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411 Fact or Fiction MMA: Is Conor McGregor Becoming Unhinged?

November 15, 2017 | Posted by Lorenzo Vasquez
Conor McGregor

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 everything fact and fiction in the world of mixed martial arts.By the way, thank you, for your votes and comments the last time around, it is appreciated and encouraged. In the last edition, Jeffrey Harris locked horns with Alex Rella over topics like Colby Covington thrashing Brazil, the UFC women’s division washing out, and Derek Brunson’s next opponent. Both men delivered! They stood toe-to-toe dropping heavy artillery. It was a close fight that came down to inches. Congratulations, Jeffrey on your narrow victory, and thank you both for your efforts and contribution.

This week, Dan Plunkett looks to trash Evan Zivin as they lock horns over GSP vacating the middleweight title, Conor McGregor’s actions at Bellator 187, Michael Bisping fighting Kelvin Gastelum three weeks after losing the middleweight strap, and much more! Go grab some grub and get comfortable because it’s time for another round of 411 Fact or Fiction MMA! Let’s get things rolling…

TALE OF THE TAPE
RED CORNER
“Handsome” Dan Plunkett
Contributor, 411 MMA Zone
4-8-1

VS

BLUE CORNER
Evan “White Tiger” Zivin
Contributor, 411 MMA Zone
7-4-1


If Georges St-Pierre doesn’t defend the middleweight title against Robert Whittaker and decides to vacate the title, the lineage of the UFC middleweight title will no longer hold legitimacy.

Dan Plunkett: FICTION The strength of the titleholder always supersedes the true lineage of the championship. If a champion is viewed as the best fighter in the division, even if he won the belt without defeating the division’s previous champion, his successor will be viewed as the division’s legitimate champion. There is a precedent for this in the UFC’s middleweight division.

Murilo Bustamante was the UFC middleweight champion when he left the promotion in 2002. Naturally, he was stripped of the championship and it remained vacant for years. Outside the UFC, the linear UFC middleweight championship passed from Bustamante to Dan Henderson, to Kazuo Misaki, to Paulo Filho, to Chael Sonnen, to Demian Maia, to Nate Marquardt, and then back to Chael Sonnen before finally crossing paths with the reigning UFC middleweight champion.

When the UFC reintroduced the middleweight title in 2005, Evan Tanner won it, and then was beaten by Rich Franklin. Franklin was viewed as a strong champion in that he was heavily promoted and generally ranked as the top middleweight in the world. Then he was usurped by Anderson Silva, what the UFC began promoting as the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter within a year of winning the championship.

During Silva’s reign, nobody questioned his claim to the middleweight throne, and there was no demand for him to fight the so-called linear UFC middleweight champion to legitimize his titleholder status.

The same story could be written for the UFC heavyweight, light heavyweight, welterweight, lightweight, and bantamweight titles, all of which were vacated on at least one occasion. Nobody considered Jon Jones’ title reign illegitimate because Frank Shamrock vacated the same title in 1999.

As long as the championship is held by a fighter that has proven to be the best active fighter in his division or a fighter that has just defeated the best active fighter in his division, the lineage of the championship holds legitimacy.. This holds true even in cases where the championship did not directly pass from one fighter to another in competition.

As it stands, Robert Whittaker’s past two fights have shown him to be the best active fighter in the middleweight division. If Georges St-Pierre wants history to view him as a legitimate middleweight world champion and the best middleweight in the world for at least a brief moment in time, he needs to beat Robert Whittaker, not the other way around.

Evan Zivin: FICTION Oh, so that’s the point at which we decide the UFC Middleweight Championship is no longer legit? Not when the previous champion ignored the challenge of deserving contenders to instead defend against two men outside the Top 10, one of whom wasn’t even ranked because he had never even competed in the weight class before (granted, it’s Georges St-Pierre, one of, if not THE, greatest fighters in MMA history, but still)?

If GSP turns down a fight with Bobby Knuckles and vacates the title, that doesn’t mean the belt is no longer legit. That means GSP is attempting to maintain the legitimacy of the belt by not holding it up while he’s chasing other challenges, allowing it to be defended by someone who wants to defend it. It really doesn’t bother me if GSP isn’t interested in defending the middleweight title as long as, once he publicly acknowledges that’s what he’s doing, he gives the title up. He didn’t take the Bisping fight to be champion. He just did it because it was there and it would add to his legend while refilling his bank account a bit. Any of us would have taken that fight if it were offered to us, and not just because we all dream about punching Bisping in the face. That’s not on GSP. That’s on the UFC for tarnishing their own brand for a quick gain despite business being nowhere near as strong as it was last year and the year before (even though Dana White will say otherwise).


