Hot Tweets: Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov’s legacy and Dustin Poirier vs. Dan Hooker as Fight of the Year

Hot Tweets: Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov’s legacy and Dustin Poirier vs. Dan Hooker as Fight of the Year

Much has happened in the past week: Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov passed away due to complications from COVID-19, Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker put on a Fight of the Year contender, and Max Holloway revealed he hasn’t been sparring ahead of his title fight rematch next weekend. Let’s discuss.

Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov

Obviously not of great importance at the moment, but it’s times like this I wish there was a real MMA Hall of Fame. Considering his contributions to the sport, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov would be a first-ballot HOF. It would be nice to have a proper place to honor legends like him.

— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) July 3, 2020

We’re starting off with something that isn’t even a question for two reasons: I wanted to speak briefly on the passing of Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, and Ariel brings up a very legitimate discussion.

First, the passing of the Nurmagomedov patriarch is a serious blow, not just to the sport but to the world at large. If you have never read the article by Karim Zidan, diving into the background of Abdulmanap, I highly encourage you to do so now. What you will discover is that aside from being one of the very best cultivators of talent in MMA, Abdulmanap was a massively important figure in his community and spent his life using sport to combat extremism in Dagestan. That is partly why, in the aftermath of his passing there has been a massive outpouring of support; because Abdulmanap was quite obviously a good man, beloved by all, and his absence will certainly be felt in the sport.

Secondly, Ariel brings up an excellent point that has been out in the MMA ether for some time: a true Hall of Fame for the sport, instead of a UFC-centric one. There is the need for some kind of sporting Hall of Fame, and I’d have to agree with Ariel. If Abdulmanap did nothing more than coach Khabib, that would still be an incredible resume (coaching the best fighter ever is a pretty big win), but he did much more than that. Abdulmanap is largely responsible for the influx of Dagestani talent into the UFC, and area that is producing more high level talent per capita than anywhere else in the world. The man’s contributions to the sport are considerable and it would be good if there were a place for such things to get recognized. Hopefully something like that will exist someday, but in the meantime, I’d like to offer my sincere condolences to the Nurmagomedov family and all those affected by Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov’s passing.

Khabib’s future

How do you think Abdulmanap’s passing will affect Khabib’s career (if at all)?

— Nick Baldwin (@NickBaldwinMMA) July 4, 2020

Honestly, I have no clue and I doubt anyone really does. If there’s one thing for certain, it’s how much Khabib’s father meant to him. Anyone who has ever watched a single interview with Khabib knows that much. I can’t even imagine what he’s going through right now. If in a few weeks, Khabib announced he was vacating the title and retiring from the sport, I wouldn’t be at all surprised, nor could I blame him. The first time his father ever got to be in his corner for a UFC event was last September at UFC 242 when he submitted Dustin Poirier. There would be some amount of poetic justice for that to be Khabib’s final fight.

Still, selfishly, I hope he doesn’t. The more I study Khabib the more I become convinced that he’s the best fighter I’ve ever seen. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime type of athlete and to have his career end with a few all-time great fights left would be unfortunate. Then again, it might also be unfortunate to watch a Khabib continue to fight if his heart isn’t in it anymore. The only person who can really say how it will affect him moving forward is Khabib and right now, he has much bigger things to focus on.

Poirier vs. Hooker, FOTY?

Do U think the fight of Dustin vs Hooker should be the fight of the Year ?

— HONG KONG (@AbdullahShwihdi) July 2, 2020

Look, I’m not here to disparage Dustin Poirier vs. Dan Hooker. That was one hell of a fight, and one that will certainly find itself in the Fight of the Year conversation in a few months. But it’s not the Fight of the Year and everyone knows it.

The problem with the Fight of the Year conversation is just how strong recency bias plays into people’s decisions. Because Poirier-Hooker just happened, it’s fresh in everyone’s mind, and everyone is forgetting that one of the very best fights of all time, full stop, happened in March: Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Zhang vs. Joanna was so good that immediately afterwards, people began talking about how it would one day be inducted into the Hall of Fame fight wing, for good reason. It’s the greatest female fight of all time (unless you’re Rose Namajunas, who inexplicably didn’t enjoy it) and at minimum one of the 10 best fights in MMA history. Poirier-Hooker was great, and in another year could have made a run, but not this year.

