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411 Fact or Fiction MMA: Is Demian Maia Getting the Shaft?

July 5, 2017 | Posted by Lorenzo Vasquez
Demian Maia

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 into the realm of 411 Fact or Fiction MMA. Thank you, for your votes and comments last week, it is appreciated! I encourage you to do the same this week. Last week, I stepped in on short notice to challenge the heavy hitting, Mark Radulich. We fought tooth and nail over the circus that was Bellator NYC, Aaron Pico getting embarrassed, and Kevin Lee’s win over Michael Chiesa among other subjects. We both rushed to the center and let go of some heavy bombs. When the smoke plume was gone, it was I, who stood tall and took home the victory. Thank you, Mark, for your efforts and contribution. We appreciate it.

This week, your live coverage guru, Robert Winfree, returns to battle the gritty, Wyatt Beougher! These two bulls will lock horns over Gilbert Melendez dropping to the featherweight division, Demian Maia getting the shaft with not enough time to prepare for Tyron Woodley, Justin Gaethje possibly getting a shot at the interim lightweight title, and much more. Go grab some grub and find yourself a comfortable seat because it’s time for another round of, 411 Fact or Fiction MMA! Let’s get it going…

TALE OF THE TAPE
RED CORNER
Robert “The Last Rider” Winfree
Contributor/Live Coverage Guru/Host, 411 MMA Zone/411 Ground and Pound Radio Show
5-4-1

VS

BLUE CORNER
Wyatt Beougher
Host/Reviewer/Columnist, 411 MMA/TV & Movies/Wrestling Zones
2-8-0


As it appears, Gilbert Melendez is set to become the next causality of the ideology that a veteran can drop down a weight class and revamp his dwindling career.

Robert Winfree: FACT Yeah, if he does in fact go through with this I can’t see it going all that well for him. Melendez has just one win in the UFC, when he defeated Diego Sanchez, and has lost his last three fights. Adding to his slump is inactivity as it’s been nearly a full year since he lost to Edson Barboza. Melendez was a great lightweight, but he’s failed to evolve as a fighter and the game is rapidly passing him by. Adding to this discussion is how thick he is through the torso, I’m not saying Melendez couldn’t make 145 but I seriously question what version of him we’d get at that weight class.

Wyatt Beougher: FICTION I’m not sure “casualty” is the correct word, as Gil hasn’t done much of note (aside from testing positive for PEDs) since joining the UFC, and his 1-4 record inside the Octagon is a reflection of that. Sure, if “El Nino” falls to Jeremy Stephens at featherweight, you could technically make the argument that this is FACT, but I think if we’re using an analogy for that scenario, it’s more that the lighter weight class picked Melendez’ bones, rather than making him a casualty.


Win or lose, against Cris Cyborg, Tonya Evinger deserves the next UFC bantamweight title shot (after Nunes vs. Shevchenko).

Robert Winfree: FICTION Though I wouldn’t be terribly upset if they did. The top of women’s bantamweight is in a weird spot and somewhat desperate for new and viable contenders. That being said, if Evinger gets beaten soundly by Cyborg I don’t think you could just toss her into the title mix. Evinger is on a career-best run, but if you look at her recent wins she hasn’t fought anyone truly at the elite level. You can attribute that to various circumstances but it remains the truth, I’d like to see her take on someone like Alexis Davis or Sara McMann (both of whom she lost to in the past) before possibly entering the title picture.

