mma / Columns

411 Fact or Fiction MMA: Is Cub Swanson vs. Doo Ho Choi the Fight of the Year?

December 14, 2016 | Posted by Lorenzo Vasquez

Welcome back to another edition of 411 Fact or Fiction MMA! I’m your host, Lorenzo Vasquez III, and it is my pleasure to sound the bell for another round of the fact and fiction lingering at the outskirts of the MMA biosphere. Before, moving onto this week’s contest, I want to thank you for your votes and comments last week. You are appreciated and I encourage you to do same this week. Last week, two Fact or Fiction thundering beast clashed for an epic battle. Mark Radulich tried to hand Dino Zee a calculated defeat as they tangled over the UFC cutting events, why Conor McGregor acquired a boxing license, and the MMAAA accomplishing little more than their counterparts in addition to more. Dino’s heavy hands landed early and his footwork set a pace Mark was unable to out do. Congratulations Dino on your 26-to-17 victory. Thank you both for your efforts and contributions, we appreciate it!

This week, Jeffrey “The Vile One” Harris will look to use his vile ways to dismantle Wyatt Beougher. This should be a back and forth contest as they discuss WME-IMG aiming to more than triple the UFC’s tv deal, Kelvin Gastelum staying at middleweight, Cub Swanson vs. Doo Ho Choi delivering a fight of the year candidate, and much more! Folks, you know what time it is. Grab something to munch on, and make yourself comfortable because it’s time for another round of, 411 Fact or Fiction MMA! Let us proceed…

TALE OF THE TAPE
RED CORNER
Wyatt Beougher
Host/Reviewer/Columnist, 411 MMA/TV & Movies/Wrestling Zones
2-3-0

VS

BLUE CORNER
Jeffrey “The Vile One” Harris
Contributor, Various 411 Zones
1-2-2


It’s difficult to believe WME-IMG will be able to renegotiate a television rights deal where the average annual return, $115 million, for the UFC increases to $450 million.

Wyatt Beougher: FACT For all of their connections in the entertainment industry, I still have a hard time believing that WME-IMG will be able to more than triple their current rights deal. Sure, the NFL’s television rights deals have increased massively each time they’re up for renewal, but the UFC on FOX events aren’t exactly pulling in NFL numbers (as evidenced by a significant portion of American viewers missing the Condit vs Maia event this past August when some FOX markets opted to air NFL preseason games instead. And that’s in a year where the NFL is in full-on panic mode due a massive decrease in their own ratings. For a better comparison, I think it’s probably safe (just this once) to compare UFC to WWE – prior to signing their most recent deal with USA, Vince McMahon also thought that he would be able to secure a massive increase in WWE’s television rights, but when the dust settled, he had to accept only a modest increase. Personally, I feel like this is a much more likely outcome for the UFC as well – WME-IMG have set their sights high, but in the end will settle for only a slight increase over their current rights deal.

Jeffrey Harris: FICTION Not at all. WME-IMG is a major player in the entertainment game. Not to mention, UFC’s sale of ZUFFA to WME-IMG was one of the biggest stories of last year. Beforehand, there was never a real number valuation on what the UFC was worth. This really gave the public one for the first time at $4.2 billion. The UFC has also consistently brought in some of FOX Sports 1’s biggest numbers. Plus with a guy like Conor McGregor under contract, when he’s at the height of his popularity, UFC will be able to sell their broadcasting rights even higher. When UFC first made its FOX deal, they are still in a transitionary period where some of their top draws were retiring or going away, or a lot of guys were injured. Maybe they don’t get $450 million, but it’s not hard to believe in light of recent events and UFC having one of its biggest years to date.


If the MMAAA wants fighters signing up left and right and more credibility, Bjorn Rebney needs to be ousted now, and a new purpose and objectives drafted.

