411 Fact or Fiction MMA: Who Will be Georges St-Pierre’s First Challenger?
Welcome back to another edition of 411 Fact or Fiction MMA! I’m your host, Lorenzo Vasquez III, and it is my pleasure to bring you another contest of Fact or fiction MMA. Thank you, for your votes and comments last week. I appreciate it and encourage you to do the same this week. Last week, Evan Zivin and Robert Winfree put forth an epic battle as they contended through Holly Holm deserving a featherweight title rematch, Nate Diaz having better boxing than Conor McGregor, and Ian McCall’s UFC record compiling more withdrawals than wins or losses in addition to other subjects. A tight race from the start, Evan battered Robert with hard punches but not without eating hard rights and head kicks from Robert. Evan eventually took the lead, and while, Robert fought tooth and nail, he failed to keep up with the pace. Congratulations, Evan on your 18-to-16 victory. Sir, when McGregor vs. Mayweather is announced, it’s all yours. Thank you, both for your efforts and contributions. It is appreciated.
This week, Scott “Kuch” Kuczkowski will try his hand at giving Dino Zee is defeat. In his last outing, Dino Zee nearly tasted defeat as his contest with Jeffrey Harris ended in a draw. Kuch is coming in heavy handed. Will he get the job done as they lock horns over Georges St-Pierre’s return fight, Josh Thomson’s loss at Bellator 172, the UFC Flyweight division losing Horiguchi, and much more! Get comfortable, grab some grub if you need it because it’s time for another round of, 411 Fact or Fiction MMA! Shall we…
TALE OF THE TAPE
Scott “Kuch” Kuczkowski
Contributor, 411 MMA Zone
Dino “Salad Bar” Zee
Contributor, 411 Wrestling Zone
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) February 17, 2017
After 3-years on the shelf, Georges St-Pierre would be better to shake off the rust in a return fight against Robbie Lawler or even Nick or Nate Diaz over the Welterweight title holder, Michael Bisping, or Anderson Silva.
Scott Kuczkowski: FACT I’m really torn on this. GSP never seemed like the type of fighter affected by ring-rust, but so many people talk about it as a real thing that it makes me want to see GSP take a tune-up fight before jumping in against Woodley, Bisping, or Silva. A fight against Lawler or one of the Diaz brothers would easily headline a PPV card and would demonstrate whether 3 years away had any negative impact on GSP as a fighter. Plus, a dominant win would increase the hype for a matchup between he and Woodley, Bisping, or Silva.
Still though, part of me also thinks that the UFC should book the fights that they want, as soon as they can. Simply stated, the UFC would be unwise to book GSP in a tune-up fight when the real fight that fans want to see is GSP vs. Woodley, GSP vs. Bisping, or GSP vs. Silva. Why not book those fights right away? Because if GSP got injured in a tune-up bout and none of those fights happened because of that injury, then the fans would ultimately lose out. This is why I’m torn.
In the end, I’d hate to see GSP step in there with Woodley, Bisping, or Silva and get sparked out inside of a minute by a lucky punch simply because he didn’t get a chance to shake off the ring rust. And while I firmly believe GSP would probably do fine against whomever the UFC matched him up with, I think I’d prefer to see him in a tune-up fight at first, simply because I think it will be a better build-up to him fighting one of the Champs or Silva.
Dino Zee: FICTION Let it be known that the only reason I’m going Fiction on this is because I do feel like the Anderson Silva fight is the one to make at this point in time. It’s already nearly 8 years past when we were calling for it, but it still features two of the biggest names from a certain era going at it. So, it gives us a fun fight for GSP’s return. On top of that – and call me crazy here – but I just don’t think that GSP deserves a top level dude after going 3 years without a fight, nixing guys like Lawler and Bisping from consideration. And finally, we’ve already seen him hug Nick Diaz for 25 minutes, and I don’t need to see a repeat, or a sequel starring Nate.
Giving him Silva makes the most sense. Silva is still a name, still considered the Greatest by many, and is coming off a stay-relevant win over Derek Brunson, no matter how bad the fight, or questionable the decision. It will allow us to see where GSP is at this point, and if he comes in and looks fantastic, then fine, give him a more “important” fight as far as rankings and title shots are concerned. Until then, I’d say either ease him back against a low ranked guy in his division, or just do the fight everyone wanted and give him Silva. The fight will sell yesterday, today, or tomorrow.