Wyatt Beougher: FACT The fact that Evinger has a handful of flyweight bouts on her resume tells me that she’s probably much more comfortable at bantamweight, a weight where she’s currently on a 7-0 run (with one no-contest in there), so I feel like she shouldn’t be punished if (or more likely, when) she loses to Cristiane Justino. Evinger has been a dominant bantamweight champion in InvictaFC, and while she’s not officially ranked in the UFC’s rankings, but she seems to be right on the cusp of the top ten female bantamweight fighters regardless of promotion, so I don’t think it’s a stretch that she be rewarded with a championship opportunity after her fight with Cyborg. I could certainly see the argument in favor of having her actually take a bantamweight fight in the UFC before she jumps into a championship fight, but looking at the women ranked in front of her (and behind Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko), you’ve got Holly Holm, who is 1-3 in her last four fights, Julianna Pena, who just lost to Shevchenko back in January, Ronda Rousey, who seems less and less likely to actually step back into the cage with each passing day, Raquel Pennington, who probably has the best case for getting a title shot ahead of Evinger based on her four-fight win streak with the most recent being a win over former champion Miesha Tate, Sara McMann, who would make an excellent opponent in a title eliminator fight with Evinger, Cat Zingano, who hasn’t fought in almost a year and is riding a two-fight losing streak, and then Liz Carmouche and Alexis Davis, who are probably in a similar position to Evinger. There’s also Germaine de Randamie, and the biggest knock against her is arguably the biggest positive for Evinger – she wouldn’t put the featherweight championship on the line against Cyborg, which almost assuredly put her in Dana’s crosshairs. Evinger, on the other hand, stepped up and took the fight, which would almost certainly put her in line for a reward from the volatile UFC president, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that that reward would be a title shot in her more natural weight class.


Demian Maia has been given a huge disservice by the UFC by only getting about a month’s notice to prepare for his title shot against Tyron Woodley, and only a little over a month after his last fight.

Robert Winfree: FACT assuming that Maia was informed about this fight on the same timetable as the rest of the world. Proper preparation is key to success in fighting, especially at the highest level, and there’s a good chance neither Woodley nor Maia will get the six or seven weeks of training generally considered necessary to perform at peak levels. That being said, Maia has refined his MMA game to a razor’s edge already and while I’m a big believer in preparation, tape study, drills, so on and so forth, if there exists a fighter who’s already as in tune with his game as he’s ever going to be it’s Maia.

Wyatt Beougher: FICTION On the one hand, I think Maia is definitely getting the short end of the stick here compared to other UFC title contenders, who generally get more time to rest between fights and more notice of when their next fight will be. And that’s not even taking into consideration the fact that Maia had to win seven straight fights in a not-especially stacked welterweight division just to get a title shot (or that he’s gone 13-4 since his last title fight against Anderson Silva in 2010). Maia has basically moved into the Jon Fitch role in the UFC’s welterweight division, and if he doesn’t win this fight against Woodley, I don’t imagine he’ll get another title opportunity for the rest of his UFC run, no matter how many contenders he knocks off. With all that said, though, do I think it’s a “huge disservice by the UFC” in only giving him a month or so of notice before his title fight? Not especially, because Maia basically preps for every fight the same way and he’s been petitioning for a fight with Woodley for a while now, which means he’s been at least game planning for him well in advance of this announcement. So, while I definitely think there’s a double standard in play here, I don’t think it’s going to particularly disadvantage Maia going into this fight.


SWITCH!

You’re not thrilled Conor McGregor wants to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov in Russia, in December, when he should, instead, be asking to fight the winner of Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov in December.

Wyatt Beougher: FACT I know why Conor wants to fight Khabib, a fellow showman who is very good at selling his fights, and I can definitely understand why he’d want to do it in Russia in December (Conor’s pretty clearly fancying himself as Rocky Balboa in Rocky IV here, nevermind the fact that Khabib is no Ivan Drago), but if he wants to hand pick his opponents and not respect the hierarchy of the UFC’s already questionable rankings, then he needs to relinquish his lightweight title and follow through with Dana giving him a moneyweight belt. He’s already put two divisions on hold so that he could fight the fights that he wanted to fight (first the rematch with Nate Diaz and now the boxing match with Mayweather), so either fight the winner of Khabib/Ferguson (assuming that fight ever actually happens) or, if you want to fight Khabib regardless, have Dana put the lightweight title on the line in whoever Ferguson’s next fight ends up being against. I’m sure “El Cucuy” would rather win the belt from a champion, and I think a fight between he and McGregor would absolutely be in the best interest of all involved parties, but with McGregor involved, it’s just so hard to tell how things are going to shake out.

