Occupy The Throne – Edition #50

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

“Did you guys know that we’re fighting each other this weekend?” — Michael McDonald & Renan Barao

Jeremy Lambert: Nope. In fact, I thought you guys were fighting this past weekend and was shocked to find out that it’s not until this weekend. No disrespect guys, your fight is for an interim title and you’re two of the best bantamweights in the world, but you’re stuck between Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar and Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche. Plus you’re on FuelTV in the middle of the afternoon on Saturday.

You two may set a FuelTV record (that’ll be broken by Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann), but that doesn’t mean that people actually care about the bantamweights. The UFC is actually doing you a pretty big disservice putting you on Fuel, given that this is a title fight and everything. I mean, how come you couldn’t headline the recent FX event in Brazil with Michael Bisping vs. Vitor Belfort as the co-main event. Sorry no one cares about your fight guys. Not even your own company.

Samer Kadi: Only because my partner and I preview every UFC event on the Man-Cave Podcast. And even then, we somehow thought your fight was last weekend. In reality, I’m actually looking forward to what should be quite a battle, especially since the bantamweight division has seemingly seized to exist after Dominick Cruz’s injury. A reminder of what you guys are capable of will be most beneficial. Among all the weight-classes, yours is probably the most neglected. At least the flyweight division is extremely thin so people don’t have too much of a hard time remembering what went on. Unfortunately, you’re fighting on Fuel TV, meaning even a best case scenario – ratings wise – wouldn’t do much. You both would have been better served co-headlining a PPV, and using the interest triggered by the main event to your advantage.

“I’m the #1 featherweight contender according to the new UFC rankings. Why is Anthony Pettis getting a title shot over me? — Ricardo Lamas

Samer Kadi: Perhaps it’s the UFC’s way of confirming what we all knew about the newly implemented super official rankings: they’re a joke.

As far as why Anthony Pettis is leapfrogging you, and the rest of the division, to get a shot at Aldo, it boils down to this: he’s a more recognizable name. It is no secret that the UFC have not put their full weight behind the sub-155 divisions, and as such, featherweights have struggled to get much exposure, regardless of individual performances. Pettis vs. Aldo will hardly shatter PPV records, but it should provide a relatively solid buy-rate that eclipses the average for PPV’s headlined by lighter weight title fights. The current trend is for lightweight fighters to drop down to featherweight, and those recognizable enough will get somewhat of a preferential treatment.

The other trend seems to be undeserved and illogical title shots, but that is another issue for another day. Ultimately, fair or not, Jose Aldo vs. Anthony Pettis is a mouthwatering clash. So I’ll keep the complaints to a minimum.

Jeremy Lambert: It took the UFC less than 24 hours to confirm that their “official rankings” were a joke and unfortunately for you Ricardo, you were the butt of the joke.

Have no fear though Mr. Lamas, I’m very optimistic regarding your future because I’m not 100% sold that Aldo vs. Pettis will happen. Seeing as the fight isn’t until August, that gives Pettis plenty of time to change his mind and fight for the lightweight title, perhaps on the same card. Just imagine if Ben Henderson beats Gilbert Melendez in April and then takes a subtle jab at Pettis for not wanting to fight him. Do you really think Pettis is going to let that slide? It wouldn’t shock me at all if Pettis vs. Aldo is a marketing ploy, just until Henderson vs. Melendez takes place. Because if Henderson wins, I think we’ll be seeing a rematch of the last WEC fight ever.

I hope I cheered you up Ricardo.

“I didn’t appreciate you guys calling me overrated last week. Just wanted you to know that.” — Alistair Overeem

Jeremy Lambert: Well, I didn’t appreciate your performance against Antonio Silva. So we’ll just call it even.

Let’s look at facts though Alistair, no one has gotten as much attention as you over the years only to fall flat on their face. Sure there have been overhyped fighters, but most people don’t really buy into that hype until they’ve proven something. You were overhyped, everyone bought into it, and you’ve proven nothing. People forgot about your less than impressive light heavyweight run because you packed on 60 pounds of muscle and won the K-1 Grand Prix against a banged up field. Then everyone bought into you as this heavyweight destroyer because you beat a bunch of cans. And not even top-shelf cans. You beat cans that had already been thrown on the ground by Julian because Microsoft was down three points.

