The Buzz List: The 9 Hottest, Most Controversial MMA Topics for 9/9-9/24
Welcome to The Buzz List.
First, an introduction (in case you missed the last edition):
What you'll find in the following slides is not anything resembling fighter rankings. We've got plenty of those already.
The Buzz List, which will be published every two weeks, is our comprehensive look at the hottest things going on in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. If a fighter puts on a stellar performance that garners rave reviews, he might find his way onto the list. Or if another fighter says or does something dumb, well, he could also be included.
This is not a look at the best fighters in mixed martial arts. Sure, it may end up that way from time to time, but that's not the point. What we're doing here is presenting a look at the most popular and controversial fighters and topics from the current mixed martial arts landscape.
With the appetizer out of the way, let's get started with the meat and potatoes.
Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson
As if anything else would go here, in the top slot of the Buzz List. As if.
UFC 165's title fight main event between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson was, both in the moment and upon further reflection, one of the greatest fights in the history of the sport. And by "history of the sport," I mean the entire history, from the greatest wars of PRIDE all the way to last year's Dan Henderson vs. Shogun Rua bout and more.
Yes, it was that good.
Whether you scored the fight for Jones or Gustafsson—I scored it for Jones 49-46, but that is realizing full well that three of those five rounds could've easily gone the other way—you know it was a classic. You want to see it again. Apologies to Glover Teixeira, but dude can sit on the sidelines for a little bit longer while these two run back the play clock one more time.
Or two more times. Or three.
Everyone Cares About Jon Jones' Checkbook
Jon Jones may have been quite human after all (or something akin to it, at least), but the UFC champ isn't hurting in the financial department.
Jones' brother Arthur tweeted that Jones makes more than both of his NFL-playing brothers combined.
I don't know if Arthur's tweet is true. It seems a bit far-fetched, considering he'd have to pull in more than $4 million per year from his UFC fights and sponsorships.
But what I do know is this: Jones isn't underpaid. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
And there's a reason so many fighters elect to put their careers in the hands of Malki Kawa: because he's good at closing deals and securing optimal opportunities for his fighters. If that weren't the case, he wouldn't have a roster that includes some of the UFC's top fighters and champions.
I don't know that I've ever seen a sport where the fans are so very invested in what an athlete is paid, as though it has some kind of effect on their lives. Don't fret, you guys; Jon Jones is very rich. He'll be okay.
Everybody Fears the Beard
There's a terrible movement afoot, and I hope we can put a stop to it before someone gets well and truly hurt.
That movement? The Anti-Beard Coalition.
No, that's not a real name, it's one I've assigned to this terrible group of people who are doing everything in their power to erase big, glorious beards from mixed martial arts.
We saw it with Pat Healy at UFC 165; the athletic commission forced him to shave his beard prior to fighting Khabib Nurmagomedov, and then Healy went out and lost the fight.
Coincidence? You be the judge.
We'll find out at UFC 166, I suppose. If Daniel Cormier has his way, the Texas Athletic Commission will force Roy Nelson to shave his beard before their big heavyweight showdown in Houston. If Nelson shaves that thing and turns out like Samson, we'll need to put up some serious resistance for beard-growing fighters everywhere.
I've had nothing but good dealings with Keith Kizer over the years.
That said, the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission hasn't experienced the best September of his life.
First, there was the Floyd Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez fiasco; you know the one. Judge C.J. Ross somehow scored the fight a draw (despite the overwhelming majority of right-thinking people around the world giving Mayweather between 10 and 12 rounds), and then Kizer defended her and her scorecard. Ross eventually resigned (or, she's "taking time away from the sport") under pressure from Nevada's attorney general.
Twitter goes crazy any time there's anything remotely controversial; that's the one thing Ross got right about the aftermath of Mayweather/Alvarez. And much of that spotlight comes down on Kizer, despite the fact that he's not usually to blame for the idiocy of judges and some referees.
