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411 Fact or Fiction MMA: Did the McGregor/Diaz Press Conference Scuffle Help Sell Their Fight?

March 7, 2016 | Posted by Wyatt Beougher

Welcome back to another edition of 411 Fact or Fiction MMA, and I’m your host, Wyatt Beougher! Last week, Lorenzo Vasquez III and Evan Zivin discussed whether or not Jon Jones would beat an in-his-prime Chuck Liddell and whether or not Michael Bisping would earn a title shot as a result of his win over Anderson Silva. When the polls closed, Lorenzo had scored 62% of the vote, earning a 31-12 victory. This week, we’ll have three editions of Fact or Fiction MMA, as this marks the beginning of this year’s tournament. Here are the brackets:

This week, we’ll be starting with the preliminary bouts from the West bracket, and kicking things off will be fourth-seeded Eric Moore taking on fifth-seeded Dan Plunkett. Without further ado, let’s kick this year’s tournament off!

Eric “Gimme Some” Moore (Fourth Seed, West)
Commenter/Fact or Fiction Participant, 411Mania


“Handsome” Dan Plunkett (Fifth Seed, West)
Contributor, 411 MMA Zone

1.) The scuffle between Conor McGregor and Nathan Diaz at UFC 196’s press conference will do little to sell additional fights and does nothing for either fighter’s reputation.

Eric Moore: FACT You know, I was thinking of going FICTION here, because the little scuffle was nothing more than that; a little scuffle, and these types of things can add intrigue to a fight, of course when that fight has a proper length to build. But because of that, along with the fact that most buys were already decided upon just because of Conor’s presence, I went FACT. Look, their interactions have been on a fast track, so to speak, with only a couple weeks from announcement to fight, so they didn’t get a proper build, but the little we have seen has been about what you expect. Conor still stands head and shoulders above in terms of popularity, and Diaz is what Diaz is, so no, I don’t think that presser will help sell more than a modest sum of fights, and no, both fighters did basically what you would expect (Conor says he’s great, Diaz says Conor’s a bitch, etc.), which in turn keeps their reputations intact (which is not a bad thing, mind you).

PS: How about that fight? I really wish I would have gotten my money in on Diaz when he was -430 last week… stupid me. Also, shout out to Tate for seizing the opportunity and holding on for dear life.

Dan Plunkett: FACT As of Saturday evening, two videos of the dust-up have more than 2 million views combined – that’s significant. It won’t change either of their reputations one way or the other (neither was known for their calm character beforehand), but it will certainly help their fight. However, the impact of this specific scuffle will almost entirely be felt on this specific fight. It will bring more eyes to McGregor vs. Diaz, but it will be largely forgotten by the time McGregor and Diaz move on to their next opponents. After all, this was no Jones-Cormier brawl. Even in the case of that fracas, we saw how little that meant when it came to selling Cormier’s follow-up bouts. The press conference scuffle will help the fight, but it will have little effect on McGregor and Diaz’s next fights.

2.) While Conor McGregor’s “moneyweight” title suggestion seems outlandish on the surface, with the way boxers move from division to division collecting various championships, the idea is not entirely unprecedented in combat sports.

Eric Moore: FACT Sure, that’s happened in boxing before. Just look at Pacquiao. He had 6 titles spanning 112-154lbs. Conor has that same idea, capturing multiple titles, but I think the more apt idea behind the “money weight” claim right now, however, is the fact that he is open to weight fluidity, so to speak. Just take this weekend as a prime example. He was to fight at 155 against RDA, who suffers an injury 2 weeks before the event (the bane of MMA…injuries). Conor says “No problem, get me another anywhere from 145-170ish” so they get Diaz, and they set up a catchweight bout. He could have easily taken the Werdum route and said “Nope, not gonna happen on 2 weeks notice” and laid on his couch, playing the waiting game. Instead, he simply agreed to fight at whichever weight class (or in between) and with whomever the UFC felt like putting in front of him. That, to me, speak volumes towards his will to fight and his intelligence, knowing he is saving yet another PPV and about to make serious bank (not to mention put him that much more in command of his place in the UFC). That, to me, may be even more valuable that titles. Plus, losing a fight at any weight above his “normal” weight class, especially a short notice one to a guy who’s having a sort of career resurgence will not hurt Conor that much. Without a full camp to acclimate himself to the weight and properly train for his opponent, he remains perfectly fine with the loss (and any more that may come, so long as they are few and far between).

