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Grappling with Issues – 6/1/11

Is Lyoto Machida a better match-up for Jon Jones than Quinton Jackson? Does Clay Guida deserve a title-shot if he beats Anthony Pettis this weekend? Are you excited about Jason Miller and Michael Bisping as coaches on the next season of TUF? When should fans expect to see Brock Lesnar back in the Octagon?

Keyboard warrrrriors….come out to plaaaay-yay!

Welcome to Grappling with Issues, our site’s regular weekly feature highlight insight and opinion from myself and resident workhorse Jeremy Lambert whose “Walk Out” and “After Party” event-breakdowns can be regularly found on Five Ounces. As always, just because we staffers get the fancy set-up, please don’t hesitate to offer your own take on the topics in the “Comments” section below.

Better match-up for Jon Jones – Lyoto Machida or Quinton Jackson?

Lambert: For Jones, the answer has to be Jackson. Machida would give Jones a million different angles and diversify his attack while with Jackson, you know what you’re getting. Even though Jackson mixed things up a bit more against Matt Hamill than he has in recent performances (most notably going to the body), he’s still a guy who is going to throw almost nothing but power punches (usually two at a time) and not check leg kicks. Plus Jackson has a tough time with speed fighters and Jones certainly has the luxury of being faster than your average light heavyweight.

The thing Jackson has that Machida doesn’t is that one-punch power. Sure Machida has power but not many people have that kind of KO power that Jackson has. I think Jones would take his chances against Jackson’s power rather than trying to figure out the speed and timing of Machida though.

Conlan: Though I ultimately think it’s probably splitting hairs given the immense talent both Machida and Jackson possess, I have a hard time disagreeing with anything in Jeremy’s take on the topic. Jackson has rarely if ever shown the desire to remain “elusive” and prefers to go toe-to-toe, an approach giving Jones less to prepare for as far as I’m concerned. He’s also shown questionable conditioning in the past giving Jones another angle to work with. Then again, he also hasn’t been stopped in a fight since 2005 whereas Machida was rendered into goo against Mauricio Rua a year ago, so like I said in my opening I think the difference between the two is marginal at best. It’s essentially choosing whether Jones would be better off stepping into the cage with a lion or a tiger.

I also think “Rampage” is a better opponent for Jones from purely a fan’s perspective. He’s experienced crossover success and is one of the sport’s legitimate stars. A championship bout featuring a relative icon who knows how to sell a match-up to media is a lot more appealing to the masses (myself included) than one with a guy whose English is shaky and barely moves the mainstream needle.

Would Brian Stann vs. Jorge Santiago been named “Fight of the Night” if the event hadn’t taken place on Memorial Day Weekend?

Lambert: I don’t know, maybe we should get Jesse Ventura on the case? Probably not since I think Thiago Alves vs. Rick Story and Miguel Torres vs. Demetrious Johnson were better overall fights but the crowd was super into Stann vs. Santiago, it had enough action, and it had a finish. I’m sure it helped that Stann is a veteran and UFC thought it would look nice if they gave a veteran a bonus but no one really knows why they got the bonus over the other fights except for Dana and company.

Conlan: Absolutely not. I don’t disagree with the UFC’s jingoism in principle, as Stann’s credentials as a legitimate American hero are not in question and the notion of giving a veteran “Fight of the Night” on Memorial Day brings out the red, white, and blue in all of us. However, in terms of the actual quality of the bout it was relatively one-sided in favor of Stann and in my opinion FotN honors should be handed to the best combined showing. Story/Alves and Johnson/Torres were energetic, entertaining back-and-forth affairs where the win could have gone either way, and those qualities are the things I look for when picking the best from the bunch. As such, I would have been fine with Stann getting an extra “Knockout of the Night” bonus alongside Travis Browne, but as far as “Fight of the Night” goes it shouldn’t have even been a contender.

Should Clay Guida be given a lightweight title-shot if he beats Anthony Pettis this weekend at the Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale?

