My Surprised Sadness when Jose Aldo Lost – June 8, 2017

First off, I’d like to thank those of you who read this blog, whether it’s frequently or irregularly, as I set a new record for most monthly views and visitors in May.

Not surprisingly, I went to the bar to watch UFC 212 a few nights ago.  The bar was pretty empty by the usual UFC fight night standards, since the main card wasn’t the most attractive to the casual observer and was actually rather thin outside of the top 2-3 bouts on the main card.  What did surprise me, however, was how disappointed and sad to an extent I felt on the drive home after watching Jose Aldo get stopped in the third round by Max Holloway.

I’ve never been a Jose Aldo fan.  That sounds harsh, but if you were to ask me to list my favorite fighters, I probably wouldn’t have mentioned him.  That said, however, I never disliked him or went out of my way to cheer against him, I was just indifferent on him.  I appreciated his talent and considered him to be among the world’s best pound-for-pound, and I do feel that he’s the greatest featherweight to ever compete in mixed martial arts.  Maybe that’s why I felt a sense of disappointment as I traveled home in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

As I’ve stated before on here, I began regularly watching the UFC and MMA as a whole in late 2008.  The first featherweight title fight I ever watched live on television was WEC 41 in June 2009, when Mike Brown defended the title against Urijah Faber.  I’ve always had a thing about cheering against a promotion’s poster boy, so I cheered for Brown to win that night and from that point on I always considered myself a Mike Brown fan.  Fast forward to November 2009, when Mike Brown squared off against Jose Aldo at WEC 44 for the featherweight title.  Aldo defeated Brown in dominant fashion, finishing Brown 1:20 into the second round, and I was blown away by how decisively he won the title that night.  That started the Jose Aldo era in MMA’s featherweight division, and without knowing it at the time, I had just watched a legend’s career really begin to take flight.

Jose Aldo, in hindsight, was really the first dominant champion in MMA whose entire tenure as champion I really got to watch unfold right in front of me.  Sure, I got to see a good portion of Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre’s time at the top of the sport, but by the time I began watching the sport regularly those two were already established as dominant champs.  They were in the middle of their long title reigns.  In the case of Aldo, I got to watch his entire tenure at the top as it was happening.  I even had the privilege of watching him fight in person at UFC 169, when he defeated Ricardo Lamas via unanimous decision.

So for me, Jose Aldo represents the first dominant champion who I was able to watch execute his top talent as it was unfolding for the whole world to see.  I wasn’t just watching highlights years after the fact like I have with fighters such as Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, and Matt Hughes.  This was an elite fighter I was watching and appreciating at the same time of the rest of the MMA community.

Perhaps I’m overthinking things.  But I was just surprised at how I felt a little disappointed to know that I had watched a historical era in the featherweight division come to an end on Saturday night.

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Buckley Blog Bits – May 18, 2017

I’m going to cover a little bit of psychology and a little bit of MMA in today’s edition.  I’ll start with the psychology part first.

Work/Life Balance

I prefer to keep my work life separate from my home life, so I enjoy having a quality work/life balance.  So much so that whenever I’ve received a promotion at work, I’ve always made it clear to my employer that having time away from the office is a must for me.  This isn’t because of a lack of love for my job, but rather it’s because I recognize that I need adequate time to recharge my mental batteries to ensure that I’m able to perform my best on a daily basis.  Plus…I tend to be a bit of a workaholic if given the opportunity, so I like to make it clear that once I leave the office every night that I’m turning work “off” until I come back the next morning.

Whether you’re a segmenter (someone who sets clear boundaries between work and home) or an integrator (someone who combines the two), it’s important to find the style that works best for you.  While there’s no “right” way to be, I prefer segmentation for the reasons stated above.  But I do happily integrate the two when the situation calls for it, but I try to keep that to a minimum.

