Three “Huh?” Moments in MMA Last Week: June 5 Edition

UFC MMA Demetrious Johnson
Credit: Mike Sloan/

Cris Cyborg is scheduled for UFC 214 without an opponent, and that’s Dana White’s decision apparently, unlike the PFL’s partnership with NASCAR. Huh?

Finding the proper response to much of the news finding its way into our social media feeds is becoming a tougher task every day. Nothing is surprising, and there’s always more to the story. Leaving us with one reply: “huh?”.

Last week, UFC President Dana White shared some news on Cris Cyborg’s next bout, while leaving us to wonder who she’ll face. And that’s his decision. Just ask Demetrious Johnson, apparently. Oh, and there is another intersection of NASCAR and MMA headed our way this summer.

The reason “huh?”, in its various forms, is such a quality reply is simple. The word is as versatile as a response gets, and while it may require some explanation, “huh?” is sometimes the only way to react to the news of today. Defined by Merriam-Webster as an interjection that’s “used to express surprise, disbelief, or confusion, or as an inquiry inviting affirmative reply”, “huh” or “huh?” can mean a lot of different things.

Despite some of the follies of human evolution (see: Withdrawing from the Paris Accord), the development and growth of “huh” is something we should embrace. To be the change we want to see in the world, here are a few MMA stories last week that made us go “huh?”.

Cyborg is on UFC 214, Megan Anderson and Cat Zingano are not.

The heading really says it all. Somehow, according to UFC President Dana White, Cris Cyborg will be fighting at UFC 214 in Anaheim on July 29. Against who? Good question. Last week, on the UFC Unfiltered podcast, White said that Cyborg is “definitely” fighting at UFC 214 and that they’re “still working on” finding her an opponent. Huh?

Let’s look at the options, or lack thereof. There’s current UFC featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie, but according to her manager, she’s refusing to fight the best 145-pound female fighter in the world. There’s also current Invicta FC featherweight champion Megan Anderson, who took control of the vacated belt from Cyborg earlier this year. Except, she’s fighting at Invicta FC 24 in July.

What about Cat Zingano? She’s apparently game, according to her social media and White. But, she too, is unable to make the bout with Cyborg, as she’s not and won’t be completely healthy by UFC 214, something anyone fighting Cyborg would want to be.

That leaves… uh… *crickets*

The UFC could see how which of their bigger bantamweights are interested in an opportunity similar to that of Lina Lansberg last year. Or maybe snag another Invicta FC featherweight outside of Anderson. After witnessing the disaster with Holly Holm, de Randamie, and the false-start that has been the women’s featherweight division, we can’t imagine there are many fighters lining up for the Cyborg Sweepstakes.

White’s confidence and willingness less than eight weeks out from the event makes it seem like there’s more going on. He’s also a notorious public negotiator (read: liar). But, without the three main options for Cyborg, her return to the Octagon will likely be tarnished with a lack of a belt or a legitimate opponent. Again.

Dana makes the fights! Until he doesn’t.

Last week’s UFC Unfiltered podcast was full of gems from promotion president Dana White. After confusing us with a half-announcement for UFC 214, White continued the full-court press he and bantamweight contender TJ Dillashaw have been putting on flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. Following Dillashaw’s bout with bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt being shelved last month, the promotion has been publicly pushing for a bout between Johnson and Dillashaw at UFC 215 this August.

The problem is that Johnson, the 10-time defending UFC flyweight champion, isn’t interested in a bout with Dillashaw. That bothers White.

“You know how I am with that stuff. Unfortunately for DJ, you don’t make the fights around here. I do,” White said on the UFC Unfiltered podcast. “That’s the fight we’re pushing for. That’s the fight. I talked to TJ Dillashaw again, that’s the fight he wants. He’s already cutting weight. That’s gonna probably be Aug. 19.” – via

Huh. For a guy who “makes fights around here”, he’s got a couple of major bouts that are anything but made. White’s struggles with the creation of the featherweight division are well chronicled at this point, but issues with various champions are becoming a trend as well.

Whether or not trying to strong-arm and pressure someone like Johnson will work remains to be seen. Regardless, this all stuff the guy who “makes fights around here” should be handling professionally, rather than going onto the promotion’s own podcast to publicly call-out the number-one pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Unfortunately, it’s a trend that isn’t going away anytime soon, and considering its effectiveness, we’re not sure why.

Demetrious Johnson responded with a very well thought out message on his Discord channel. Amongst the issues he brought up, the UFC guaranteed TJ would make the 125-pound limit (but Ray Borg will be a backup plan if he doesn’t), Dana White threatened to fold the flyweight division if Johnson did not take the TJ fight, and Johnson should take the fight as a favor to TJ Dillashaw.

So a former champion with two title defenses fighting outside his weight class has more say than the man with the most consecutive title defenses and the most finishes in title fights. Huh?

Also, a fight with Cody Garbrandt wouldn’t sell, but a TJ Dillashaw fight would? Huh?

PFL follows Bellator into the NASCAR realm

The Professional Fighters League is back! Sorta. Formerly known as World Series of Fighting, the “new” promotion will be holding its inaugural event on June 30. Where at? The Coke Zero 400 Weekend NASCAR event, of course! Huh?

Following announcements earlier this year that Bellator MMA was partnering with Monster Energy to hold events at four NASCAR races throughout this year, it looks as though the PFL is also attempting to get into the auto racing audience. The event has been dubbed “Professional Fighters League: Daytona” and will be headlined by former WSOF welterweight champion Jon Fitch and former WSOF lightweight tournament winner Brian Foster. PFL: Daytona will air on NBCSN, with the winner of the main event earning the #1 seed in the to-be-determined PFL 2018 tournament.

As interesting as PFL’s debut and structure going forward will be, the partnership and cross-over success of these events by Bellator and PFL with NASCAR are what to watch for. As the UFC grows, and promotions around the globe look for their roles in the broader MMA landscape, relationships like these will go a long way toward either helping or hindering the success of smaller promotions.

As of now, we’ll be watching Cyborg fight an unknown opponent at UFC 214, while Dana White and TJ Dillashaw have an opponent in mind for UFC 215. Problem is, that opponent isn’t interested in fighting Dillashaw. Good thing White is the guy making the fights in the UFC, so everything will go perfectly according to plan, right? Oh, and if you like your fights with a side of NASCAR, or vice-versa, the PFL’s inaugural event is the place to be later this month. Huh.