MMA Tweet-O-Rama: Botter, Dundas and Snowden Sound off on White, GSP and More
You like bold statements, right? Of course you do. Everyone likes a bold statement or two.
Welcome to our newest feature here at Bleacher Report: Tweet-O-Rama. Our three lead writers put out a Twitter call for bold statements from you, the reader and avid mixed martial arts connoisseur. Your responses were hilarious and thoughtful.
Each of us picked our two favorite Bold Statements (we're working on getting that trademarked), and then we had ourselves a little round table discussion about each of them.
Let's get this party started, you guys.
Corporate Dana Needs to Fire Meathead Fight Fan Dana
CHAD DUNDAS: I’ve seen iterations of this opinion cropping up more and more often, that the UFC—all sparkly now with its Fox deal—has outgrown El Hombre de Blanco. I certainly agree that White and Co. would be better off with a little less bluster and a little more structure, but, then again, this is the fight game we’re talking about.
It’s always been a catch-all for the absurd. A UFC without White would likely offend my own delicate sensibilities less often, but would it really be better off? Hard to say. Like a football team on the verge of cutting the franchise QB, you always have to ask yourself: Who else is out there? Could they possibly work as hard for as long and in the face of as many obstacles as DW has?
And would they look as good in a polo shirt and $500 jeans?
JEREMY BOTTER: That's all fine and good, but there has to come a point where the ability to function on three hours of sleep each night and a willingness to say whatever is on your mind does more harm than good.
I think we're well past that point. White's repeated (and very public) criticisms of the Nevada State Athletic Commission may have some merit—we do have a judging epidemic on our hands, after all—but the manner in which he chooses to do so leaves plenty to be desired. Especially when those criticisms stem from the laughable idea that he's the only man walking the earth who gave Hendricks four rounds and viewed the fight as an outright robbery.
JONATHAN SNOWDEN: The UFC has created a cult of personality around Dana White that borders on being creepy. You can forgive fans for thinking Dana makes every important decision and controls every aspect of the company. They've been trained to think that way by a coordinated media policy that, for years, didn't allow anyone else who worked for the UFC to speak to the media.
But, behind the curtain, the Wizard is just a man. White is far from alone—every day he's joined by a cadre of professionals who have helped make the UFC a billion dollar enterprise. Now he just needs to hire one more professional—someone to handle public relations. White is a fantastic resource when deployed to combat a specific problem and when he has a message he wants to impart.
Left alone with the media to answer off-the-cuff questions or to address the media in the heat of the moment? He's a ticking time bomb
Rory MacDonald Became so Cerebral That He Forgot How to Fight
SNOWDEN: I'm not one to name drop, but I was talking about this very subject with one Georges St-Pierre. You may remember him as the welterweight champion of the world and MacDonald's longtime teammate. He acknowledged that there is some danger in over intellectualizing the sport but thinks that the body and mind work best when in concert.
In a perfect world, your body responds to stimuli in the way you've trained it, automatically reacting the way you've drilled it to over and over again.
I'm not sure Rory MacDonald is there yet. He's clearly in his own head, thinking first and reacting second. That split-second delay is more than enough for an instinctual fighter, like Robbie Lawler, to take advantage of.
BOTTER: Rory started out his career with 10 consecutive finishes, either by submission or TKO. Only one of those fights went out of the second round. Since then, MacDonald has become a smarter fighter, sure, but being smarter in the cage doesn't work for everyone.
What Firas Zahabi uses for St-Pierre can't be applied across the board to all his fighters. Look at Miguel Torres. Zahabi stripped much of his aggressiveness away, which turned him into a less effective fighter, and he's never really been the same guy as the one who racked up a 37-1 record.
The same thing is happening with MacDonald. It just doesn't work for him.
DUNDAS: As Jonathan said, I think MacDonald is still very much a work in progress and so I’m hesitant to say a split decision loss to the streaking Lawler is a referendum on his fighting style. The guy is 24 years old and to date his only win over a top-10 opponent was in his most recent fight against Jake Ellenberger (no, a victory against the 2012 version of BJ Penn doesn’t qualify).
