Ask Ant: The Masked Cain Edition

By Anthony Walker Mar 30, 2019

Robbie asks: Was that story in the New York Times about Conor McGregor newsworthy, since there was no new information from January?

Yes, the New York Times reporting on the ongoing rape investigation against former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion is certainly newsworthy. A global superstar who has transcended the limited fame of the MMA world to true pop-culture relevance and is now the focus of a heinous allegation. Robbie, that is the definition of news.

However, it is extremely important that this news is reported in a responsible fashion. As of this writing, this is an accusation. This is not a conviction, formal charge or an issuing of a warrant. This is someone claiming that they were harmed by someone else. Until the investigation yields any results, it’s imperative that due process plays out and we don’t throw McGregor in the same trash heap suitable for Joe Son and Hermes Franca prematurely.

What’s really important about the New York Times’ report is that it was the New York Times. I originally heard a rumor about a potential sexual assault allegation against McGregor in January. No real information was available and only fringe European outlets spoke of an unnamed “Irish sports star.” As Luke Thomas pointed out on Twitter, the NYT running with the story gives it a level of validation and attention that make it newsworthy. Just remember that responsibility is key here. Allowing the authorities to look into the matter is the only acceptable course of action. Rushing to judgment is irresponsible and wouldn’t be fair to either McGregor or the alleged victim.

[YouTube comment] Unemployed Mario Yamasaki asks: Now that tj dillashaw has popped for peds. Where does Cody Garbrandt fall in all this madness? Can you see him switching weight classes in the future?

One of the forgotten aspects of the unfortunate turn of events involving now-former bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw is his heated rival and twice-defeated former training partner Cody Garbrandt. As is always the case whenever USADA or an athletic commission finds something wrong in a drug test, the court of public opinion is very quick to call that fighters entire résumé into question. Expect no less of Dillashaw.

Despite winning a clear-cut decision and then knocking Daniel Cormier out in a rematch, Jon Jones’ repeated issues with USADA have led a vocal contingent of the fan base to question whether or not a picogram-free Bones would’ve been successful. The TRT-fueled head kick-era Vitor Belfort has enough of an asterisk next to his name that he’s talked about as if he were a completely different than the deflated dad bod that struggled to earn a win in the UFC. Considering the last time we saw Dillashaw with the belt strapped around his waist was at the expense of Garbrandt, it makes sense that our perception has changed a bit. If the claims by his former partners at Team Alpha Male are true and Dillashaw was artificially enhanced when he dethroned “No Love” and doubled down by defending the title in an immediate rematch, it’s understandable to question the validity of those wins.

But before we start the engine on the Downplay Dillashaw Train, let’s look at the facts. First things first, he passed his USADA tests for both UFC 217 and UFC 227. Secondly, we don’t know what substance was found in his system. Considering that he was making a difficult cut to flyweight for the first time, there’s a logical possibility that a diuretic to assist losing the extra ten pounds is to blame. Perhaps that one of the many pills in that treasure trove of supplements in the now infamous photo had trace amounts of a banned substance. If that’s true, how would that have affected the Garbrandt fights?

Now let’s take a look at what the other former bantamweight champion has been up to since his dual encounters with Dillashaw. When we last saw him he was on the business end of Pedro Munhoz power punches and being finished for the third consecutive time at UFC 235. The actual play-by-play for that fight was eerily similar to 217 and 227. Garbrandt in all three bouts abandoned his stellar boxing skills and found himself in an ill-advised brawl. It’s highly unlikely a diuretic, or any performance enhancing drug, would have played any significant factor.

Of course, any crack in the armor of Dillashaw and his record bodes somewhat well on a surface level for anyone who has lost to him. However, beyond the superficial analysis there’s not much of an argument there. Maybe if Garbrandt had returned to his winning ways versus Munhoz there would be more meat on that bone. He probably would have been unexpectedly thrust right back into the title picture as a good option against Marlon Moraes for the vacant strap. At the very least he would’ve made a good No. 1 contender after the next 135-pound title fight. Unfortunately for him, nothing about this story gives him any true redemption.

Jettie and the Bens asks: Cain Velasquez is joining Mexican wrestling? I thought he hurt his knee!

You’re not alone, Jettie. I also thought I saw Cain Velasquez falling to the canvas when a Francis Ngannou punch and faulty knee tag-teamed to send the former heavyweight champion crashing to the canvas. These don’t seem to be ideal conditions for making a foray into professional wrestling.

While the fights are scripted and the characters made up for pure entertainment purposes, the men and women who brave the turnbuckles and steel chairs are putting themselves in harm’s way every single time they perform. The time and dedication to the required fitness levels, mastery of techniques, and bodily punishment they endure is grueling to say the least.

Just a few weeks ago, Velasquez reportedly revisited the WWE Performance Center and has been on record about his desire to try his hand as a pro wrestler. I and my Trenches co-host/fellow Sherdog contributor Jason Burgos dismissed these visits as fun fanboy experiences that didn’t mean much for his MMA career. His recent signing to Mexican promotion AAA for match in August proves us wrong. Maybe his recent loss to Ngannou, combined with his friend and training partner lording over the heavyweight division, have pushed “Cardio Cain” into finally taking the plunge instead of being content watching as fan. Either way, I’m not sure what to think about it.

When Cormier decides to call it quits, which we’re all anticipating to be before the year ends, maybe Velasquez will refocus on MMA. Maybe the years of competing on such a high level have dampened his enthusiasm for the sport and pro wrestling reawakens his passion. I really can’t answer any of those questions. But I can say with certainty that the rigors of pro wrestling probably won’t agree with the injury-prone Velasquez. Like it or not, it’s hard to imagine a world where this new venture doesn’t adversely affect his future in MMA.
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