September, 2019
Archive

By In Social Media

Lightweight’s Best-Case Scenario

I don’t recommend paying any sort of attention to my fight predictions. I don’t gamble, so my picks are always low-stakes. As such, I tend to make them using one of two criteria. Either I have a strong analytical reason for thinking one fighter will win, or I would simply prefer one fighter to win, even if I don’t think he or she will.

I picked Justin Gaethje to beat Donald Cerrone at UFC Fight Night 158 on Saturday in Vancouver, British Columbia. He fulfilled both criteria. His penchant for working the body and Cerrone’s history of wilting via body shots made me think he’d finish the fight, and frankly, it was the best-case scenario for the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s lightweight division. That’s not a dig on “Cowboy.” He’s one of the most widely beloved and uniquely intriguing fighters in the sport’s history. He’s not only entertaining but also incredibly skilled. No doubt, he’ll go down as one of the best fighters to never win a championship — emphasis on that last part.

Had Cerrone won, it would have added a new dimension to his already remarkable career. The old dog would have proved that he still had bite, or something. Yet there’s no denying that he’s past the point of being able to compete with the top of the division. He already lost decisively to Tony Ferguson, and it’s not hard to guess what Khabib Nurmagomedov would do to him. Throw in Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor, and it’s clear he’s a notch below the best of the best. At 36 years of age, Cerrone’s window for winning a title is almost certainly closed. Beating Gaethje wouldn’t have meant he was ready for the lightweight elite; it just would have meant that Gaethje wasn’t, either. That may be a sad reality to accept, but there’s a bright side: Gaethje won…

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By In Social Media

A Different Kind of Dominance

Lightweight has always been one of the most — if not the most — talent-rich divisions. There are way more lightweight-sized athletes in the general population, and a higher percentage of them end up fighting because, especially in America, they’re too small to cut it in the most profitable sports. Heavyweight and lightweight thus have a great deal of parity, albeit on opposite ends of the talent spectrum. Yes, there are other factors at play, such as the prevalence of interim champions at heavyweight and the five-year moratorium of the lightweight division, but those are neither contradictory nor worth the digressions for this space.

At UFC 242 on Saturday in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Nurmagomedov notched his second title defense with yet another lopsided mauling. The Dagestani has made outstanding fighters look like warmups and is now one win away from tying the record of three lightweight title defenses. B.J. Penn, Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson all share that record, but even now, Nurmagomedov has already set himself apart from those three…

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