Dan Plunkett: FACT Well, I guess this statement isn’t quite as relevant anymore. The idea is not unprecedented in combat sports like boxing because the weight classes in that sport are much closer together than they are in MMA, which lends itself to more cross-divisional movement from fighters. In MMA, it’s largely unprecedented and those who have attempted to jump between divisions with each fight haven’t seen sustained success at the highest level. Generally, MMA fighters who have seen success in multiple weight classes would commit themselves to one weight class for a time before moving on to another. There have been limited exceptions to that, but none of those exceptions were jumping between two or more weight classes and saw more than brief periods of success at the highest levels of those divisions. Conversely, in boxing certain elite fighters have had sustained success in multiple weight classes because the divisions aren’t 10-15 pounds apart. This idea isn’t unprecedented in combat sports as a whole, but in MMA it’s never been executed over more than a brief period.

3.) In spite of UFC 198 taking place in her hometown, Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino will not get a fight at the event, no matter how much social media support she is able to drum up.

Eric Moore: FACT Though I guess it’s possible, like maybe on the prelims, I highly doubt she will be able to move the UFC enough to get a fight there. The first issue is the obvious one; the UFC does not have a female Featherweight division, so there’s no real spot for her. Paired with that is the fact that the UFC does not have any fighters to pair with her that make sense, unless someone wanted to move up for a one-time fight. So, if the UFC was to entertain this idea, they would probably pair her with the current Invicta challenger, whomever that may be, which may not be strong enough to feature on the PPV. She does have some popularity, so they would want her featured if they did it, but they would also want a fighter who is not a complete unknown to most of the world opposite her. I just don’t see it happening.

Dan Plunkett: FACT Unfortunately, the UFC doesn’t appear to have any interest in promoting Cris Cyborg unless it’s at 135 pounds. There are interesting and potentially lucrative fights for her at a 140-pound catchweight with UFC bantamweights, but I don’t see UFC bringing her in until Holly Holm, Miesha Tate, or a similarly minded future champion calls for it and there are no alternatives. Every public statement from the UFC to this point has been against promoting Cyborg in anything but a bantamweight fight, which isn’t happening. I think they’d change their minds for a main event, but certainly not for an undercard fight.


4.) In spite of Alexander Gustafsson’s recent record, a rematch with Jon Jones makes sense for both fighters, regardless of the outcome of Jones’ fight with Daniel Cormier.

Dan Plunkett: FICTION I would be perfectly happy with Jones vs. Gustafsson 2 if Jones falls short against Cormier, but it’s impossible to justify making that fight if Jones wins and Anthony Johnson is healthy. Alexander Gustafsson fought closely with Jones and Cormier, but he lost both fights and in between them, Johnson finished him inside of one round. Since losing to Cormier last May, Johnson has won two fights by knockout, the last against a top contender. Gustafsson has not fought since losing to Cormier in October. If he’d gotten a win in the meantime, perhaps there’d be an argument that a Jones rematch makes sense regardless of the result of April’s title fight, but that’s not the case.

Eric Moore: FICTION This is not FACT because of the final piece of that statement. Should Jones beat DC and regain the belt, I feel Rumble should be first on the list. Both Johnson and Gus have losses to DC for the belt, and though Gus’s loss was a “better” one, Johnson holds a win over Gus, not to mention Johnson’s 2-fight win streak vs Gus’s 2-fight losing streak (where that loss to Rumble can be found). That is more than enough to get Johnson the shot. But, if Jones drops to DC, then Jones/Gus II makes all the sense in the world while DC/Johnson II happens (and most likely ends in the same fashion as the first). I like Gus, but gifting him another title shot while on a 2-fight losing streak is not the move I would like to see.

