TSN.ca's MMA staff, including John Pollock - TSN Radio 1050 (@iamjohnpollock), James Lynch - TSN.ca (@lynchonsports), and Jordan Cieciwa - TSN Radio 1290 (@FitCityJordan), take a look at some of the hottest issues in the world of mixed martial arts.
1) With his win at UFC 158 over Nick Diaz, is the criticism fair that Georges St-Pierre is a “boring” fighter?
James Lynch - First off I don't think the welterweight champion is a boring. I understand why fans are complaining about St-Pierre in the fact he hasn't stopped an opponent since he won the title at UFC 83 against Matt Serra (Technically he stopped B.J. Penn at UFC 94, but that was a corner stoppage). However, what fans fail to realize is that the 31-year-old is a champion in arguably the toughest sport on the planet. Unlike team sports where you can lose a game or two, losing a fight means you can become irrelevant in a short period of time.
Ever since GSP lost the title to Serra at UFC 69, we've yet to see the killer instinct that he displayed in finishes over Jay Hieron, Matt Hughes (twice) and Sean Sherk, I can admit that. Let's also consider that Nick Diaz has an iron chin, has never been stopped inside the octagon and boasts a litter of knockout and submission victories.
Like many predicted (including myself), the only way the Quebec native was going to win this fight was to use his wrestling and grind out a decision, plain and simple. It's not the Tristar fighter's fault that Nick Diaz couldn't stop a takedown or force a tap with any of his submission attempts. Was his victory over Diaz at UFC 158 an entertaining fight? Perhaps not, but it's not like St-Pierre was running away from his opponent like a 2008 version of Kalib Starnes. He dominated the fight over five rounds and for that I don't consider him a “boring” fighter.
John Pollock – Anyone that pays to watch a fighter perform is allowed praise or criticism towards what they get in return for their dollars, but with St-Pierre I just cannot say that I find him a “boring” fighter. St-Pierre is fighting the top welterweights in the entire world and his dominance at times when it comes to taking down high level wrestlers or standing and trading with elite strikers is something to marvel at. It's fair to say that St-Pierre finds himself with dominant positions and doesn't take enough risk by going for a finish, but I find him incredibly entertaining to watch by that display of domination.
How many times have we seen Diaz look as helpless as he did in that opening round with minimal strikes thrown, taken down at will and completely shut down? The greater statement is that the public has certainly not felt this way because arenas are packed and pay-per-views are sold with St-Pierre in a headline position and it shows the public has a surging appetite for this fighter and his style has yet to be a deterrent.
Jordan Cieciwa – St-Pierre is a boring "fighter", but an amazing athlete and a treat for those who love mixed martial arts. GSP is as smart a business man as he is a fighter. That means, he does everything with the intent to remain champion, get the big bonus and continue to be the champ. If more fans watched the fight not for the big knock out, but for the perfectly timed takedowns, no one would find GSP boring.
I personally wish every fan had to go through a jujitsu class, or take a few rounds in a boxing ring. The appreciation for how great St-Pierre really is would be in every fans words. Now, if I have had a few drinks and want to see blood, I'm not tuning in to GSP. I want to see Hendricks for that.
2) How do you feel about Ronda Rousey coaching the next season of The Ultimate Fighter and having both male and female participants?
Lynch - I love both of these decisions for the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter. With Rousey, the UFC has figured out a way to get their women's champion some more TV time and hopefully they will capitalize by gathering a new audience. Having the house with both men and women will also add some much needed entertainment to the show. Rather than forcing alcohol on the participants like they have in the past to create drama (like in Season 8 with Junie Browning), we can see how both the men and women participants will react to female coaches and each other.
This also injects life into the newly formed women's division and provides more marketability to the men's bantamweight division. Critics will say this turns the competition into “Jersey Shore” style of programming, but I disagree. Even with Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen coaching this season, the show has become stale and I think adding women coaches and participants provides a fresh look to the series.
Pollock - It's a fresh angle for the series to have males and females inside of the TUF house and Rousey is easily the most transcendent personality in the sport right now, when it comes to hooking in a new audience that wasn't there before. I think we have to breakdown TUF and not look at is as a tool to keep the ardent fight fan happy, but rather a series that is designed to get personalities across, present drama and attract different sets of people that are not buying pay-per-views and have a cursory knowledge at best of the sport.
Putting on a weekly fight on Spike TV was not what sold people on the first season of TUF, it was the grudge element developed through Chris Leben, Josh Koscheck and Bobby Southworth that captivated people and kept them tuning in – personalities sold that show, not simply having fights. I believe any ideas to put a fresh coat of paint on TUF are welcome and if you're not satisfied as a fight fan then the UFC is providing more than enough content on a monthly basis to keep you satisfied.
JC - Not sure how I feel about this one. I view The Ultimate Fighter as one of the smartest moves the UFC has ever made. It launched them into the forefront of the sports entertainment world, and it has produced a lot of really solid talent. It's a great place for the UFC to see who is out there and up and coming. It also helps a lot of young talent realize how far away from the goal they truly are.
I am excited by the fact that female fighters are going to get to come together, work hard together, and further there sport. I am nervous that if this becomes a "sex sells" Ultimate Fighter that the reason for this may be lost. The sport of women's MMA is fantastic, the fighters are talented, focused and come to compete. If the UFC tries too hard to find an angle (much like Sonnen vs. Jones) then we may be in for yet another fail on The Ultimate fighter show. The focus needs to be on creating depth in the Women's division. I will tune in for that.
Rousey has an excellent team behind her, they can take their girls to the next level and connect with them. My hope is some new athlete finds guidance under the Rousey banner.T his should be something great to watch. I'm excited to see it unfold.
3) Should former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski defeat Anthony Johnson at WSOF 2, should he earn another shot in the UFC?
Pollock - The heavyweight division inside the UFC doesn't have significant depth and Arlovski is a familiar name, so I would say a convincing win over Anthony Johnson certainly earns him at least some passing interest from the UFC. Arlovski has quietly gone unbeaten in his last five following a four-fight losing skid where many thought he was done in the sport.
Johnson cannot be considered a major hurdle when fighting at heavyweight, but is still a tough fighter and should Arlovski stop Johnson I feel a UFC offer would not be out of the question.
Lynch - No because like Dana White noted in his comments last week, Johnson isn't a true heavyweight fighter. The 29-year-old Johnson is just two years ago was fighting in the UFC's welterweight division and clearly is looking for a payday moving up to heavyweight to fight Arlovski.
While I understand the heavyweight division in general is very thin, the memories of the “Pitbull's” face hitting the canvas against Brett Rogers and Sergei Kharitonov in 2011 is still fresh in my mind. Remember this was a fighter just a few years ago who many pundits believed was headed for early retirement.
The Jackson/Winklejohn student has amassed a 4-0-1 record since his departure from Strikeforce, but I don't think this level of competition compares to the level of talent he'd be facing in the UFC. If he can string together a few more wins or take out some top level talent outside the UFC (say like a Josh Barnett for example), I'd consider it then.
JC - Arlovski's time has come and gone. His last string of wins hasn't been against anyone with the talent level that warrants a UFC return. I like the fact that he has changed up camps and has begun to put together a few wins. If Arlovski beat Johnson, he needs to follow it up with a true high level challenge.
As for the UFC, I don't think he can make a case yet. Arlovski has the talent level, but as of late, hasn't been utilizing it. This fight is a step in the right direction, but the path is a lot longer than one win in the WSOF.