Wyatt Beougher: FACTION I was initially leaning towards FICTION here, since I don’t think Bjorn Rebney’s advisor status with the MMAAA is really a significant deterrent to them adding to their member base or reaching their goals, but then I realized that they’re still going up against a company spearheaded by Dana White, and it would be all too easy for White to publicly discredit the MMAAA by claiming that Rebney is still sour about being ousted from Bellator by Viacom and is looking to take his “revenge” against a former competitor. I personally don’t think that that’s the case; however, White’s history would seem to indicate that he has an outsized amount of influence as it pertains to public perception when it comes to all things MMA, so with that in mind, perhaps it would be best for the MMAAA to cut ties with Rebney, so I’m going FACT on that portion.

Of course, I think the bigger issue is the fact that four of the five fighters who currently comprise the membership of the MMAAA are all represented by a single agent from CAA, a rival of WME-IMG in the athlete representation field. Rebney has claimed that CAA has no ties to the MMAAA, but that connection, too, would seem to be an easy target for the UFC president.

That said, I don’t agree that the MMAAA needs a new purpose or objectives, as they’ve clearly modeled their mission statement on the treatment that other American professional athletes receive, and I think that can only be good for bringing in members. I do think that they need to expand their scope to other organizations, though, lest they risk the public perceiving them as having an axe to grind with the UFC. But as far as increasing the fighters’ portion of revenue sharing with promotions and finally giving fighters the ability to collectively bargain, I don’t think that needs to be changed at all, so I think that portion of the statement is FICTION.

Jeffrey Harris: FACT You can’t call Bjorn Rebney an advisor and then let him do the type of things he’s been doing. He’s acting in much more than an advisory role. He’s one of the public faces of the organization and a de-facto spokesperson. The fact is that he does hurt the credibility of the movement. It would’ve been one thing if he was a silent partner or only assisting behind-the-scenes. That’s no longer the case. You can argue that he has knowledge of UFC contracts and the promoter business, but how does that make him better than Dana White? If he’s trying to do this for redemption or forgiveness, why isn’t he asking for forgiveness from Eddie Alvarez, Zach Makovsky, or the numerous other fighters he wronged? Not to mention, there was reported evidence of him getting in the class-action lawsuits against the UFC, so he could receive a share of any of the rewards. Why should Rebney receive any type of financial rewards from a lawsuit against the UFC? If any wrongdoing is found, shouldn’t that money go directly to the fighters and not Bjorn Rebney. Not to mention, Cerrone has already expressed his disapproval with Rebney’s involvement, as well as other fighter managers and agents. However, more than anything, there needs to be just one organization spearheading this movement and not three, and they need to get on the same page and not pursuing litigation at each other.


Kelvin Gastelum should scrap any welterweight plans and stay at middleweight as his size did not hinder him against Tim Kennedy and shouldn’t against other top tier middleweights.

Wyatt Beougher: FICTION Gastelum did look good against Kennedy, but how much of that was due to Kennedy being out of action for over two years and being a dozen years older than Gastelum? While I think Gastelum staying at middleweight is probably better for his overall health, if he’s committed to changing his lifestyle and proves that he can consistently make the 170 pound weight limit, then I see no reason for him to stay at middleweight right now while he’s still young enough to make the cut. But if he misses weight again, then I think his next middleweight fight should be against someone like Chris Camozzi or Magnus Cedenblad, or another one of the bigger middleweights, to see how well he actually does against a fighter with a significant height/reach advantage. But like I said, at this point, I’d rather he get a chance to actually change his lifestyle with a nutritionist like Mike Dolce (who he has worked with before).

Jeffrey Harris: FACT Kelvin Gastelum believes 170 pounds is his optimal weight class, when all his best UFC performances have really been at middleweight. It’s at welterweight where he tends to repeatedly have problems and flounder. Size isn’t always going to give you an advantage at your weight. Gastelum and his representation are simply not smart, and they are being stubborn. They still don’t realize how badly they screwed up. If Gastelum thinks he needs to make a lifestyle change with his diet, he’s had ample time to do so already. Not to mention, he complained that Mike Dolce was too expensive once before promptly missing weight and losing 20 percent of his purse. Gastelum suffers from a maturity problem, and it seems he’s still immature about this issue. That simple.


SWITCH!

Derrick Lewis grabbed another TKO finish but it’s time to slow the train down, his performance at UFC FN 102 shows he is still a level beneath his fellow top ten counterparts.

