Ask Ant: Jan. 5

By Anthony Walker Jan 5, 2019

Bobby Boulders asks: Was Tenshin Nasukawa vs. Floyd Mayweather at Rizin a work?

My first instinct says that Floyd Mayweather Jr’s exhibition boxing match against Tenshin Nasukawa was not a work. It was not legitimate or worthy of anybody’s time but I don’t believe it was scripted. But what if it was? Would a straight up clash under boxing rules between the greatest boxer of our generation against a kickboxer who is significantly smaller look any different than that?

I’m not sure what anybody was expecting heading into the main event of Rizin 14. If we take an MMA fighter with a boxing heavy offense and put him opposite an all-time great boxer, the boxer always win under that ruleset. Didn’t we learn this with Conor McGregor? Now take 20-30 pounds off of McGregor’s frame, shrink him by four inches, and let’s see what happens.

Just ridiculous, huh? The only bit of curiosity would have been if the ruleset were mixed in any way. But we knew that wouldn’t happen. Despite his teasing about trying his hand at mixed martial arts and the Instagram post of him stepping into a cage, we know that will never happen.

Barring the possibility of Nasukawa going rogue and suddenly kicking “Money” into oblivion, which I’m sure led to at least some people tuning in, it was pretty clear how this was going to go. The reported $5 million fine for any blatant rule breaking would likely protect Mayweather from a sudden leg kick or elbow in the clinch. The smaller man with a disadvantaged skill set got beaten from pillar to post and Mayweather got another fat check in the process. The outcome, whether scripted or not, was a foregone conclusion.

Also, why would Rizin decide to blemish the star power of Nasukawa if they were scripting it? If does them next to no good to let their undefeated star get seemingly pummeled in front of the world. Other than having the attention that comes from Mayweather’s presence, there was really no upside for them. This is especially true considering that the North American pay-per-view broadcast didn’t have the exhibition match included with the purchase. Well at least Floyd got more money and we have more proof of the difference between the respective combat sports. So...let’s stop talking about it right now, just in case Mayweather is intent on conning fight fans again.

Europe1 asks: Why do the UFC keep faded stars who fetch huge paychecks like Arlovski ($300,000) and BJ ($150,000) but can't bother giving pay raises to prospects who then end up leaving the organization?

Great question Europe1, I think this has more to do with the infatuation with star power than anything else. While this was true to an extent in the Fertitta Brothers era, it is one of the standout characteristics of the UFC under the Endeavor banner. Another factor to consider is that Zuffa inherited some of these contracts from absorbing Strikeforce. Andrei Arlovski and Alistair Overeem were among those who were paid handsomely with Strikeforce and found their pay matched when the merger brought them to the UFC roster.

The emphasis on familiar names isn’t as absurd as Bellator has been, but it is striking. Paying $150,000 for a clearly over the hill and underwhelming B.J. Penn while letting Rory MacDonald and Sage Northcutt walk away just seems grossly short sighted. My best guess would be the limitations the organization has from a marketing standpoint. With so many events taking place and so many fighters to keep track of, it becomes harder to stand out among the pack and endless cycle of 3 rounders and globetrotting.

In that climate, it’s much easier to keep Penn or Arlovski active. They are known names who will attract an audience. The marketing is already done and people will watch. So instead of investing more in the prospects making their way up the rankings, they instead rely on the names of yesteryear until an overwhelming personality, like Israel Adesanya, emerges. Everyone else is expendable under this model and unworthy of the pay raise in their eyes.

PurpleStorm asks: What fights are you most looking forward to in the next few months?

Among the highlights on the upcoming schedule Michael “Venom” Page and Paul Daley are probably top of the list. Jose Aldo vs. Renato Moicano is another one that I’m excited to watch. There are a few others that have already been booked and announced but those two are my favorites.

The fights I’m anticipating the most have not been officially made. As the poll that accompanied this week’s live chat video with myself and Jason Burgos, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson is the fight everyone who cares about quality MMA wants to see. If 2019 doesn’t give us this, it’ll be a shame and will go along with Randy Couture vs. Fedor Emelianenko as matchups regrettably lost to the mix of health, business interests, and us not deserving nice things.

Count me in for Jones-Cormier 3 at heavyweight, getting Woodley-Covington out of the way, and McGregor in a non-title bout at lightweight.
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