Ask Ant: UFC 230 Edition

By Anthony Walker Nov 2, 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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p4pgoat asks: Why don't big MWs like Jacare, Rockhold, Weidman, or Yoel take a page out of Anthony Smith's book and move up to the weaker LHW division? I mean they don't have to look much further than their own MW Champion to see the benefits of not cutting as much weight.

I have wondered this same thing for quite some time. Ironically, I think it’s possible that the outcome of Saturday night will determine where a lot about which division these men call home. The original marquee middleweight fight on the card between former champion Chris Weidman and the man who dethroned him, Luke Rockhold, was certainly important to determine the next one in line to fight for the belt. It’s not hard to imagine the loser of that contest deciding to try their fortunes in an incredibly thin light heavyweight division. Imagine Rockhold defeating Weidman and moving on to challenge the winner of current champion Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum. If Rockhold emerged victorious and was reestablished as champion, Weidman would almost be forced to move up. Two losses against a reigning champion is a kiss of death that has pushed many out of their preferred weight class. A Weidman victory might have been all the motivation Rockhold needed to finally make his move up to 205, something he has been vocal about in recent months.

Of course Rockhold’s injury and the shuffling of the fight card change the situation but the results aren’t that dissimilar. With Weidman now facing Souza, he is still big middleweight at a crossroads. A loss to “Jacare” might make him second-guess remaining at 185 while looking at the green grass one division up. If Weidman wins, “Jacare” will be on a two-fight skid and would only be a year and half removed from being knocked out by Whittaker. As he approaches his 39th birthday, going up to light heavyweight might be the right move for reigniting his career while not taxing his aging body as much.

Yoel Romero is a no-brainer. He has failed to make weight for his last two fights, both of which happened to be for a title belt -- or would have been. While the fight against Rockhold at UFC 221 was on short notice and he only missed weight by 0.2 pounds for his UFC 225 rematch with Whittaker, it still puts the promotion in a tough spot. Promoting him in a championship fight is a risk. Him winning the belt is even riskier.

At some point each of these fighters has had interest in the light heavyweight division. Romero started his career off there. Rockhold was rumored to fight Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 227 until an injury forced him to the sidelines. “Jacare” has been expressing a desire to fight at 205 since at least 2013. Weidman has publicly targeted on again-off again light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and even offered to replace Dan Henderson at the ill-fated UFC 151. Even David Branch, who now welcomes Jared Cannonier to middleweight, held the light heavyweight belt in addition to his 185-pound title in World Series of Fighting. No matter who wins, expect at least some of these men in the heavier division in the near future.

Jackonfire asks: What happens if DC loses this weekend? I imagine the Brock fight will be off. Jones is fighting Gustafsson for the LHW belt. Where does that leave Cormier?

If Daniel Cormier loses to Derrick Lewis this weekend, it would be disastrous for the champ-champ’s future plans. His light heavyweight title is already on the auction block the moment Jones and Gustafsson answer the opening bell for the UFC 232 main event. While he is getting a substantial paycheck to take on “The Black Beast,” he’s definitely taking a huge risk. While I explored the overall situation in a previous Ask Ant column, let’s just look at what could happen if he loses.

First things first, he will no longer hold the belt. With the belt comes the extra money. As “DC” approaches his self-imposed 40th birthday retirement, extra money is the main objective. Former champion Brock Lesnar shoving Cormier minutes after grabbing the belt was all that we needed to get our sights set on the two meeting as soon as Lesnar’s USADA suspension ends, sporting integrity be damned.

Without the belt, a lot of the luster for that fight is gone. Lewis winning would likely earn him a huge payday in a defense against the WWE star. Considering his sudden rise to fame among the casual audience, talent on the mic and highlight reel of savage knockouts, the UFC won’t exactly shed a tear while pushing Cormier to the side.

Should Cormier fall to Lewis Saturday, his best case scenario is to return to light heavyweight and attempt to retain his other belt. However, time may not be on his side. Considering his sense of “comfort” at heavyweight, it might be tough ask to drop the extra weight in time to cut off Gustafsson at 232. Even if he did, he’s already fallen short against Jones twice at 205; the no-contest in the rematch only negates the results in the record books. It’s possible that he’d once again see his belt strapped on Jones’ waist at the end of the night. No belts and a two-fight losing streak isn’t exactly the best conditions to get the perfect money fight to end a career. And that’s if he’s healthy enough to compete with such a quick turnaround. If not, he’d likely retain the belt while Jones and Gustafsson fight for an interim title. If Jones wins then he faces the exact same problem I just highlighted. If Gustafsson wins, they will rematch a fight that only sold 250,000 pay-per-views the first time.

An even worse case scenario for Cormier is losing both belts while Jones finds a way to steal the Lesnar fight. Before the drug tests were made public, Jones and Lesnar expressed interest in fighting one another. Those two names would be serious pay-per-view numbers. Once again, the UFC wouldn’t shed a tear about pushing Cormier to the side.

Korolla asks: Do you see Platinum Mike Perry get a title shot in 2019? I sense he might be a decent win over Cowboy and a win over, say, Lawler away from it.

Mike Perry fighting for a belt in 2019 is certainly possible. From the standpoint of someone preserving the traditional method of fighting up the ladder and earning a title shot, no, Perry does not deserve it. In his last three fights has dropped two and won the other against a lightweight. He is not ranked in the top 15 of the welterweight division by the UFC and his next opponent, Donald Cerrone, is at No. 12. On Sherdog’s most recent official rankings, neither Perry nor “Cowboy” made the bubble list.

While besting Cerrone would be a step in the right direction, it’s no guarantee that he would face someone worthy of a No. 1 contender bout, like a Kamaru Usman. Even if he did, the style matchups only get more difficult. But let’s be honest: does it really matter? Perry is gold in front of a camera and a microphone. His personality attracts attention. His action-heavy style keeps crowds entertained. In today’s UFC, that’s more than enough to get a title shot.

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