— Newfoundland Facts (@NLFacts) February 20, 2017
Gavin Tucker showed the kind of showmanship, attitude, and skill the UFC must nourish to create the next big star.
Scott Kuczkowski: FACT I thought Tucker looked great in his UFC debut. Sam Sicilia is a veteran and no joke inside the octagon, but Tucker simply outclassed him at every turn. Comparisons were made during the broadcast between Tucker and Cody Garbrandt, and based on fighting style alone, those comparisons didn’t seem very off. I would have liked to see Tucker finish Sicilia, but aside from that small point, I think he had a tremendous debut. I’d like to see him next matched up with someone like Alex Caceres or Gray Maynard.
Dino Zee: FACT I agree whole heartedly. Whether that means he can actually become the next big star or not remains to be seen, but he definitely showed it all on Sunday night. The way he made Sam Sicilia appear completely out of his league was incredible. Sicilia has never been a tippy-top guy, but he’s always a tough out, and ready to bang. Sunday night, he was made to look like an ineffective statue, simply watching as his opponent ran circles around him. To render someone like Sicilia completely ineffective, and to do so in your debut on the biggest stage, speaks volumes for his mental toughness, and he more than showed his physical gifts. A great showing for Mr. Tucker, to be sure.
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) February 20, 2017
Despite a nice performance and win, Johny Hendricks showed little to say he’ll find the same success at middleweight as he did at welterweight.
Scott Kuczkowski: FICTION I think it’s too soon to say this. Hector Lombard is a very tough guy and Johny Hendricks hung with him for the whole 15 minutes. The fact that Hendricks didn’t gas out and seemed to be rejuvenated makes me think that he might yet still find success in the Middleweight Division. While he will definitely be undersized against most other Middleweights and will have to overcome massive reach disadvantages with each fight, Hendricks might just have to return to his wrestling roots and become a grinder. Honestly, whatever helps him make weight and stay healthy is fine with me, and if he’s happiest doing that at 185 pounds, then I think that’s where he should stay.
Dino Zee: FACT This was pretty easy, as I don’t think Hendricks can become middleweight champion, and so he cannot find the same success he did at welterweight.
Look, that win over Lombard was still a big thing for Johny. He was on that 3 fight skid, he hadn’t looked that great in a while (he looked okay against Magny, but not great), and there were whispers that, should he lose to Hector, he’d retire. Instead, he put on his best performance in years, looking refreshed, strong, and taking shots from a powerful guy and continuing on.
While I may be dubious about his chances against the Romeros, Jacares, and Weidmans of the world, I still think Hendricks could more than hang with the Bispings (once he loses that belt), Whittakers, and the rest of the division. So, while I don’t see him capturing gold at 185, I still think Hendricks has a more than viable run in him at the weight.
— MMA GIFS (@mma_gifs_) February 18, 2017
Bellator 172 could not have ended any better than Patricky “Pitbull” Freire knocking out Josh Thomson after losing its main event–Matt Mitrione vs. Fedor Emelianenko.
Dino Zee: FICTION I think a bonkers San Jose crowd going crazy for Thomson beating Freire in vicious fashion may have been the best possible route for Bellator. Instead, you had an arena full of people, already angry that they lost their main event, now heartbroken because the hometown guy was smashed. Now, yes, not every single fan in the arena was rooting for Josh, but he was clearly the majority favorite, and a win would have cheered the crowd up a bit. Instead, they were deflated further.
Now, sure, from a purely business perspective, perhaps having their home grown guy smash the former Strikeforce Champion *is* the best possible ending. But even then, I’d question that logic, since Bellator has been pushing HARD for a Chandler/Thomson fight, and that’s all gone, for now. We’ve already seen Chandler starch Patricky, so dialing up a rematch doesn’t seem that great, either. So yeah, I’m hard pressed to see how, from any perspective, how that was the best (“could not have ended any better”) ending possible. Definitely fiction.
Scott Kuczkowski: FACT This was a good fight that demonstrated that “Pitbull” still has that one-punch power to end a fight. I wouldn’t have minded this fight going a little longer so we could see if Josh Thomson can still compete at the highest levels, but “Pitbull” fights sometimes have a way of ending in dramatic fashion. And frankly, given that most people were pretty let down that the Fedor fight was postponed, this ending was the best that Bellator could hope for.