Conor McGregor’s behavior at Bellator 187 is a sure sign that he is becoming unhinged and slipping near the edge and letting his career and accomplishments fall.

Dan Plunkett: FICTION I don’t know that Conor McGregor was ever hinged in the first place, but at the same time, I can’t consider this single incident a sign that he’s fallen off the deep end. Has all of McGregor’s success and riches gone to his head? It certainly has to a large extent, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a great fighter at the same time. Ultimately, McGregor has shown that when he needs to buckle down and get serious, he’ll do it. When there comes a time in the future when he needs to get serious and he can’t or refuses to, then we’ll know that he’s fallen over the edge.

Evan Zivin: FICTION I had thought about writing a column this week on Bellator 187 and what Conor did but I decided not to because I’m getting pretty sick of talking about him. It’s Conor this, Conor that…it’s a lot of attention being paid to a man who isn’t even taking an MMA fight this year (or ever, if the UFC doesn’t give in to every insane demand he has). I feel bad for the fighters on that Bellator card who are getting ignored so everyone can focus on what Conor did. Even Bellator wasn’t too hung up about it, considering they Tweeted about the incident on Friday afternoon as promotion for the time delayed airing of Bellator 187 on Spike Friday night.

I’m not going to use the events to try and psychoanalyze Conor and act like I know where his head is at these days. He’s obviously put a lot on his shoulders but, for the most part, he’s been handling it well. I mean, it could happen eventually we learn that he hasn’t been handling it as well as we thought, but we haven’t been given reason to think he’s going to go full Jones yet so I’ll leave that speculation be and just assume this was what it looked on the surface to be, a fighter getting a little too overjoyed that his teammate won (or “won”) his fight. I mean, I’ve seen guys do what Conor did in the UFC before, although they tended to be cornermen and they tended to do it after the referee had clearly indicated the fight is over.


Because of Conor McGregor’s actions, the John Redmond vs. Charlie Ward fight should be considered a no-contest on the official records of Redmond and Ward.

Dan Plunkett: FACT Marc Goddard handled the situation poorly, although you can’t blame him since he was unfairly thrust into a chaotic scene by McGregor. Immediately after the knockdown, as the seconds left in the round ticked toward zero, Goddard determined that with the ensuing crowd noise, he would be unable to hear the horn at the end of the round. That determination led to him jumping between the fighters one second early – one second that could have easily determined the whether the fight was over or whether Redmond could continue.

First there was Goddard’s timing error, then there was the McGregor hurricane that kept officials from determining whether Redmond could continue. All of these issues were outside of Redmond and Ward’s control. Unfortunately, they happened as Ward was probably about to win the fight. By Goddard’s account, it wasn’t until all of the insanity quelled when he was able to determine Redmond wasn’t able to continue. I’m not completely against the win going on Ward’s record, but it doesn’t sit well with me that it took so long to determine whether a fighter could continue or not. For that reason, I think it should have been a no contest.

Evan Zivin: FACT Based on the information that has come out since Friday, since it was hard to know what to think as the events were playing out because everything happened so fast, I would say that it can be considered a no contest but I also think the ruling will ultimately stay as is. The issue doesn’t have as much to do with the Conor Invasion as much as it does the way things played out right before it. Looking at the video, Charlie Ward drops John Redmond and pounds on him with seconds to go in the fight. In the midst of it, referee Marc Goddard gets between the fighters, as one would do when an official is ending a fight. We also never hear the end of round horn so everything that happens makes it appear that the referee is ruling the fight over before the round ends. If Goddard tried telling everyone that the fight wasn’t over, you couldn’t tell based off his actions.

If Conor had run into the cage before the fight was officially over, then I would certainly agree the fight should be ruled a no contest due to the interference. However, as much as I respect Marc Goddard, it sure does look like he’s ending the fight at the end of the round. So, if I’m the commission, You can discuss a no contest but I’d let that stand. I’d probably try to punish Conor for creating a dangerous situation, especially since he knocked Redmond over before the guy had even received medical attention, but I’d leave the result, a 1st round TKO for Ward, as is.

Congrats, kid. Too bad no one is talking about you and is instead giving all the attention to your limelight-stealing teammate. Still, though, nice..um…neck tattoo?


SWITCH!

With Frankie Edgar having to pull out of his UFC 218 featherweight title bout with Max Holloway, Cub Swanson should have taken Edgar’s spot and not Jose Aldo.

Evan Zivin: FACT Aldo is arguably the better option stylistically, being the tricky, longtime king of the division, and he also gave Max a tougher fight than Cub did, but I don’t think he’s deserving of a shot right now. Not when his last fight was the loss to Holloway that made Max the undisputed champion. I hate seeing fighters get title shots off losses. I think that kind of nonsense devalues the belts more than the Bisping-GSP fracas did. Aldo is the number 1 ranked contender but he’s coming off a loss. Cub is number 3 and is on a four fight win streak. Give Cub the shot and tell Aldo to get another win first.