Most Violent Fighter

When Alvarez fought Gaethje is was for the title of “most violent man in the UFC” which Alvarez won. Poirier has stopped both of them and just beat Hooker in a FOTY candidate. Does Dustin deserve the title along with “most entertaining 155’er” given his resume?

— J. Romero (@averagejoeart) July 1, 2020

I stole this one from the A-Side, so sue me.

Well, first of all, of course he deserves the Most Violent title, he won it from Eddie Alvarez. And even with the loss to Khabib, I think he currently still holds that belt.

Most Entertaining Lightweight though, that’s a different story. Dustin Poirier is one of the All-Time Violence All-Stars, no doubt about it. But Justin Gaethje is the most exciting fighter in the history of the sport, period. Since joining the UFC in 2017, Justin Gaethje has won nine performance bonuses in seven fights, including five Fight of the Nights, two of which went on to be Fight of the Year. He’s the only fighter to win bonuses in each of his first seven fights in the UFC. In that time span, Poirier has been no slouch claiming six performance bonuses in eight fights, but the numbers speak for themselves. Justin Gaethje is the single most entertaining fighter in the history of the sport and I don’t think it’s close.

Sidebar: Like, 7 of the top 10 most entertaining fighters in history are at lightweight. 155 is the division of f*cking kings.

Guess whose (coming) back (first).

Who fights in the UFC again first – Jones, Masvidal, or McGregor?

— Mookie Alexander (@mookiealexander) July 4, 2020

The smart money here would be on Conor because his “retirement” doesn’t even have a sniff of principled hold out. He wants to fight on the exact timeline that he wants and it’s not happening so he’s taking his gloves and going home. . . until after Khabib and Gaethje settle up. Then he’ll Tweet something, Dana will drop the bag, and the UFC will break their pay-per-view record.

After that, I’d say Masvidal is more likely to return. Masvidal’s stardom feels vastly more fleeting than Jones, and if he continues to sit out, people are just gonna forget. Hell, people have practically already forgotten the BMF title. Masvidal is an engaging personality, but he’s no Nate Diaz and if he doesn’t return this year, he’s at serious risk of fading out.

Jon Jones, on the other hand, he’s sat out plenty of times before, albeit not of his own volition. Him kowtowing to the UFC to fight Jan Blachowicz doesn’t seem likely considering how little a win over Blachowicz does for him. Bones might actually hold the line.

Max Holloway’s training

I got one for you… With Max reportedly not doing any sparring ahead of his rematch with Volkanovski, how will that play into their fight?

— Christopher Howie (@HowieLikeMeNow) July 4, 2020

It’s going to hurt him, a lot.

Let’s be honest, Max Holloway lost his first fight with Alexander Volkanovski pretty cleanly. Volkanovski was faster, sharper, and packed more punch in his strikes than Holloway, and he also adjusted better as the fight went on. If you rewatch the bout, you’ll see a competitor at his absolute peak, and perfectly tuned to what his opponent was going to try and do. That means, for Max to do better in the rematch, he needs to come in with a new bag of tricks, with adjustments already made, and with pivots off those adjustments for when Volkanovski adapts to him during the fight. Not doing any live sparring is going to make all of that nearly impossible and seems like a truly horrible idea for Max to have accepted this fight under these conditions.

Perhaps Holloway is sandbagging us about his training, or perhaps, less sparring will somehow make him sharper come fight time, but there’s one thing I know for certain, Alexander Volkanovski is going to be on point at UFC 251. Dan Hooker looked as good as he ever has against Poirier and we can expect the same from the featherweight champion. Even if Holloway had a completely normal training camp, he’d have a tough row to hoe come fight night, but without an optimized camp, the Blessed Express might get stuck in the station.

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.

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