It’s possible we awarded him too much hype, too soon…not that this sport is prone to doing that or anything.
MacDonald still has a great chance to be very good and if right now his worst problem is that somebody needs to say, “Hey man, maybe you should think about being a little more aggressive,” then, well, a lot of other fighters probably wish they had his problems.
Mike Pierce and Carlos Condit Beat Johny Hendricks in Rematches
BOTTER: No, I don't think so. Condit might be able to pull it off, because he's one of the best welterweights in the world and already proved he can hang with Hendricks.
But Mike Pierce? No. He's made a career of beating guys who are not in the top 10, then faltering when he moves up a few notches in competition. He's like a gatekeeper if the gatekeeper were stationed at the bottom of the rankings instead of the top.
He'll beat the likes of David Mitchell and Brock Larson, but put him in the cage with any top-six welterweight and he'll lose every time.
SNOWDEN: I don't know, man. Pierce fought Hendricks pretty tough a couple of years ago at UFC 133. The two went to a split decision, one many thought Pierce should have won.
That's the thing about Hendricks that worries me. Josh Koscheck also took him to his limits in a razor-close fight. On some nights, he just doesn't seem to have it. While that wasn't the case against GSP, it has happened enough times that I don't think a long title reign is in the cards.
DUNDAS: Hold up, what are we talking about? A guy who is not currently the welterweight champion and how he might fare in potential rematches that the original statement admits might not happen?
In that case, I’d like to propose a counter statement: Before we start choose-your-own-adventuring Hendricks into made-up future matchups against the likes of Mark Pierce and Carlos Conduit we should consider whether he’ll even beat Georges St-Pierre in their speculative rematch.
I don’t know if you guys heard, but there’s some evidence now to suggest GSP came into the first fight somewhat less than 100 percent and he still took Hendricks to the limit. Oh yeah, and beat him.
Let’s pretend St-Pierre gets his “personal issues” settled and fully dedicates himself to drubbing Hendricks in Part Deux.
What happens then?
WHAT HAPPENS THEN?
Johny Hendricks Should Have Turned Heel on St-Pierre
@mmaencyclopedia Hendricks should have gone full heel at the presser and called GSP a coward for no immediate rematch.— J.M. Payne (@jpayne33) November 18, 2013
SNOWDEN: If you have any question about how deeply Chael Sonnen has influenced this sport, look no further than this tweet for your answer. Should Hendricks go "full heel"? Is that a question anyone is asking pre-Chael?
Now, normally I'd dismiss this out of hand. Most fighters couldn't pull off the Chael Sonnen routine. It takes a keen intellect and gift for gab that most can't even begin to approach.
But Hendricks, despite how the UFC has promoted him, is a natural-born villain. He was booed throughout the 2007 NCAA season and might be just the man for the role.
DUNDAS: Indeed, one of the things MMA types continually underestimate is how hard it is to go “full heel” and make it look good.
I doubt Hendricks would have the chops to pull off the exhausting, full-time grind of being a Chael P. Sonnen-style character.
Truth is, though, Hendricks pretty much already did go at least partial heel in the cage on Saturday night. I know the guy was crushed after the decision was announced, but his whole “That’s my belt! I earned it!” routine lacked a certain—how do you say it?—decorum.
Given the circumstances, I think we can all overlook it, but if he keeps it up he might end up coming off more Bobby Heenan than Hillbilly Jim, without even trying.
BOTTER: Being a Texan, I can tell you there's a certain subset of UFC fan who identify with Johny Hendricks in every way, shape and form. Hendricks will connect with those fans because of the country music and the beard and the aw shucks attitude; what I'm saying, I guess, is that he'll never be booed in southern states.
