Occupy The Throne – Edition #15

In this edition of Occupy The Throne, Samer Kadi & I answer fake e-mails from real fighters and MMA personalities.

“Am I qualified to give the UFC advice after losing my job with Yahoo?” — Dave Meltzer

Jeremy Lambert: Dave, if any journalist in the sport is qualified to give the UFC advice, it’s you. I don’t care about the Yahoo layoffs, which caused you to lose your job, because Yahoo was more of a freelance gig for you anyway. Everyone knows that you’ve always been successful by running the Wrestling Observer, which is by far the best publication out there for pro-wrestling and MMA news. You’re the only journalist who can run a pay-site/newsletter and still turn a profit.

No one has the track record of you, Dave. You’ve not only been covering MMA since its inception, you’ve also been covering pro-wrestling since 1983, and if people don’t think that there are a ton of parallels between the two, then their mom should have them tested for craziness. If working for Yahoo is the only qualification you need to give the UFC advice, then they’re just going to keep taking advice from Kevin Iole, which means they’ll never do anything wrong.

Samer Kadi: No. What do you know about television ratings anyway? It’s not like you’ve covered the Monday Night Wars. Plus, we all know that Yahoo not being serious in their MMA coverage means you suck anyway, and have no business covering the sport. You wrote a piece discussing the disappointing UFC on Fox ratings? How dare you? How can you call yourself a journalist? The world’s biggest MMA organization has pulled poor ratings on network television, and you call that news-worthy? Shame on you, Dave. After all, it’s not like you’re one of the most respected and credible journalists in the industry, and are known for being fair and unbiased. Learn to put a positive spin on everything, or stop covering the sport. Plus, didn’t you hear what Dana said? “The Avengers” was in the movies that weekend, and that’s why the ratings flopped.

“Will I receive an immediate title shot when my suspension is up?” — Alistair Overeem

Samer Kadi: It all depends on the timing, but I would think so, yes. Let’s state the obvious: your suspension will have no bearing on how the UFC treats you in the future (see Sonnen, Chael), so you won’t exactly get “punished” upon your return. Moreover, they realize how thin the heavyweight division is. Money matches in that weight class are few and far in between, and the opportunity for you to lock horns with Dos Santos or Velasquez will be too big for the UFC to pass up on. You make fights happen while you can, and Zuffa will not want to risk having you fight someone else before re-earning your title shot.

However, you must keep in mind that while your suspension ends on the 31st of December, you won’t be eligible to fight then. This will be the date in which you’re allowed to re-apply for a license, meaning that you likely won’t be able to fight for a couple of months after that, once you take into account training camp and everything else that goes along with it. That said, if it all works out well, I’d expect you to square off with the heavyweight champion on Super Bowl weekend.

Jeremy Lambert: That depends on who wins the upcoming fighting between Velasquez and Dos Santos. If the champion retains his title, it’s not out of the question that Daniel Cormier comes over and gets a title shot, forcing you to win one more fight before challenging for the belt.

Personally, I think you should have to win one more fight anyway, but I can’t argue with Samer’s logic about the lack of title contenders at heavyweights and I’ve always been a prophet of “booking fights when you have them.” You shouldn’t be rewarded for screwing up, but it’s not like UFC has taken a hard line on cheaters or screw ups in the past, especially if they can help them make money, so why start now?

“Bring on GSP?” — Martin Kampmann

Jeremy Lambert: Sure. If you guys were to fight tomorrow, I’m pretty sure you could take him, Martin. But if you guys are going to fight a year from now, I don’t like your chances. I think you’re a very good fighter and someone who I’ve liked for a long time, but you still have a ton of flaws. You get hit way too much, you stand flat-footed and only move backwards, and your takedown defense has improved but it’s not good enough to prevent GSP from putting you on your back.

I have to give you a lot of credit though, because people always want to write you off, and while you don’t always turn in the most impressive and complete performances, you still find a way to win. You were on your way to losing a one-sided decision against Thiago Alves before he made one mistake and you capitalized on it with a guillotine. Jake Ellenberger put you down with the first flurry but you recovered, rebounded, and responded by finishing him one round later. Everyone praises Scott Smith for his comeback wins against mediocre fighters, but it’s time you get some love Martin.

