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.

Buckley Blog Bits – April 30, 2017

Yesterday’s boxing heavyweight title fight between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko had to be one of the most exciting heavyweight title fights in ages.  Heading into it, I was prepared for anything because of the fact there were so many variables, and I really had no clue what to expect.  Is Klitschko finally old? Or would Klitschko be able to return to his vintage form? Is Joshua as good as advertised? Or is Joshua overhyped? Would it be exciting? Would it be dull? Would there be some sort of judging or refereeing controversy? Could it even end in a draw? I just had to sit there and watch things play out, and that was a great feeling.

While I did get to watch the fight live, I was unfortunately relegated to watching the fight on my phone in a crowded bar with friends (who had next to no interest in watching the fight), so I wasn’t able to give the fight my complete undivided attention until the fourth round or so.  At the time of the knockout, I had Klitschko up 95-93 on points after the 10th round, but I would’ve had Joshua up 103-102 after 11 had Klitschko been able to survive the 11th round without getting knocked down again (after rewatching the fight this morning, without the distractions that come from being at a bar with friends, I had it scored 94-94 after 10 because for some reason while watching the fight live I gave Klitschko the 3rd round, but after re-watching it that was clearly a round for Joshua, so I really would’ve had Joshua up 104-101 after 11).

When Joshua came out with guns blazing in the 5th round and knocked Klitschko down, I really thought that maybe this was the end for Klitschko.  But much like Hulk Hogan in the 1980s, when it looked like he was down and out it was just the time for Klitschko to make his comeback.  I couldn’t believe the way Klitschko rallied and seemed to turn back the clock from that point on.  From that point on, I was glued to my phone, and I really started to wonder if perhaps Joshua couldn’t handle going into the deeper rounds and if Klitschko would in fact wear the younger fighter down.  I gave Klitschko every round between the 6th and the 9th, and even the 10th round was a pretty close round which I narrowly gave to Joshua.

I’m really not sure who I was cheering for to be honest with you.  Even though I wasn’t Klitschko’s biggest fan in his prime, mainly because of his questionable level of opposition in some of his fights, there were moments I did find myself rooting for him to pull off the upset yesterday.  But there were moments too where I was rooting for Joshua to complete the changing of the guard atop the heavyweight division.  Overall, it was an entertaining fight to watch and I wish heavyweight boxing, and combat sports in general, could be like that more often.

There’s several options out there for Anthony Joshua to fight next.  There’s a possible rematch with Klitschko, which I am interested in seeing at some point, but I’m not 100% sure I want to see it immediately and I don’t need to see it.  It’s not due to a lack of competitiveness in the fight yesterday, because yesterday was a great fight and worthy of a rematch at some point, it’s just that I’d rather see some other matchups first.

The big fights to make are Joshua against the lineal and The Ring magazine heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, and against the WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.  But there’s also a potential bout with WBO champion Joseph Parker, or the WBA mandated challenger Luis Ortiz, and the IBF mandated challenger Kubrat Pulev.

Really, what I’d love to see next for Joshua is a showdown with Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder.  That’s taking nothing away from the other fighters I mentioned, but I would just rather see Joshua face the lineal champion Tyson Fury in an all-Britain matchup which would be sure to be a major event.  If not Fury, then I’d rather see him face Wilder, who I think would be a better quality of opposition than Parker, Ortiz or Pulev.

As for Klitschko? I don’t think he needs to retire, because quite frankly he looked better yesterday than he did versus Tyson Fury.  But he really has nothing left to prove in my opinion because he ruled the heavyweight division for 10 years.  I’d be interested in seeing his career continue if he wants to continue fighting because he’s still one of the best heavyweights in the world in my opinion, but he doesn’t need to.  His legacy as one of the all-time greats has already been cemented.

Buckley Blog Bits – April 25, 2017

I’m pretty excited for the Anthony Joshua/Wladimir Klitschko fight this weekend.  The fight is for Joshua’s IBF version of the heavyweight championship, as well as the vacant WBA version as well.  While Tyson Fury is still the lineal “man who beat the man who beat the man” champion, he hasn’t fought since defeating Klitschko in November 2015 and by the looks of things he isn’t returning to the ring anytime soon for one reason or another.  So personally, I’m going to consider the winner of the Joshua/Klitschko fight as the “interim” lineal heavyweight champion.

