Another MMA retirement is looking like it’ll be short-lived, a fighter once again showcased their willful ignorance on important topics, and we learned a lot about knockouts in the Octagon. 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, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson indicated he may be returning to MMA sooner rather than later, and that it may come at heavyweight. Also, Fabricio Werdum insulted our intelligence while he doubled-down on his relationship with a murderous dictator, and Bloody Elbow charted where the last 150 knockouts have come inside the Octagon.
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: Pumpkin Spice), 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?”.
Anthony Johnson is huge, and thinking about a return to MMA
For a guy who stepped away from the sport in April, Johnson was all over the MMA news cycle this week. It began on Monday on The MMA Hour, where Johnson’s manager mentioned that the former light heavyweight contender would be meeting with the UFC about a potential unretirement. That return wouldn’t be at 205-pounds, though. Instead, “Rumble” has been bulking up for a potential run at the heavyweight title.
Just saw Anthony Johnson. He said he weighs 250 pounds. Looks very happy and healthy. Said he met with UFC brass this week. No deal in place for him to return. If he does he said it would be at heavyweight. No more 205. He's out of USADA so needs 6 mths of testing if he returns. pic.twitter.com/xYu2fuF9Gv
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) October 6, 2017
His foray into the marijuana industry, and stuff with the Los Angeles Rams, seem to be short-lived. As is the case with many MMA retirements, there isn’t a whole lot else out there that replicates the feeling of preparing for and taking part in a fight.
Last week, Johnson also added fuel to the fire, responding to harsh criticism from current UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier with a lengthy post on his Facebook page.
It may not lead to a third bout between the two at light heavyweight, but translating the rivalry to the UFC’s heavyweight division doesn’t sound like a bad idea. Plus, champion Stipe Miocic has been waiting for fresh contenders to step-up for a while now, and we’re not holding our breath for the return of Cain Velasquez anytime soon.
That’d give Rumble some time to readjust to heavyweight and re-enter the USADA testing pool, while Cormier closes out his responsibilities at 205. Whether that’s enough to motivate Johnson, who looked as ready to retire as any fighter around following his decisive defeat to Cormier earlier this year, remains to be seen. But the idea of “Rumble” getting to compete without a weight cut in the UFC sounds like something we want to see.
Fabricio Werdum still doesn’t get it
There was a lot made about Werdum’s comments last week, and the former UFC heavyweight champion didn’t get a reprieve from the negative attention in the build to his bout at UFC 216. Instead, he was asked to explain himself, and he did a really poor job.
Werdum’s initial defense of his continual usage of homophobic slurs last week was a non-apology. Things didn’t get any better when he defended his cozy relationship with Ramzan Kadyrov, the Head of the Chechen Republic. Kadyrov is an outspoken homophobe, and earlier this year began a campaign to “eliminate” the gay community in Chechnya.
When asked about his relationship with one of the world’s worst human beings, Werdum took the most willfully ignorant, weak, and small-minded approach possible. Insulting our intelligence, and showcasing his own lack thereof, Werdum took the “it’s not political” stance. Unfortunately for the Brazilian, that ludicrously lame logic doesn’t work.
Saying something isn’t political doesn’t mean it’s not political. Kadyrov’s involvement in MMA is nothing new, and it is not just for the global growth of the sport. Kadyrov uses MMA to push his political agenda, the same way leaders and countries have used athletics for centuries. For a more current example, check out what Kadyrov’s buddy Vladimir Putin has been up to in the Olympics.
So, Werdum is being used as a former UFC heavyweight champion and one of the world’s top fighters to give a friendly face to one of the most horrifying leaders on the planet. And he’s cool with it. As long as Werdum is in the spotlight, we hope his and other’s relationships with Kadyrov are highlighted as much as their talent as fighters.
It’s easy to not sling homophobic slurs at colleagues. Just like it’s easy to not support a truly evil person in Ramzan Kadyrov. Yet, Fabricio Werdum refuses to join the rest of us in the 21st Century. Unfortunately, his stay in the UFC looks like it’ll be extended following his quick submission victory over late fill-in Walt Harris at UFC 216. He’s on a short list of legitimate title contenders and could be headed toward a rematch with Stipe Miocic in 2018.
Where is a fighter most likely to get KOd in the Octagon?
In a very interesting piece on Bloody Elbow, the last 150 KOs (coming into UFC 216) in the Octagon were charted and analyzed. Huh.
Michael Hutchinson put together a video and article featuring a breakdown of where we’ve seen fighters finish with KOs, and found some notable trends and compelling information. There’s a lot to digest, and the concept is definitely worth diving into.
Thankfully, Hutchinson’s work isn’t done, as he intends on plotting Octagon finishes from 2014 and 2015 as well. Although, as mentioned in the article, the sample size is relatively small and there are no definitive takeaways from these 150 KOs, getting more data for a project like this is worthwhile. Stuff like this is incredibly interesting, and as the sport grows, we expect it to be used by fighters and analysts alike.
Anthony Johnson is giving us a reason to have hope for the future of UFC’s heavyweight division, while Fabricio Werdum is making us wonder whether or not we want him featured in the promotion, despite his obvious talent. Meanwhile, we’re finding out more about the way fighters knock out their opponents, thanks to an interesting article from Bloody Elbow.
“Huh?” for the road
The exclusive negotiating period between the UFC and FOX has ended. The UFC can now field offers from any and all bidders on TV rights.
— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) October 3, 2017