Samer Kadi: You are one of the most underrated fighters in the UFC Martin, that’s for sure. However, among the good fighters, you’re also one of the most flawed. To make things even weirder, you’re somewhat of a well-rounded fighter. And yes, I’m also confused by own assessment of your skills. Your offensive wrestling is underrated, you’ve got a sneaky submission game, and you’re a pretty capable counter-puncher. However, your footwork is awful, you’re way too hittable, and your defensive wrestling is pretty mediocre.

You have a dangerous fight with Johny Hendricks first, and I’d keep my focus on that one if I were you, as Hendricks has the sort of power and aggression that can expose your defensive deficiencies, and the wrestling to put you on your back. Worry about him first, then we’ll talk about that French Canadian guy.

“Why am I so obsessed with guys dropping weight?” — Dana White

Samer Kadi: Because while your energy, passion, and dedication for the sport are unrivaled, your opinions about it are sometimes cringe-worthy. When Frankie Edgar was upsetting BJ Penn and making superhuman comebacks against Gray Maynard, you were talking about wanting to see him drop to featherweight. Daniel Cormier wins the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, and you want to see him drop to light heavyweight, despite the fact that a quick talk to anyone at AKA or to your buddy Joe Silva would tell you that Cormier has a liver condition that makes it dangerous for him to drop significant weight.

Furthermore, you’re essentially adopting the simplistic notion that dropping down in weight always being beneficial for fighters. What you’re ignoring is, even if Cormier were to overcome his condition and drop down, he’d be giving up the speed, mobility and unique athleticism that make him stand out in the heavyweight division. Not to mention, he’d be competing in a far better division where his chances of being the champion are significantly smaller.

Please boss, while nobody has earned the right to express their opinion more than you, you’d be a bit better served to stick to the business side of the sport.

Jeremy Lambert: I think it’s something deep inside you Dana. Let’s be honest, you’re not the slimmest guy in the world right now. Dan Henderson and others are constantly making fun of your weight. You’re tried to mask the fact that you’re getting bigger by joking about it, but I think it bothers you that you can’t drop some pounds.

I just think you’re looking out for some of these guys. You don’t want to see Roy Nelson and others balloon up like you have and reach the point where they simply can’t lose the weight, so you’re encouraging them to drop the weight now. It’s a commendable effort, but you have to let these guys live their life Dana. I’m sure it upsets you when Henderson calls you “fatso” so just imagine how these fighters feel when you’re constantly begging them to drop weight.

“How interested are you in me?” — UFC 147

Samer Kadi: There was a time when Wanderlei Silva destroying a Japanese can was worth the price of admission alone, as watching arguably the most violent man the sport has ever seen in action was a can’t-miss prospect. Unfortunately, these days are long gone. The nostalgia effect of watching “The Axe Murderer” compete is undeniable, but that by itself is hardly worth the $60.

Don’t feel too bad, UFC 147, as you were a stacked card at one point, headlined by Anderson Silva’s rematch with Chael Sonnen and co-headlined by Wanderlei Silva’s fifteen years in the making second tussle with Vitor Belfor. Unfortunately, you’re now left with a far less appealing rematch, pitting the former PRIDE legend against Rich Franklin. And while there isn’t much wrong with that fight, it simply cannot carry a PPV, especially one whose undercard is filled with TUF Brazil competitors.

Jeremy Lambert: Who are you? Stop spamming my inbox.