But everywhere else, I can imagine that Hendricks' post-fight presser comments about only using 70 percent of his power while beating St-Pierre (while not actually beating St-Pierre) will go over like a fart in church. I'd like to see Hendricks embrace it.
He can pull a Bret Hart and be a hero in the red states while remaining a villain in the rest of the world.
The 10-9 Scoring System Is Not the Problem
BOTTER: It's a little of both, I think. Folks who are routinely selected as judges could do with a little more training in what mixed martial arts actually is. And by "a little more training," I mean "hundreds and hundreds of hours of training," because whatever classes they've gone through thus far haven't really helped.
But the 10-9 system is not fine. It doesn't tell you who won a fight as a whole; instead, it tells you who won more rounds, which isn't a good way of determining who is better at fighting. If judges felt free to use the current system in a nuanced manner—with 10-10, 10-8 and 10-7 scores liberally used instead of being the rarities they are—the current system can work.
But what we currently have is not a good way of scoring a mixed martial arts fight.
DUNDAS: The 10-point must system is a blunt, clumsy instrument for scoring the diverse action we often see in MMA. Compounding that is the fact the scoring criteria themselves are fairly terribly written. Seriously, go read them, it’ll scare the crap out of you.
Once you add the reality that judges—despite now having little video screens—are human beings who view fights from different angles, with thousands of people screaming around them and occasionally (it seems) without the benefit of good sense, you can end up with varying interpretations of what just happened.
It would take a comprehensive, top-down overhaul to eradicate all that, and I support it, but it won’t be easy and it likely won’t happen overnight.
SNOWDEN: I'm not sure what makes a mixed martial arts fight different than a boxing match, at least in terms of scoring. And there, whether in four-, eight- or 12-round fights, they've made do with the 10-9 must system for decades.
I'm also wary of using 10-8 and 10-7 rounds with regularity. After all, how many judges would fall into the Joe Rogan camp of believing a fighter was "OMG HURT!" every time their opponent so much as breathed on them.
I'm not opposed to other solutions, like the old Pride rules that asked judges to simply pick a winner when it was all said and done. But, be advised, that didn't eliminate controversy or ridiculous decisions. Sometimes, rather, it seemed to exacerbate them.
With the 10-9 must system, at least, the judges have to show their work.
Knees to the Head of a Downed Fighter Should Be Legalized
DUNDAS: It tickles me when people take this attitude about wrestling. Nobody ever purposes rules to try to counter the unfair advantages of, say, striking—but I digress.
I understand that knees on the ground are something of an obsession among a certain MMA subset—typically the same one that conveniently forgets that Pride fights were often boring and marred by terrible decisions—but I just don’t feel that strongly about it.
Realistically, in today’s climate of intensifying brain research and generalized safety concerns, you’re never going to get grounded knees to the head. Never. So, maybe to counter the unfair advantage of wrestling, people should think about better takedown defense.
SNOWDEN: I'm not sure knees to the head of a grounded opponent are any more dangerous than punches, elbows or even a rolling senton or Superfly Splash. And all of those attacks are legal.
Tears cried for a fighter's brain are somewhat crocodile in nature, even if they fall with the best intentions. We know that fighting is inherently dangerous and every bout leads to the cumulative damage that turns Muhammad Ali into, well, Muhammad Ali.
But Chad is right—no one involved in MMA wants to feel more like an inhuman monster than they already do when they lay their heads down at night. So the knee to a grounded opponent's head will live on only in Igor Vovchancin's most vivid dreams.
BOTTER: Count me among those involved in MMA who don't want to feel like inhuman monsters. The very thought of a prone fighter being repeatedly kneed in the head makes my stomach turn.
Like Chad, I find it hilarious that wrestling is an "unfair advantage." It is no more unfair than any other aspect of mixed martial arts, which is to say it is not an unfair advantage at all. Let's just come right out and say what we really mean here: wrestling is boring, and we want those who have trained in it for the entirety of their lives to be punished for utilizing a skill they've worked to develop.