Robert Winfree: FICTION I’m beyond caring about Conor McGregor at this point. If I’m thrilled about anything it’s that he’s talking about actually defending the belt, not that I necessarily believe he will mind you. I don’t care if it’s against Ferguson or Nurmagomedov, there’s an equal case to be made for either man as the rightful number one contender, and I seriously doubt the fight will happen in Russia if it does at all.


With regards to Alijamain Sterling vs. Renan Barao being changed to 140-pound catchweight fight, the California State Athletic Commission put it’s foot in the manner far too close to the expected fight date when they should have made said decision and announcement much earlier this month, closer to the fight announcement.

Wyatt Beougher: FACT So you’re telling me an athletic commission made a questionable decision that doesn’t necessarily benefit either fighter and creates unnecessary controversy around what was an anticipated fight?

You don’t say.

CSAC is basically known for drawing attention to itself for all of the wrong reasons at this point, so this latest gaffe shouldn’t be all that surprising. I think it’s 100% FACT that they should’ve made this announcement as soon as the fight was signed and they saw Barao was on the card if they were going to make an issue about his previous weight cut struggles. And I also tend to agree with Sterling that it wasn’t unreasonable at all for him to ask the UFC for some extra compensation for a fight that, on paper, favors his opponent, the fighter who struggled to make weight. I found it especially enjoyable that he called out Dana White’s frivolous spending, although it probably won’t endear the promising young fighter to his boss and may end up hurting his career in the short term.

Robert Winfree: FACT though, I feel this might also be needless nitpicking. At the urging of Pat Mullin I did some looking into the history of the CSAC and going back just ten years or so you find that the commission was something of a joke, on par with Texas at the time. That they have now morphed into one of the more progressive and proactive commissions is to be commended. There are points about their weight cutting plan that I don’t agree with, but I tend to feel that on balance it’s a step in the right direction. Should they be more expedient about making decisions regarding what weight they’ll regulate a fight at going forward? Absolutely, but this is still a somewhat new process to implement. Hopefully, they do better in the future.


With Khabib Nurmagomedov, unfortunately, building a reputation of unreliability, if Justin Gaethje beats Michael Johnson in impressive fashion, Gaethje vs. Tony Ferguson for the interim title and next shot at Conor McGregor is the best possible scenario to guarantee McGregor is booked against a fighter who is less likely to bail.

Wyatt Beougher: FACT I don’t want to take anything away from Khabib, because he’s proven to be a tremendous fighter; however, he’s also an unreliable flake at this point, so assuming former WSoF lightweight kingpin Gaethje can get past Michael Johnson (which isn’t guaranteed by any means), Gaethje versus Ferguson would probably be the best course of action for an interim lightweight title fight. Gaethje’s WSoF resume speaks for itself, and Johnson is currently the fifth-ranked fighter in the UFC’s rankings, so a Gaethje win would certainly put him in a position where a fight with second-ranked Ferguson wouldn’t be a stretch. As I said in my response to statement four, I definitely would prefer to see Ferguson/Khabib, with the winner of that fighting McGregor, but if Khabib can’t be trusted to actually fight, Ferguson/Gaethje is a great alternative.

Robert Winfree: FICTION I know Michael Johnson is a top ranked lightweight, but have we all forgotten about his overall skill issues and lack of consistency? The man is just 1-3 in his last four fights and got smoked by Khabib in his last fight. If Gaethje beats Johnson it will be a big statement, but I’m not sure he should leapfrog guys like Edson Barboza or Kevin Lee in terms of entering the title picture based off of beating a guy as radically inconsistent as Johnson has proven to be. The potential violence from a Gaethje vs. Ferguson fight would make me incredibly happy as a fan, but there are several lightweights making big moves at the moment and I feel that carries more weight under these circumstances.


So who won? Was Wyatt able to grab the bull by the horns and get the upset or was Robert too much? 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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