No matter how much horsemeat you eat or how subtle you trash talk to make us believe or how often media members claim that you’re a new man, you’re the same ol’ Reem. The same guy who quit against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira the first time he punched you. The same guy who submitted to punches by Ricardo Arona. The same guy who has been knocked out and dropped over ten times in the course of his MMA/K-1 career. You’re overrated. And until you beat someone of note (which is actually pretty tough in the heavyweight division), you’re always going to be overrated and anyone who ever believes in you again will just be disappointed.

Samer Kadi: The term “overrated” is actually used a bit too liberally in this sport. However, in your case, it is right on the money. Don’t confuse “overrated” with “not good,” as you’re obviously a talented fighter who has had some decent wins in his career. However, let’s face it, you’ve lost to the overwhelming majority of elite fighters you’ve ever faced, dating back to your days as a light heavyweight. Only at the time, few rated you that highly.

Ever since packing up the muscle and turning to a heavyweight however, people have been expecting great things from you, when in fact, the only heavyweights you’ve beaten ranged from average to complete cans… until your victory over Werdum and Lesnar. Unfortunately, your win over the former was a complete abomination, while the latter was on the verge of retirement following a second bout with diverticulitis, not to mention had severe holes in his striking. And of course, there was that subsequent failed drug test thing to further tarnish the victory.

You’re still a very good heavyweight who would beat 85% of the division if not more (though that hardly says much), but the praise you receive, and the standards you’re held to simply don’t match your accomplishments in the sport — hence, overrated.

“Has your opinion of me changed since signing with Spike?” — Randy Couture

Samer Kadi: Not really, as I wasn’t under the impression that you had any permanent obligations towards the UFC. However, don’t expect Joe Rogan to call you his hero anymore, and you’ve really pissed Mike Goldberg off as he now has to reference someone else every time two fighters are in the clinch – you know how much he likes to namedrop you. You’ve also pissed Dana White off, but then again, so can anyone using twitter. If anything, making Dana White go on another nonsensical rant because someone chose different avenues earns you bonus points in my book.

My opinion of you changed when you decided to hold the heavyweight division hostage. Signing with Spike on the other hand, is simply you doing what you think is best for you, something that no reasonable human being should hold against you

Jeremy Lambert: I’m on the same page as my partner. You used to be right up there with Chuck Liddell as far as my favorite fighters, but when you left after beating Gabriel Gonzaga, your stock went down and never recovered. It was still an honor to watch you compete and no one can deny your impact on the sport, but I never quite looked at you the same after your legal dispute.

That said, I don’t care that you’ve signed with Spike. You’re just trying to make money and keep your name out there for potential movie deals, I can’t really fault you there. And it’s not like you’re going to be fighting. You’re just going to be a mentor to fighters, which is a pretty great role for you. It sucks that you’re going to be pretty much erased from the UFC record books (WHO WILL MIKE GOLDBERG REFERENCE WHEN GUYS HAVE HALF GUARD?!?! WHO WILL MIKE GOLDBERG REFERENCE WHEN HE TALKS ABOUT CLASSY FIGHTERS?!?!?! WHO IS JOE ROGAN’S NEW HERO?!?!?!) but true fans will know your accomplishments and how much you meant.

Plus, as we’ve seen 100 times, you can always make peace with Dana as long as you’re willing to compliment him on how brilliant he is.

*Note: This e-mail was answered before Velasquez/Silva 2 was made official*

“So I get to rematch Antonio Silva. I wonder if the Red Cross needs another donation.” — Cain Velasquez

Samer Kadi: Impressive as Antonio Silva’s knockout of Alistair Overeem was, the image of you beating him into a pulp remains too recent to shake off. Fighters deserve a shot at redemption upon earning one, and in the extremely shallow heavyweight division, you could make a case that wins over Travis Browne and Alistair Overeem are enough to warrant a title shot for “Big Foot.” However, the bloody scene that looked like something out of a Tarantino movie likely means the Brazilian will have to wait a little longer till you decimate him again. In the meantime, you’ll like square off against Fabricio Werdum should he beat Nogueira. Excited for that inevitable Dos Santos rubber match yet?