I’ve casually followed boxing since I was a kid, having seen such heavyweights as Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson, Vitali Klitschko, Evander Holyfield, and most recently Wladimir Klitschko rule the division.  I saw a news outlet recently refer to the fight this weekend as the biggest heavyweight fight in years, and while I initially disagreed because the true lineal championship isn’t on the line, the more I’ve thought about it the more I have to agree with it.

This is the first time in my time as a boxing fan where I can really recall Wladimir Klitschko entering the ring as the underdog.  Also, the last time I really recall a heavyweight championship fight receiving this much publicity (as well as my personal interest) was when Wladimir Klitschko fought David Haye for the WBA, WBO, IBF, The Ring magazine, and lineal versions of the title back in July 2011.  Furthermore, there’s going to be 90,000 fans at Wembley Stadium to witness this live in person this weekend. Saturday night really has all the ingredients of a historical matchup.

While I’ve seen that the WBA would like the winner of Joshua/Klitschko to face Luis Ortiz, an I’ve seen that the IBF would like the winner to face Kubrat Pulev, I’d prefer the winner fight Tyson Fury.  But of course, that seems unlikely at the moment, and to be honest I’d really like to see the winner of Saturday’s fight face the WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder to further unify the heavyweight championships.  But given the choice between Ortiz and Pulev, I’d like to see Ortiz get the next major title shot.  He’s 27-0, and he has a big knockout win over Bryant Jennings, a fighter who Klitschko struggled against in 2015.  Furthermore, Pulev had his shot at the lineal title against Klitschko in 2014 and was knocked out in the fifth round, so in the interest of seeing a new challenger, I’d like to see the WBA’s mandated challenger Luis Ortiz get the next title shot if it’s not going to be Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder.

I still haven’t decided who I’m cheering for on Saturday.  On one hand, you have the legend in Wladimir Klitscho.  On the other hand, you have the rising young star in Anthony Joshua.  It sounds corny, but I really just want to see a classic fight on Saturday night without controversy.

All in all, I really wish I was making the trip to England for the fight.

My Take on Conor McGregor’s Next Opponent

Now that the dust has settled on UFC 205, I thought I’d take a moment to give my opinion on what I think should be next for Conor McGregor now that he’s added the UFC’s lightweight title to his trophy case.

There’s a handful of names out there floating around in regards to who his next opponent should be.  Names mentioned include lightweight contenders Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson, former featherweight champion Jose Aldo, current welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, and of course a potential trilogy fight with Nate Diaz.  Let’s examine the options (in order of my preference):

  • Khabib Nurmagomedov: This is who gets my vote as McGregor’s next opponent. Nurmagomedov is 24-0, and he demolished Michael Johnson on Saturday night.  While I don’t think that he’d be able to stand and trade punches with McGregor, the fight would get very interesting if he’s able to get McGregor to the ground.
  • Jose Aldo: Regardless of the fact that their fight at UFC 194 only lasted 13 seconds, I’d still love to see a rematch between McGregor and Aldo. While I’m still unsure who’d win in a rematch, I’m quite certain that the rematch would last longer than 13 seconds.  If McGregor returns to featherweight, then I think Aldo should be his first title defense (side note: if McGregor vacates the featherweight title, then I think Aldo should fight the winner of Max Holloway vs. Anthony Pettis for the vacant title).
  • Tony Ferguson: The second of the top two lightweight title contenders, Ferguson is my third choice to see fight McGregor next. He’s 22-3, and is on a 9 fight win streak after picking up a recent win over former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos.  The only thing holding him back from being number one on my list is that he didn’t defeat dos Anjos in spectacular fashion, nor did he peak my interest with a pro wrestling style callout of McGregor like how Khabib Nurmagomedov did.
  • Nate Diaz: Well, simply put I do want to see McGregor/Diaz 3 at some point. But I just don’t want to see it right now.  It would be cool if their next fight was for the title, but I’m not a fan of Diaz getting a title shot right now because I feel he doesn’t really deserve one right now.  Other than going 1-1 against McGregor in two welterweight bouts, and a win over Michael Johnson (who has shown that he’s not in the top 10 at lightweight right now), what has Diaz really done to warrant a title shot as of late?
  • Tyron Woodley: Of course there’s always the idea that McGregor should move up to welterweight now to challenge for the welterweight title. I’m not very keen on this idea, especially right now considering McGregor hasn’t defended his featherweight title, and now he should have obligations to defend the lightweight title.  Furthermore, I just don’t think McGregor would be able to hang with the bigger and stronger fighters he’d face at welterweight.  Fighters like Woodley or Stephen Thompson would have size and strength advantages that I don’t think McGregor would be able to overcome.  So while I’m not saying “no” to the idea of McGregor challenging for the welterweight title forever, I’m just saying that right now isn’t the best time for it in my opinion.  If he cleans out the lightweight division, then I’d be more open to the idea.
  • Floyd Mayweather: Well, I guess I should address the elephant in the room here. Do I want to see this? Not really to be honest.  I just don’t see anything good that can come out of this matchup in a boxing ring where I’m pretty sure McGregor would lose, or even in an MMA cage where McGregor would probably win.  I’d much rather watch McGregor defend one of his UFC titles against a mixed martial artist, but of course I’d watch a McGregor/Mayweather matchup if it happened.  But on that note, I hope it doesn’t.

