Twitter Mailbag: Where does Michael Bisping go from here, and does Colby Covington have a point?

Where’s the Bisping Show headed after Shanghai? Does running your mouth really warrant a boomerang to the neck? And is Bellator suddenly more fun than the UFC, or is it only in isolated moments?

All that and more in this week’s Twitter Mailbag. To ask a question of your own, tweet to @BenFowlkesMMA.

* * * *

How about someone around his age? And yes, I know Yoel Romero is around his age, but no, not him. It’d be a little too depressing to see Michael Bisping catch a jumping knee knockout in front of the U.K. crowd for his final fight. Plus, if he takes a bad loss, he might be motivated to continue in the hopes of writing a better ending for himself, and nobody wants that.

But it does matter if he wins or loses against Kelvin Gastelum, because it will change what it means to fight and potentially beat Bisping. Right now? It really means something. He just lost his title, sure, but he lost it to an all-time great. Beating him now still makes you a contender, so the fight would still make sense for just about anybody in the top half of the division.

If Bisping loses to Gastelum, however? Then he’s got two straight losses to two former welterweights, and his last fight is just a feel-good formality. That has to affect the UFC’s matchmaking calculation. You don’t want to give him a contender, because what if he wins? All you’ve done is knock off a potential title challenger with a glorified retirement party.

What you want for Bisping is another Bisping. You want someone old enough that it won’t feel like feeding time in the wolf pen, but also someone with a name. You want someone who’s nowhere close to a title, but still feels like a somebody.

Man, it’s times like these you wish Vitor Belfort wasn’t already booked.

What Colby Covington said on “The MMA Hour” this week was that Fabricio Werdum attacked him for exercising his right to free speech. He also compared Werdum to Adolf Hitler, just so he could be sure to hit all the notes of a terrible Twitter troll. But does he have a point?

Yes and no. We can’t go around hitting each other, either with fists or boomerangs, just because we don’t like the words coming out of one another’s mouths. If anything, this should be more of an imperative for pro fighters. Not only are they likely to be treated more harshly by the legal system if they use their skills on civilians (shoutout to Volkan Oezdemir), they’re also giving away the goods for free.

You don’t get paid to fight in the streets, and getting paid is what makes you a professional rather than a criminal.

But we should be careful giving Covington too much leeway under the guise of a gimmick. Pro wrestlers can say anything they want and then leave it behind once they set foot outside the arena, but that’s because we recognize them as a species of actor. Covington is representing himself when he’s on TV maligning an entire nation, so maybe he shouldn’t be too surprised when he’s held accountable for it.

After all, this was the goal, right? He wanted to make people mad, if only as a means of making them care. Well, mission accomplished. Now please accept this boomerang as a reward. As for Werdum, who apparently wants to be some kind of street enforcer of good manners, he can deal with the Sydney police. Somehow I’m confident that both men will manage to learn nothing useful from the experience.

First we’re going to have to trick Quinton Jackson into thinking that he’s been invited to participate in a video-game tournament with a large cash prize and free candy bars, and it just happens to be on the same night as his opening-round bout.

Then we have Shane Carwin hang around the Bellator offices, asking everyone about their weekend plans and barely pausing to let them answer before he informs them that he’s got nothing on the calendar himself. Nope, just totally free for the next several months. No plans at all.

After that, all we have to do is sit back and let nature take its course.

Why strip him when you can create an interim title, which the UFC has already done, and have it hold just as much legitimacy as the real thing would if you took it off Conor McGregor now?

Whether he has a belt around his waist or not is pretty immaterial at this point. McGregor is the biggest star in the sport, and the UFC has no leverage over him whatsoever. Good luck getting him to do anything he doesn’t want to do.

You’re not tripping, but you may be dreaming. All the new deal proves is that the UFC wants to keep Cris Cyborg around, and why not? As difficult as she can be, fans still want to see her. What’s yet to be determined is whether they really care if there’s a whole division around her, or if they’ll be content seeing a series of one-off women’s featherweight title fights.

Ask yourself this: If Cyborg retired tomorrow, would this still be a division that’s worth the trouble for the UFC? If the answer is no (and I suspect it is), the current strategy starts to make lot of sense.