Lambert: Yes. I’ve been saying this ever since the fight was announced. I know Jim Miller has a very strong cage for a title shot as well but lets face facts, Guida is 10X (if not more) popular than Miller and that matters in this sport. A victory for Guida would give him four straight wins including a victory over the perceived #1 contender. I’m a firm believer in that, if one guy is going to get a title fight with a victory, and he loses, the guy who beat him should get the title shot. Sometimes UFC match-making makes that a hard rule to live by but I don’t think that’s the case with this fight.

Conlan: Lambert took the words out of my fingertips. Miller is undoubtedly more deserving from a performance perspective but Guida is extremely popular and a win over Pettis, not to mention his success against Takanori Gomi and the fact his last two losses came to recent contenders (Ken Florian/Diego Sanchez), should solidify a shot at the title or at minimum a date with Miller if the New Jersey native gets by Ben Henderson in August. Guida also has a penchant for turning in “Fight of the Night”-quality performances which doesn’t hurt the cause either since in the end MMA is as much about entertaining the public as it is an athletic competition.

Are you satisfied with Jason Miller and Michael Bisping as TUF 14 coaches?

Conlan: Not particularly. I understand the inherent entertainment value involved when Miller steps in front of a camera and there’s no doubt Bisping will provide more than a few soundbytes of his own. However, the actual match-up doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. “The Count” is on the cusp of middleweight contendership with a trio of consecutive wins in the past year over solid opposition while “Mayhem” has only had his hand raised three times since 2008 with none of the victories being particularly notable in nature. In fact you have to go back an additional year to find a relevant example of in-ring success on his record (Tim Kennedy).

Another aspect of the pairing I dislike is the notion Miller will have have been out of action for about fifteen months when he finally faces off with Bisping in December. I would have much rather seen him fight Aaron Simpson at UFC 132 to get his career back on track than have the UFC sideline him in hopes of improving the Ultimate Fighter’s sagging ratings based on his sense of humor and silly antics.

Lambert: I’m with Bren. I’m alright with Bisping as a coach, although I don’t like when they recycle coaches, but Miller doesn’t make sense for the reasons Bren already laid out.

I think the better choice would have been Stann. The guy came off like a huge superstar this past weekend and his personality isn’t forced or likely to get tiresome like Miller’s. Plus Stann vs. Bisping is a legit #1 contenders fight for the middleweight strap based on lack of other contenders, their string of victories, and popularity. It’s pretty telling that Miller vs. Bisping isn’t even going to be on PPV and will instead headline the TUF 14 Finale show. Maybe it’s just a bone to Spike TV, who they’re about to negotiate a new contract with, but I think it’s a bit more than that.

TRUE/FALSE: Brock Lesnar will be back in the Octagon by Super Bowl Weekend 2012.

Conlan: Is this a trick question or does Lambert know something ESPN doesn’t in terms of there actually being a NFL season next year? Regardless, for the sake of discussion I’ll say “false” since Lesnar is going to be recovering from his recent surgery for awhile and is expected to lose a significant amount of weight due to a liquid diet he’ll be on throughout the process. Even if the Super Bowl is played a month later than usual I’m not confident it will be enough time for the former heavyweight champ to fully regain his strength or shake off the ring-rust brought on by his medical condition, and I don’t see any reason for the UFC to rush him back unless he’s 100% ready to go.

Lambert: Of course there’s going to be an NFL season. And not only will Lesnar be back in the Octagon on Super Bowl weekend, but Cam Newton will be playing that weekend as well.

Okay, so I don’t actually believe either of those things to be true. I know Dana White said that they’re hoping for Lesnar to return in early 2012 but there’s no reason to rush this thing. Lesnar has already admitted that he felt he rushed himself back after his first battle and I’m willing to bet that he won’t make the same mistake twice. He’s not going to risk his career by stepping back into the Octagon before he’s 100% healthy and unfortunately, I don’t think that’s going to be until at least summer 2012.

How did you score Miguel Torres vs. Demetrious Johnson?