Jeremy Lambert: I think the Red Cross can always use a donation, especially if they’re receiving something as rare as “Bigfoot Blood.” I feel bad for you Cain. The heavyweight division sucks so bad that you’re going to end up fighting Junior dos Santos 100 times before you retire. And I wish I was joking, but I’m honestly not. You two are head and shoulders above everyone else in the division, that you either fight each other and have competitive and intriguing fights, or you decimate weaker competition. And once you decimate weaker competition, you just end up fighting each other again.

There have been some memorable trilogies in UFC history, but you two are going to be the first ever triple trilogy.

“Why am I on FX after I just headlined on FOX? And who the hell is John Moraga?” — Demetrious Johnson

Jeremy Lambert: This is all Joseph Benavidez’ fault, Demetrious. He knows that he can’t win five round fights, so he’s just going to keep taking three round fights until he retires. Ok, I’m kidding about the reason, but I do blame Benavidez and his unwillingness to call you out and ask for a title shot for you fighting John Moraga on FX. If he would’ve just said, “I want Demetrious. I want that rematch. I want my belt” after beating Ian McCall then you two would be the co-main event on a big PPV or headlining FOX.

Instead you’re facing a guy who has been the opener in both his UFC bouts. No, not the PPV opener, but the opening fight on the entire card. Meaning half the live crowd hadn’t shown up yet and those watching at home either weren’t settled in (vs. Gomez) or had to watch on Facebook (vs. Cariaso). And not only are you facing a guy who no one knows, but you’re facing him on FX.

I thought the whole point of the FOX deal was to create PPV stars. Now I’m not saying you would draw 500,000 against anyone on PPV after headlining on FOX, but it seems counterproductive to put you on FX after you just drew 5.2 million viewers. Maybe you end up drawing the best ratings for FX to date, but that doesn’t change that fact that it makes you and the belt look weak by being regulated to FX. And if you don’t draw great ratings, well that’s just going to make you look even weaker.

You’ve been put in a bad situation Demetrious and I honestly feel sorry for you. I guess, on the bright side, I now care about you, which is something I couldn’t say last week.

Samer Kadi: I have no idea why you’re on FX. While it is safe to say you had little to do with the relatively solid rating the recent FOX show managed to produce, you were still in the main event, which was watched by over 5 million viewers. Granted, they hardly went to bed thinking about the next time they would see you fight, but they at least knew who you are. Getting recognition is a slow process anyway, and headlining a fight on FOX will not magically turn you into a star, but it is at least a step in the right direction. Fighting on FX however, against a relative unknown, is not.

In fairness, the flyweight division remains somewhat thin, and it is going to take time to be properly built, so fights against unfamiliar figures are to be expected…just not for the title.

“I don’t want to face the guy who I think lost to the guy I beat over a year ago, but I’m willing to face the guy who actually lost to the guy I just beat…Confused? Not me.” — Georges St-Pierre

Jeremy Lambert: Just come out and say it Georges, “I want to face Nick Diaz over Johny Hendricks because I’m going to make more money.” That’s really the only reason this fight is happening and everyone knows it. Hendricks has obviously earned his shot and I’m not one of those people who believe that you’re scared or that Diaz is the easier fight. You just want to make more money. You missed over a year with your ACL injury, and while you’re not hurting for cash or anything, obviously that year off hurt your bottom line.

Quit trying to come up with some assbackwards logic about why this fight is happening and tell everyone the truth. You’re doing this for the straight cash homie.

Samer Kadi: Leave it to MMA fans to suggest that a man who has decisively beaten Matt Hughes in his prime, BJ Penn, Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, Thiago Alves and Carlos Condit is ducking a stylistically favorable match-up in Johny Hendricks because he’s scared. With that said, you gotta admit Georges, your reasoning is dubious, not to mention disingenuous. We know why you really prefer to face Nick Diaz: the money. And hey, it is hardly unfathomable that the biggest draw in MMA today and one of the greatest fighters the sport has ever seen is calling his own shots. After all, Anderson Silva is doing the same thing. Of course people will criticize you for it, because they have no idea how these things work, and somehow find the prospect of a man trying to maximize his living hard to understand, but you can’t give them ammunition with some nonsensical statements that have more holes than Nick Diaz’s takedown defense.