Buckley Blog Bits –October 25, 2016

I’ll be talking about some recent MMA news in this edition of Buckley Blog Bits.

  • I had to laugh when I heard about Canadian fans boycotting UFC 206 due to the ongoing Georges St-Pierre/UFC drama. Sure, I understand the frustration that Canadian fans have because of GSP not being on the card, and his current exile from the organization, but judging by the lack of ticket availability, this boycott won’t even put a small dent in UFC 206’s ticket sales or popularity (side note: the card really isn’t that good outside of the main event to be honest, especially when you compare it to the incomparable UFC 205, as well as UFC 207, so I was surprised to see ticket sales being as good as they are).
  • On that note, if St-Pierre does indeed get to test the free agent market, then Bellator HAS to sign him in my opinion. Without question, he would be their biggest signing to date as he’s one of the biggest pay-per-view draws in MMA history (PPVs headlined by GSP have sold an average of approximately 700,000 during his career), and he’s not far removed, if even removed at all, from his prime.  Alongside Rory MacDonald, GSP would be a great asset for Bellator, not only to draw massive television ratings and possibly venture into the pay-per-view market, but also to tap into the Canadian market as well.
  • Kudos to the World Series of Fighting for really going all out for their New York City card on New Year’s Eve. While I’m still not a huge fan of them holding the card on New Year’s Eve itself (at least the main card portion is at 4:00pm), this card is unquestionably the best one they’ve ever produced on paper with 4 title fights.  Even though I’m probably going to be unable to make the trek to Madison Square Garden that day for the fights, I’ll be sure to tune in wherever I am that day.
  • Friday night’s “debate” between Tito Ortiz and Chael Sonnen during Bellator 162 was cringe worthy, and that’s being polite. I love that Bellator tries to embrace the pro wrestling-style promotion sometimes, but sometimes they try too hard and this was an example of that.  While I’m sure the exchange between Ortiz and Sonnen was unscripted, it just felt way to orchestrated and non-organic for my liking.  Nonetheless, you know I’ll be tuning in to watch that fight in January because I’m a fight fan and a lifelong fan of Tito Ortiz.
  • It’s refreshing to see a fighter call it quits before they’ve tarnished their legacy, so it’s nice to see Urijah Faber opt to retire after his upcoming fight against Brad Pickett in December. While he’s still a top ten bantamweight in my opinion, it’s clear that Faber will never be a champion again as he’s gone 0-4 in UFC title fights, and has now dropped fights to fellow contenders Jimmie Rivera at bantamweight, and to Frankie Edgar at featherweight.

I/O Psychology and the Blue Jays Clubhouse “Issues”

I was reading through the Toronto Sun at work this morning, when I came across Steve Buffery’s article entitled “What’s going on inside the Blue Jays clubhouse?” (link: http://www.torontosun.com/2016/09/29/whats-going-on-inside-the-blue-jays-clubhouse )

So since this was a rare opportunity for me to get to discuss two of my favorite things, I/O psychology and baseball, in one great blog article, I figured I’d jump at the chance and share my “hot take” on the matter.

The line in the article that really jumped out to me was “does a team with confidence bother with crap like that,” in regards to the Blue Jays’ players apparently having pictures of a pair of reporters on their clubhouse wall with a caption that says (something to the extent of) “do not grant them interviews” and turning the music up real loud when interviews are being conducted.