Conlan: I would have given the nod to Torres but there have certainly been worse decisions rendered in the history of MMA. It was a competitive, entertaining scrap and one I wouldn’t mind seeing again down the road. The real shame is Torres essentially got “robbed” twice since the UFC opted to hand out the $70,000 “Fight of the Night” check to Stann/Santiago instead of to the bantamweights for their brilliant battle on the ground.

Lambert: I scored it 30-27 Torres but the fight was much closer than that score would indicate. I don’t think it was a “robbery” (a term that gets thrown around far too much) but the scoring on this fight is proof that being on top on the ground accounts for far too much. Torres was more active off his back in going to submissions and sweeps but because Johnson was able to maintain top position for the most part, while doing absolutely no damage, he got the nod. Someone explain to be how being aggressive on the feet (even if it mains getting your butt kicked), leads to victories but being aggressive on the ground leads to losses.


  • Dufresne says:

    – Jackson. He’s very powerful and has an iron jaw, but he’s also fairly one dimensional. Just because Hamill couldn’t take him down doesn’t mean Jones won’t be able to. After all, Jones dumped Hamill on his head with surprisingly little difficulty. I don’t think Jones would lose to Machida either, but Machida is more dangerous simply because he’s very capable of throwing unorthodox strikes from crazy places. Ask Randy’s tooth.

    – Nope. It was a good fight and it was fun to watch, but in my opinion Torres v Johnson was by far the better overall fight.

    – Yes. Absolutely yes. I want Miller to get his title shot as soon as possible, but I think Guida has at least as much of an argument for one if he can take out Pettis.

    – I don’t really care to be honest. There hasn’t been a season where I cared about the coaches in quite a while. I like the fights, but the house drama and coach drama does nothing for me.

    – I’m gonna go with a “no” here, but only just. I think Lesnar will be back early next year, but I don’t think it’ll be before the Super Bowl.
    And yes, Cam Newton will be playing on Super Bowl Sunday. In his back yard with his friends after the Panthers go 3-13.

  • Dufresne says:

    Oh, and I had Torres v Johnson scored as either 30-27 Torres or 29-28 Torres.

  • bigbadjohn says:

    If everyone here is on Torres’ side, I’ll play devil’s advocate. As aggressive as Miguel was on the bottom with his submission attempts, Demetrius fought every one off. Escaping from a trained submission artist’s grasps on multiple occasions and maintaining top control has to mean something. If stuffing takedowns can win you a round (Chris cope vs Shamar on TUF as a recent example) why can’t stuffing subs and grinding from the top? I think judging is worse off if failed attempts at chokes, bars etc gets you the nod just because you can’t stay off your back.

  • locoRover says:

    Bigbadjohn, interesting point. Comparably, if someone threw a ton of strikes, but their opponent was able to dodge them, do u award for agressiveness (even though they’re doing no damage)? Judging debate will never be entirely solved…

  • Dufresne says:

    This is the same debate on how to judge stuffed takedowns. I think a successful defense should be awarded points, but not as much as a successful offense as the fighter defending is not imposing his/her will or being the aggressor.

  • MCM says:

    I don’t think Machida or Jackson have done enough to earn a title shot. Rashad is still the #1 contender and should have been given his shot if Jones didn’t duck him. Forrest is also on the cusp of getting another shot if he can get passed Shogun a second time. That would be three in a row for Forrest all against former Champs.

    Since it’s not my money, I don’t care who wins FOTN. At least Dana throws some extra cash to his fighters so I won’t complain.

    I said it before that the show should be about the fighters not the coaches, but at leas these two are entertaining. I think Stann/Bisping would have been about the same as Bisping/Hendo. Bisping making jokes and Stann being boring.

    True. Dana will make him fight even if he is not %100. If you’re wondering how Dana can make Brock do anything, well, he got him to coach TUF didn’t he.

  • boomnutz says:

    I don’t get the logic behind you’re line of thinking…what makes Rashad worthy but not Machida or Rampage? Rashad has two wins since he lost the title, both boring decisions (not that the boring should matter) but what does matter is that neither decision was overly impressive. I’m not championing any of the three but I don’t think any is closer than the other. Personally, I think Machida should get it just because of the timeliness (if Rampage is out). I just don’t want to wait until August to find out.

