This week's mailbag covers title shots, rankings, the scoring system and the renewed ESPN UK deal...
Nick Peet, Editor - "Overlooked is a bit strong, after all, even though he's on a terrific run right now, Alexander Gustafsson is yet to beat anyone inside the light heavyweight top 10. I was cageside in Stockholm when he devoured Thiago Silva in April and it was clear Team Gustafsson are building towards really challenging Jon Jones' dominance at the top of the rankings.
“The experience Gustafsson picked up that night was invaluable in his quest for contention, but he still needs that 'name' on his record before he's going to be seriously considered. Lyoto Machida stepped up at the weekend. Dana White said whichever 205lb fighter done the business in style on Saturday night would become the next contender, after Dan Henderson, and Machida did exactly that.
“Plus, he's the only fighter in 16 attempts so far to even take a round off the champion, so a return with Jones (or Hendo, should he land the upset) is befitting Machida's resurgence. As regards to Gustafsson, I'd love to see that 'Little Nog' fight rearranged, perhaps for UFC 153 in Rio, or what about an eliminator match with 'Shogun' Rua?”
Jace Matthew Farry - Why does Silva's camp think Weidman isn't worthy of a title fight but Bisping is? According to FightMatrix Bisping isn't even a top ten and hasn't beaten a current top ten guy...
JJ O'Regan, Website Editor - "UFC champions, Silva included, receive a cut of the pay-per-view sales revenue when they fight. Weidman is only just breaking through in terms of recognition while Bisping is one of the top names on the UFC roster and a very polarising figure. A fight with Bisping would sell big numbers, a fight with Weidman wouldn’t.
"And interestingly, Anderson has never been a particularly big PPV draw on his own. His sales against the likes of Maia and Leites were low compared to the sales of other champions like Georges St. Pierre against opposition of roughly the same calibre. It took Chael Sonnen to elevate Anderson’s PPV numbers to epic proportions and his camp think a fight with Bisping would do the same.
"Rankings don’t really come into it with the UFC, as we’ve seen with this past weekend’s event where even Brandon Vera was apparently in the running for a title shot if he won big.
"I’ve just looked at the Fightmatrix middleweight rankings and I don’t know where to start. Luke Rockhold is the world’s number four middleweight because he beat Jacare, Keith Jardine and Tim Kennedy? Mamed Khalidov - who hasn’t fought anyone near the top ten, ever - is ranked at number ten, above Mark Munoz, Brian Stann and Bisping. Rich Franklin is in the top ten despite not having had a middleweight fight for FOUR years?
"I don’t know what system they are using to calculate their placings but I don’t agree with it at all."
ESPN have announced another year of rights to broadcast UFC, if it eventually goes to Sky considering UFC's deal with Fox (which I think it will), will this be good or bad news for UK MMA fans?
Aundre Jacobs, Assistant Editor - "It really depends on how they promote the shows. The last few years that the UFC has been on ESPN, they've barely shown any adverts for upcoming events on the channel. Unless you were a huge UFC fan, then it's very likely that you had no idea what channel fights were even being shown on.
"That being said, once the renewal was announced things did seem slightly different on ESPN. There were adverts during UFC on Fox 4 to remind viewers about the next event which is highly important because they're trying to create a snowball effect. Luckily for them, that snowball effect only works if they have a good show and UFC on Fox 4 was a really good show that has everyone buzzing for the next card.
"The only way this is going to be bad news for UK MMA fans is if the same issues that occurred last time (events not being shown on ESPN as promised, lack of promotion, other events taking precedent over UFC events meaning the show started late) happen again. However I'd like to believe that this new contract has ironed out those issues and that it's going to be onwards and upwards from now on between the UFC and ESPN."
Lee McShane: How many wins will it take for Hector Lombard to get a title shot?
Richard Cartey, Associate Editor - "Based on Hector Lombard's somewhat lackadaisical decision loss to Tim Boetsch last month at UFC 149 (compared to his multiple Bellator KOs), he's at least two stoppage victories away, as the division stands. Men who don't perform impressively simply aren't rewarded in the UFC – a point of contention for some.
"Exciting finishes will help push a fighter to the front of the queue, whereas snore-fest three-round decisions might see them tread water. Why? Businesses want to be successful. Obviously, for the UFC, the prospect of an exciting fight means more fans are more likely to watch.
"Lombard's sparkle-less UFC debut hasn't curried him any favour with fans, and it's probably unlikely the UFC's top brass will now have him in their top-five middleweight contenders. That said, a walking knockout machine is always marketable.
"Should he stop two fellow 185lb'ers (one of those likely needing to be a 'name' opponent) he's in title shot territory by dint of his re-established status as an entertaining fighter. And if, by that time, Anderson Silva is still champion, the Brazilian will be in desperate need of new challengers having possibly fended off one or two contenders in the interim.
"Should we see more unaggressive, slow-paced contests from Lombard as we did at UFC 149, expect his route to lengthen."
Alan 'Danger' Keane - Why aren't judo throws rated the as heavily as wrestling takedowns on scorecards?
JJ O'Regan, Website Editor - "Judo throws are spectacular things when they come off. The crowd love them and even other professional fighters seem to find judo throws awesome. I remember being at a show in the UK when someone hit a massive hip toss and the whole crowd started chanting ‘Judo! Judo!’ - fighters who were warming up in the back came out to watch the fight to see if there was another one. There’s definitely a mystique to the big throw.
"And so I wouldn’t say they are overlooked by the judges. If you hit a big throw in a fight that is definitely going to get the attention of the judges as well as the crowd and, given the complexity of the technique plus the tendency for throws to wind if not outright hurt the opponent, they will be factored into the scoring. At time of writing I can’t think of any instance where a big throw hasn’t been properly rewarded."
Frank Walsh - Now that the light heavyweight division has thinned out with fighters past their prime, retired, or most having already fought each other, what division would you consider the UFC's crown jewel?
Paul Quigley, Staff Writer - For me, it's a toss-up between the lightweight and middleweight categories. I personally don't think the 205lb weight class has been the best in the UFC for a while now.
"The fact options have become so limited that MMA's top promotion has resorted to recycling number-one contenders is either a massive compliment to the ability of Jon 'Bones' Jones to blow through so many top-level opponents in such a short amount of time, or it's a sign that the UFC need to build some new talent, and fast!
"The 155-pounders have been delivering exciting fights consistently for a long time, and ever since Frankie Edgar shook things up by dethroning BJ Penn at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi, the UFC lightweights have finally started to get the attention they deserve.
"Now there are a number of talented and exciting competitors waiting for their shot at lightweight gold, including Nate Diaz, Joe Lauzon and Anthony Pettis, making for an exciting division with a lot of potential.
"As for the middleweight division, things were looking pretty stale until very recently. All of a sudden we've seen a number of impressive performances like Chris Weidman against Mark Munoz and Alan Belcher against Rousimar Palhares, and we've also got Michael Bisping vs Brian Stann to look forward to at UFC 152.
"It really is incredible how quickly the landscape can change in the sport of MMA, and now several 185lb contenders have come out of nowhere and injected new life into their weight class. The only problem now is deciding which individual is most deserving of a shot at Anderson Silva's championship."
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