Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Last weekend, the UFC’s newest champion kicked off his title reign in style with a first-round submission over Alex Perez. But while one champion is just starting to build their legacy, one of the all-time great champions is being met with the harsh reality that his legacy may be over. So let’s talk about Deiveson Figueiredo, Anderson Silva, and, of course, Fight Circus.
Do u think Figueiredo will be as dominant as DJ if he keeps winning ?— HONG KONG (@AbdullahShwihdi) November 25, 2020
I would say that it is unlikely we see someone as dominant as Demetrious Johnson again. Mighty Mouse strung together 11 successful title defenses over the span of five years. That sort of sustained brilliance is literally unprecedented and, given the current fad of fighters wanting to chase multiple titles, I just don’t see how any dominant fighter in the next few years remains in their natural division and reigns for half a decade. On top of that, even if Figgy Smalls was so inclined, he’s 32 years old. As a general rule, the lighter weight classes age like bread, and that only gets exacerbated the lighter you go. Figueiredo certainly does seem to have kicked things up a notch in the past year, but I would be pretty stunned if this was just the beginning for him instead of the peak.
But though I doubt Figueiredo will be as dominant as DJ was, that doesn’t mean he can’t be equally as impressive, just in a different way. Mighty Mouse was a dominant, thrilling champion but he also was not someone who struck fear in other flyweights. Demetrious embarrassed fighters but he didn’t really brutalize them. Figueiredo does. When DJ finished someone, it felt like the inevitable conclusion of a math problem. When Figueiredo finishes someone, it’s like a shotgun. And in that difference is where Figueiredo can establish his legacy.
Currently, there isn’t a flyweight alive I would pick to defeat Figueiredo. He’s far from a perfect fighter, however, on the feet he packs elite power and he has clearly shown himself to be an opportunistic grappler. If Figueiredo can spend the next year racking up title defenses in the same spectacular fashion he’s dispatched his foes this year, he will certainly have carved out his own piece of flyweight division history.
Does Anderson Silva’s debacles in the recent years make him ineligible for any GOAT conversation?— Rishabh Singh (@mma_rishabh) November 27, 2020
GOAT debates are inherently subjective and so I’m sure for some people it does render him ineligible. Aside from his terrible end-of-career record, there’s also the matter of his failed drug tests which will inevitably cause some people to remove him from the GOAT conversation. And that’s fine, it’s their prerogative, but for me, I still have Anderson firmly ensconced in the debate.
For one thing, I have never much cared about PED usage in MMA and for another, when discussing GOAT qualifications, I have always felt that we should really only be considering prime years. At the peak of his powers, Anderson was as dominant a fighter as we’ve ever seen, he cleaned out his division entirely, and he did it for nearly a decade. The fact that he then kept competing long after Father Time had his say in no denigrates what he did in his younger years, and what he did is unquestionably among the most incredible runs in the history of the sport.
Now, I also want to take this opportunity to discuss something else about Anderson Silva: his possible exile from MMA.
Anderson has made it clear he still wishes to continue fighting despite being let go from the UFC but unfortunately for The Spider, it appears that the major MMA organizations aren’t interested in his services. He is the Peyton Manning of MMA. Both are all-time greats who fundamentally changed the way the game was played, both had late career PED allegations, and both men were forced to walk away despite still wanting to compete. And like with Peyton Manning, it’s stupid that some organization doesn’t want Anderson Silva (seriously, Trevor Siemian was better than washed Peyton?). Anderson may not be the fighter he once was, but he’s still better than a vast majority of middleweights out there, and he’s still more than good enough to compete with the other geriatric legends Bellator employs. Seriously, Scott Coker employed Wanderlei Silva, and a 90-year-old Ken Shamrock but Anderson is a bridge too far? GTFO. I don’t know why these organizations are proactively distancing themselves from Andy Silver but it’s absolute rubbish.
