuracy we’ve even seen.
Granted, outside the cage, Aldo hasn’t done much to try to market himself or give the fans a reason to identify with him. He hasn’t tried to become a star here in North America. He might be the pound-for-pound kingpin on making empty threats of retirement and demands he gets talked out of. So when Aldo’s legacy is under attack, there isn’t an army coming to his defense as there so often is with other greats of the game.
But in the cage, Aldo’s legacy as one of the sport’s all-time best is already secure. His run at 145 compares favorably with the other great championship runs in other weight classes. Even with the McGregor loss. And that doesn’t change if Max Holloway takes the title Saturday night at UFC 212. If anything, it would be the symbol of the generational torch being passed, sort of like when Matt Hughes gave way to Georges St-Pierre at welterweight. But that loss didn’t mean Hughes isn’t a Hall of Famer. Same goes for Aldo if he loses to Holloway.
GDR and DJ
@mattpete1088: Why do we all crucify GDR for avoiding the Cyborg fight and brush off Mighty Mouse declining a fight with Dillashaw?
And why don’t we compare apples with oranges while we’re at it? Demetrious Johnson has fought everyone the UFC, and before that the WEC, has placed in front of him over the past seven years. He made his way into the No. 1 contender’s slot as an undersized bantamweight, went the distance with a prime, pre-injury Dominick Cruz, then blitzed his way through flyweight and has tied Silva’s UFC title defense record.
Mighty Mouse accomplished all that before we ever reached a point he publicly questioned whether a potential opponent would be right for him, as was the case when a fight with former bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw (a fight we really like) was initially floated.
Germaine de Randamie? She was middle of the pack at 135 and was gifted a spot in the fight for the first-ever UFC women’s featherweight title because the woman the belt was created for, Cris Cyborg, got hit with a provisional USADA suspension for which she was ultimately cleared. Then de Randamie won one of the most foul-marred title victories you’ll ever see in this sport over Holly Holm at UFC 208.
Since then, she’s rode a merry-go-round of excuses as to why she’s not going to fight Cyborg, and is now saying she wants to go down to 135.
One’s an all-time great champion who is balking at a matchup for the first time after years of flawless service. The other, if she keeps up at this, is well on track to go down as the single worst champion in UFC history. You’re really asking me to compare DJ to GDR?
Cyborg vs. Anderson?
@sigep422wesg: Why hasn’t @ufc signed @MeganA_mma to fight Cyborg for 145lb Title??
And then there’s the other half of this equation: What the hell do you do with the women’s featherweight belt if GDR is going to go sprinting back to bantamweight at the first sign of Cyborg’s return? Holm is back at bantamweight with a fight scheduled. Cat Zingano? Kudos to her for being willing to fight Cyborg, but the timing’s not right for the UFC 214 date Cyborg and the UFC want.
Yet, at the same time, I’m not about to join those who want to lead Megan Anderson right into slaughter just for the sake of giving Cyborg an opponent. Are you really telling me a fighter who looked in over her head against Cindy Dandois is ready for Cyborg? Anderson has the potential to be really good, but I don’t see how making her the latest in the Invicta assembly line of opponents who lose to Cyborg in short order helps her development at all.
Does that leave us with a good answer? No. But that’s what happens when you have a two-fighter division and the champ doesn’t want to fight the challenger.
Marlon Moraes debut
@iZaya18: Smart keeping Marlon Moraes on the prelims to avoid a David Branch type debut?
I’m not sure it’s about a Branch situation, where the former two-weight-class World Series of Fighting champ had a boring fight in his debut on the PPV main card. The featured prelim bout on FS1 is supposed to draw last-minute impulse buys. If the Branch fight at UFC 211 had been on basic cable, that might have turned fans away.
But I get what you’re saying. I like putting the former WSOF bantamweight champ’s UFC debut in the featured prelim bout spot on the FS1 card. Moraes has been a cable TV attraction the past several years. Maybe not an earth-shattering ratings phenom, exactly, but there was six-figure viewership on NBSCN when he fought, so someone’s been watching him. Putting Moraes on cable first is a way to showcase to channel-surfing casual fight fans that he’s now a UFC fighter. And a fight with an opponent the caliber of Assuncao is an opportunity for Moraes to show what he can do. With a solid performance, they can push him straight toward the top of the division. I like the move, but it has nothing to do with Branch.
Light heavyweight developments
@TristanChilder2: Who will Gustafsson fight next D.C. Or Jon jones??
So I don’t know about you, but the fact the light heavyweight division just got a whole lot more interesting than we had any right to expect anytime soon is one of the more pleasant surprises of 2017. Guastafsson did his part by going out last Saturday and doing exactly what he needed to do in order to prove he still belongs square in the 205 championship discussion. In front of his Swedish hometown fans, Gusty gave Glover Teixeira the sort of beating that leads to sad commentary years down the road like “(Fighter X) was never the same after that loss.”
Now, add in the UFC 214 fight between Jimi Manuwa and Volkan Oezdemir, who’s come out of nowhere to derail Ovince Saint Preux and Misha Cirkunov in back-to-back fights, and you’ve got the making of some interesting doings.
So you’ve got Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones scheduled to fight again (at this stage of the game, I won’t definitively say they will fight until I see them both in the cage in Anaheim); Gustafsson presumably getting next (there’s never been a fighter better positioned for a third shot after going 0-2 than Gus); and Manuwa-Oezdemir both providing backup in case DC or Jones drop out, or, best case, the first completely fresh, consequential contenders matchup in the division since, I dunno, maybe Jones vs. Ryan Bader.
Granted, all this doesn’t exactly make light heavyweight the new lightweight in terms of divisional depth. But if you told me even three months ago that 205 would run five fighters deep in potential intriguing matchups, I would have taken that deal in a heartbeat.
Vengeful MMA gods
@hunt5588: Why did the MMA gods take away TKZ from us again?
Because the MMA Gods are capricious beasts with endless appetites for malevolence who enjoy in doing things like giving Matt Mitrione kidney stones right before he’s supposed to fight Fedor Emelianenko and sticking pins in the lower back of a Cody Garbrandt voodoo doll during his TUF season with T.J. Dillashaw and depriving us of Chan Sung Jung at every available turn and making me write run-on sentences? Maybe some day the MMA Gods will turn the corner on their angry, wrathful Old Testament God phase, but I’m not holding my breath waiting for that to happen.
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