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411 Fact or Fiction MMA: Should Francis Ngannou Fight Fabricio Werdum?

February 8, 2017 | 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 bring you another round of all the fact and fiction making waves in the mixed martial arts community. Thank you, for the votes and comments last week. It is appreciated and I encourage you to keep it coming. Last week, I stepped in on short notice to lock horns with Dan Plunkett over Ronda Rousey working out of a protective shell during training camps, Junior dos Santos getting a shot at Stipe Miocic’s title, and Donald Cerrone’s loss to Jorge Masvidal among other subjects. It’s not easy stepping up on short notice and Dan made sure I was aware of it. He landed flush combinations, found his rhythm and timing, and lit me up from the sound of the first horn to the last. I fought and stayed on my feet but it was hardly enough to outwork the “Handsome” one. Congratulations Dan, on your 17-to-12 victory, and thank you for your effort and contribution.

This week, I’ll be lacing up the boots one more time as I step up to challenge Alex Rella. We’ll go toe-to-toe over Daniel Cormier claiming he’s out-boxing Anthony Johnson, Lorenz Larkin moving on from the UFC, Jon Jones getting an immediate title shot, and much more. Take a seat and make yourself comfortable because it’s time for another round of, 411 Fact or Fiction MMA! Let’s get this show on the road…

TALE OF THE TAPE
RED CORNER
Alex “Little Mac” Rella
Contributor, 411 MMA Zone
1-5-0

VS

BLUE CORNER
Lorenzo “Corpse Grinder” Vasquez III
Host/Contributor, 411 MMA Zone
4-4-0


Francis Ngannou vs. Fabricio Werdum is the perfect bout to determine the next heavyweight title contender for the winner of Stipe Miocic vs. Junior dos Santos.

Alex Rella: FACT Absolutely. With Cain Velasquez on the shelf for who knows how long, this is the only fight that makes sense to determine the next number one contender. Ngannou has been an absolute beast since coming to the UFC and destroying Arlovski was incredibly impressive. Plus, there really isn’t anyone else to face Werdum. Rothwell, Hunt, and Overeem are all no longer in title contention. Derrick Lewis has looked good during his 5 fight winning streak, but he still needs to get past Travis Browne to prove he deserves title consideration. Ngannou vs Werdum makes perfect sense, throw the former champ up against the surging prospect to determine the next contender and hope the division can provide another challenger during that time.

Lorenzo Vasquez III FICTION I’d love nothing more than for Francis Ngannou to fight Fabricio Werdum, or Cain Velasquez, to determine the next heavyweight title contender. In a shallow division like the heavyweight division it is exciting to see new contenders rise up and build some hype. We like to see it happen and happen quick. But, for the sake of Ngannou having a solid career and not becoming damaged goods, I am calling this one fiction. Ngannou is barging in like a storm but he has yet to hit the mainland. Ngannou’s last outing was a vicious knockout win over the veteran, Andrei Arlovski, who has been on the out since beating Frank Mir. With four straight losses (the last to Ngannou), it’s safe to say Arlovski is far from the threat he once was.

Arlovski is the highest level of opposition Ngannou has fought and I can’t say that is high level opposition to the full degree—at least not top five opposition. Ngannou should fight one or two lower tier top tens like Mark Hunt, Derrick Lewis, Travis Browne, or even Ben Rothwell. Don’t get me wrong, Ngannou is a top ten heavyweight, but I’d hate to see him run at the title too soon. A slow built favors the Frenchman ensuring he racks up the experience he’ll need to get by the likes of Fabricio Werdum, Junior dos Santos, Cain Velasquez, and the champ, Stipe Miocic.


Daniel Cormier has no intention of boxing with Anthony Johnson as he claims he does.

Alex Rella: FACT He’s just trying to hype up the fight. It makes absolutely zero sense for an Olympic caliber wrestler to completely abandon his ground game against the best striker in the division. Cormier does have very good boxing and he won’t be scared to strike with Rumble, but eventually he’ll go back to wrestling in order to get the win. He’s saying what he thinks will generate buzz and excitement. The dumb casual fan wants to hear that he’s going to knock out the challenger in a crazy brawl, not that he’s going to fight intelligently using his striking to set up takedowns. Sure Cormier will stand with him for a bit, but I would pay little attention to this.