Conor’s title aspirations
Unpopular opinion/ Question: Love McGregor but why is everyone acting like a win over Dustin earns him a title shot, he would only be on a 2 fight winning streak. Just don’t understand how he can surpass many other contenders in an already stacked lightweight divison— Claudio Raspa (@_raspa) November 24, 2020
This is very easy: because he’s Conor McGregor. Seriously, the UFC is incentivized to have their most marketable fighter holding a belt, so in the event of a vacancy, having him jump the line to get in on that title fight action makes total sense.
Also, should McGregor beat Poirier, then there is legitimate merit to him getting a title shot. Though McGregor doesn’t have much of a campaign to rest his hat on at lightweight, the simple fact is that he is a former champion of the division and his only loss in the division came against the champion who has ostensibly retired. He rebounded with a top-10 win and now will face the second-ranked lightweight contender. If he beats Poirier, that’s basically as good a resume as anyone else vying for the sport, given that all of them are coming off recent losses. And it’s better in some respects because Poirier rightfully should be the No. 1 contender. Like everyone else at lightweight, he lost to Khabib but he’s a former interim champion and he holds a recent win over the current top-ranked contender.
Then, of course, there is the simple fact that Khabib functionally anointed Poirier as the rightful successor to his throne. Before retiring, Khabib was obviously making his grand plans to fight Georges St-Pierre but at the same time, he continually stated that if he didn’t fight GSP, he would defend his title against whoever beat Poirier. Now sure, that doesn’t mean a ton promotionally, but I do think it adds a level of legitimacy, especially given Poirier’s stellar lightweight resume.
Name a better prospect than AJ McKee— Daniel Pompilio (@elpompilio) November 25, 2020
There are a ton of good prospects out there and the future of MMA is in good hands, but there isn’t one who matches up to A.J. McKee. Right now I think he’s competitive with anyone in the featherweight division and in a few more years, when he really hits his peak, I think he’s the best 145-pounder on Earth. This kid is something special and Bellator has to thank their lucky stars that they’ve got him.
Oh, and McKee vs. Pitbull is gonna be friggin’ dope.
Do you think those three guys should have been fined for taking Panda down?— The Naked Gambler (@NakedGambling) November 27, 2020
No, they should have been beaten with sticks.
In case you missed it, the most dynamic promotion in combat sports returned for their sophomore outing this past weekend with Fight Circus Vol. 2: Circus Harder, and boy was it a doozy. Not only did we get another Two-On-One fight, and another Kicking Only fight, but we also got a Spinning Attacks Only fight, a Leg-Kicking Contest, and the piece de resistance, a Three-On-One fight, featuring “The Baddest Man on Phuket” Panda Banks taking on three smaller fellows. The three men, cowards that they are, did their best to grapple with their outnumbered foe instead of throwing bungalows on the feet. It was a despicable act but in the end, Panda Banks emerged victorious so I suppose we can let it slide.
I won’t go into much further detail about Fight Circus because I spoke about on both Between the Links and The A-Side Live Chat this week, and AK Lee and I wrote extensively about it for Missed Fists but I did want to say one important thing. I’m obviously a huge Fight Circus proponent, and though much of that is done ironically, there is an equal amount of genuine affection for what the organization is doing. Fight Circus doesn’t take itself too seriously and it doesn’t lose sight of the fact that fighting is supposed to be fun. Does everything they try work? No. But they hit more than they miss and when every swing is for the fences, that ends up being fairly successful.
But more important than if all their bits land is the atmosphere Fight Circus is creating. Many of the fighters at Circus Harder competed at the first event, and it’s clear that there is a lot of love between everyone competing. When you’re doing sideshow spectacle fights, it’s not like winning and losing is the end all be all anyway and everyone seems to understand that and is just there to have a good time doing something pretty dumb. They are mixing things up, being creative, and pushing the envelope in ways that other organizations can’t and I honestly believe something like Fight Circus is necessary in this sport to remind us just how ridiculous and stupid it can be.
Thanks for reading this week, and thank you for everyone who sent in Tweets! Do you have any burning questions about at least tacitly related to combat sports? Then you’re in luck because you can send your Hot Tweets to me, @JedKMeshew and I will answer them! Doesn’t matter if they’re topical or insane. Get weird with it. Let’s have fun.