Ask Ant: Sept. 27

By Anthony Walker Sep 28, 2018

"What should the UFC do with Abdul Razak Alhassan, in light of his recent news?"

Unfortunately, this is one of those times where we have to look outside of the Xs and Os of mixed martial arts and deal with real world issues. There’s really no right answer to this question.

Alhassan, as his quick knockout win at UFC 228 demonstrated, is an exciting prospect who has insane finishing ability. He is a serious rising star in the welterweight division and could be title contender in the near future. There’s no doubt that the UFC would like to keep him in play. However, that comes secondary to something as horrible as rape.

You couldn’t blame the Ultimate Fighting Championship for pulling Alhassan from any fight bookings until this mess is sorted out in the legal system. The only disadvantage to that is you pull a fighter from his source of income due to an accusation that so far has not been substantiated in a court of law.

Being a multi-billion dollar company owned primarily by a huge conglomerate, there are many resources at the UFC’s disposal. This would be the time to deploy those resources and launch its own investigation into the matter. Just like any other major sports league, retired police, FBI, private detectives, etc. of the highest quality are available and willing to work. That way, they would be able to do their own due diligence and determine if Alhassan was worthy to compete. If an independent investigation yields no actionable evidence and “Judo Thunder” is booked while the justice system is still at work, the company can at least cite their findings. On the other hand, if that same investigation determines that there is enough to justify putting him on the bench, then so be it.

The UFC has been notoriously inconsistent when it comes to fighter conduct outside of the Octagon, so it will be interesting to see how they handle this situation. After all, there was gargantuan effort to get Jeremy Stephens released from jail for an assault charge to get him in the cage for UFC on FX 5. We also saw Will Chope dropped from the roster after past domestic violence issues resurfaced. Others accused of violence against women -- Anthony Johnson and Abel Trujillo come to mind -- have been handled to varying degrees but ultimately found themselves welcomed back to the fold. Greg Hardy has become the latest darling of Fight Pass despite his checkered past and half-hearted apologies.

What makes this scenario even trickier is that the alleged incident happened in April. He was arrested, released on bail, and granted some leniency in travel restrictions to continue training and competing as a professional MMA fighter. Since then he was booked and made quick work of Niko Price. Apparently the UFC knew nothing about what was going on in the background. The likely intentional oversight of his management to inform the promotion just might cause more of a reaction from the higher ups than the accusations themselves. Either way, this is a terrible situation that no one wants to deal with. Whatever the UFC decides to do, a knee-jerk reaction is not the proper course.

What do you think of Tony's training style? If you were his coach, would you advise him not to do it? BTW, Tony bless.

When Tony Ferguson isn’t thrilling the masses with an unorthodox and high-risk style, he’s thrilling the masses with some of the most jaw-dropping workout videos you can find on Instagram. Look no further than his “Clear for Combat” posts that featured kung fu-style forms on upside down plyo boxes. Nothing says “I’m ready to face the dangers of sanctioned fisticuffs” like stuntman-level shenanigans that are equal parts scary and impressive.

“El Cucuy” has a training style that seems to be the perfect complement for his fighting style. A man who welcomes a bloody slugfest with Edson Barboza would be the type of person who could kick a metal pole without flinching. Someone who endured hell from Kevin Lee to emerge victorious one round later would be the type of man that would celebrate his return by breakdancing and spinning a tire on a chain hanging from his bicep.

Despite all of the madness he shows on social media, Ferguson has elite-level coaching. The only thing I could correct is his trap bar deadlift form. Yikes! But in all seriousness, if I were his coach, I’d just shut my mouth and let Eddie Bravo and Rashad Holloway continue running the show.

Better WW champ, Woodley or Rory? If they were to rematch today, who would you favor?

Great question...Tyron Woodley versus Rory MacDonald is definitely one of, if not the best cross-promotional superfights that exist in a hypothetical world of cross-promotion between the two biggest brands in MMA. The credentials of both men are undeniable and they both possess quite a highlight reel of amazing feats.

As far as ranking them as champions, I have to side with Woodley. Despite the fact that MacDonald was the last person to get his hand raised against the UFC’s welterweight king, his reign as the champion has been incredibly brief. The Canadian has yet to defend his belt and is making his next appearance outside of the division against Gegard Mousasi this Saturday night.

On the other hand, Woodley’s four defenses put him on top of the leaderboard for active champions. While Douglas Lima is undoubtedly one of the best 170 has to offer regardless of promotion, that lone win pales in comparison to Robbie Lawler, Stephen Thompson, Demian Maia and Darren Till. MacDonald can certain gain some ground toward closing that gap with Bellator’s upcoming Welterweight Grand Prix. The winner of that tournament will have a legitimate claim to supremacy in the overall rankings, but right now “The Chosen One” is the better titleholder.

When it comes to that dream-world rematch, it’s hard to make a pick without hedging it a bit. My first instinct leans toward Woodley as he has greatly improved his game since that loss in 2014. Without diving too deep into the minutiae of technical detail, MacDonald may not have the easiest time shutting down his offense and winning the position battles again. In addition, MacDonald has struggled with taking damage since the all-time great fight with Lawler at UFC 189. However, MacDonald did look to be past the nose issues that forced him to sit on the sidelines for a bit before making his debut under Scott Coker’s banner. Of course Lima doesn’t have the same soul-crushing power as Woodley. But MacDonald’s win against Lima to secure the belt showed he has the ability to adjust his gameplan on the fly. Two versatile fighters known for top notch strategy and dominance? Shut up and take my money.
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