Lorenzo Vasquez III: FICTION I’m iffy on this one. But I think Cormier has a problem and that is he gulls in too easily. He lets people get into to his head. We saw it with Jon Jones. I believe Cormier getting called out will make him try to out box Anthony Johnson. He will try to keep things standing to prove a point but, when the thunder hits, he will resort to his bread and butter. You better believe that. I could be wrong. Cormier could go straight into a grinding game plan. But I think his stubbornness and pride will get the better of him early on. For this reason, I’m calling this one fiction.


The UFC releasing Lorenz Larkin isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the UFC welterweight division.

Alex Rella : FACT It would have been nice to see Larkin continue his run in the UFC at welterweight, but I’m not heartbroken over it nor will it hurt the UFC at all. The UFC’s welterweight division is filled with enough talent that very few fighters must be kept at all costs. Rory MacDonald is truly a top 5 welterweight and his leaving had no effect on them whatsoever. They still have Maia waiting for his title shot, the returns of Robbie Lawler and Nick Diaz, and vets like Stun Gun Kim and Jorge Masvidal as top contenders. They lost a top 15 fighter, but they’ll be just fine without him.

And it’s good for Larkin too. He can be reunited with Scott Coker in Bellator and they’ll likely build him up as one of their top guys. Larkin will never get that top treatment with the UFC.

Lorenzo Vasquez III: FICTION Letting Lorenz Larkin, who was ranked at No. 6, go will be one of sadder things the UFC has done lately, if confirmed. Since his drop to welterweight the man has looked impressive and had just opened the door to run at the UFC Welterweight title. The manner in which the division has taken shape over the last week or two (Donald Cerrone’s loss to Jorge Masvidal) tells us he would likely have moved up to No. 5 or No. 4 and would have likely been a fight or two away from the title shot.

The division is stacked, but having another impressive fighter is never harmful and adds to the quality of the division and promotion. I find it shameful we may not get to see if his current run will lead him to a title shot and maybe the gold strap. And to be honest, though I doubt it would have happened, I would have loved to see Larkin, his style and athleticism, fight Conor McGregor. For whatever reason, that fight intrigues me more than many of McGregor’s matchups. Something tells me it would be a classic. Nonetheless, Larkin is tremendous loss for the division and ultimately, it is one fresh matchup less for the division.


SWITCH!

With the UFC refusing to match Ryan Bader’s Bellator offer the light heavyweight division will take a major loss.

Lorenzo Vasquez III: FACT Like him or not, Ryan Bader served a purpose in the light heavyweight division. He was the gatekeeper into the top five and in its current state, he could have became a title contender. Still, the division is shallow and Bader would have worked as a nice fill-in or gatekeeper role. Bader is famous for choking when it counts but fights against Daniel Cormier or, Alexander Gustafusson, were there to be made, Jimi Manuwa, too. Ultimately, Bader was the middle guy—the guy who determined whether or not a fighter was ready to run at the title. While, many will not miss him, he is a big loss to a shallow division lacking top tier fighters.

Alex Rella: FACT This is much different than Lorenz Larkin leaving, the UFC needs Ryan Bader more than they realize. Bader will never be the most exciting fighter in the world, but he is truly a legitimate top 5 light heavyweight and the division is very thin at this point. After Jon Jones returns in the summer to take on the winner of Cormier-Johnson, there are no other top contenders. Bader could easily and deservedly be the next number one contender, especially if Jones does something else dumb to prevent his return. Look at the other “top” light heavyweights: Shogun is old, the winner of Corey Anderson-Jimi Manuwa isn’t exciting, and who knows what’s going on with Gustafsson lately. There are a couple prospects like Misha Cirkunov and Jared Cannonier hovering the top 15, but they’re far from title contention. The UFC has clearly never really valued Bader (i.e. when they gave Gustafsson the title shot over him at UFC 192), but they’re going to miss him when he’s gone. Bader is a top contender and veteran that can main event shows in a very shallow division, letting him go is very short sighted on the UFC’s part.


