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 Renan Barao injured, are you satisfied with addition of Roy Nelson for UFC 161 in Winnipeg?
Lynch: Yes and honestly I don't understand the critics who are complaining about the fight being scrapped altogether. Rashad Evans vs. Dan Henderson is a very entertaining main event, especially when you consider both fighters are coming off losses and should be extremely motivated to earn a victory.
On top of that, Eddie Wineland rightfully earned his title shot against Barao, having him fight someone like Urijah Faber (who was rumored to fight him) is completely unfair. “Big Country” certainly brings some intrigue to the card being quite the character and has exciting style of fighting.
His opponent Stipe Miocic is coming off a loss to Stefan Struve while Nelson has won three straight. This is a considerable mismatch in my opinion and fans should be treated to one of Nelsons patented knockouts.
Pollock: When the interim bantamweight title was taken off the card I noted that this might be the first time a UFC event has lost their main event and it will have no impact on the business the card will produce.
We can all look at the talents of Barao and Wineland but it was a hard sell of a main event with the real main event on the show being Henderson vs. Evans because of their name value and that is the fight selling the card in my opinion.
Nelson's addition to the card is a good main card addition, but Nelson has no proven track record of drawing because he has never been put in that role to sell a pay-per-view. The fight with Miocic seems like a high risk, low reward scenario for Nelson as it's not a top ten heavyweight that brings him that much closer to a heavyweight title fight and a loss really sets him back.
The UFC 161 card isn't blowing me away by way of anticipation but that is not to say it couldn't be an entertaining card.
JC: Are you kidding me? Nelson makes a great card better and he is saving UFC 161. The two main events here in Winnipeg have "the potential" for greatness. However, all fighters involved have a tendency to not show up.
Nelson always brings a fight. The only thing about this fight is the potential for Nelson to hinder his climb back to the top. Miocic isn't a top opponent, but he is dangerous. If he scores a win it would be devastating to Nelson, and an absolutely huge boost for Miocic.
Yes, this fight announcement made my day. Welcome to Winnipeg UFC, I am excited again for this card.
2) Do Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar deserve their respective spots in the UFC Hall Of Fame?
Lynch: Griffin absolutely does and Bonnar doesn't. The Ultimate Fighter winner Griffin racked up a decent 9-5 record in the UFC, with his most impressive win being an upset over Mauricio Shogun Rua at UFC 76. At UFC 86 he earned the UFC light heavyweight title in a closely contested contest against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and for that alone he deserves a spot in the hall.
Bonnar meanwhile finished his career with an 8-7 UFC record and never came close to earning light heavyweight gold. What stands out for me though is Bonnar was busted twice for using PED's, once in his second fight with Griffin at UFC 62, then again in his last fight against Anderson Silva at UFC 153.
I understand the Griffin-Bonnar fight at the inaugural Ultimate Fighter finale was a game changer for the sport, which has brought in a whole new audience, but if Bonnar gets in, it sets a bad precedence that there is a steroid user in the Hall of Fame.
Pollock: This is all contingent on what you view the UFC Hall of Fame to be and if you are viewing it in the traditional sense of a formal Hall of Fame with various criteria including voting, well that's simply not what the UFC Hall of Fame is. It's an acknowledgement of those that the company have deemed worthy of recognition and helped the company grow.
The two will always be tied to their April 2005 TUF Finale bout, which has grown in legend with each passing year to the extremes of people feeling the UFC wouldn't have lasted without that fight. Standing on their own, I don't even feel there is an argument to be made regarding Bonnar as a Hall of Fame candidate, this guy was a marginal fighter at best.
Bonnar had entertaining fights but the credibility of a Hall of Fame is just as much created on who is not in the Hall as much as who is voted in. Griffin gets the nod in a “UFC” Hall of Fame but I feel he would face much more scrutiny in a real MMA Hall of Fame with voting and debate preceding induction.
JC: Griffin vs. Bonnar started this whole UFC thing with an all-time top fight, Roots of Fight Clothing even made a clothing line dedicated to the event. With that said, Bonnar has since tested positive twice for PED's, and has lost a lot of fights he shouldn't have. That's not Hall of Fame material, but it is enough to be remembered by fans as the other guy in the Griffin fight.
Griffin on the other hand has had an excellent career. His only major embarrassment was being TKO'd by Anderson Silva while he was back peddling. I think by his book alone, Griffin should get a place in the Hall of Fame.
Forrest should be in, Bonnar needs to redeem himself, but at the moment doesn't get the nod.
3) With his win at UFC 160, is Canadian T.J. Grant a legitimate threat to champion Benson Henderson?
Lynch: Yes and I wouldn't be surprised if the Canadian was able to finish the current lightweight champion. At UFC 160, I was shocked that Grant dominated Gray Maynard the way he did and even though I did pick him to win, I thought it would be in the form a close decision.
Since his drop to lightweight, the Nova Scotia native is currently undefeated (riding a five-fight win streak) and has finished his last three of his last five opponents. With his much improved standup and being a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the 29-year old is comfortable anywhere the fight goes.
What's also interesting about a matchup with “Smooth” is this will be the first time the current 155-pound torchbearer will be the smaller fighter when he steps inside the cage. Grant has a two-inch height and reach advantage, and that could pose problems for the 29-year old champion. Either way it's finally nice to see a new contender established in the lightweight division.
Pollock: I don't think anyone looks at a Benson Henderson fight as a slam dunk guarantee and Grant's stoppage of Maynard will be played over and over on the countdown special to remind people that Grant is a threat.
Both of these fighters represent a key aspect that is presently working as neither is a top practitioner of one discipline, but rather a jack of all trades that can transition when necessary.
Grant's last three victories over Evan Dunham, Matt Wiman and Maynard represent some very tough lightweights that are battle tested and Grant passed each with flying colours. In a nutshell he is a very legitimate threat and I can very excited to see this fight later in the year.
JC: A legitimate shot, absolutely. All fighters at the UFC level have a shot. Grant proved he has the skill with a dominant victory over Maynard to call for a legitimate shot at the title.
Henderson is very human, and his game has holes. He finds a way to win when he needs to. With Grant, he can put the kind of pressure on that may not let Henderson recover in a tight spot.
Next year this time, we will be talking about Grant's shot at the title.
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