mma / Columns

The Round Horn 3.20.14: The Ghost of Zivin’s Past

March 20, 2014 | Posted by Koedd Laemmle

MMA fans are still reeling after Saturday’s UFC 171 threw a monkey wrench into many of the Welterweight division’s future match ups. Surprising performances from Tyron Woodley, Hector Lombard and Robbie Lawler has created a lot of excitement in the new path the weight class is now going down with much mystery revolving around the first challenger to Johny Hendrick’s newly won championship. Last week also saw the beginning of official competition for the Round Horn’s second group of panelists in what critics have described as “something…” and one was quoted as saying “CLICK HERE NOW FOR FREE UFC STREAMS!”

After a full week of competition the scores for Round 1 are:

Evan Zivin: 10
Wyatt Beougher: 13
Jeffrey Harris: 13
Weebrave: 15

These points will be carried onto the next round but the also signals the end of the road for our friend Evan Zivin. Things started going downhill for Mr. Zivin when he was caught drunkenly urinating on THIS man in a back alley after he lost a bunch of money betting on this fight:

The voters have spoken but Mr. Zivin was kind enough to send in his answers for Round 2 which can be seen at this website. In all sincerity I thank our eliminated friend for his time and advise everybody to check out his most recent edition of Five Quick Rounds where he shares his thoughts on the monumental events that transpired throughout the Welterweight division last Saturday.

Also I’d like to recommend everybody to check out our panel member Jeffrey Harris’ recent interview with the man everybody was talking about once UFC 171 was all said and done: Tyron Woodley. It is very well done and has plenty of great insight into Woodley’s mindset prior to his career defining victory against Carlos Condit. And if you haven’t done it by now, go cast your votes in the Fact or Fiction tournament match ups! It’s nowhere near as complex a setup as my column and is so easy a caveman runs it… can run it, I meant… please don’t hit me Wyatt…

Alright, enough shilling and onto our second week of competition. Voting will be open on reddit at the Round Horn Subreddit until Tuesday night so get your votes in now! Round 2 is BUY OR SELL where our three remaining panel remembers are given statements and they must treat it as stock and either BUY or SELL each statement.

BUY OR SELL: Johny Hendricks claiming Robbie Lawler is a “more dangerous” fight than GSP. (editor’s note: this was asked prior to UFC 171 otherwise they would have universally mentioned Robbie Lawler’s performance against Hendricks compared to GSP’s)

Wyatt Beougher: BUY: In Hendricks’ own head, I’m sure he believes Lawler is a more dangerous fight, because he feels he’s already beaten GSP (and while I agree with him, that’s still entirely debatable). Plus, while Georges showed an early aptitude for knocking people out, we really haven’t seen that since 2008 against Serra (I’m not counting BJ being too out-of-shape to answer the bell in January of 2009). In that same time frame, six of Lawler’s seven wins have come by KO/TKO (plus Lawler has ten more T/KO victories than GSP in 3 less total wins). So I can certainly see why Johny would feel that way, as he did eat some pretty good shots from GSP in their first fight and survived, even if I personally think that GSP has a better chance of beating Hendricks than Lawler does.

Weebrave: BUY: Robbie has dynamite in his hands while GSP has a jab and a double leg. GSP is the tougher fighter to beat in a mixed martial arts competition but Robbie is as dangerous as it gets. 

Jeffrey Harris: BUY: Georges St-Pierre is the dominant welterweight in history, but when he fought Hendricks, he hadn’t really looked “dangerous” in quite some time.  The last time he finished someone before their fight, it had been against BJ Penn almost five years earlier when Penn’s corner threw in the towel.  GSP’s second run as UFC champion was genuinely characterized by a lot of decisions and grinding, and Hendricks was a compelling match-up for GSP due to his wrestling prowess and knockout power.  From a match-up standpoint, Lawler does pose some more certain threats to Hendricks than GSP.  The threat of a flash knockout for Hendricks was not really there against GSP.  With Lawler it is.  Also while takedown defense, wrestling, and grappling has been one of the areas where Lawler has had problems with in the past, he showed a great deal of improvement in that area since returning to the UFC.  He quickly knocked out Josh Koscheck.  And that was one fight after Josh Koscheck fought Johny Hendricks to a razor close split decision.  Neither GSP or Hendricks were able to finish Koscheck when they fought him.  Also in the Rory MacDonald fight, Lawler showed great improvement in his takedown and also ground defense.  So thinking in terms of how they match-up, Lawler does pose a threat in an area where GSP really did not.