  • Rece Rock says:

    I like Jackson for the JJ Match up… Machida is def. a good match up but I feel Like this is Rampages last run…

    Yeah I think it was a bit of the UFC marketing cogs turning when they decided that was FOTN but Stann def. continues to make headway in the division…

    Clay Guida has put in his time and has earned his stripes and in a division that stacked I think they need to not only need to match up the #1 contenders BUT also make exciting fights for the fans and give a vet like Guida a shot…why not? Def. won’t be a boring fight thats for sure.

    YES satisfied with the TUF coaches… I honestly wouldnt have watched if Cheal was a coach… I think that was too much of a reward for a guy whose messed up alot lately.

    TRUE I see Lesner back in the cage by then and hopefully they give him a relatively easy warm up fight to give him a lil boost… the guy has only fought the upper crust of the division throw him a bone for a warm up fight when he gets back, let him run through somebody and get that edge back.

  • A better matchup is debatable by the context of the statement. I think Quinton is a better sylistic matchup for Jones due to his brawl for all style, while the Dragon is going to use his wacky angles to stay away from those gorilla arms of Bones. Either matchup interests me greatly as I think both would provide Jones some stiff tests that a champion should get. I only think Jones threw Hammil around because Hammil didnt expect it…Rampage will be looking for those shots and should Jones get cute with his strikes, either the Dragon OR Rampage has the power and technique to make him pay. I also think that Rampage may be the only LHW that is physically as strong as JBJ. And just to start my required weekly argument with MCM…I dont believe Rashad was or is a deserving number one contender. He beat Rampage and Thiago Silva…. by boring decisions and when he got tagged in the later rounds of the fight he showed he gets hurt…had he not been dealing with both guys with big ring rust i think the story would’ve been different. now once he gets past Phil Davis(and if he does so with a finish or at least a truly dominant decision) maybe we can talk.

    Maybe maybe not…Stann’s veteran status might’ve been the reason…or just his immense popularity as of late. Either way I think a dual KO of the night should’ve been awarded and Story/Alves or/and Mighty Mouse/Torres could’ve gotten FOTN due to the awesomeness of their bouts for different reasons. Both were excellent fights.

    29-28 Torres…or 28-28…I believe Octagon control should be awarded to the guy firing off sub attempts and sweeps…also aggressiveness…Mighty mouse did a great job of avoiding them, but he wasnt trying to finish a whole lot…great grappling match…one for the ages for sure and I agree with the writers…top control is given too much love when the guy on bottom is throwin sub after sub after sub.

    Depends on how you look at it. I think Miller will be a far superior coach and personality to Stann just due to his experience and overall personality, but I think Stann is a much more known fighter to the general public. I figure this seasons ratings sucked due to a lack of coach confrontation drama and the UFC is willing to take a gamble. Either way, I like the fight, and I also like that Stann is kept on the backburner for a possible title shot should Silva best Okami in Rio.

    i hope so but for his sake I’d prefer not. I want to see a fully healthy and sharpened Brock back in the ring not a 75% one. Brock is getting a bit older and for his golden years as an athelete, I’d rather see the best Brock.

    Yes Clay has earned the shot with this win for the fact that a if he beats Pettis he beats the number 1 contender and 2 once again his age is much further along than that of Miller and this could be the carpenters last run whereas Jim could fall twice and still earn a title shot in two years with big victories…either way if they both win there seems to be enough time to make them fight each other before the winner of Frankie and Gray is ready to defend.

  • MCM says:

    boomnutz- my logic is this,
    Rashad beat top 5 Rampage and top 10 Silva and is now facing top 10 (arguably) Davis. If he wins, that’s three in a row.
    Rampage beat top 15 Hamil top 5 Machida (this one is still up for debate) and lost to Rashad.
    Machida beat top 15 Randy and lost to Rampage and Shogun.