5.) Dominick Cruz is correct – the UFC Bantamweight division is going to explode in popularity in 2016.

Dan Plunkett: FACT I’ll interpret Cruz’s statement in the most favorable way possible. The bantamweight division should have a bigger year of title fights than any other single year in the division’s history, but that’s a low hurdle to clear. Cruz’s bantamweight title win over TJ Dillashaw in January did a strong TV rating, but I wouldn’t expect a rematch on pay-per-view to beat 350,000 buys. However, that’s nearly triple what Dillashaw’s last pay-per-view title match drew, which is a significant increase. The fight, which aired on Fox Sports 1, didn’t draw as many viewers as Dillashaw’s Fox title defense against Renan Barao last year, but that’s only due to the difference in the television platform. Barring injuries, we should see two more bantamweight title fights this year: Cruz vs. Urijah Faber in June, and Cruz/Faber vs. Dillashaw sometime in the fall. If those fights play out, 2016 will be the biggest single year of bantamweight title fights by a wide margin. On that front, I’ll agree with Cruz here. However, below those title fights, I don’t expect a ton of interest in the division.

Eric Moore: FACT I will FACT this with a caveat; to me, the term “explode” means its popularity will rise much higher than it currently is, which is not all that high in the grand scheme of things. It won’t “explode” in the same fashion as Featherweight did because there’s no Conor there, but I do think the division will continue to pick up steam and become much more recognized by casual and hardcore fans alike. With veterans Cruz, Faber, and McDonald, the previous rise of stars like Barao and Dillashaw, and the current rising crop of young fighters in Sterling, Almeida, and Garbrandt, the division is incredibly stacked with talent and poised to take that next step. Cruz is a champ they feel relatively comfortable with putting at the top of a card and with the depth they have, he will find no shortness of competition. It should definitely be a good year for the buck thirty-five guys.

6.) With more than a year remaining on his licensing suspension, there is no reason to be excited about Wanderlei Silva signing with Bellator.

Dan Plunkett: FICTION I’m not excited to see Wanderlei Silva fight at 39-years-old and beyond, but if you’re the type of person that is, by all means get excited. “The Axe Murderer” won’t fight for Bellator in 2016 – I don’t expect Bellator to book a suspended fighter under their banner since it’s a bad political move, but it’s looking likely that he will fight in Japan for Rizin – he already has a tag team grappling match booked for the promotion next month. With Silva under Bellator contract, it seems more likely that whatever fights he has with Rizin will end up airing on Spike TV in some form. Plus, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that they could send an opponent to face Silva in Japan. Even if he won’t be fighting under the Bellator banner specifically, the promotion will showcase him and support him in other ways.

Eric Moore: FACT This is the only part you need… “there is no reason to be excited about Wanderlei Silva signing with Bellator”. As some may know, I do not hold a very favorable stance with this guy. He continues to tarnish a legacy of great fights with his shenanigans, and Bellator holds no glory to add to his legacy. He will be 40 this July and nothing more than a shadow of his former self by the time he’s allowed to fight next year (not that he isn’t already a shadow of his former self now, so… I guess he will be a shadow of a shadow? *shrug*). Now, sure, if you are one of those fans who enjoys watching the fossils try to relive their glory days in the cage, the Shamrocks of the world, if you will, then you may be excited to see him fight again, but for me, I could not care less and will not go out of my way to watch anything he does there because, quite simply, I don’t care about him anymore.

So who won the first tournament bout of the year? Did Eric ride the higher seed into the second round, or did Dan pull off the early upset? You’ve got until midnight eastern on Thursday to vote, so make sure you make your voice heard!

And that’s it for today, but we’ll be back next week with another contest! As always, if there’s anything you’d like to see featured in a future edition, leave your statement in the comments and I’ll add it in. Let me know what you thought in the comments or on Twitter. And please, be sure to vote!

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