Bellator 179

The winner of tomorrow night’s Rory MacDonald/Paul Daley fight is slated to take on the winner of Douglas Lima/Lorenz Larkin later this year.  Personally, I’d really rather see Rory MacDonald versus Douglas Lima at some point rather than some combination of a rematch of Douglas Lima/Paul Daley, Lorenz Larkin/Rory MacDonald, or Lorenz Larkin/Paul Daley.  Sometimes it’s hard to decipher how good a non-UFC fighter really is, but I think that a matchup between Lima and MacDonald would give great insight to how good Lima really is.  Even with his UFC departure, MacDonald is viewed as a top five welterweight, and Larkin is viewed at least as a top 15.  A win over Larkin for Lima, and then a showdown with MacDonald would really allow the MMA community to get a better idea of how talented Bellator’s welterweight division is in relation to the UFC’s welterweight division.

So ultimately, I’m cheering for Rory MacDonald to beat Paul Daley.  Not only for the reasons I stated above, but also because I’m a fan of MacDonald’s and I’m eager to see how he does for Bellator.

In the co-main event of Liam McGeary/Linton Vassell, I’m hoping to see Vassell win.  I’ve never been completely sold on McGeary, even if he did have a title reign as Bellator’s light heavyweight champion, so I think Vassell pulls off the win here.  I’m unsure of what’s next for the winner of this fight, whether it’s facing the winner of Phil Davis/Ryan Bader for the light heavyweight title at a later date or facing King Mo Lawal in a number one contender matchup, but I’d like to see Vassell win here.

I think Cheick Kongo defeats Augusto Sakai to continue his “reign” as the unofficial Bellator heavyweight champion (or at least in my mind he is, since Bellator took the title away from Vitaly Minakov last year due to a lack of title defenses).  I’d really like to see Kongo fight for the vacant title at some point, possibly against the winner of Fedor Emelianenko/Matt Mitrione, because I think it’s a tad ridiculous that Bellator hasn’t crowned a new heavyweight champion after stripping Minakov of the title after not defending the title since April 2014.

Finally, I hate how Bellator puts some of these international cards on tape delay.  I would much rather have the option of seeing this card live as it happens, even if that means I’d have to possibly duck out of work early to catch it live.  I know that I can avoid the internet and social media to avoid spoilers before I watch, but I’d just rather know that I’m watching the fight unfold live and spontaneously in front of me.

What’s Next for Stipe Miocic?

With his first round knockout victory over Junior dos Santos on Saturday night, I feel that Stipe Miocic has become the greatest heavyweight champion in the history of the UFC.  While he still needs to defend the title for a third time to set the new record for most title defenses during a single reign, the way he has quickly dispatched Fabricio Werdum, Alistair Overeem, and dos Santos in a combined 9 minutes and 36 seconds makes up for the fact that he’s tied with 4 others for the longest heavyweight title reign in the promotion’s history.  But on that note, who’s next for Miocic to face? Let’s take a look at the options:

Cain Velasquez

Former champion Cain Velasquez is my first choice to face Miocic, but the big question here is whether or not Velasquez is able to remain healthy enough to face Miocic because Velasquez has a history of being injury prone.  But if Velasquez does indeed fight Miocic, I think he’d be Miocic’s biggest test and the winner of this fight would be the undisputed best heavyweight in the promotion’s history.

Winner of Alistair Overeem/Fabricio Werdum

I’m not wild about Overeem or Werdum getting a rematch so soon, but the heavyweight division lacks depth at the moment and the winner of this fight would be the next best option to face Miocic.  Overeem did give Miocic a quick scare in their fight at UFC 203, so I’d rather see Overeem face Miocic again instead of Werdum if it was up to me.

Brock Lesnar

I know this seems farfetched, and I know Lesnar is retired from active MMA competition. But when you really think about this, I think it’s not quite as farfetched as it seems.  It’s no secret that the new ownership group needs to make their money back, and if they were to bring Lesnar back to fight for the title immediately it would be sure to generate a lot of interest, pay-per-view buys, and most importantly, a lot of revenue.  I’m not necessarily a fan of the idea of bringing Lesnar in to get a title shot he hasn’t actually earned, but I’m just saying it wouldn’t shock me to see the UFC go this route.

