An interesting UFC 222 fight card is upon us. But the most interesting battle of the week was the one which went down over the airwaves and on social media between Jon Jones and Miesha Tate. So let’s break that one down, along with the ramifications of Jones’ CSAC hearing and more.
Miesha Tate vs. Jon Jones
@HaSalter1160: Jones will go down in history as the biggest waste of talent in MMA, along with being a terrible human being who couldn’t make the right decision if there was only one option available.
So that’s not exactly phrased in the form of a question, Ha. But we’re not Jeopardy, so we’ll let it stand. And your tweet is pretty indicative of the majority opinion I saw on my timeline after Jon Jones decided to respond to a mild critique given by Tate on her Sirius XM radio show, following Jones’ appearance before the California State Athletic Commission on Tuesday.
And as I saw it play out, one thought flashed through my mind, over and over: How is no one in Jones’ inner circle stopping him from doing this? After every legal issue, every failed drug test, every commission hearing, and literally coming within days of admitting to forgery in public, how in the world does the notion of picking a fight with one of the most popular and well-liked mixed martial artists of all-time come across as a good idea?
The only thing that can come out of taking public shots at Tate is to invite onlookers to compare and contrast the two. Tate doesn’t have Jones’ natural fighting talents; few do.
Beyond that, Tate is a former Strikeforce and UFC champion who was a pioneer of the women’s side of the sport. Far from being a quitter, her tenacity in victories over likes of Julie Kedzie in a legendary Strikeforce bout and most famously her fifth-round submission of Holly Holm are the stuff of legends. Unlike Jones, she’s never had a whiff of legal trouble and has never failed a PED test. And retiring from the sport once she understood her best days were passed shows that Tate knows when to make a graceful exit when she’s ahead of the game, a trait no one’s ever associated with Jones.
Jones tapped out on this fight Friday afternoon. But it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. Perhaps his team should spend a little less time on misdirections like announcing blood test results for drugs that don’t show up on blood tests and bit more on making sure Jones doesn’t keep shooting himself in the foot doing things like starting beef with the likes of Miesha Tate.
Tate ended the beef with this tweet Friday night.
@JonnyBones I’m really not trying to be negative Jon, just honest. I think you’re a great fighter and as a person I wish you nothing but the best. Still feel let down one too many times. Hope you turn it around for yourself brother. https://t.co/u2ArQo1a7e
— Miesha Tate (@MieshaTate) March 3, 2018
Should USADA throw the book at Jones?
DuaneBarth: Hey Dave! If you are a USADA official and you hear Jon Jones’ candor that he did not take the prescribed education seriously and had his management falsely certify that he had taken the online tutorials, you are thinking…?
I’m willing to bet that this was far from the first time a fighter has had his management go through the USADA education forms for them and sign their names. This is, however, the first time anyone has had the chutzpah/lack of self-awareness to actually admit to it while sitting in front of an athletic commission.
Jones’ game plan seemed to revolve around a hope that the authorities believe that he’s simply been careless, as opposed to intentionally cheating, and that they’ll show some mercy with a promise to do better next time. The fact CSAC more or less punted this to USADA seems an indication they’ll be willing to play along, to a degree.
But if I’m the person deciding things for USADA, I’ve seen that: A. This isn’t his first run-in with a failed drug test; B. He admits the drug was in his system and doesn’t have a good reason why and C. He just admitted to blowing off their educational program.
If I’m that USADA person, I’m treating Jones’ hearing like I’m a third-base umpire, strike three has just been called on the batter, and they’re appealing the call to me. Jones and Co. need to significantly up their game in front of USADA as opposed to what went down in Anaheim if they want to get out of this with something less than the maximum punishment.
Lesnar or Bones?
@kaleb_coryell: Who ends up fighting first, @BrockLesnar Or @JonnyBones ?
Soooo ….. we already had the big “Brock Lesnar swoops in and saves the show” moment. Two years ago. When Brock was days shy of turning 40. His WWE contract is coming up, so Lesnar will do his thing, which is working all the angles until he gets the deal that’s best for him.
The return of Brock Lesnar as a draw in and of itself, without a more compelling hook, was a card that was played when he fought Mark Hunt at UFC 200. This time, the big money fight was against Jones, and that’s not going to happen for awhile. Maybe if the goal here is to score that one last giant payday, allowing his name to be used to rebuild Francis Ngannou might be the way to drum up enough interest to justify his price tag. Beyond that, I’m not convinced a second Lesnar return will be anywhere near as big as the first go-round.
Dern and Co.
@MattyyyyyM: If Dern loses, what’s next for her?
Man, are we already writing off Mackenzie Dern before she even sets foot in the Octagon? Tough crowd. Dern is actually one of the reasons I’m excited for UFC 222. Saturday night in Las Vegas isn’t exactly the biggest-magnitude card the UFC has put together. But the show features pivotal moments in the careers of three potential new stars: Dern, the world jiu-jitsu champion who meets Ashley Yoder in her UFC debut; undefeated Sean O’Malley, who makes his PPV main-card debut against Andre Soukhamthath; and of course undefeated Brian Ortega, who has his biggest career test in Frankie Edgar.
Who knows, maybe all three lose on Saturday night. But they’re being matched at appropriate levels, and they’re being given the opportunity to sink or swim, and that’s all you can reasonably ask for, here.
Between Saturday night’s matchups, and the fact they appear to understand what they have in Israel Adesanya, it appears WME is finally getting a handle on how to move past the ‘Sage/Paige/Karate Hottie” era and getting back around to fighters with charisma who can also get the job done in the cage.
UFC and Amazon
@garnhum: In your opinion, does the Amazon Prime deal affect FOX talk? How so?
Depends. As things stand right now, Amazon hosts the UFC on its platform isn’t all that remarkable. They’re still charging you the same $65 that they’re charging whether you get the PPV through your cable system or Fight Pass or any other platform.
If this ultimately leads to a bigger deal with Amazon with more appealing options, like the one that has me signed up for HBO through Prime instead of through my cable company since they are charging me less than my cable company does for the channel, then yes, this becomes viable.
Either way, announcing this now sure seems like a signal the UFC isn’t going to limit itself to the traditional options for their next television rights deal, and that alone is encouraging.
@AyoGuyy: Who leaves 223 the lightweight champ? And why?
I get asked “Who wins Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov?” every week, and usually multiple times. I don’t usually answer, because my opinion on this changes daily.
I, like you and everyone else, have seen what Khabib does when the fight hits the ground. I, like you and everyone else, have also seen that Nurmy can get hit, and that Fergy is one loco mofo who’s not going to be afraid to bring it to him. So I’m not going to pick a winner, at least not until the fighters make it to fight week, weigh in successfully and we actually see them in the cage. That’s where I stand on that fight until that point.