Either that or they can split the difference and give Ricardo Lamas the title shot. I’m sure that’d put butts in seats. “We couldn’t get Holloway vs. McGregor but we do have Holloway vs. Conrad McGuillicutty. That’s just as good…right?”

Dan Plunkett: FICTION I don’t understand this stance at all. There are times when there are viable arguments to be made against rematches, but that doesn’t hold water here at all. Sure, Jose Aldo just lost to Holloway in June, but Swanson lost to Holloway only two years ago. Swanson has not put forth significant evidence in the past two years that the competitive gap between him and Holloway has shrunk.

On the other hand, Aldo is still the most accomplished featherweight to ever live, has some demonstrable tools that could help swing a rematch his way, and was more competitive with Holloway than Swanson was. In addition to all of that, Aldo is a much bigger name than Swanson and therefore a much more attractive option to headline a pay-per-view card. The choice between Aldo and Swanson was obvious for the UFC.


Paige VanZant shouldn’t be called out for turning down a rebooking against Jessica Eye and an offer to fight Valentina Shevchenko because those are fighters who are on a different level and dangerous fights for VanZant.

Evan Zivin: FICTION I don’t think Paige should be called out for chasing a title fight or picking Shevchenko over Eye, assuming that fight does get booked, but not because Valentina and Jessica are different levels of fighter. That has nothing to do with it. Paige pulled out of the fight with Jessica due to being injured. Unless her contract says otherwise, she’s not required to take the Eye fight upon her return. I think it’d be a good fight for her to take, a much better fight than Shevchenko (a 125 Valentina will rip a 125 PVZ to shreds) but she’s under no obligation to accept a re-booking. The UFC always tries to book fights that make sense at the time (whether it makes sense for the integrity of the sport or their bottom line is another issue) and, if Eye vs. Vanzant no longer makes sense to them, or if Paige doesn’t feel that’s the best step for her to take, then that’s their prerogative.

Not like it matters. Roxanne Modafferi and Barb Honchak are gonna school these fools once they get off The Ultimate Fighter and into the real Octagon. Or something like that.

Dan Plunkett: FACT I can understand why VanZant may have turned down the fights, although things seem odd since VanZant was a week away from fighting Eye in October. It doesn’t make sense to me that VanZant would agree to fight Eye on one show and then refuse for another. Since we’re hearing this perspective from Eye, it wouldn’t be the first time a matchmaker has lied to one fighter about another fighter turning down a fight. It could just be that VanZant sees a better opportunity for her (a bigger name than Eye) or UFC has something else planned.

There is no sense in calling VanZant for turning down Eye because there is likely a logical explanation to the story that we aren’t hearing.

As for turning down Shevchenko, who could blame her?


Michael Bisping replacing Anderson Silva at UFC Shanghai in two weeks is not a bad idea as Kelvin Gastelum presents a winnable fight and way to keep his wits about himself after losing to GSP earlier in the month.

Evan Zivin: FACT Yeah sure, I’d say the fight is winnable. It’s not going to be an easy fight, as Kelvin’s hands are getting better and he still has a strong wrestling base to rely on, but I could see a focused Bisping getting it done here. I know he’s taking this fight because he’s the type of guy who wants to get back in action as soon as possible after a humiliating defeat so this works. We’ll see if taking the short notice fight works out for him. I know it definitely works out better for Kelvin since he has a chance to get a win against the recently dethroned champion, which will make his march towards contendership look a lot prettier than a win against Anderson Silva would (as hard as that is to say).

Either way, at least Shanghai still gets a compelling main event. Now if only UFC could get one for UFC 219. Tick tock…

Dan Plunkett: FICTION I don’t fault Bisping for taking the fight (I do fault the UFC for making it, but this isn’t about that), but I do have concerns. Bisping suffered a legitimate knockdown in his fight with Georges St-Pierre on 4, and that wasn’t the only significant blow he absorbed in the fight. After that, he presumably went out and had a good time to take his mind off the fight.

I can’t believe the idea that Bisping is fully healed from the St-Pierre fight and back in top condition for a fight two weeks later. Bisping could beat Kelvin Gastelum, but Gastelum is a dangerous fight for him and probably the favorite to win it. Fighting so soon after getting his brain rattled by St-Pierre makes it even more dangerous for Bisping. With Bisping so close to retirement and targeting March for his final fight, I don’t see taking such a risky fight as a good idea.


So who won? Did Dan knock the sock off Evan? Did Evan strangle Dan into submission? 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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