mma / Columns

411 Fact or Fiction MMA: Does Paige VanZant Have a Bright Future?

December 21, 2016 | Posted by Lorenzo Vasquez
Paige Van Zant

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 round of the fact and fiction making the rounds in the MMA biosphere. Before we move onto this week’s shenanigans, I want to thank you for voting and leaving your comments last week. It is appreciated and I encourage you to do the same this week. Last week, Jeffrey “The Vile One’ Harris came in with a thirst for blood as he quickly pounced on Wyatt Beougher as they debated subjects like WME-IMG aiming to triple the UFC’s tv deal, Kelvin Gastelum staying at middleweight, and Cub Swanson vs. Doo Ho Choi putting on the fight of the year. Harris smashed Beougher from pillar to pillar earning the 23-to-18 victory. Congratulations Jeffrey and thank you both for your efforts and contributions.

This week, the heavy hitting, Robert “The Last Rider” Winfree steps up to the plate looking to knock his foe into the next millennium. Unfortunate for him, I’ll be stepping in on short notice to derail his plans as we dive into subjects like the lack of promotion for Amanda Nunes during UFC on FOX 22, Paige VanZant’s future, if Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov should be for an interim title, and much more! It’s time. Get some grub and get comfortable because it’s time for another round of, 411 Fact or Fiction MMA! Shall we…

Robert “The Last Rider” Winfree
Contributor/Live Coverage Guru/Host, 411 MMA Zone/411 Ground and Pound Radio Show


Lorenzo “Corpse Grinder” Vasquez III
Host/Contributor, 411 MMA Zone

Paige VanZant does not appear to be improving in vast quantities since her loss to Rose Namajunas and, thus, her future looks cloudy at best.

Robert Winfree: FICTION Based mostly on the final part of the statement. VanZant still has a lot of technical areas to work on, her punches loop too much, she doesn’t move her head during combinations, her footwork and movement could use a great deal of refinement, and her scrambles are still based around athleticism rather than step by step technique. That being said she’s still quite young and has several of the more unteachable qualities a fighter needs, she isn’t afraid of violence and has zero quit, despite losing badly to Namajunas she fought as hard as she could the entire time and the vast majority of fighters would have tapped out against Waterson much sooner than she did. That kind of guts combined with her athletic ability make for a tremendous base in MMA, the larger issue she faces is that she chose a camp that is unlikely to aid her in the areas she needs it. But even if she remains at her current level of skill she’s still a top shelf strawweight, and there’s more than enough time for a young fighter like her to make the necessary adjustments.

Lorenzo Vasquez III: FICTION VanZant took a tumble but it is not one she will not recover from. At 22, VanZant is still a ways to go technique and skills wise. She has an athletic gift and strength and size advantage for her weight class. Plus, she is gritty, will dig deep, and her young age means she should be moldable under the right tulge. Some chiseling, here and there, and we should have a contender down the road. VanZant needs to focus and lay-off the celebrity she’s acquired. She hasn’t looked too improved but her plate has been busy. She’s back at it, though. It’s a matter of learning, sharpening her craft, and putting it together against live competition. While, I don’t believe she is improving in vast quantities, her future isn’t cloud, yet. Let’s give her time before we cast judgment.

Like him or hate him, Mike Goldberg’s style of commentary will be missed once the UFC boots him out the door.

Robert Winfree: FICTION I am not now nor have I ever been a fan of Mike Dogeberg. I maintain he’s kept his position more because of internal loyalty than objective merit and replacing him with a more polished lead commentator is one of the necessary things for the UFC to do going forward from a production standpoint along with ditching “Face the Pain”. Now assuming the UFC is going to surrender elements of production control going forward to whatever network will be airing their product I acknowledge the possibility that whoever they put in that spot won’t do the necessary homework to be literate with the product and I might wind up missing good ‘ol Goldie, but I find that possibility extremely remote. Goldberg served his purpose through the history of the UFC to now, but the time has come for the UFC to ditch the network-lite commentator and get a real one.

Lorenzo Vasquez III: FICTION Ah…Mike Goldberg. You’ve provided some comedic relief throughout the years with your ridiculous commentary, at times. Your lack of knowledge of the sport you provide commentary too, and inability to do your research ahead of time speaks volumes of why you do not qualify for your seat. While, to some, you are maybe a staple to UFC pay-per-view, you will not be missed. Well, unless you’re replaced with a commentator far more ridiculous than you. But, I doubt it.

Should he move onto the boxing arena, Conor McGregor will not conquer the sport as he did with MMA.

Robert Winfree: FACT That isn’t to say McGregor couldn’t be successful boxing, he’s got a rabid fan base and there are plenty of low level boxers who he could beat, but MMA and boxing have a great deal less in common than most people consider at first glance. While he’d likely achieve a level of success in boxing, there’s so much physical and reflexive retraining he’d have to go through to be competitive at the high level necessary to “conqueror” that I don’t think it’s a realistic expectation.

Lorenzo Vasquez III: FACT Conor McGregor is a good fighter, a great MMA fighter, and one of the best showmen in combat sports history—can McGregor do damage in the boxing arena? Sure. In fact, for those you who insist he hand picks his foes in the UFC (while he may pick who he fights next, I don’t believe he hand picks fights he can win easily), he would likely have an easier time doing this inside the boxing arena. But, he could only get so far beating lower/mid-level boxers. Eventually, he’d have to step inside the ring with some high-level boxers and that’s where the conversation ends.