Jeffrey Harris: FICTION Let’s put him in there against some of those opponents, and we shall see. Derrick Lewis isn’t always the prettiest fighter to watch, but he’s remarkably effective. He’s had opponents where he’s struggled in early rounds only to come out later in the fight with a win. He’s very good at doing this. Lewis might not turn out to be a world beater or title contender, but I see him being a perennial top 10 heavyweight for a while. Plenty of top heavyweights have had worse performances. See Frank Mir, Andrei Arlovski, and numerous others.

Wyatt Beougher: FACT I probably would’ve skipped Lewis’ fight with Shamil Abdurakhimov if it weren’t for this statement, and honestly, I think I would’ve been okay with that. Lewis definitely has some potential, and this fight proved that he’s always got a puncher’s chance, but outside of Travis Browne or Andrei Arlovski, both of whom have proven to be susceptible to getting punched into unconsciousness (or at least defenselessness), I’m not sure who else in the top ten Lewis would really have a chance against. Mark Hunt’s chin and knockout power would make him a bad matchup, Barnett and Rothwell are both more well-rounded and would probably give Lewis fits, and then you get into the Cain/JDS/Overeem/Werdum tier of fighters, who I’m 100% sure Lewis isn’t ready for. I think a relatively safe matchup against Browne or Arlovski makes the most sense at this point, and if Lewis manages to look more impressive against one of them, then you start bringing the hype train back up to its previous speed. And to his credit, Lewis kept fighting against Abdurakhimov rather than mentally quitting and he admitted that it was a terrible fight, so hopefully he comes out and proves he deserves that top ten ranking in his next fight.


No questions asked, Cub Swanson vs. Doo Ho Choi easily takes the number one spot in the conversation for fight-of-the-year.

Jeffrey Harris: FACT It definitely feels that way right now. It started taking shape in the second round, and then I believe the third round cemented it. I’d have to look back at some of the other great fights of the year, but this was really the first MMA fight I watched and when I was done I truly felt, “Well dang. That was probably the best fight I’ve seen this year.”

Wyatt Beougher: FACT I haven’t had a lot of time for MMA (or anything fun, really) because of a high-stress project at work, so I’ve basically just been watching the fights that either feature fighters that I know I’ll enjoy or that people that I trust have raved about. When Winfree started hyping the Swanson/Choi fight, I made it a point to watch it, and I am definitely glad that I did. I realize that it’s probably due to how recently it occurred, but it definitely stands out for me right now as the fight of the year. It might slip slightly when I go back and rewatch some of the other excellent fights from 2016, but at this point, this one is a pretty easy FACT.


Cris Cyborg dropped the ball in major fashion; after everything, the UFC finally decides to give her a UFC Featherweight Championship title fight (well, more like hand her a belt) and she turns it down twice.

Jeffrey Harris: FACT I have no sympathy for Cris Justino. She’s a documented cheater and PED abuser. She has documented that she walks around at 175 pounds. This is what she has been asking for and demanding from the UFC repeatedly. And the UFC offered her an even greater amount of time, and it still wasn’t enough. What she needs to start doing is shedding some of that muscle mass, but chances are her years of steroid abuse has radically changed her body and mass.

Wyatt Beougher: FICTION I’ve been extremely critical of Cyborg’s unwillingness to drop to bantamweight in the past, but in this case, I am going to side with the embattled Brazilian fighter. If she did suffer the medical side effects that she detailed from her last 140 pound weight cut, I would rather see her get completely healthy and have a safe cut to 145 for her UFC Featherweight debut. And I know Dana and company are frustrated with her for turning down a championship fight twice, but in the long run, do you want your biggest female bantamweight star to come out and look terrible in the first-ever women’s bantamweight title fight? That’s not how you build a division, especially when Justino is, by far, the best-known fighter in that division. It’s December now and she said she wants to fight in March, so that gives the UFC plenty of time to find her a credible opponent and hype the hell out of the first-ever featherweight title fight. I really don’t see the downside here, especially since White has publicly committed to building the division in 2017.


So who won? Was Jeffrey able to smash Wyatt, or did Wyatt stomp Jeffrey? 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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