The Rest of the Heavyweight Division

Of the heavyweights I didn’t highlight, the one I’d want to see fight Miocic most is Francis Ngannou.  But he needs another big win before he’d really have earned a title shot.  Ben Rothwell hasn’t fought in over a year, and is coming off of a loss to dos Santos, so he should be out of the discussion for now.  Josh Barnett is coming off of a win over Andrei Arlovski back in September…but he’s only fought once over the last 16 months and is 2-2 in his last 4 fights.  Derrick Lewis is on a 6-fight winning streak, but he hasn’t beaten a big name that would catapult him into the title shot picture, although that would change if he defeats Mark Hunt when they meet.  Mark Hunt is coming off of a loss to Overeem, and needs to string together some wins to get a shot at the title.

So in summary, my preferences for Stipe Miocic’s next opponents are as follows: Cain Velasquez, or the winner of Alistair Overeem versus Fabricio Werdum.  The rest of the division just hasn’t quite earned the next shot at Miocic in my opinion.

Is Stipe Miocic on the verge of becoming the best UFC Heavyweight Champion in History?

Stipe Miocic might be on the verge of becoming the greatest heavyweight champion in the history of the UFC.  Now, while it should go without saying that the greatest heavyweight in the history of mixed martial arts is Fedor Emelianenko.  After all, the former PRIDE heavyweight champion has wins over the likes of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mark Coleman, Kevin Randleman, Mirko Filipovic, Mark Hunt, Tim Sylvia, and Andrei Arlovski.  But unfortunately, Emelianenko has never fought in the UFC, so the debate of who the greatest UFC heavyweight champion in history is still up for debate.

If he was able to stay healthy for a prolonged period of time, I’d actually say that Cain Velasquez is the best heavyweight champion in the history of the UFC.  At his peak and when he’s healthy, Velasquez is an absolute beast.  But he’s won and lost the UFC heavyweight title twice.  He won it by beating Brock Lesnar, lost it to Junior dos Santos in his first title defense, won the belt back from dos Santos a year later, defended it against Antonio Silva, defended it against dos Santos, and then lost it to Fabricio Werdum.  All in all, he’s 4-2 in title fights with 2 successful defenses.  But unfortunately, he’s pretty injury prone.

But let’s take a look at the current champion, Stipe Miocic.  Miocic has a record of 16-2.  He won the title last year on May 14, 2016 with a first round knockout of Fabricio Werdum.  He proceeded to successfully defend the title back in September against Alistair Overeem.  With a successful title defense over Junior dos Santos on Saturday night, he suddenly ties the record (held by Randy Couture, Tim Sylvia, Brock Lesnar, and Velasquez) for most title consecutive title defenses in the UFC’s heavyweight division at….2.

There’s never been a dominant long-term champion in the UFC’s heavyweight division.  With a win, and a decisive win at that, over Junior dos Santos, I think that Miocic makes a great argument for being the best UFC heavyweight champion in the promotion’s history.  In my opinion, he’ll have beaten arguably better competition than Randy Couture did (when he beat Pedro Rizzo twice), or Tim Sylvia did (wins over Andrei Arlovski and Jeff Monson) during their “long” title reigns.  But I think you can make the argument that Lesnar and Velasquez’s competitors were of equal or greater talent than Overeem and dos Santos (Lesnar beat Frank Mir and Shane Carwin; Velasquez beat Antonio Silva and dos Santos)

In heavyweight title fights, Randy Couture has the most wins with 6.  But he’s 6-3 in heavyweight title fights.  A win over dos Santos makes Miocic 3-0.  The only other fighters to go undefeated in UFC heavyweight title fights are Bas Rutten and Josh Barnett, who lost the title due to retirement (Rutten) and a positive drug test (Barnett).  After those two, Brock Lesnar has the best winning percentage in UFC heavyweight title fights at 3-1 (.750).

While I know it might be an unpopular opinion, I think that Lesnar, Velasquez, Couture and Miocic might be the four best heavyweight champions in the UFC’s history.  If Miocic wins against dos Santos, and then proceeds to knock off another top contender (maybe Velasquez if/when he’s healthy?) then I think that ends the discussion and Stipe Miocic should then be considered the greatest heavyweight champion in the UFC’s history.