“Bisping lost, Evans lost, I’m ranked #1 in the official rankings. What excuse will Anderson come up with now?” — Chris Weidman

Samer Kadi: Perhaps Anderson should point out what many seem to be oblivious to: While you’re a great fighter and a terrific prospect, your win over Demian Maia was a complete abomination and your only other notable win is Mark Munoz. That is not to suggest that any of this is your fault, as your UFC run has been highly impressive for the most part. However, the truth is, you’re much better off taking things slow(ish) and letting your skills develop before squaring off against the greatest fighter this sport has ever seen.

Anderson Silva doesn’t want to face you because he likes money, and a fight against you would only make him a minimal amount. Of course, that means your management and overzealous MMA fans will call him a coward and preposterously suggest that the same man who tore apart Rich Franklin, Dan Henderson, Forrest Griffin, Vitor Belfort and Chael Sonnen is somehow scared to face you, but hey, this seems to be helping your reputation far more than winning fights ever could. I’ve yet to see a fighter whose stock benefitted so much from a layoff.

Jeremy Lambert: I should point out to you Chris that Samer is a huge Anderson Silva fan and doesn’t want to see his favorite fighter get beat by someone who is obviously the biggest threat to his title.

There is no reason as to why you shouldn’t be the next challenger for Silva. I thought you earned a title shot with your impressive performance over former title challenger Demian Maia. You put such a beating on him that he felt the need to drop to welterweight. Then you solidified your status with a dominating performance against Mark Munoz, who everyone said was next in line. Hell, Munoz hasn’t been seen since losing, that’s how bad you beat him. On top of all that, you’re the #1 ranked middleweight in the official UFC rankings, which obviously counts for a lot.

It’s obvious that Anderson is afraid is afraid of you. He’s never done well against Americans, much less American wrestlers. He’s running out of excuses though Chris, sooner or later he has to come face to face with you, and when he does, he’ll never be the same.

“Why am I always in these close fights?” — Frankie Edgar

Jeremy Lambert: Because you have no punching power and obviously can’t finish some of the best fighters in the world. Never mind the fact that they can’t finish you either, we’re not focusing on them. To make up for your obvious lack of finishing skills, maybe you should learn how to start better. I’m sure you know this already Frankie, but you’re an extremely slow starter. If you’re not getting knocked senseless, you’re eating too many leg kicks. You’re the best in the sport at making mid-round adjustments, but how about you just have things figured out before you step into the cage. If you could win round one every time you fight, you’d probably never lose because you almost always win the late rounds.

I hope you take my advice Frankie because if you lose another close decision, Joe Rogan will retire you inside the cage. And not fake retire you like he did against Aldo. He’ll just be like, “Frankie, you’ve had a great career, but after four straight losses, I don’t know where you go from here. It’s been an honor to watch your fights” and then Mike Goldberg will praise you for how classy you’ve always been.

Samer Kadi: Let me preface my answer by stating that your fight with Jose Aldo was not particularly “close.” It was competitive, but not nearly as much as Joe Rogan would have you believe. You lost that fight, and for once, the judges had it right.

Back to your question, as my partner said, your skill set just doesn’t lend itself into finishes – and he’s absolutely dead on about you being a slow starter. It’s actually not your fault, as it’s not like you sit back and fight passively. In fact, you’re constantly moving, attempting to create offense and you mix things up nicely. However, the nature of your offense – particularly your striking – just isn’t “decisive” enough. In other words, your punches may connect, but they at times have minimal impact. You move in and out, land a few, but often take a few in return. Even when you do secure a takedown, your top game isn’t super dominant, and generally leaves opportunities for scrambles. That alone however, doesn’t explain why your fights are often close. After all, you can fail to finish a fight and still win it decisively — just ask the welterweight champion.

Other than your style, you happen to be constantly matched up against some of the world’s best fighters. Following your win over Matt Veach, whom you happened to submit, you were paired up with BJ Penn twice, Gray Maynard twice, Ben Henderson twice, and most recently, Jose Aldo. To state the obvious, not only are these fighters near impossible to finish (and to your credit, you did finish Maynard in final fight of the trilogy), but they are all highly skilled. Your first bout with Penn, the Gray Maynard draw and the two Ben Henderson fights prove just how evenly matched fighters at the highest level can be. Who can fault you for going back and forth with fighters of their caliber? I for one, don’t mind it one bit, as I find your fights to be highly entertaining.


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