The Ghost of Zivin’s Past: SELL: This depends on what he means by a “more dangerous fight.” If he thinks Robbie is more dangerous than GSP in that there is a greater chance that Robbie will violently knock Johny out, then absolutely. The man has won 18 of 22 fights by knockout. That is insane. Now, if Johny meant that Robbie was more dangerous than GSP in being harder to gameplan for and being harder to beat then that’s definitely wrong. Robbie Lawler is dangerous but he’s also very beatable. It was proven in his first UFC run. It was proven in his Strikeforce run. GSP is also beatable but he has such a strong defensive style and he’s good in so many aspects of the game that it’s hard to find a weakness. GSP’s style is so effective that he can even get the judges to side with him in really close fights (sorry, Johny). So Robbie is a dangerous fight but GSP is even moreso.

credit: Bobbie Bond

BUY OR SELL: Jon Jones’ recommendation of doing a fight between Alexander Gustafsson and Daniel Cormier and having the winner fight the winner of his fight against Glover Teixeira.

Weebrave: SELL: All I have heard from Jon Jones the last few months is how Cormier and Gustafson are not fighting good enough competition. Guess what Jon?  Glover’s last win is over Ryan Bader and he got dropped by him. Everyone wanted the immediate rematch with Alex but you said no he had his chance lets fight Glover. If anyone is scared it is you, not Alex (Gustaffson) or Daniel (Cormier). 

Jeffrey Harris: SELL: The UFC is doing the rematch if Jones beats Glover Teixeira, and the UFC has already said as much.  Now granted, things could change.  Someone could always get injured and be out of the fight.  But the Jones/Gustafsson rematch is the way to go, provided Jones defeats Teixeira.  The UFC already relented once by avoiding the rematch the first time and gave Jones Teixeira instead.  Physically, Gustafsson poses one of Jones’ tougher match-ups, and so far, he’s really the only fighter that wasn’t absolutely bullied by Jones and was able to make him look vulnerable.  With that in mind, one can see why Jones is not so keen on the match-up.  After his tune-up fight at light heavyweight, Daniel Cormier will have to fight someone like a Phil Davis (who faces Anthony Johnson next) in order to earn his shot.  

Wyatt Beougher: SELL: Look, I’m a huge fan of Jon Jones, and I’ve gone out of my way to defend some of his questionable decisions; however, Gus deserved an immediate rematch after the first fight with Jones, and now he’s coming off of a win against a guy who’d finished every one of his prior fights in the first or second round. Cormier has that impressive undefeated record, but none of his wins outside of Josh Barnett have impressed me in the slightest. Sure, he picked up decision wins over Mir and Big Country in the heavyweight division, but any top-flight fighter should’ve won those fights (and probably should’ve finished Mir, if we’re being honest). I’ve repeatedly written about how I don’t agree with “gift” title shots for fighters who are moving to a new division (hi, Vitor, Frankie, and Showtime), and Cormier is no exception. While it’s not his fault that Rashad Evans sustained a serious knee injury and couldn’t fight him, his only win in the light heavyweight division comes against a guy who was working as a barista two weeks before the fight. In my opinion, Cormier needs another fighter before he even earns the right to fight in a title eliminator bout. Give him the loser of the Jones/Teixeira fight, and then have the winner of that fight face Rashad for the right to fight whoever comes out on top against Gustafsson.

