Ask Ant: UFC 232 Mailbag

By Anthony Walker Dec 28, 2018

PurpleStorm asks: About Cyborg versus Nunes. Cyborg's the favorite, and rightfully so considering her record and great cardio. Amanda Nunes is coming up in weight. She hits hard. Besides just “going for the finish,” what must both do to make an exciting fight? What must Nunes do well to pull off the upset?

First off, let’s just say that it is a shame that all of the drama surrounding UFC 232 is distracting from such an incredible and historic fight in the co-main event. Between the venue changes, PED scandals, and displaced fans it’s easy to forget that the two of the most dominant women in mixed martial arts history are squaring off in a legit superfight. At the risk of jinxing it, there’s almost no way this won’t be exciting.

Cristiane Justino and Amanda Nunes simply just have to show up and do what they do to create fireworks. Both are hard hitting and technically proficient strikers who have also shown the ability to go the distance.

Usually in a matchup of strikers with differences in weight, power and/or speed become the deciding factor. Both possess frightening single shot power but let’s see where the speed advantage lies. If Nunes as the smaller fighter has a noticeable advantage in swift movement and punches, things can get VERY interesting.

However, I believe the work on the ground could provide the most suspense. We rarely see Cyborg on the ground, yet she and her opponent are decorated grapplers as well. The story of UFC 232 should be about this gift from the MMA Gods, not the chaos surrounding the logistics and regulation of the event.

faustian asks: Jeff Novitzky, who is in charge of the UFC’s USADA program, says he has a background in finance and accounting and is “not an expert” in this field. Why should we trust him as a scientific authority?

We shouldn’t trust him as an authority in this. And that’s not because he’s not experienced in these matters. He was formerly a front man for USADA and spent some time working in the FDA. Even if he isn’t a scientist, he would have to have some serious background knowledge to do his job properly. Considering the high profile investigations he took part in, he was obviously very good at it.

But the reason to not trust his word is because now the UFC issues his paychecks. In a situation where multiple conflicts of interests, irregularities, and ambiguities exist, it just doesn’t make sense to take the word of an employee with an agenda. While Dana White and Jon Jones faced the media at yesterday’s pre fight press conference, Novitzky was joining another UFC employee on a podcast. Joe Rogan, who doesn’t always tow the company line on his popular platform, is still longtime member of the UFC staff and should be recognized as such.

The idea of transparency under these circumstances is dubious at best. When asked for comment at the official weigh ins, Novitzky cited his sitdown with Rogan as a sufficient source for any questions that this situation raises. Shortly afterward, he made himself available for a scrum. However, his answers raised many more questions than were answered.

I think it would be irresponsible to just throw an accusation of corruption or dishonesty without concrete evidence, but we should take what a UFC employee says on the matter with a grain of salt, pun intended. When someone who isn’t on the payroll comments and explains what’s going on, we should be all ears.

Dawzz asks: Do you think Dana alongside Jon and his team should refund fans in some way?

From the UFC’s standpoint, the only possible answer for this is yes. Displacing fans and having such a nonchalant attitude about it is a great way to frustrate the loyal ones who travel and plan vacations around your product. With so much international appeal on this card, fans from Europe and South America are among the many with plans centered on making the trip to see the world’s top supplier of MMA action. That takes a tremendous amount of planning and expense, especially around the holidays. Having everything upended with less than a week’s notice is just a bad look all around and shows no respect for the sacrifice made by these dedicated fans.

Another factor is the flippant attitude shown towards the fighters in their efforts to comply with the shift. Increased medical costs mandated by the California State Athletic Commission, the heavier income tax imposed on the athletes, and the change in plans for friends and families planning on attending threw a serious monkey wrench in the plans of the fighters. When asked about possible compensation for the innocent parties in this fiasco at the pre-fight presser, White gave a response that was tone deaf and inconsiderate. While the $6-million price tag White cited as the cost of moving the event is nothing to sneeze at, none of the other fighters on the card or the fans should have to suffer financially since they had no say in the decision.

Don’t hold your breath for that refund. It would take a massive effort to win back the good graces of those willing to get a seat in the T-Mobile Arena. Judging by the responses of White, that’s an effort that most likely won’t be made.

As far as Jones is concerned, while he is at the center of the controversy, he didn’t decide to move the event. Of course he would be in favor of it because it keeps his career going and preserves his payday. To his credit, Jones did do an impromptu meet-and-greet for fans in Vegas before heading to Los Angeles. As a fight promoter once famously said, “It is what it is.”
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