Ask Ant: Jan. 12

By Anthony Walker Jan 12, 2019

Europe1 asks: What's with the UFC announcing fights before they are even signed and then have them fall through? For example, Diaz vs Masvidal or Makhachev vs Trinaldo. Is this part of some business-strategy or just incompetence?

I firmly believe that this is primarily a business strategy by the promotion to persuade fighters to accept bookings when negotiations have stalled or if they want to enter them with more leverage. By announcing fights before they are officially signed, the Ultimate Fighting Championship can use public reactions to influence a fighter to accept a bout with less pushback.

A journalist being the first to hear about potential booking will be happy to the one to break the story. A tweet follows and it begins. When news of a great matchup hits social media, with MMA news sites soon to follow, replies and comments are typically flooded with excitement and anticipation. The fighter is instantly tagged on tweets rooting for or against him. The people have spoken and normally it’s just a matter of time before contracts are signed and it’s formally added to the upcoming schedule.

Of course, that formula has plenty of potential to backfire. Add a personality like Nick Diaz to the mix and attempt to pressure him into compliance. See how far that gets you.

Not even a year ago we witnessed Yair Rodriguez temporarily fall out of favor with UFC brass and get dropped from the promotion for not relenting in his demands for more pay after the company went gung-ho about the potential booking with Zabit Magomedsharipov. When the fighters in question resist for whatever reason, whether it be pay, health concerns, personal issues, etc. it throws the whole shaming system awry.

It makes sense that the company would take any advantage it can to exert as much control as it can over fighter pay and the intricacies of the schedule. While I’m not the biggest fan of this tactic, I don’t expect a business with its own agenda to suddenly consider how fair this is to the roster or public. However, it’s up to the fighters and their management to resist succumbing to the coercive methods of the UFC in favor of their own interests.

Yojimbo asks: After all the controversy surrounding UFC 232, the card turned out to be great and history was made. Jones even passed his drug tests! Did Dana and the UFC get away with murder?

It certainly looks like the UFC pulled off its best Andy Dufresne imitation and came of out s--t creek clean. They managed to move its traditional holiday adjacent pay per view from Las Vegas to Los Angeles in less than a week simultaneously infuriating fans who were traveling to Sin City, inconveniencing fighters who had their take home pay reduced outside of their control, and flying in the face of regulation. Despite all the question marks and eyebrows raised, UFC 232 ended up being a stellar event from an entertainment perspective and reportedly did between 700,000 to 900,000 buys making it the second biggest seller of 2018. White proudly took to the podium at the post fight presser and was happy to serve crow to everyone that speculated that the event wouldn’t be a success as a result of the controversy dominating headlines. Expect more of the same as the date for Jon Jones and Anthony Smith approaches and fans purchase tickets and prepare their accommodations for fight week.

While Jones did pass the post-fight test, there are still lingering questions. Can we expect more picograms of oral turinabol metabolites to pop up in the future as the drug randomly “pulses” through his system? What exact threshold is acceptable before an ingestion after the UFC 214 test is suspected? How will the Nevada Athletic Commission handle these tests ahead of UFC 235 if these metabolites reappear? Will it result in moving another event? Will live gate revenue suffer if less people are willing to make plans surrounding a live UFC event?

The floodgates have opened for uncertainty. While it is entirely possible that the NAC doesn’t make this an issue, all it takes is a picogram of M3 or a pictogram that interprets the science differently than Jeff Novitzky and USADA to derail these carefully laid plans and explanations. I wouldn’t call this getting away with murder just yet. Think of it as more of a stay of execution.

Frank McEdgar asks: Do you see Max Holloway holding his ground and staying at 145 or bending for Dana by moving to 155? Who would make the most sense for his defense at 145? What fights make sense for him at 155?

I honestly can’t call this one. Holloway didn’t seem adversely affected by the weight cut at all when he fought Brian Ortega at UFC 231. It is very possible he has dialed in on the proper way to cut weight and maintain himself in between fight camps and decides he’d prefer continuing his campaign to eclipse Jose Aldo as the greatest featherweight of all time.

At the same time, there are a variety of factors that could lead him to 155. His overall legacy, avenging the losses to Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier, and making good on his attempt to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov could very well persuade him to move up.

Despite Dana White liking the idea of Holloway going up, this doesn’t seem like a hill he’s willing to die on. As long as he can safely make the weight, the promotion would surely welcome him to stay where he is as his absence would hurt the marketability of the division. Lightweight certainly doesn’t need him to draw as it is loaded with stars, but his presence would only boost its profile even more.

If he stays at featherweight, let’s give Frankie Edgar the opportunity he lost by taking Ortega as a late notice replacement. After that, if Renato Moicano defeats Aldo he should be next in line. After that let’s keep an eye on Alexander Volkanovski. While as of writing this I favor Holloway in all of these matchups, he has enough challengers to make things interesting.

If the “Blessed” one gains ten pounds, I’d really enjoy a showdown with Nate Diaz. Their styles would make a wonderful combination and check all the boxes for star power. However, any top-10 155er would suffice.
<h2>Fight Finder</h2>