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) February 21, 2017
It’s not beyond reason that Derrek Lewis could end 2017 as the UFC Heavyweight Champion.
Dino Zee: FACT It probably isn’t going to happen, of course, but it isn’t beyond reason to think that, after Stipe and Junior have their rematch, that perhaps the UFC fast tracks Lewis to a title shot, meaning he could very well fight for the title in late summer / early fall. Which would absolutely put him in a pretty good spot to end 2017 as the UFC Heavyweight Champion.
Cain can’t be counted on, and doesn’t exactly deserve the title shot right now. Ditto Fabricio. Lewis continues to beat people, and continues to do so in a fan-friendly manner. He keeps his name relevant in the headlines via social media. He’s not a retread or a champion from 12 years ago. It seems silly when you say it out loud, but yes, there is a semi-decent chance that Lewis *could* end 2017 as the UFC Heavyweight Champion. Again, it most likely won’t happen, but it could.
Scott Kuczkowski: FICTION I really like Derrick Lewis, especially with him being a simple, blue-collar type of guy with massive power. I think he’s got a bright future in the Heavyweight Division and will probably be challenging for the title before long, but I don’t think it will happen this year. Lewis stated he didn’t even want to discuss his next fight for at least 3 months, which means his next bout probably won’t happen until the summer. I think a good matchup for him would be the winner of Alistair Overeem vs. Mark Hunt. Fighting the winner of that bout would then put him in the Top 5 of the Heavyweight Division, after which he’d have to fight either Junior dos Santos or Fabricio Werdum. Defeating one of those guys would then put him line to face Stipe Miocic. While I know a lot of people would like to see that matchup before the end of the year, I don’t think it would happen until 2018.
On the other hand, if there is an injury somewhere and he felt like stepping in to take a short-notice fight, that timeline could be sped up and he could fight for the gold before the year closes out. After his last fight though, he seemed like he wanted a break, so I doubt that will happen.
— Bloody Elbow (@BloodyElbow) February 20, 2017
The UFC’s Flyweight division should not be too devastated with the loss of Kyoji Horiguchi should the UFC fail to re-offer him an acceptable contract.
Dino Zee: FACT Well, we’ll find out, won’t we? With Horiguchi having signed with Rizin, time will tell.
Horiguchi, fun as he is, also found himself in a spot many of the flyweights are in – they already lost to Mighty Mouse, and they didn’t do much in that first fight to instill confidence that a rematch would go differently. Kinda like Benvaidez, Cejudo, or even John Moraga. Stuck in that spot, with a title shot (as long as Demetrious holds the belt) probably not coming soon, makes it hard to really promote a guy as someone to watch. Which is why, for the most part, Flyweight is promoted so terribly. And when you’re in that spot, and you’re not seen as a huge commodity anymore, then it’s pretty easy to imagine that the division will carry on without you just fine. On top of that, there are some up and comers in the division – like Ray Borg, Brandon Moreno, Ben Nguyen – so it’s not like we’re just stuck with veterans and retreads.
Don’t get me wrong – losing Horiguchi is a small bummer for the UFC’s Flyweight Division, but it’s not some insurmountable loss.
Scott Kuczkowski: FACT As of this column, Horiguchi has signed with Rizin, so I’m pretty sure the chances of the UFC coming to terms with him are zero. While Horiguchi was a good fighter and highly ranked, he’d already lost to Demetrious Johnson and I didn’t see anything from him in his fights afterward that made me think a rematch would turn out any different. Unfortunately, for Horiguchi, I don’t think he had a very big following with US fans, so the UFC probably didn’t see him as someone who could headline a PPV card without another major name. Say what you want, but that hurts a fighter tremendously when it comes to contract negotiations.
Plus, I don’t think a lack of names hurts the UFC Flyweight Division as much as the fact that the Champ has looked pretty unbeatable. At this point, Johnson has really only looked human a few times, which hurts the UFC when trying to hype challengers as being legitimate threats to his title. Unless the rest of the division steps up their game or Johnson gets tired of defending his title, the UFC Flyweight Division is going to continue to be a challenge to promote.
So who won? Was Kuch able to hand Dino his first loss or did Dino easily rack up another win? You’ve got until midnight eastern on Saturday to vote, so make sure you make your voice heard!
And that’s it for today but, as always, we’ll be back next week with another contest! And please, be sure to vote!
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