The world of mixed martial arts has been a bit unpredictable lately. From middleweights getting title shots, to new faces taking out the old guard, a state of change has seemed to take over the sport in the last year or so. To have a little bit of fun, I decided to bring David out of retirement and shoot some questions at him for us to discuss in this article (as he and I usually have a little bit of a different outlook on aspects of MMA).
Let us know your thoughts on the questions and answers in the comments section.
Out of all the champions in the UFC (including both Cruz and Barao for bantamweight) who is the most likely to lose their title next?
David Saucier: The champion most likely will be Dominick Cruz. Cruz has been able to mix up his elusive footwork and wrestling to win decisions in all of his title defenses thus far. However, given the fact that he is coming off of a long layoff and two ACL reconstructions, ring rust will surely play a role when he returns. Then we take into account his likely opponent Renan Barao, who is on a 30+ fight win streak and is a savage in the BW division. These signs seems to point towards Cruz as being the most likely to lose his belt next.
Evan Holober: I think Cruz losing is certainly a possibility on his return. His movement was the biggest part of his game, and the fact that his surgery did not go as well as planned is a bad sign. However, I'm gonna go against the grain and suggest the one and only Anderson Silva. When he fights he will be half way into his 38th year on earth, and will be going up against his toughest opponent in his UFC career. His age, coupled with the style his opponent brings into the cage, makes him the most vulnerable the soonest (Cruz isn't even scheduled for a return fight yet). Personally, I'd make each champ the favorite in any match in their division. However, Anderson just seems to be in one of the toughest situations of his career come July.
Since the beginning of 2012, who is the most improved fighter in MMA?
Evan: This is a tough one, and I could go with Anthony Pettis, as he is more than worthy. However, I'm gonna go with T.J. Dillashaw. T.J has gone from runner-up on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) to legitimate top ten contender in just under 18 months. His first fight after losing to John Dodson at the finale was a workmanlike decision against Walel Watson, but his next three fights have been blitzkriegs in the first and second round. Specifically, in his last fight against Hugo Viana he was a good size underdog as Viana was on a hot streak himself and coming down in weight. T.J. never looked troubled, and put him away in the first. The addition of Duane Ludwig to Team Alpha Male's coaching staff has seemed to do him (and the rest of his team) wonders.
David: Hmmm....Since the beginning of 2012 who has been the most improved fighter? I think I'm going to have to go with Anthony Pettis. Pettis has always been known as a flashy and powerful striker. Now we have to take into account his greatly improved wrestling and his extremely active guard. Pettis turned in a head kick knockout of Joe Lauzon and a liver kick stoppage of Donald Cerrone (a way Cerrone has never been dominated) in 2012. Pettis is now staring down featherweight champ Jose Aldo in the most anticipated fight of the year (in my opinion).
Who is the most exciting prospect in the sport?
David: To me this question is an easy one because the hottest prospect right now with all the buzz is Conor McGregor. It is clear that Conor is gifted in the stand up department when he easily KO'd Marcus Brimage at UFC in Sweden. We have yet to see his ground game and wrestling defense. Something tells me we have star here though. With his care-free attitude and willingness to fight anyone anytime, Conor is expected to fight on the upcoming UFC card in Boston. The rest of the story is yet to be written on Conor, and we will just have to watch and see how he develops.
Evan: If you watched this past season of TUF, you more than likely saw the man who in my opinion is the best prospect in the sport. Bubba Jenkins was the wrestling coach on Jon Jones' team which went up against Sonnen's "bad guys". Jenkins was a beast of a wrestler at Penn State (and then at Arizona State) who routinely used his uncanny combination of speed and power to overwhelm guys on the mat. He was the 2011 National Champion where he pinned David Taylor in the final round (who after his junior year had an overall record of 100-3 in his collegiate career). Jenkins is currently undefeated in his three professional fights at 155lbs, but has the size to where he could eventually move down to featherweight.
Out of all the super fights that could happen, which one is the best for us fans? Which one is the best for Zuffa? Are any of them good for either/both?
Evan: If I was just going against the grain with my first answer, I'm just gonna look like sandpaper here. My answer is none for both. People look at boxing, and see "superfights" happening all the time and wonder why it doesn't happen in MMA. My simple answer is weight classes. The differences in weight between Anderson, and either GSP or Jones is 15lbs. That is at least two (and sometimes more) classes in boxing. Whether its GSP coming up past 178, Anderson coming all the way to 205, or Jones cutting to 195 (and a few more scenarios on top of this), somebody will undoubtedly be at a disadvantage (in a comparative sense to their normal weight class) come fight night. Personally, I don't wanna see a lesser version of any of these guys compete against one another as all are otherworldly good.
As for Zuffa, I think gthat whatever happens,it robs them of a great draw. People like to talk about whoever loses will still be looked at as great, but that is rarely the case from a mass-drawing standpoint (unless the competitors rematch right away, but that would be a near impossibility here). Not only this, but the great thing about having a dominant champion in a weight class is the possibility they lose that aura to a contender which in turn creates a future star. Losing that aura to a guy in another weight class leaves an unfillable void in whichever weight class that fighter came from.
David: The only two super fights that could happen are all centered around one man, Anderson Silva. We have a choice of either Silva fighting GSP or Jon Jones. Silva has been the top p4p fighter for years and nobody has been able to topple him at MW of LHW. The best fight to me for the fans is Silva and Jones. The best fight for ZUFFA would probably be Silva vs GSP as it would probably sell more pay-per-views than Silva vs Jones. However, for us fans, Silva vs Jones is more of a toss-up and a fight where Silva will not be the betting favorite for once.