Demian Maia would benefit more from staying active than waiting for a title shot which may or, may not, come after Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson rematch in March.

Lorenzo Vasquez III: FICTION I hate calling this one fact. The grappling fan in me wants Demian Maia to hold out and wait for his title shot. Waiting for the shot may not be a bad thing. Take current champion, Tyron Woodley, for example. The champ waited on the sidelines over a year and seven months before getting called to fight for the gold strap and winning the thing.

But, the UFC is doing things that don’t make sense other than for entertainment value. We don’t know what will happen after Woodley fights Stephen Thompson, again. Will there be injures? What if Conor McGregor is granted the welterweight title shot after Woodley vs. Thompson II? What if the UFC grants the next shot to Nick Diaz? What if the UFC finds a contender they assume will sell more seats, pay-per-views? This is one too many “what if’s” to be certain. I hate saying it but maybe staying active is the best course, particularly, if Maia can get a money fight. Perhaps, it’s too bad Nick Diaz declined a fight with Maia. But again, Woodley vs. Thompson II is only a month away. That’s not too long away. Maia should have some semblance of an answer soon after March 4th. That’s worth the wait for me.

Alex Rella: FICTION Demian Maia is the clear number one contender at this point and he cannot afford to risk that by taking another fight just to stay active. Maia is 39 years old and on a 6 fight winning streak against some of the top fighters at 170 lbs. If he takes a fight and loses, he’s never going to be able to build himself back up to this top spot. If he does take a fight, the UFC isn’t going to give him an easy one either. Fights against Nick Diaz, Robbie Lawler, and even Jorge Masvidal are tough and there is no guarantee he’ll come out on top. Plus Maia is a true veteran, I doubt there will be ring rust if he ends up waiting a year in between fights.


It’s difficult to believe Dana White has good intentions when he says Jon Jones should immediately fight in a title bout than it is to believe White wants Jones to fight for the title immediately on account of his performance against Ovince St Preux after his long lay-off last year.

Lorenzo Vasquez III: FICTION But I wouldn’t put it past him. I can’t read minds but we know Dana White is a vindictive son-of-a-you-know-what. We’ve seen it before: Tito Ortiz, Randy couture, Ken Shamrock, etc. Jon Jones and White aren’t too fond of one another and they’ve both made it public more than one time or another. I’m sure, somewhere, in the back of White’s mind, he wouldn’t mind seeing Jones come in after a layoff extending over a year to get his behind handed to him by whoever is the champ at the time. But this isn’t the reason, at least in my opinion. White is a smart businessman and he’s been at the game for sometime.

He knows at this moment it’s all about the money and Jon Jones fighting for the title upon his comeback will rake in some nice cash. On par with what we see today, it doesn’t matter if Jones deserves the shot and whether White likes it or not, Jones for the title is the fight to make based on entertainment. White knows we’re going to question Jones’ capability after a long layoff because we know what he looks like after missing over a year of action. He knows that’s going to build intrigue and people are going to pay hoping Jones gets beat because of this. So, while White wouldn’t mind seeing it happen and though he may have this idea bedded down somewhere in his mind, it is not the reason he is claiming Jones should get an immediate title shot upon his return. At the end of the day it’s all about raking in the cash, and you have consider how much talent/star power the division lacks.

Alex Rella: FICTION Regardless of his intentions, there are no other fights to make. They’ll need a contender for the light heavyweight title around the summer when he returns and there are no other options with Bader likely leaving. Sure Jones didn’t look great in his last fight against OSP, but he is the greatest light heavyweight of all time and he never lost his title in a fight. It’s possible he might do something stupid before then and ruin it, but it makes sense from a rankings and best possible fight available standpoint.


So who won? Did I rebound from last week’s loss or did Alex smash any chance I had? 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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