The Ghost of Zivin’s Past: SELL: Ideally it makes a lot of sense because it would help set up a true pecking order and determine who is ready for the next title shot, but business-wise, it makes no sense. It’s very likely that both Gustafsson and Cormier will fight the Light Heavyweight Champion at some point. It’s amazing that UFC has all these options available to them when, a year ago, it seemed like Jones had all but cleaned out the division. Now there are at least two viable challengers waiting in line for their shot. There’s no point in turning them on each other and eliminating one of those options, especially since Gustafsson is more deserving of a title shot right now than Cormier is anyway. Phil Davis is probably more deserving of a title shot right now than Cormier is. DC is good but he’s only fought once in the division and it was against an unranked barista. Give Cormier a fight with a ranked light heavyweight and, if he wins, then he can have a title shot. In the mean time, let us have the rematch of 2013’s Fight of the Year.

credit: MMA H.E.A.T.

BUY OR SELL: You rather see the Super Fight between Ronda Rousey and Gina Carano than the one between Ronda Rousey and Cyborg.

Wyatt Beougher: BUY: Sure, if Cyborg can successfully make 135 and look impressive in Invicta, a fight with Ronda would have more long-term legitimacy for Women’s MMA; however, a superfight against Gina Carano would likely do more for the immediate growth of WMMA. The only real drawbacks to a fight against Carano would be that it would have to take place at 145 or above, as Carano frequently struggled to make 145 during her fight career, and that it would likely be a one-and-done for Gina, so if she managed to beat Ronda, it could irreparably damage the bantamweight champion’s legacy. Fortunately, even at 145 or 150 pounds, I don’t see that happening, as I think the improvements in Ronda’s striking game, combined with her submission skills and Gina’s multi-year layoff, all-but-guarantee a win for “The Rowdy One”. If they opted to do the Cyborg fight first and Justino won, I don’ t think there are a lot of fans clamoring for a rematch between her and Gina, which means Carano’s potential return to MMA would be wasted. As the saying goes, “You make the fights when you’ve got them,” and if the UFC can somehow lure Gina away from Hollywood to fight Ronda, I’d absolutely prefer that to Rousey/Justino.

Jeffrey Harris: SELL: Not really.  While one would arguably be more marketable than the other, I’m honestly not that interested in either one of those fights.  Cyborg opted to quit the UFC when the opportunity was there for her, and I just don’t see Gina Carano ever returning to fighting ever again.  We still don’t know what happened when she was going to return to fight in Strikeforce again in 2011.  Plus, she hasn’t fought at all in over four and a half years.  Now, can I see why the UFC would make a fight like that?  Yes, it’s a money, marquee fight.  Ronda Rousey is the most successful female MMA fighter of all time, and Gina Carano isn’t much further behind her.  However, both of these match-ups seem unrealistic at this point.  Cyborg opted to do things her own way, and it didn’t work out very well for her.  

Weebrave: SELL: I would love for Gina to come back because it would be great for the sport but she would have absolutely nothing for Ronda Rousey. She has been away from the sport for too long. Also she had more trouble making 145 than Cyborg did. On the other hand Cyborg could even be the favorite going into the fight with Ronda Rousey. 

The Ghost of Zivin’s Past: SELL: As much as I love Gina, and I do love Gina (don’t ask for details, the restraining order should be ending soon), a fight between her and Rousey right now would suck. Gina hasn’t fought in 5 years and I don’t think movie stuntwork alone will be enough to prepare someone to face the greatest female grappler in MMA. Cyborg, though, is still a beast. Cyborg is the greatest striker women’s MMA has ever seen. She won three fights last year, including a Muay Thai bout, all by destruction. Cyborg has destroyed almost every opponent she has faced, including Gina. Rousey is running out of credible challengers in the UFC and I want to see her fight the best. I would definitely be interested in seeing Gina and Rousey fight but I’d much rather see what happens when the judo of Ronda Rousey clashes with the Muay Thai of Cyborg Justino. Who will prove superior? I don’t know. SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

credit: Rick J Lee

BUY OR SELL: The idea of UFC instituting a Crusierweight division in between Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight.