“Anderson Silva is a fraud who is already faking injuries to get out of another 25-minute beating. I dare you to tell me why I won’t beat a hole in his head, spit on his legacy, and take what is rightfully mine.” — Chael Sonnen

Samer Kadi: Honestly Chael, as much as it pains me to admit, I couldn’t vehemently disagree with you. I think you have a real chance of doing just that. Anderson Silva’s takedown defense has never been anything to write home about. In fact, it is fundamentally poor. You were able to exploit that in your first encounter, and rib injury or not, that bodes well for your chances in the rematch. Your aggression and ability to cover distance with your shot made Silva uncomfortable on the feet, and he wasn’t able to open up with the same fluidity, accuracy, and deadliness that we’re used to seeing from him. Moreover, Anderson Silva isn’t getting any younger. His takedown defense is not magically going to improve at this stage in his career, and injuries haven’t been kind to him as of late, making a decline all but inevitable.

However, since you dared me to tell you why you won’t beat him, I’ll oblige: Because he’s Anderson freaking Silva, the greatest fighter this sport has ever seen. Until he actually loses in the UFC, he’s a rightful favorite in every fight he takes part of. Not to mention, he can knock you out in an instant, and your submission defense will always be suspect. I admit to going back-and-forth with my prediction for this fight, but at this point, I’m leaning towards the champ. He’s earned it.

Jeremy Lambert: Don’t listen to Samer, Chael. You’re the greatest middleweight of all-time, the West Linn Gangster, a best-selling author, a former WEC champion, and a great humanitarian. The only thing stopping you from beating a hole in Anderson’s head is the horn that sounds at the end of every round.

That matrix stuff Anderson does against one-legged Canadians, math teachers, slow white guys, overrated Japanese fighters, and wacky Brazilians who think they’re X-Men because they control the atmosphere doesn’t fly against you. You took the red and blue pill, and lived to tell about it. If you want this to be a 10-round fight just so you can cripple Anderson, Dana will gladly oblige. You weren’t afraid of Brazil, Brazil was afraid of you, because of America ever wanted to knock Brazil off the map, we wouldn’t nuke them, we would just send Chael P. Sonnen. You’re going to do whatever you want to Anderson on July 7th and you’re not going to stop until Arianny Celeste reaches an IQ of 5.

“Should I be in the UFC Hall of Fame?” — Kenny Florian

Jeremy Lambert: Sorry Kenny, I’m not the Chris Mannix of MMA, so I can only put you in the Hall of Very Good. It’s easy to look at Florian’s record and victories now and say, “he didn’t really beat anyone” given how guys like Takanori Gomi, Din Thomas, Roger Huerta, Diego Nunes, Joe Stevenson, etc amounted to, but when Florian beat them, most of those fighters were held in high regard. That said, a 0-3 record in title fights and two more losses in big fights against Diego Sanchez and Gray Maynard hold you back.

I know MMA is relatively new and any Hall of Fame discussion is premature, but plenty of fighters have better cases than you. Given that MMA isn’t a team sport, it’s tough to say that any fighter isn’t a Hall of Fame fighter unless they’ve held a major title or their name is Kazushi Sakuraba.

Samer Kadi: What? You’re nothing but a choker who chokes in big fights. Oh, and did I mention you’re a choker? Yeah, either that, or you’re a very good – but not great – fighter who unfairly got this choker reputation because your boss came up with it to satisfy his lust for false narratives. After all, “choker” implies that you were superior to your opponents, but the occasion got the better of you. In reality, Sean Sherk, BJ Penn and Jose Aldo were all better fighters at the time of your encounters.

Regardless, I struggle to see why a sport so young needs a HOF to begin with, but I digress. The UFC hall of fame is currently occupied by a rather exclusive group, one in which you don’t belong, Kenny. Nevertheless, once the UFC HOF inevitably grows to accommodate fighters beyond the absolute all-time greats, then I don’t think it’s too preposterous for you to make the cut.

“Will I beat Dos Santos in the rematch?” — Cain Velasquez

Jeremy Lambert: Only if you stick to the game plan, Cain. Being serious though, if there’s anyone who can dethrone Junior dos Santos, I think it’s you. Losing in 64-seconds wasn’t a fluke, but it was a perfectly placed punch on a lazy mistake that you made and something that will be tough for JDS to replicate as long as you don’t give him the chance. Dos Santos’s ground game is still unproven, and while his takedown defense appears to be above average, you’re Cain freaking Velasquez. If you want to take a guy down and unload with relentless ground and pound, you can do it.

