01 Jan Hot Tweets: Who is to blame for the Glover Teixeira vs. Anthony Smith stoppage?
Fighting has returned to our fair televisions, and with it, questions about the state of MMA. This week we discuss corners stopping fights, Jon Jones’ continued flirtations with the heavyweight division, and Tony Ferguson’s unfortunate fall from grace.
The Anthony Smith stoppage
Is it a referee’s job to determine when a fighter is likely not to win and taking unnecessary damage eventhough they are intelligently defending themselves? Or are they just supposed to determine if the defense is good enough to continue? The first seems like the corners job.
— Blake Whorton (@WhortonBlake) May 15, 2020
The referee’s job is certainly not to determine if a fighter is taking unnecessary damage. The referee’s job is to oversee the fight taking place and ensure that both fighters are observing all rules of the contest, and that both fighters are, at all times, “able to continue to compete in the fight” and “intelligently defending himself/herself.”
Now, Jason Herzog is a great referee, and as such, he recently issued a statement taking the blame for what many perceive to be a late stoppage in the Glover Teixeira-Anthony Smith fight. But he’s not to blame. Herzog did a fantastic job in that fight. Had he stopped it earlier, no one would have balked at the decision because Smith was clearly not going to win, but that wouldn’t have made it a good stoppage. Herzog stopped the fight at precisely the correct moment.
Blame for Smith’s unnecessary beating can be appropriately apportioned in three places:
- Anthony Smith is one tough fighter. He could’ve given up at any point but never did and kept fighting. He gets 2%.
- Glover Teixeira could’ve stopped the bout probably in the third round if he had just gone for a TKO instead of continually looking for chokes that Smith was able to defend, thus keeping Herzog from stepping in. He gets 3%.
- Anthony Smith’s corner showed clear and abject disregard for the safety of their fighter. It was evident to every individual in the world save Smith’s cornermen that Smith gained nothing by going out for the fifth round and Smith all but told them to call the bout when he mentioned that his TEETH WERE FALLING OUT OF HIS F*CKING HEAD.
“My teeth are falling out.” #UFCJAX pic.twitter.com/FPeJ9181j0
— UFC (@ufc) May 14, 2020
The primary responsibility of the corner is the safety and well-being of their fighter. Not tactics, not motivational speeches, but the safety of the fighter. Anthony Smith’s corner failed horrendously in that regard. I wouldn’t send my enemy out there for the fifth round and they did it to their fighter. They should be ashamed. 95% of the blame goes to them.
Jon Jones vs. Francis Ngannou
What is more likely to happen first: Ngannou fighting for the title or Jon Jones fighting Ngannou at heavyweight?
— Jacob Moore (@jabo1331) May 15, 2020
ICYMI: Jon Jones has been getting frisky with Francis Ngannou after watching OSP making his heavyweight debut.
Well, in a literal sense, Ngannou fighting for the title because he has already done that. But more to the spirit of your question, I still think Ngannou for the title is the correct answer.
Let me preface this by saying one of my fundamental beliefs about MMA: Fighters are not afraid of other fighters, almost ever. Even when fighters avoid facing someone, it’s because they know it’s a tougher matchup, not because they are afraid. Everyone, especially fighters, have gotten their ass kicked before. It’s not that bad and certainly nothing to lose sleep over.
That being said, Jon Jones does not want the smoke from Francis Ngannou, at least not with so little to gain.
Jones has spent his entire career not being all that interested in heavyweight. On the one hand, that’s good because jumping weight classes is incredibly overrated, whereas being truly dominant over one weight class is the most impressive thing in combat sports. On the other hand, yahoos believe the opposite to be true and so it’s now being held as a mark against Jones that he hasn’t moved up, and perhaps as a result, he’s recently become much more vocal about interest in doing so. But if Jon Jones is going to move up, why would he do so against a guy who isn’t even the champion when instead, he can cash in that chip at anytime against the title holder? Especially since the guy that’s being discussed is probably his most difficult matchup in the sport?
I’m not here to say Francis Ngannou is the best heavyweight in the world. The fact is, he’s obliterated everyone so quickly that we actually still know very little about how good he is. But late career Jon Jones is very poorly suited to face “The Predator.” In recent years, Jones has turned into a completely risk averse out-fighter, which happens to be the aspect of fighting he is worst at. It’s a credit to his ability that he’s been able to retain his title by fighting in basically his worst possible style but it’s not a recipe for continued success. If Jon keeps fighting like this, he’s going to lose (and realistically, already did to Dominick Reyes) and Ngannou’s physical traits would make that even more likely. Or to put it another way: Jon Jones refused to get anywhere near a Thiago Santos without knees; I can’t imagine what a fight against the biggest puncher in the history of the sport would look like.
So given all that, Jon is just promoting right now. He’ll defend his title against Jan Blachowicz (a legitimate contender and an honorable title defense), then fight Israel Adesanya early next year, and after that, then he’ll fight the winner of the eventual Stipe Miocic-Francis Ngannou rematch.
The fall of Tony Ferguson
Is Tony Ferguson the most unfortunate fighter in the history of the UFC? 12 fight win streak, beating most fighters in his division, super skilled and never even granted the chance of a title shot! What’s your opinion? #ufc #mma
— James Matthews (@JamesStrictly) May 16, 2020
I think Dominick Cruz is pretty clearly the most unfortunate fighter in UFC history from a fighting only perspective. The dude lost nearly a decade of fighting years to injury and that’s a decade that he may well have been holding the title for. Tony Ferguson is right up there though. But don’t give up hope on the man just yet.