    3-0 (hopefully) vs. 2-1 and 1-2 (or 1-2 and 2-1 depending on how you look at it.) Had Rampage won a decisive victory over Machida, I think he would have a more convincing argument, but since most people still think he lost, that gives Rashad the edge IMO.

    If Rashad loses to Davis he’s out. If Forrest wins against Shogun, he’s in. Rampage and Machida each need at least one more top 10 win to be considered the #1 contender. Perhaps a 10-0 Phil Davis.

    Besides, I love the story line between Rashad and Jones. But I’m not Joe Silva or Dana White, so I don’t get to make those calls. It’ll probably be Machida.

  • MCM says:

    seriously? Your argument is that Rashad was boring, so what, those wins don’t count? And that he got hurt…in a fight….he got hurt in a fight so he shouldn’t get a shot at the title? Rampage also got hurt in that fight does that mean he shouldn’t be allowed a title shot? Rashad was also coming off a pretty long off in the Silva fight and Rampages lay off was entirely of his own choosing so he doesn’t get a pass for that.

    Regardless, Rashad IS fighting Davis. So with a win, can we all agree that he deserves a shot at the belt? (no matter who holds it.)

  • bigbadjohn says:

    Rece, your Brock comments are bang-on. MCM, I couldn’t agree more. Get used to the Rashad hate though. He has the highest hate to least deserved ratio of any UFC fighter I can think of.

  • Angry Mike says:

    Machida is a more dangerous opponent for Bones than Rampage. Machida is patient and elusive, and he’s ko’d more than one guy who chased after him. Due to his age,comparative inexperience, and confidence in his skills, it’s a real possibility that Jones chases Machida. Ask Rashad or Thiago how that worked out.

    Machida may not have the same power as Rampage, but Rampage hasn’t been able to use his power as effectively in recent fights. If he can’t land the big bomb, he doesn’t have anything else as a fall back.

    I’ll pay the cash to watch either fight, but I’d rather watch Jones v. Machida.

  • boomnutz says:

    MCM, I just feel as though Machida really won that fight against Rashad and then knocked out Randy, already knocked out Rashad too, so I think he deserves it more. If you’re basing it off of Rashad beating Phil, I don’t think you should bring speculation into the argument. But for argument’s sake if Forrest beats Shogun and Rashad beats Davis (I think Davis will win by the way) who’s more deserving? I go with Forrest. I do def. agree tho that I want Rashad and Jones to fight eventually, I’d love to see Jones shut him up once and for all. I’m throwing it out here once more…Rashad needs to move down!!! I believe he wrestled at 174 at MSU, and he always looks a tad bit soft. He’d be a killer at MW, I sincerely think he’d have a better chance at beating Anderson Silva than any other MW (ultimately i think he’d get KO’ed, but it’d be interesting)

  • Actually MCM my point is that he had his chance, and decided to sit on the sidelines. He didnt get hurt in a fight he got hurt in training. He also had two wins in 3 years while the other guys have wins in much faster time and elected not to sit on the sidelines and continue to compete.If we’re talkin consecutive wins Forrest has an equal number of wins, rampage has an equal number of wins, Phil Davis has far more wins and Hammil had 5 straight(albeit with one being a DQ) two wins one over a guy comin off a loss and another comin off a guy who was 1-1 in his last two(losing his title by a disputible decision) shouldnt write off the fact that he was blasted into oblivion and OWNED in the previous 7 minutes in his title fight.
    Brandon Vera had his title shot lined up BUT managerial contract problems cost it to him due to being gone for a year…Rashad has been gone just as long and hasnt been impressive in his wins. If Fitch isnt the most deserving contender at WW only losing 1 round in 4 fights…how is Rashad a top contender losing 2 of 6 let alone taking almost 2 years to win those two?

    I will agree that the Rashad JBJ storyline is epic though.

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    Guida is 10-8 over the last 5 years. He does not DESERVE a title shot. Miller is the best LW in the UFC and deserves the shot.


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