But still, here's hoping for some kind of better review system to be put in place, in Nevada and around the world. A crisis was averted in Mayweather vs. Alvarez, but poor officiating and judging are still a rampant part of mixed martial arts, and we'd all like to see it fixed.
High School Reunions
This must be my absolute favorite story of the past year or so: Nate Diaz informed the UFC (via Twitter!) that he won't be able to make his contracted Nov. 30 fight against Gray Maynard...because he's going to his high school reunion.
@ufc Cant make it november 30th ive gotta high school reuinion i have to tend too...— Nathan Diaz (@NateDiaz209) September 23, 2013
But Nate seems to be playing a different type of game, and skipping a fight you already agreed to because of a high school reunion that takes place in the same town you still live in doesn't seem like the kind of thing he'd do.
Gatorade, the most prominent brand in the gigantic sports drink world (and makers of the delicious Cucumber Lime flavor that will both shock your world and change your life, if you let it), made their first appearance in the UFC's Octagon as an official sponsor for Jon Jones on Saturday night.
We don't know if the company will continue their efforts in the Octagon; according to Darren Rovell, Jones' deal with Gatorade is a one-fight deal. But they have to be pleased with the way Jones/Gustafsson turned out; their logo was prominently placed on the shorts of the best fighter in the world during one of the best fights in history, and thus will be replayed endlessly on fight programs from now until the end of time.
No matter what Gatorade paid for Jones, that's good value.
The 200th Episode of "The MMA Hour"
As someone who used to host a "weekly" podcast, I can tell you that it's not easy. I don't know how people do it, to be perfectly honest, and I have a great amount of respect for those who are able to pull it off.
My colleague here at Bleacher Report, Damon Martin, has been doing a radio show on an almost daily basis for what seems like a decade. That takes incredible perseverance. And my buddy Ariel Helwani, who is probably the most famous person in mixed martial arts who is not a fighter or Dana White, hosted the 200th episode of his weekly show, The MMA Hour, this week.
Ariel's accomplishment is even more impressive when you consider that The MMA Hour has not actually been an hour for several years now; the show routinely goes over three hours and often features the best and most topical guests in the sport.
Congratulations to Ariel and his team. Two hundred episodes is one hell of an accomplishment.
Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva 2
Don't look now, but Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva are back on the road.
The new middleweight champion and the man he dethroned are in the midst of a multi-city press tour to promote their end-of-year UFC 168 main event rematch. It's one of the biggest fights of the year (if not the absolute biggest), and Silva's doing his best to look like he's a whole lot more interested in Weidman the second time than he was the first.
To that end, UFC president Dana White predicted on Monday afternoon that UFC 168 will be bigger than UFC 100, from ticket sales to pay per views. Everything, White said, would be bigger. I don't know if that's the case, but I do know one thing: I'm still going to predict that Silva wins the rematch. This time, there won't be any tomfoolery or arrogance. Silva will simply go in the cage and do the job he's supposed to do, and he'll become the UFC middleweight champion for a second time.
Awful Mixed Martial Arts Merchandise
Mixed martial arts has long had a history of associating itself with awful merchandise.
Just look at Affliction, or Tapout. Once considered cool, they're now the butt of jokes worldwide for people who envision skulls and angel babies and swords when they think of MMA merchandise. Like it or not, that's historically the kind of clothing you see bros wearing at UFC events, and it's not a good look.
I applaud companies who are doing something different than vomiting angels and skulls onto shirts and calling it a day. The gun manufacturer Weatherby, for example, has a Chad Mendes rifle, which sounds pretty awesome if you're into killing defenseless animals for sport.
And though I appreciate Dethrone Royalty's efforts in creating branded ties for rising featherweight star Conor McGregor, I must say one thing: Those things are super ugly. The Benson Henderson toothpicks were a neat touch, but it's time to toss those bowties back in a pile with the rest of the rejected 1980s stuff they came out of and go back to the drawing board.