I’m not saying he’d lose every time to high-level boxers but I don’t see him smashing high-level boxers left and right. And, when you’re not smashing the best of the best left and right, the showmanship doesn’t sell as easily—your stock falls. In my opinion, McGregor is laser sharp, his timing is top notch, he has speed and power, and he is accurate. But, his defense needs work. He is hittable from an MMA standpoint and I believe that means he is more hittable from a boxing standpoint. But again, those are two different sports with two different crafts and if McGregor wants to rule over boxing like he does in MMA, he would have to retire the 4 oz. gloves and hope he has enough time to become a high-level boxer. If MMA fighters lacking high-level boxing footwork can land on McGregor, than I think mid/high-level boxers can do better.


Mickey Gall is not ready for the caliber of a fighter like Dan Hardy, and this is considering Dan Hardy has been out action for a few years.

Lorenzo Vasquez III: FACT Gall picked up a solid win against Sage Northcutt. We got to see how he reacts to adversity; he did well. We knew he had a ground game but now we know he’s developing a stand up game. The key word, though, is “developing.” Gall is still young in his professional MMA career, and while, he has all-around skills, he looked far from polished against Northcutt, a prospect as well. Gall needs to keep it at this level; it’s too early to jump up a notch. Dan Hardy is a mid-to-high tier fighter, and former welterweight title challenger. He may not have been a consistent No. 1 or No. 2 guy, but his striking is polish enough to slick by Gall’s developing defense, and his defensive wrestling and submission grappling could negate Gall. Though, he’s been out for sometime, I’d easily give Hardy the edge. In a possible fight, Gall could surprise us, but I’m not convinced. Gall needs to take his time, study his defense, polish his offense, and learn and apply to create his own craft as a mixed martial artist.

Robert Winfree: FACT Yeah, going fact here. Mickey Gall has a very good ground game but his striking looked very poor against Northcutt and he appeared to gas a bit in that second round, plus he’s yet to fight an opponent with a strong anti-grappling game. Dan Hardy may have been out for a while but he competed at an extremely high level and even with that layoff it is likely a bridge too far for Gall at this juncture.

If Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov are going to fight, it should not be for an interim title; the idea of making it an interim title fight is foolish.

Lorenzo Vasquez III: FACT This is an easy fact and maybe it’s getting a little restless talking about all these interim titles and what should be and shouldn’t be. The UFC is essentially drowning us in interim titles and if there is one case where an interim belt is unnecessary it is here. McGregor will be out, as of now, somewhere around 6 to 8 months (but he recently teased an earlier return). That amount of time does not necessitate an interim title. If Ferguson and Nurmagomedov want to fight, or if that is what the UFC wants, it’s for the No. 1 spot; that is all it should be for and nothing more. McGregor is not injured, he won’t out for more than year, and the featherweight strap will not be holding him up. The only thing special this fight needs, if anything, is making it a five round fight, not an interim title.

Robert Winfree: FACT For the love of Cluckthulhu, no more interim belts. Making the bout between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar an interim title fight made a degree of sense given McGregor’s absence. Holloway vs. Pettis didn’t need a fake belt for that fight and the lightweight title was contested barely a month ago, there is absolutely no need for an interim lightweight belt at this juncture. The title hasn’t been inactive, the champion isn’t suffering from a serious injury, and we’ve even got a reasonable timetable for McGregor to make first theoretical defense. Now, I know McGregor has never defended any title he’s ever won and I do somewhat understand the impulse to hedge your bets from a promotional standpoint, but barely one month removed from the last time the title was active with zero mitigating circumstances means there is no legitimate basis for slapping an interim title around the waist of either Ferguson or Nurmagomedov.

The UFC disrespected their women’s bantamweight champion, Amanda Nunes, by excluding her out of the majority of UFC 207 promotions during UFC on FOX 22 and solely focusing on Ronda Rousey.

Lorenzo Vasquez III: FACT I had this statement ingrained in my head by the time UFC on FOX 22 was over. It’s terrible having to listen to the crowd around me disregard the women’s bantamweight champ because, and I quote, “Even the UFC knows the Brazilian chic sucks. They hardly even mention her.” “This is nonsense and it was ridiculous for the UFC not to take advantage of the spotlight and promote their women’s bantamweight champ, Amanda Nunes. Yes, one of the biggest stars in mixed martial arts is returning, but have the courtesy to acknowledge your champion’s story and rise and why she is a formidable opponent. The UFC missed the boat on a chance to package Nunes to casual fans. It will especially be a missed chance should Nunes beat Ronda Rousey. I guess the days of throwing all your eggs into one basket are far from over as WME-IMG continues to draw the curtain back giving us a look at what the future holds for the UFC.

Robert Winfree: FACT There are perfectly cogent arguments for either side of this statement but I’m going fact here. I understand that Ronda Rousey is the bigger star, that her’s is the more interesting story, and that she’s the half of this fight that will be selling tickets or PPV’s. That being said, to virtually ignore the champion in most promotional materials seems at a minimum a tad disingenuous. With so much promotional effort being put into telling the story of Rousey’s return and hypothetical redemption the UFC will be in a very tough place should Nunes emerge victorious as they’ve done little to inform the casual audience of who she is beyond the belt holder. When Rousey fought Holly Holm the UFC did a tremendous job of telling the audience who Holm was, what skills she brought, and crafting a narrative of two high level athletes with decades of combat sports experience between them clashing for the title. This time it seems they’re just selling Rousey’s comeback and ignoring an opportunity to at least get Nunes into the greater consciousness of the fan base.

So who won? Did Robert put your host to shame, or did I put him in his place? 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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