I’d gush over you more, but I know Samer has been waiting since UFC 146 to write 5,000 words on why you’ve replaced Georges St. Pierre on his “fighter I’d most like to marry” list.

Samer Kadi: If I say no, do you promise not to make me swim in a pool of my own blood? I believe the champion has earned the right to be favored over you. A 64-second knockout tends to have that effect. Moreover, Dos Santos has yet to look vulnerable in the UFC, and is seemingly cruising through all of his fights. You’re a bit hittable and you’ve got stiff head movement, and against a power puncher like Dos Santos, this is a recipe for disaster. However, offensively, you’re still the most equipped fighter to beat the Brazilian. Your speed, athleticism, and well-roundedness are unrivaled in the division. Your wrestling is the best at heavyweight, and despite Dos Santos’ takedown defense, you’re quite capable of planting him on his back. Your top game is arguably the most brutal in the sport, and the moment you get on top of someone, they’re in major trouble, and Dos Santos is no exception. This time however, you need to create the takedown opportunity, rather than wait for it (and no, that doesn’t mean rush him from the get-go the way people thought you should have done the first time around), as you don’t want to mess with Dos Santos’ striking for too long.

“Now that DREAM is dead, why should I continue to fight?” — Kazushi Sakuraba

Jeremy Lambert: You shouldn’t. You should’ve stopped fighting after Ricardo Arona turned your face into ground beef, but for some reason you kept competing and taking unnecessary beatings. You’re 42 now, both your knees are shot, and there’s no market for Japan MMA. What’s left for you to do? It can’t be about money because that’s never seemed to be an issue with you. If it’s about still competing, then fine, but you’re not competing against the best anymore. Do you really want to keep losing to guys like Yan Cabral?

42 might be old for a MMA fighter, but you could compete for another 10-15 years in pro-wrestling. So trade the four roped ring for the three roped ring, continue to entertain and make money, and spare your brain and body anymore punishment that you can’t control.

Samer Kadi: “Now that DREAM is dead” implies that its existence was a good enough reason for you to continue fighting. Sakuraba-san, you’re a legend. You’re absolutely awesome, and there isn’t a single MMA fan who doesn’t hold you in high regard. But for the love of the emperor, call it a career.

“Will the recent turn of events change my image and ruin my special career?” — Jon Jones

Samer Kadi: Let’s just say that you might need to “win some fans” again, as your coach Greg Jackson once implored you. Two women in the backseat of your car, none of whom being your wife, will raise some eyebrows, especially given your supposed strong faith in Ben Hendersonism. Many already deemed you to be fake, and your attitude somehow rubbed them the wrong way. This incident will only give them further ammunition for criticism.

Personally, I never had a problem with the way you act. You’re an extremely talented twenty-four year old athlete who’s the best at what he does, is it really surprising that your early success has gotten to you? Your personal life is your personal life, and while there is no excuse for endangering people’s lives with reckless driving, this whole thing will blow over soon enough, and all will be forgotten once you’re planting elbows in people’s faces again.

Jeremy Lambert: Your image will definitely be changed, but that not necessarily a bad thing. Floyd Mayweather isn’t the most upstanding citizen in the world, in fact he’s currently in jail for the next couple of months, but he still does huge business for boxing. Winning and obtaining success is the great elixir Jon. As long as you keep winning and looking like a unbeatable champion, while people may bash you, they’re going to continue to pay to watch you fight. Just drop the humble act, because we can all see that it’s just that, and act. You’re the best, you know it and I know it, so embrace your swagger and cockiness. If you had done that in the first place, while this would still be a pretty big deal, people would’ve just chalked it up to “Jon being Jon” and all would have been forgiven.

Instead you created this “I’m a great human being” image and so when it turned out that you weren’t so great, you should’ve seen this backlash coming. People thought you were Kevin Durant, instead you turned out to be more like LeBron James.

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