I’m a pretty well-known Tony Ferguson hater at this point (though I disagree, I think I’m a Tony Ferguson realist and just acknowledge that he would lose to the top 4-5 guys in the lightweight division right now) but one thing I’ve never done is discredit the man’s accomplishments. Even without winning a true title, Tony Ferguson is the second-best lightweight in UFC history at this point, and his career isn’t over yet. In fact, aside from losing the win streak, I’m not sure Tony lost much last weekend.
Here’s what is going to happen: Khabib Nurmagomedov is going to beat Justin Gaethje. Gaethje presents the toughest test for Khabib on paper but in actuality, I have little belief that Gaethje can fend off the supreme athleticism and chain wrestling of the best fighter ever. He will get smashed like everyone else and afterwards, Khabib will call for a fight with Ferguson. Khabib and Tony clearly and obviously dislike one another but Khabib has always respected Tony’s accomplishments and has said on numerous occasions that he needs to beat Tony to cement his legacy. Ferguson losing to a completely different stylistic matchup on a few weeks’ notice is not going to change that. If Tony just hangs tight, he’ll still get a title shot.
And if Tony decides not to wait? He’ll fight Conor McGregor next. Ferguson has always been a better matchup for Conor than many of the other top lightweights, and after watching Gaethje dismantle Ferguson, Conor has to feel very good about his chances. Plus a win over Ferguson would make a Conor title shot iron clad, which is his goal.
So don’t weep for Tony Ferguson. He’s either going to get a title shot or a big bag of money, or both. Weep for the sport of MMA that lost the best thing it ever had. We will never again see two fighters on 12-fight win streaks in the same division, so perfectly suited to face one another. It was the platonic ideal of MMA and it got thrown away because the UFC needed to make quota and couldn’t wait a few months. That’s the real tragedy here.
Which fight could be bigger for Masvidal than Usman ?
— MMA EXPERIENCE (@experience_mma) May 15, 2020
Easy. Conor McGregor. He’s literally a bigger fight than any belt in the sport, especially one held by a relatively green champion. Most people in the world can’t tell you who the welterweight champion is, who Kamaru Usman is, or even what weight is welterweight. But damn near everyone can tell you who Conor McGregor is.
Do you feel rankings have hurt the sport more than help since implemented?
— Stephan “Duck” Kemper (@Spit3_Duck) May 15, 2020
There’s a give and a take. Realistically, the rankings are just another tool the UFC can use to leverage fighters so, in that regard, they are pretty terrible for the sport, especially given how trash the UFC rankings are. But in a grander sense, I do think there is a lot of benefit to having some fashion of ranking system for casual fans to be able to gravitate to. It’s like March Madness. Most people don’t watch mid-major basketball but you can see the number next to Gonzaga and have a rough concept for how good this team is, are they expected to win, etc. In the same way that belts are really just promotional trinkets meant to increase fan interest, rankings accomplish the same goal.
My one major beef with rankings (aside from how bad they are) is that rankings have zero actual meaning, when instead, they should have a very tangible one. Having all main events be five rounds is an objectively asinine idea that largely served as a justification for the UFC to have non-title five round fights for marquee matchups. But at this point, it’s pretty obvious to everyone who watches the sport that 15 minutes is not the optimal time for fighting at an elite level, especially if that fight could go on to determine the next title challenger. When the UFC implemented rankings, they should have implemented this simple rule: all fights between ranked fighters are five rounds. Elite fighters deserve 25 minutes to work and making such a rule would add a very tangible value to having a ranking. If I got to be Dana White for a day, that’s probably the first change I would institute.
Would the UFC benefit from adopting a variation of PRIDE rules, in your opinion? I think they would.
— D-Trill (@kennedy_dontae) May 15, 2020
Everyone likes to remember the good things about Pride rules but forget the bad things. Yes, stomps and soccer kicks are good but no elbows is awful and one 10-minute round is asinine. Here is the optimal rule set for MMA:
- Current unified rules
- Legalize knees to the head of a downed opponent
- Legalize 12-6 elbows
- Legalize standing headbutts
Personally, I love soccer kicks but that’s a hard one to sell to the public at large and ultimately, I think we can let it be.
Who is the
— Clint Diaz (@SteinbergZack) May 16, 2020
The conversation around the Greatest of All Time is always heated and rarely productive because the concept is nebulous and the criteria, entirely subjective. I vacillate at any given time between thinking B.J. Penn, Jose Aldo, Demetrious Johnson, and Fedor Emelianenko are the GOAT. I’ve also made arguments for Conor McGregor (made the most money) and Rickson Gracie (was probably the best fighter for the longest period of time). It all just depends on how you measure it and whatever mood you’re in that day of the week. That’s why lately I’ve tried to think of GOAT less as a title and more as a tier of success. In the history of the sport, there are only a handful of people in the GOAT conversation so choosing between them is less important than just recognizing their status as the pantheon of greats.
All that being said, by any sane measure Georges St-Pierre is pretty obviously the MMA GOAT.
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.