We all make decisions in life that have big ramifications. Which college or university do I go to? Should I even go? Should I take the job offer? Should I ask her out? Or simply, has the milk really gone bad? In the world of MMA, the magnitude of decisions is no different. In my series “The Flip Side,” I’ll take recent decisions made related to MMA situations and explore what would have happened if the decision was made differently. What if a certain fighter didn’t pull out of a fight? What if the referee had not stopped the fight? What if Dana had decided otherwise? Kind of like day dreaming…Yes, I know I have a lot of time on my hands so let’s take a look at what could have been.
Situation #1: Dan Henderson pulls out of a fight with Jon Jones with 8 days notice. Jones is offered a fight with Chael Sonnen.
Decision: After advising with his coaching staff, Jones declines the fight with Sonnen on 8 days notice which leads to the cancellation of UFC 151.
What if… Jones decided to accept the fight with Sonnen to save UFC 151? Well, obviously, the biggest change would be that UFC 151 is saved and we would have watched some fights this past weekend. In that fight, I would expect Jones to beat Sonnen quite easily. Even though Jones has been training for Henderson, he was still training and would be in fighting shape, while Sonnen has been sitting at home throwing verbals jabs at Jones through the Twitterverse. Plus, Jones has more weapons.
However, let’s focus a bit more on the ramifications for Jones. He got a lot of negativity from fans, fighters and his boss blaming him for the cancellation of the event. Now if he fought Sonnen and won, would he go from villain to hero? Absolutely not. From Dana’s and the fighter’s perspective, it would simply be the champ doing what a champ usually does (although Dana has softened his stance recently.) From the fan’s standpoint, there is already a lot of Bones haters out there and the cancellation of the event just added fuel to the fire, but I do not believe that Jones taking the fight would convert those haters to supporters. Even if he had won in impressive manner, those fans would simply argue that Jones beat a middleweight (smaller fighter) that hasn’t been training. Thus, there wasn’t much to gain for Jones other than Dana’s appreciation and big fat pay cheque.
Situation #2: Welterweight champion George St. Pierre has been sidelined since his knee surgery 9 months ago. He was targeted to return to fight Carlos Condit in November, but was waiting for medical clearance from doctors to begin training for that fight.
Decision: Finally some good injury news for the UFC! Doctors decided that GSP is cleared to begin training for his return in November. Why was it such big news? This wasn’t just any surgery; it was reconstructive knee surgery and many patients take up to a full year or more to recover.
What if… the Doctors decided that GSP’s reconstructed knee was not strong enough to begin training and needed more time to heal and rehab? Firstly, it will be another sad injury news to add to the year of 2012 but this one may carry a bit more weigh in the long term. The medical procedure that GSP got is a very tricky one and if he were to require additional medical attention, his ability to return to his previous pre-surgery form would be seriously in question. He may still come back but it probably will not be until early to mid next year and even then, his ability to perform at 100% will be further questioned.
From a business perspective, Dana would not be happy. No, he would be devastated. GSP is his guaranteed “meal ticket”, his “ace in the hole”, his “PPV king” or basically, the “money maker”. The longer GSP is out, the less money Dana makes. Further to that, what are they going to do with UFC 154? Well, I would think the UFC brass would call up Carlos Condit and ask him to defend his interim belt against one of the co-main event participants in Martin Kampmann or Johny Hendricks. They can’t really bump up the co-main event to main event status because it just isn’t strong enough. They can’t have Condit sitting on his interim belt for another 3 to 6 months so my bet would be on Hendricks getting the call for the interim title shot. He is a on a 4 fight winning streak with a 13-1 record and is coming off victories over perennial contenders Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck. It’s not the sexy or big main event everyone would like to see but “Condit vs Hendricks” for the title is a lot better than “Kampmann vs Hendricks” as a PPV headliner.
Situation #3: Late this summer, Evans expressed willingness to move down to middleweight to fight either champion Anderson Silva for his belt or a high profile name that would get him a title shot should he win.
Decision: Rashad Evans squashed any immediate possibilities of him challenging Silva for the middleweight championship. Evans’ manager announced that the light heavyweight will only move down for a title fight with Silva and since he is not given one by the UFC, he will stay in his current weight class and look to fight in December.
What if… Evans accepted a warm up or a fight for the #1 contender in the middleweight division? Well, that would be music to most fan’s ears. Let’s face it. Anderson Silva is running out of opponents to fight in the middleweight division and he prefers to only fight opponents with a big name. Well, a perfect potential opponent could be Rashad Evans. He is a former champion, TUF winner, former TUF coach and recent title contender. Plus, many have wondered how Evans would do in a lighter weight class since he doesn’t cut much weight to make the light heavyweight limit. The timing works well as Evans can take a “test” fight against a top 10 middleweight before the end of the year and Silva can fight in 2013 as he preferred since he didn’t want to fight Chris Weidman due to lack of a recognizable name.
Wait, did someone say Chris Weidman? YES! He makes the perfect first opponent for Evans! The UFC can put this fight on the December card with JDS vs Velasquez which would give the event a massive 1-2 punch. Weidman is a top 5 middleweight and if Evans were to beat him, he deserves to be fast tracked to a title fight with Silva. Now if Weidman were to win, then this gives him a victory over a marketable fighter in a high profile card. Then the Spider will have no reason not to accept a fight with The All American Weidman.
That wraps up my first edition of the Flip Side. Did you day dream something a bit differently? Let’s hear it and leave your comments below!