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Twitter Mailbag: Bellator's pay-per-view, McGregor's chances as a boxer, and more

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In this Twitter Mailbag, what could Bellator possibly due to sell us on a pay-per-view at this point? And is it a good idea for a recently knocked out heavyweight to fight another knockout artist three months later? Plus, does the UFC lightweight champ even have a chance in a boxing match with an all-time great?

All that and more in this TMB. To ask a question of your own, tweet it to @BenFowlkesMMA.

Looks to me like Bellator 180 is all stocked up on old guys. Between Wanderlei Silva vs. Chael Sonnen and Fedor Emelianenko vs. Matt Mitrione, you have two fights with a combined average age (at fight time) of 39.5.

Those fights bring the name value, but it’s all the same kind of name value. If I’m Bellator I try to sell this pay-per-view as an overall package showcasing the different types of entertainment the roster can provide. That means you’ve got to add some halfway relevant talent.

Lorenz Larkin is a great acquisition and a good fit for that role here. If Rory MacDonald and Michael Page weren’t already booked elsewhere, they’d work for that too.

But, especially when you’re asking us to pay for it, this “legends” stuff is only going to go so far. If I’m unmoved by the chance to see four old guys fight it out on pay-per-view, adding two more isn’t going to be what sells me. For the love of the MMA gods, let’s get some fighters in here who have a future and not just a past.

(To know how I’d feel about being asked to pay for another Matt Hughes vs. Royce Gracie fight, read that previous sentence but imagine that I am screaming it at you before banging my head against the table in frustration.)

I think the short answer to the first question is: Because that’s when the UFC’s event in New Zealand is. You think the octagon is going all the way to Auckland just so the most famous local fighter can not be in it?

But you’re right that there is something uncomfortable about seeing Mark Hunt get knocked out cold earlier this month, only to plan a comeback against another heavyweight knockout artist three months later. That’s a lot of potential brain trauma for a 43-year-old man. It’s enough to make you wonder about those mostly meaningless medical suspensions that commissions hand out after each fight.

Hunt’s last knockout got him suspended for about a month and a half by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. So technically, one of the foremost regulatory bodies in this sport would have been cool with him returning to action even sooner than he plans to. So when you ask whether or not “anyone” care about fighters’ brain health, maybe that’s a good place to start.

On one hand, hey, if we’re doing “fun” fights just to turn a buck, and if the middleweight division is going to be clogged up by one such fight, why not do something crazy like throw a former middleweight champ against a former heavyweight champ? It would certainly get people’s attention, which is half the battle in fight promotion.

On the other hand, this is nuts. Isn’t this why we have weight classes? To avoid stuff like this? Luke Rockhold is a big middleweight, but Fabricio Werdum is not a small heavyweight. If he went out there and steamrolled Rockhold, I suspect we’d all feel immediately gross about it.

Still, feeling gross after a fight has never stopped us from feeling curious about it before. If anything, the two kind of go together. Maybe that tells us something about this sport.

There’s a chance I could knock Floyd Mayweather out, if I catch him just right and he happens to be off-balance at the time and also the spot where he’s standing is slippery and he’s already teetering at the top of a flight of stairs and also he is very heavily medicated. It could happen, is my point. If the circumstances line up just right, it’s possible. You can’t tell me there’s not a chance.

Granted, Conor McGregor has a better chance than I do, but that’s not the same as having a good chance. Boxing is Mayweather’s domain. He’s one of the best who’s ever done it. Even the best could eat a left hand and wake up the loser – there’s always that chance – but Mayweather’s whole game is built around defense, and defense is the science of denying chances.

That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t do the fight if the opportunity presents itself. It’d be a big night for both sports. If they do it right, everyone comes out a winner. Just don’t be surprised if Mayweather emerges as a bigger winner than anyone else. And don’t be surprised if it’s not even close.

If there’s one thing we know about Vitor Belfort, it’s that he is not afraid to enthusiastically embrace some really bad ideas. Just look at some of his haircuts over the years.

That said, I’m not inclined to take this one too seriously, and I doubt Belfort did either. Seems like he knows his days of fighting top-ranked opposition are over, and he’s just fine with that. But he’s still famous, still wants to go out with a bang, so he doesn’t want to fight some nobody. That’s a tough spot to be in, when you want to fight someone with a name but not someone who stands a very good chance of hurting you.

I took Belfort’s mention of Phil “CM Punk” Brooks as at least half-joking, but even if it’s not, maybe what it really highlights is the weirdness of having a guy like that around at all. If it’s absurd for an aging ex-champ with three straight losses to even joke about fighting you, maybe the UFC is not where you belong.

Everything we’ve seen so far suggests that the UFC does not intend to run a women’s 145-pound division the way it’s run the women’s 115-pound and 135-pound classes. Or at least, if it does, it’s really taking its sweet time getting that off the ground.

At least part of that has to be a result of the state of the division itself. There simply aren’t that many high-level 145-pounders floating around in women’s MMA.

The quickest way to create the division in the UFC would be to raid Invicta FC’s roster, but does the UFC really have room for those fighters in its current schedule? You already hear grumbling from managers about a lack of space on upcoming fight cards. Taking someone else’s fighters to add to the roster only exacerbates that problem.

It’s a good idea to encourage scoring that better reflects the difference between winning a round by a little and winning it by a lot, but in three-round fights it could also lead to more draws. For that reason, maybe the UFC should adopt a rule the IFL had, but almost never used. There, if fights were a draw after three, fighters would go to a fourth round, not unlike the “sudden victory” round on “The Ultimate Fighter.” It gives us the chance for some closure in a close fight, plus it’s just good sports drama.

Good point. The organization that makes a habit of visiting tribal casinos and some other lesser regulated locales can’t keep flying under the anti-doping radar forever. The more viable a competitor it becomes, the more it edges toward sharing the UFC’s status as a steward for the entire sport, like it or not.

Maybe the time has come to press Bellator to do more to ensure a clean(er) sport. If it keeps signing aging fighters with a history of performance-enhancing drug use, I’m not sure we can avoid it.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMAjunkie.



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