DN Walker asks: Who would you put Johnny Walker in with next? And a follow-up, is he the greatest danger to himself?
Johnny Walker has made an impression on MMA fans in a very short period of time, huh? He’s been in the cage for less than three minutes and has already racked three violent stoppage wins. Taking care of business against Khalil Rountree and Justin Ledet isn’t exactly easy work but those two names hardly carry the weight of the more established contenders. However, his destruction of Misha Cirkunov is an entirely different story.
While he wasn’t knocking on Jon Jones’ door for the next title shot, at his best Cirkunov is a proven competitor who poses a legitimate threat to the top names at light heavyweight. Defeating him cements Walker as someone who can make a real impact on the division. Immediately following UFC 235, Dana White was hesitant to throw the rhythmically gifted Walker in the deep end of 205. The problem is there isn’t much more room for moving up the ladder before he’s a logical title challenger. Getting a name value win in such a thin division almost guarantees at least some will call for him to step up to the big challenge to fight for the belt.
While White doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room here, it’s vital for his development that Walker not be rushed out to square up with Jones. The sweet spot is other known names that aren’t immediately considered title challengers. Names like Ilir Latifi or the winner of Ovince St. Preux vs. Nikita Krylov sound like a good place to start.
Right now, it certainly looks like Walker’s greatest threat is himself. His ill-fated “worm” celebration was the closest we’ve seen to danger for the young Brazilian in the Octagon. While we should be very high on what he has to offer athletically and personality-wise, let’s not anoint him the second coming just yet. There are some style matchups we should be witness first and let’s see what he looks like against elite opposition outside of the first few minutes. Of course, if nobody can last that long, my argument is null and void. But let time take its course.
Assassin Faced Baby and MattHunterMCR ask: WHY IS BJ FIGHTING GUIDA?!?!! And if this fight were for Bellator or Golden Boy MMA, would we accept it?
B.J. Penn is fighting again because he needs to... umm. B.J. Penn is fighting again so that he can… hmm. Let me try this again. B.J. Penn is... nevermind I give up. Beyond the warrior spirit that has made take all the chances he did with dangerous opponents and ventures up and down the scale manifesting itself in an ugly way, there’s no real reason for “The Prodigy” to be fighting again.
Penn has already seen championship glory multiple times and doesn’t have that box left to check on his bucket list. Considering he was a belt holder and a star in the sport, Penn made a substantial amount of money. Additionally his family is one of the richest in Hawaii. So a payday isn't what is likely motivating him. At this point it’s just the sheer will of a fighter and the desire to compete that is pushing him back in the cage. At 40 years old and on a seven-fight winless streak that dates back to 2011, that reason isn’t compelling enough to justify yet another ill-advised UFC appearance.
At least against Ryan Hall, Penn wasn’t facing a man who was expected to deal much concussive trauma. With Hall the worst case scenario was a quick submission victory that would confirm “The Prodigy” being way past his best days as a fighter while not endangering his future quality of life.
Clay Guida is no spring chicken himself. But since Penn was last in the win column, against an equally aged and ineffective Matt Hughes, Guida competed against high-level opposition 14 times and had his hand raised half of the time. Stylistically, Guida has more than enough ability to grind out Penn while handing out a fair amount of damage from the top.
Just several months ago, Dana White was making the media rounds trashing Oscar De La Hoya for booking an inactive and compromised Chuck Liddell to fight Tito Ortiz. There is very little difference between Golden Boy MMA’s lone main event and Penn’s latest scheduling.
Maybe we would accept this under Golden Boy or Bellator MMA’s watch. Bellator has definitely made many fights between the big names of yesteryear and gotten a fair amount of ratings as a result. However, Bellator has received a deserved amount of criticism because of it, while Golden Boy will likely remain the butt of many jokes.
Of course, if White decides to shut Penn out of the UFC roster, he’ll find somewhere else to go. Scott Coker, De La Hoya, or One Championship’s Chatri Sityodtong might be interested in the legend. But like Liddell or Royce Gracie, it would no longer be his problem or responsibility.
If Penn is overwhelmed with the need to compete, Eddie Bravo is putting on a great product with Combat Jiu-Jitsu that would be more suited to his strengths without as much exposure to the more dangerous elements of MMA. I’m sure the Bare Knuckle FC crew would love to take off his four-ounce gloves and line up Paulie Malignaggi or Artem Lobov. Either way, Penn has no business fighting in the world’s leading MMA promotion.
Frank McEdgar asks: Are you “whiskey on the rocks” guys? Have you ever tried Proper 12?
I do love my whiskey on the rocks. It’s a simple drink that lets me enjoy some alcohol without the sugar that leads to massive hangovers. Every so often I’ll mix with ginger ale or ginger beer, but I usually prefer my booze without the taste of a heavy chaser. I have tried Proper 12 and it’s OK. It’s far from top-shelf whiskey and I wouldn’t recommend it for anybody who has the most trained of palates or wants to impress a sophisticated friend. But it serves its purpose. The price point is comparable to other decent but not great whiskeys and it’s good enough for a party or an inexpensive night at home. Since trying it in Las Vegas for UFC 229 fight week, I haven’t revisited the brand. Typically a bottle of Jack Daniel’s or Trader Joe’s Kentucky Bourbon are present in the Walker household with an occasional appearance from Basil Hayden (no despite my name, I’m not a big Johnnie Walker scotch fan.) But if you want a second opinion before running to a liquor store, I’d highly recommend reading the Proper 12 review from Sherdog’s esteemed Ben Duffy.