Ask Ant: MMA Trade Edition

By Anthony Walker Oct 26, 2018


Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed below are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Sherdog.com, its affiliates and sponsors or its parent company, Evolve Media.

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Madmick asks: Is this a signal that Dana is weighing the thought of abandoning the Flyweight division? That is hasn't proven a good business move? What the hell is going on?

Will they put Mighty Mouse in the Hall of Fame any time soon? Obviously he’s a first ballot but doing it would help promote him over in One Championship.

If you’re a flyweight in the UFC, you should be in the weight room and drinking a weight gainer right now. Either that or prepare to find another place to fight. Giving longtime champion Demetrious Johnson his walking papers after clearly proving himself as one of the best fighters of all-time says a lot.

The fact the newly minted belt holder, Henry Cejudo, is more interested in taking a superfight with bantamweight king TJ Dillashaw and Sergio Pettis is moving up in weight as well should say even more. Remember when Mighty Mouse said that the promotion threatened to dissolve his division if he didn’t play ball? Adding up all of these separate pieces should be a loud and clear message: men at 125 pounds will not remain in the UFC much longer.

It’s unfortunate that it has come to this. The flyweight division has some promise on the horizon. Cejudo showed all the makings of a potential star after winning the crown at UFC 227. The combination of his athletic pedigree, ability to self-promote, and Mexican heritage are worth noting. The trilogy fight with Johnson is just too obvious and great of a fight to book. The growth of fighters like Ray Borg, Jussier Formiga, and Pettis are all interesting developments.

While the smallest men’s division has not been a historically huge draw, this seems like a strange time to sabotage the division. It wasn’t that long when the UFC did away with the lightweight division because they did not believe that lighter weight classes could attract an audience. A few stars later, we now know that idea is laughable.

This false idea and lazy promotional strategy left great fighters like Yves Edwards out in the cold when a belt should’ve been strapped around his waist. If we’re reading the writing on the wall correctly, history could be repeating itself.

As far Johnson being inducted into the hall of fame, of course he’ll be placed there. However, you make a good point about it giving a boost to One Championship when the UFC is notoriously stingy with its praise for former fighters that are active under other banners. I expect that Johnson will receive his accolades when there is a healthy enough distance from his new home.

FireKidWS asks: Kevin Kay is out at Viacom and will be replaced by the president of Comedy Central. How does this impact Bellator, and how big of a loss is losing Kay from the sport?

Kevin Kay is a tremendous loss for the presence of mixed martial arts on television. He is one of the few high level television executives that saw the value of MMA being broadcasted outside of the pay per view model. Kay gave the thumbs up to the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter” which obviously led to the exponential growth of the sport. Without that co-sign, it is likely that the Ferritta brothers would have ditched the UFC after sinking millions of dollars with no return on investment. If that happens, it’s anybody’s guess what would have happened to a sport that was struggling to find legitimacy. Kay also helped secure Bellator’s place on Spike to help maintain their presence in the combat sports world. Glory Kickboxing and Premier Boxing Championship were brought in on his watch as well.

I don’t imagine this will have that much of an effect on Bellator. The company seems ill-fitted for the brand makeover that converted “The First Network for Men” to the Paramount Network. Spike was the home of pro wrestling, “Deadliest Warrior,” and “1000 Ways to Die.” Now Bellator is no longer surrounded by sister sports and the aggressive content that the 18-34 male demographic loves. Instead it’s an eclectic mix without a real discernable common thread.

DAZN is much better suited for Bellator. It falls in line with the current trend toward streaming services as traditional television loses its luster. It is joined by other combat sports such as Matchroom Boxing and Canelo Alvarez’s historic deal, along with former UFC Fight Pass product Combate Americas.

I wouldn’t be too worried about Kay being gone from the sport, however. Someone with his track record of success, connections and clear affinity towards MMA won’t be out of a job for long. Between the numerous promotions and broadcasting partners in the world, it’s a safe bet that his phone is already ringing.

Post 2 Decision asks: If Jon Jones looks like he did against OSP and gets finished by Gustafsson, should people discredit his entire record after numerous failed tests and weird test levels before USADA? Will he go down as the best that never was, the Lance Armstrong of MMA? Is that a fair comparison?

It’s certainly a fair question to ask. If Jon Jones were to get finished by Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232, it would definitely raise some eyebrows. Of course, Gustafsson is far from easy work and already gave Jones his toughest fight to date at UFC 165. So in the event that the Swede exacts his revenge and makes good on his promise to cause “Jones’ head to bounce off the canvas in the fourth round,” it would be unfair to discredit the win. However, Jones’ troubles with USADA would certainly be brought up regardless.

If, and I emphasize if, Jones were to lose the talk afterwards would largely depend on how the fight played out. If it was a repeat of their first meeting with one of those many hard shots ending the night early or if the other hand was raised, there shouldn’t be too much questioning of Jones. He simply would have lost to a man who came within sniffing distance of doing it before.

If Jones looks lethargic, slow, unsure of himself, etc. it could very well be the function of ring rust. Since they first met, Jones has only fought four times. His last time in the Octagon was July 2017 and he’s only seen two and a half rounds of action in the last two years. While Gustafsson has only fought five times since, it wouldn’t be far-fetched for limited cage time to show its face on Dec. 29.

But let’s stop the narrative of Jones’ looking bad against Ovince St. Preux. He clearly won that fight and had almost total control of every moment of the 25-minute affair. Perhaps the late-notice opponent change from the stocky pressure wrestler that is Daniel Cormier to the taller and unorthodox “OSP” had more to do with the differences in Jones. Of course, if you fail drug tests two out of the three times you’ve been booked to fight in the USADA era and have a comparatively weaker performance the one time you tested clean, you open the doors for this level of scrutiny.

As far as Jon Jones’ legacy is concerned, people will undoubtedly question him no matter what. Once again, this is a party that he has started with the decisions he’s made. Judging him is a bit trickier. The sport of MMA as we know it is very young. Most of that time has been without stringent drug testing -- if there was any drug testing at all. With the extraordinarily taxing physical demands of training and the potential for big paydays for the top level of winners, it’s a pretty safe bet that performance-enhancing drugs usage were -- and still are -- very common. There are plenty of legends that never tested positive but consumed their fair share of tainted supplements. Similar to Lance Armstrong, Jones is a great talent with a host of accolades to match. He also competes in a sport that has been rampant with PED usage. Both men have the unflattering distinction of being among those caught.

If you’re going to judge Jones, be ready to give the side eye to plenty of other fighters that are beloved and iconic. If we were to stay consistent, we would be opening up a can of worms that we may want to just leave alone.

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