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) Is it possible to create a true super fight?
JC: I think Chael Sonnen proved a very good point - we need weight classes. The size difference between him and Jon Jones was very, well, apparent. From a talent stand point, Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva would make a fantastic fight. The size difference, and body types would make for an advantage to Silva that would put GSP at a huge deficit. Would this be a super fight? The fight would favor Silva far too much.
St-Pierre is 5'10, 190-195 pounds when he doesn't cut weight and Anderson is 6'2 at a natural 205 pounds. Silva has all the natural ability still in his corner. That means Silva has an advantage, and the fight is never going to be fair or show who's the best.
I don't want to see a super fight. All I want to see is someone come up and dethrone Silva, and St-Pierre. Imagine how talented that fighter would be? It's fun to speculate who would win though and it makes for some great arguments.
Lynch: My definition of a super fight is basically when a high level fighter decides to fight outside his weight class (ie: the best from one division fights someone in another division). There have been arguments it must be a champion vs. champion match to be a “true” super fight, but I don't think that necessarily has to be the case.
The first super fight that comes to mind was when former lightweight champion B.J. Penn moved up a weight class to fight St-Pierre at UFC 94. The Hawaiian was dominated and a huge reason GSP won was because of his size advantage. Penn is a true lightweight and an undersized welterweight.
In the St-Pierre vs. Silva example, because Silva cuts so much weight and clearly is the much larger fighter, that fight isn't exactly fair. However, when former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar decided to drop down to featherweight to battle 145-champ Jose Aldo, that was an evenly matched contest. Edgar is a smaller lightweight and actually the Brazilian appeared bigger than the New Jersey native when they fought.
I think these super fights are definitely possible, it just depends on the physical nature of the opponent. This is why fights like Silva vs. Jon Jones or even St-Pierre vs. lightweight champ Ben Henderson would be intriguing because these are fighters are close in physical statute.
Pollock: I think there are so many differing views on what is a “super fight”. To most it means any combination of Silva, Jones and St-Pierre and absolutely it is possible to make a fight involving two of those three. Those are the only fights I would classify as “dream” fights right now that have a realistic opportunity to be made.
I'm excited to see Aldo vs. Anthony Pettis, as I was to see Aldo vs. Edgar, but neither of these fights take on the stature and command the attention that a Jones vs. Silva fight in 2013 would.
It is also setting a precedent that I'm not crazy about wherein a fighter cleans out his division and therefore the next step is to move up a weight class and I find that logic flawed. It's a carryover from boxing where weight classes are a couple of pounds difference as opposed to St-Pierre cutting to make 170-pounds and then jumping up to fight a guy in Silva, who walks around at 215-pounds.
As a business there are big fights to be made by mixing and matching weight classes but from a fighter's perspective there is one big day pay and a lot of risk attached to it.
2) Should the rules for illegal knee strikes be changed?
JC: Miesha Tate lost her title shot, and a shot to coach due to a illegal knee to the head. She reached for the ground, planted her hand and became an illegal target for knee strikes to the head. The strike was missed by Kim Winslow, and cost Tate the win. Should a hand to the ground be a form of defence? In my opinion, it definitely should not be.
In regards to fighter safety, dropping your guard is never a good idea. Moving away from your opponent, and dropping your defence should not be a legitimate defence. The strike to Tate was illegal only by a simple technicality. I would like to see the strike rule revisited there has to be a better way to defend yourself than to put one hand on the ground.
Lynch: Yes the rule should defiantly be revised but I'm not in favor of knees to a grounded opponent (similar to what was allowed in Japan with PRIDE). I agree with Jordan, the hand planted rule as it stands is not a solid argument for a fighter defending him or herself. I don't necessarily think in the Tate case she was relying on the hand placement, so her opponent wouldn't be able to land shot, but in general it shouldn't be used as an advantage if a fighter is trying to get up.
