Ask Ant: UFC 234 Edition

By Anthony Walker Feb 8, 2019

Poll Question: Does Adesanya deserve a title shot if he beats Anderson Silva this weekend at UFC 234? 43 percent say Yes, 57 percent say No.

I can’t answer this with a simple yes or no. Israel Adesanya would probably be the best contender for the belt if he wins against Anderson Silva. However, I don’t think a victory over the 2019 version of Silva warrants that opportunity in and of itself. Instead, this seems to be more of a case of circumstances playing in Adesanya’s favor.

Looking at the list of other potential contenders, the options seem strong on first glance. But a deeper look reveals just how little else there is at 185. Former champion Luke Rockhold appears to be leaving the middleweight division. He was also knocked out by Yoel Romero in his last fight.

Speaking of Romero, he sits in a strange place now. He has already lost twice to champion Robert Whittaker. Considering how close and entertaining their last fight was, a third fight wouldn’t be unwelcome if Whittaker retains his belt Saturday. If Gastelum gets his hand raised, there would be a fresh matchup that could be very intriguing. But since Romero failed to make weight for his last two fights, both title opportunities, serious questions need to be asked about his ability to win the battle on the scale moving forward. If the talk about him also moving up to light heavyweight is correct, he can be removed from the list without any doubts.

Another former champion, Chris Weidman, vocally expressed his displeasure with Gastelum getting a chance at the belt. If Gastelum wins, Weidman have a fairly recent submission victory over the new champ lends credibility to his case. If Whittaker wins, there is another fresh match up which from a stylistic point of view is very intriguing. However last time we saw Weidman, he was staring up the lights in Madison Square Garden thanks to the fists of Ronaldo Souza.

“Jacare” has a mainstay in the title picture since joining the UFC roster. A huge victory over a big name on a big event is a great way to throw your name in the hat. But no matter who wins in Saturday’s main event, “Jacare” has lost to both men, going 2-2 in his last four.

Paulo Costa is still unproven commodity with his biggest wins coming over Uriah Hall and Johny Hendricks, neither of whom have come within sniffing distance of middleweight title contention. Jared Cannonier defeating David Branch is a solid victory that warrants validity to his name but that snapped a two-fight losing streak at light heavyweight and he could use a bit more time at 185.

Adesanya defeating Derek Brunson with style points at UFC 230 is the standout victory of the bunch. Also he won a dominant decision against an underrated gatekeeper in Brad Tavares in a main event in addition to an undefeated record. Couple that with his personality and undeniable charisma as the promotion seeks stars that it can effortlessly market. Adesanya can certainly benefit from a bit more development before challenging for the belt. But the state of the division and the UFC in general won’t allow it.

Timurd123 asks: Colby Covington is talking about suing the UFC for getting skipped for a title shot. Does he think he’s gonna get a title shot through court?

I highly doubt that Colby Covington thinks that suing the UFC will get him a shot at the undisputed welterweight belt. This seems like just the latest in the long line of publicity stunts to keep his name relevant in the news. As the date fast approaches for Tyron Woodley and Kamaru Usman to fight for the undisputed welterweight title, his interim belt -- and leverage -- have less and less significance.

When the UFC stripped him of that title, it created a significant backlash in favor of Covington. His case for the next shot at Woodley was solid and the fans wanted to see it. Despite his carefully crafted heel persona, being on the wrong side of a clear snub garnered a decent amount of support from fans and media. However, when Woodley and Usman made magic during their fun verbal confrontation at last week’s press conference the idea of someone other than Covington challenging for the belt didn’t seem so bad.

So without the belt -- also, remember he has the old belt which while much better looking is no longer the crown -- or the cries of onlookers on his side, he needs something else. He needs the attention. Whether that attention comes in the form of disgust or mockery doesn’t matter. The more people talk about him, the more leverage he has to regain the opportunity to fight for the championship.

Let’s just assume that he is serious about the lawsuit. What would his case be? What argument could he possibly offer in court that would force the promotion to give him a title shot? How would he even afford taking on a multi-billion dollar company that has the sole rights to his money making opportunities?

There are simply too many holes with any train of reasoning that says this a good idea. He knows it. But we’re talking about him now so he has succeeded for the time being. Well done Colby.

Flow of truth asks: Why is dropping down a weight class being used as an excuse for TJ to have lost?

The reason why dropping down in weight is being used as an excuse for T.J. Dillashaw is simple. Dropping down in weight has a negative effect on the body. When you’re already a smaller guy, an additional ten pounds to cut is a massive difference. The act of cutting weight is terrible for an athlete in almost every way. Dehydration and starvation are the exact opposite of what every garden variety personal trainer will tell you to do if you want to maximize your athletic performance.

Besides the fact that losing muscle mass, nutrients, and even certain amounts of body fat are not ideal, it can cause malfunctioning of the kidneys and lowered cognitive abilities. Also there are studies suggesting that weight cuts can make it easier to get concussed and reduce their tolerance for pain. Of course fighters cut weight all of the time and see success. But when entering a new weight class, there is a learning curve associated. It’s not uncommon to see someone feel the difference in their new lower weight class as their body hasn’t gotten used to the lighter frame. With time and repetition, it’s possible that what once felt abnormal and strange may begin to seem pretty standard. Maybe another chance to fight at 125 will allow Dillashaw’s body adapt to the cut and his performance could improve.

It is entirely possible that if Henry Cejudo and Dillashaw fought that night at bantamweight the same thing could’ve happened though. Cejudo’s precise flurry and well timed aggression might do the same thing at 135. Perhaps a rematch between them looks relatively the same. Maybe the adaptations Dillashaw could make with a chance to spend more time in his flyweight body could turn it around. Who knows what could have or would have happened? However, to deny that the weight cut had any effect on Dillashaw is simply ignoring verifiable science.
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