Jeffrey Harris: SELL:  Cruiserweight makes absolutely no sense at this point.  This argument for a cruiserweight division was going around when it looked like giants such as Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin were at the top of the division and looked like they were going to dominate the scene for years to come.  The guys at the top of the heavyweight division are arguably fighters who could be cruiserweights, so why formally create a pointless weight class?  Who is cruiserweight really going to accommodate, other than someone like Anthony “Rumble” Johnson?  I don’t foresee Frank Mir reinventing his career as a cruiserweight at this point.  Rodrigo Nogueira doesn’t have many fights left either.  Randy Couture has retired.  There aren’t any realistic strong contenders for a cruiserweight division besides the guys who are already the creme de la creme of heavyweight.  This argument basically died after Lesnar and Carwin lost and later retired.  No one’s really campaigned for a cruiserweight division since then.  It’s a dead issue in the MMA world at this point, and it will remain dead for the foreseeable future.

Weebrave: SELL: Joe Rogan talks a lot about how the ideal weight for heavyweight is 230-240 and not 265. Lesnar and Carwin showed that was just too big while Fedor, Cro Cop, Cain, and JDS have become the best Heavyweights of all time. Add that to the fact that Heavyweight is already the weakest weight in the company. 6 of your top 15 would drop down in weight and thats just not something you want from the weightclass that casual fans care the most about. 

Wyatt Beougher: SELL: I think the last time I heard this as a major talking point, it was because of behemoths like Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin, who walked around at or over 300 pounds and cut to 265 on the day of the weigh-ins, causing many people to believe that they had an unfair advantage over the Randy Coutures and Junior dos Santos of the division. Fast forward a couple of years, and both Lesnar and Carwin are retired, Mir added a bunch of muscle to his frame to compete with those guys and looked significantly worse for doing so, and the two best heavyweights in the UFC fight at around 240-245 pounds. Yes, a sixty-pound variance is a massive difference from the 10-20 pounds that separates the lighter divisions, but most of the guys who fall into the potential cruiserweight range can actually cut to light heavyweight without significant risk to their life and health. And let’s not forget that the most dominant heavyweight of all time, Fedor Emelianenko, regularly weighed in around 231 pounds. Let’s not also forget the fact that traditionally, heavyweight has been the shallowest division worldwide in terms of talent, and then think about how much worse that would get if you divided it into two separate weight classes. At that point, assuming cruiserweight split the difference and went up to 235 pounds, the only guys in the UFC’s current top 10 who *might* attempt the cut are Cain, JDS, Stipe Miocic, and possibly Frank Mir. I would imagine Cormier would move into the cruiserweight division if Cain decided to stay at heavyweight,  but that’s still not an especially deep or talent-rich division. It just seems like a bad idea to me, to further dilute an already thin talent pool.

The Ghost of Zivin’s Past: SELL: This is another idea that would be great to implement in MMA but it wouldn’t work. At least not right now. A weight class around 225-230 pounds would be great for preventing heavyweight fights where there can be a 50-60 pound weight differential as well as preventing tall, skinny fighters from cutting down to light heavyweight and using their obnoxious size and reach advantage to win fights because no one can get close enough to lay a hand on them (oh hai, Mr. Jones!). It would even the playing field a lot but right now there isn’t enough depth in the bigger weight classes to make it work. The heavyweight division has always struggled to find decent competitors, made all the worse because many guys would could compete at heavyweight cut down to 205. There are plenty of lightweights and welterweights but most of the larger-than-average sized athletes don’t consider fighting and pursue sports like football and basketball instead. Y’know, sports where they can actually make money. Hopefully MMA will grow to the point where more of the bigger athletes see fighting as an avenue for being successful in the sports world, and when that day comes, and the UFC is ripe with so many big men that it doesn’t know what to do with them all, then we can talk about adding a Crusierweight division. You could also talk about other potential weight classes then, too, like a 195 division for guys like Dan Henderson and Rich Franklin who are too small for 205 but have difficulties with the cut to 185. The possibilities are endless!

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Koedd Laemmle
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