I don’t necessarily disagree with Buffery that the behavior is unprofessional of sorts.  I know I wouldn’t appreciate that sort of behavior, at least in regards to publicizing my co-worker’s enemy list, on a wall in plain sight at my workplace.  But I wasn’t there when whatever prompted the rift between these reporters and the Blue Jays happened, so I can’t necessarily say if this punishment and public shaming is absolutely warranted.  But if this is the sort of workplace culture the Blue Jays want, and it helps them perform on the field, then I don’t have an issue with it.  Then again, is this public shaming any different than a pizza place that puts the bounced checks of past customers on a “wall of shame” to embarrass them until they pay up?

It’s unfair for the media to overlook the human emotion aspect of baseball, and quickly jump to conclusions that perceived juvenile and unprofessional behavior implies a lack of confidence.  I’d like someone to explain to me how this behavior implies a lack of confidence, or even a lack of leadership.  Who’s to say that leadership in the clubhouse didn’t decide that it was best for the team to ignore the two media members moving forward? Who’s to say that those two media members don’t provide bulletin board motivation?

One line in the article said “the New York Yankees would never allow (this) in their clubhouse.”  Who cares? The Blue Jays aren’t the Yankees, and obviously their work environment isn’t going to be the same as the Yankees.  Not all work environments are cookie cutter, even in the non-sports world.  Just look at the way Google operates in their workplace culture.  Who’s to say that the Blue Jays can’t be the Google of baseball when it comes to work environment and clubhouse culture?

So in a nutshell, are the Jays acting a bit unprofessional when it comes to dealing with the media? Sure, maybe a little bit.  Do I wish the Jays would treat the media with some more respect? Sure, I enjoy reading player quotes as much as the next person.  But much like how professional athletes don’t owe fans anything, I don’t think they necessarily owe the media anything either.  Yes, it’s great to build your own personal brand and be accessible, but not at the expense of being disrespected in the process.  I’m a firm believer in treating others how they treat you, especially if you’re being disrespected, so if a player on the Blue Jays truly has been wronged by a media member, I have no issue with this “unprofessional” behavior.

The fact of the matter is that this is a tense time for the Blue Jays, and they would feel that tension regardless of their confidence level.  I think the author of the Toronto Sun article needs to realize that having confidence doesn’t mean you’ve eliminated fear and nerves, but rather you’ve learned how to allow those emotions and find a way for them to energize you.

Why Do We Watch Sports?

It’s weird how I’ve been a sports fan pretty much my entire life (there’s been peaks and valleys in my amount of interest and “diehard” fandom), yet I’ve never had a “real” reason to explain why I watch sports like I do.  So I decided to do what anyone else in that situation would do…I Googled “Why Do We Watch Sports?” and decided to see what other people had to say.

After glossing over a few articles, I found a few common themes among them:

  • Genuine intrigue in the non-predetermined outcome of the game
  • The emotional reactions of watching the game
  • Watching something that we’re physically not capable of doing ourselves
  • The desire for affiliation and feeling like we’re a part of something.

One article I found (link: http://www.mentalgamecoaching.com/IMGCAArticles/SportsAndSociety/WhyWeWatchSports.html)

was a bit more scholarly in nature, and it discussed how unlike life, sports and games are generally fair with a clear cut framework and set of rules.  The article continued on to mention that sports are like an unscripted story, in that there’s a beginning and an end, there’s a good guy (your favorite team) and the bad guy (the opposing team), there’s happy endings (your favorite team winning), and there’s tragic endings (your favorite team losing).  Much like watching a horror movie or a drama, sports provide us the opportunity to experience a level of suspense without putting ourselves at any risk or having the result have any true bearing on our real life.

That same article continued to mention that sports give us a way to bond as we vicariously live through the athletes we watch perform, all while learning about loyalty, honor, and perseverance.

So in conclusion, I suppose we watch sports due to the fact that we’re curious, emotional creatures who take pride in feeling a sense of affiliation with others while living vicariously watching people perform at an elite level that we’re incapable of performing at while watching the unscripted drama unfold in front of us.  Sounds like some good reasons to me.  Personally, I’ll probably still just answer the question of “why do you watch sports?” with “I just like to” just to avoid a long philosophical discussion.