Ask Ant: The Senior Circuit Edition

By Anthony Walker May 17, 2019

DLX asks: In what way does the UFC benefit from allowing guys like BJ Penn and Anderson Silva to continue fighting? Do you believe Dana not being as much in the pocket with the new UFC owners compared to the Fertitta era makes him reluctant to force guys into retirement and give them 'jobs' once they get too old to compete (ala Hughes, Liddell, Griffin etc...).

I see the benefit in Anderson Silva still being a UFC fighter. While he is 44 years old and has only one win since 2013, he still could beat most of the middleweights on the roster. He’d probably handle the majority of the light heavyweights as well. His name still attracts attention and some exciting style match ups are still out there in either division, such as Uriah Hall or Sam Alvey.

At the very least, Silva would be immediately courted by a who’s who of every other major promotion out there. Bellator MMA would instantly attempt to put together Silva-Sonnen 3. Rizin FF would make an offer for their New Year’s Eve show and he’d fit right into the pure martial artist ideology that One Championship markets itself toward. If Oscar De La Hoya wanted a do-over for Golden Boy MMA, he could do much worse than Silva-Ortiz or a rematch with Dan Henderson.

The point is that there is still value in Silva fighting on the world stage. While he is no longer someone that should be considered in the title picture, there are some worthwhile things left for him in the cage if he wanted to remain active. At the very least, he’d make a great public relations ambassador and that alone warrants him being under contract with the UFC.

As I’ve pointed out several times over on The Trenches and in my post-fight column about UFC 237, there is nothing left in the UFC for Penn. He has proven repeatedly that he is no longer a world-class fighter. Notice I didn’t say “UFC-caliber.” Without diving deeper into that term, something I did in one of my early op-eds for Sherdog, Penn would likely not have much success in any major promotion with their top-tier fighters.

Would you favor Penn against either of the Pitbull brothers, Michael Chandler, Brent Primus, or Aaron Pico in Bellator? After seeing what happened to Eddie Alvarez and Sage Northcutt in One Championship, how good would he look against their lightweights? Willing to put up your money for Penn to best Daron Cruickshank or Johnny Case in Rizin? In order to put Penn in a competitive fight at this point would mean digging deeper into the second tier organizations for rawest prospects or broken down journeymen. The best you could hope for is another shopworn veteran, like a rematch with Takanori Gomi. What’s the point?

Penn’s issues outside of the cage and the disturbing allegations against him instantly make him someone who couldn’t seamlessly be put in a role with the UFC simply for PR purposes. As was the case with the pre-fight media engagements for UFC 237, the dark cloud of controversy would likely take over any interactions and undo any potential good in having Penn represent the company. It’s simply time to cut ties and stop booking the “Prodigy.”

Tomas asks: Is it almost a bit anticlimactic to go from Cerrone vs Ferguson to Jessica Eye vs Valentina? Going from a 3 round potential FOTY to what will presumably be a snooze fest reminds me of going from Eddie vs Justin to Cejudo vs Pettis.

It might be a bit anticlimactic, but that’s OK. Donald Cerrone versus Tony Ferguson is easily one of the most exciting fights that could be made with the current roster. It certainly has No. 1 contender written all over it and is worthy of a main event. Following that with Valentina Shevchenko defending the flyweight championship against Jessica Eye simply doesn’t have the same sizzle on paper.

However, if a title fight exists on the card, it should ALWAYS be at the top of the bill. There have been exceptions like the first Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz fight, which headlined over Miesha Tate and Holly Holm, but at least McGregor was a reigning champion at the time. If exciting pairings that take precedence over a world title, that is a slippery slope toward further devaluing of the belts.

Besides, let’s remember that the main event is not Shevchenko-Eye. UFC 238 is headlined by Marlon Moraes and Henry Cejudo for the vacant bantamweight title. If that doesn’t make it seem better to you, I’m not sure I can offer any words of comfort.

Octagon888 asks: Will I live long enough for the new Tool album coming out on August 30? Serious question here.

I have no idea who Tool is. My friend and fellow Sherdog contributor Jay Pettry, tells me that Tool is a band that he enjoys and this will be their first album since 2006. I certainly hope you live long enough to have multiple listens and talk about every song with all of the other Toolboxes out there. (Is that what Tool fans are called? If not is that a good enough name that I coined that could catch on?)

But in the meantime, I can give you some hip-hop music to tide you over for the next few months. Schoolboy Q, Boogie, Anderson Paak and 2 Chainz have all dropped good projects recently that deserve your time and attention.


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