What I would like change is elbows to the ground as we've seen too many fights stopped because of cuts, but that's a whole other argument. Especially with the series of bizarre events that took place at UFC 159, it's clear the sport is evolving and the knowledge of what works (and what doesn't) is more apparent than ever. I think it would be interesting to poll the fighters and get feedback on the rules. Create more of a unified system between commissions.
Pollock: One of the areas that drives me nuts is the desire we constantly have to measure “intent” and it's impossible to do whether it is determining if someone intentionally poked someone in the eye, delivered an illegal knee or administered a dirty hit in a hockey game. I've always hated the strategic nature of a fighter placing a hand on the mat to avoid taking a knee and it's no longer a safety precaution but a strategy device.
Accidents are going to happen in fights but I would like more of a hard line stance. How many fights have we seen multiple fence grabs, low blows and even eye pokes and not a point deducted? It's become comical because with so many warnings and no point deductions then why am I so concerned about illegal acts in the cage if I will not be punished?
To sum it up, I don't think it's a fight the UFC is going to win with commissions and would take forever to grandfather that rule in but I'm adamantly opposed to the current manipulation of the rule by many fighters with a hand or finger on the mat to avoid damage because in that instance I know what the intent is and doesn't happen by accident.
3) With the rumors of next season's Ultimate Fighter being Team Canada vs. Team Australia, who would you like to see as the coaches?
Lynch: This is a bit of a head scratcher for me because there aren't many Australian fighters under contract with the UFC, nor are there many Canadian fighters with a personality that would translate well to television. Assuming I'm the head of the production company producing the series, I'm looking for two things, a knowledgeable coach and someone who has a sellable personality. If the teams were say USA or Brazil there are a litter of fighters to choose from that mold.
Talented Canadians like Rory MacDonald, T.J Grant, and Sam Stout are options, but don't scream must see TV. With that said, I'd have to pick Patrick Cote vs. Hector Lombard. Before I hear the backlash about my picks let me explain. Cote is not deserving of a coaching spot and has looked lackluster since his return to the UFC. The one thing the Quebec native does possess however is a personality, and we got to see that when he was a contestant on season four of the Ultimate Fighter. He also has an exciting, stand and bang type fighting style that is similar to Lombard's.
Now I'm aware the ATT product Lombard fights at middleweight but there have been numerous reports he would welcome a drop to the welterweight division. I'm also aware he was born in Cuba and grew up in New Zealand which technically doesn't fit the Team Australia coaching mold. But who are we kidding, this is the Ultimate Fighter! Who cares about the politically correct stuff?
I think Cote is a perfect fight for the former Bellator middleweight champion in his first fight at 170 pounds and also I think both of these fighters have fiery personalities that would sell the series.
Pollock: Was anyone else let down with this Team Canada vs. Team Australia gimmick? Talk about a rivalry that no one else is. First of all, which Australian fighters really jump out as candidates? George Sotiropoulos? Kyle Noke? James Te Huna (by way of New Zealand)?.
I more than get my fix with the regular TUF and really do not need yet another international version of the series. In terms of Canadian fighters I would hope you would look at someone with a big upside and for my own enjoyment watching Rory MacDonald in that reality setting would probably be great and keeps him tied up while St-Pierre is still fighting at welterweight.
I'm interested to see who makes it onto the show but at this juncture I'm just not that excited in this upcoming series.
JC: As a strength coach to some very cool fighters I would like to see a twist if this Team Canada vs Team Australia comes to be. Let's focus on the behind the scenes guys. What if Firas Zahabi took on a coach from Australia, or better Zahabi MMA vs. Mark Dellagrotte.
Not too many Australian coaches come to mind, but let's be honest here, unless it's St-Pierre not to many UFC fighters will get attention in the land down under. TUF is a little over done, and this is going to water the product down further. If it was up to me, this would be a war of real coaches trying to find talent.
If anyone is listening, change TUF up completely. Make it a real talent search and talent creation. The house thing isn't working for me anymore. I want to see what goes into making a real fighter, I want to get behind the scenes. Pancakes anyone?