Look, for all the criticism you can heap on Werdum for his behavior and for the company he keeps, you can’t say he’s ducking real competition. He was slated to fight Derrick Lewis before Lewis pulled out hurt at the last minute and left him with Walt Harris. Then he said yes to a short-notice fight against an unheralded but still deceptively dangerous opponent in Marcin Tybura a month later. Clearly, the guy wants to fight.

Does that mean he deserves another crack at the title? Not yet. If I’m the UFC, there’s no way I’m giving that shot to Werdum right now, and his lack of recent wins over top contenders is only a part of the reason why. Hitting a fellow fighter with a boomerang a few days before an event may not get you pulled from the main event, but it shouldn’t get you an immediate title shot either.

Quick, who’s the Bellator middleweight champion? How about featherweight? Or bantamweight? If you didn’t have to look up the answer to at least one of those, congratulations, you are the hardest core of all the hardcore MMA fans.

I agree that stuff like the Bellator heavyweight grand prix has a way of instantly grabbing our attention, which is nice. Bellator’s total willingness to get weird and flaunt it right in our faces (as opposed to the UFC strategy of chasing the quick buck but pretending it’s all legit) feels like a fun use of its role as MMA’s no. 2 promotion.

But outside of the wild and crazy stuff, that’s where Bellator struggles. It can go through weeks worth of events without offering anything that feels like truly must-see material. It does plenty with what it has, but it simply doesn’t have enough. Not yet, anyway.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMAjunkie.

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Actual question: How are you such a handsome man, Michael Bisping?

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Dann StuppSHANGHAI – Michael Bisping appears to be a hit in China – among some Chinese women, anyway.

During an open workout and Q&A today ahead of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 122 event, headliner Bisping (30-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC) answered a range of questions. They included queries about last-minute fight bookings, the former middleweight champion’s strategy for fellow middleweight Kelvin Gastelum (13-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC), and why he doesn’t take his upcoming opponent seriously.

But Bisping, whose bout streams Saturday on UFC Fight Pass from Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, then got a question he couldn’t wait to answer.

“(My friend) has a neighbor who is a girl, and she loves you very much because you are very handsome,” one attendee told Bisping. “How do you make yourself to be such a handsome man but also a very good fighter?”

An obviously flattered Bisping smiled, ripped off his shirt and then puffed out his chest.

“I guess I hit the lottery – what can I say?” he said with a laugh.

Check out the full exchange above.

And for more on UFC Fight Night 122, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Jorge Masvidal is in Shanghai, ready to fight Michael Bisping on Saturday (or in London)

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SHANGHAI – If Michael Bisping wants a fight, Jorge Masvidal will give him one – now, on Saturday, in his retirement fight, or whenever.

Masvidal wasn’t initially jazzed about a nearly daylong flight to China, but when the UFC headed to Shanghai – with late replacement Bisping in the headliner – “Gamebred” couldn’t say no.

After all, there’s an ever-so-slight chance it could lead to an actual fight with Bisping – in the octagon, anyway, if Kelvin Gastelum (13-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC) is forced out of the UFC Fight Night 122 headliner against Bisping (30-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC)

“Yeah, I would go up in a heartbeat,” Masvidal (32-13 MMA, 9-6 UFC), who’s No. 12 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings, today said. “I didn’t want to be on a long flight, but when I heard Bisping was taking the fight, I said, ‘For sure take me to China just in case Gastelum does’t make over there.’

“But I don’t like the dude, so I’ll fight him at any weight class, any weight – doesn’t matter.”

During UFC 217 fight week earlier this month, Masvidal and Bisping had a few well-documented run-ins following a seemingly innocent Twitter beef. But tempers flared when the vets crossed paths in real life, and it’s apparently arrived in Shanghai, which hosts Saturday’s UFC Fight Pass-streamed UFC Fight Night 122 event at Mercedes-Benz Arena.

Masvidal, who’s in China as a guest fighter for public-relations and fan events, crossed paths with former middleweight champ Bisping, who recently replaced Anderson Silva at UFC Fight Night 122, on his way to a fighter Q&A event.

“Actually, just as I was heading over here, I saw him – f*cking what’s his face,” Masvidal said of Bisping. “But I can’t stand the dude.

“He started saying, ‘shame, shame, shame.’ And he’s with his wife or his kids, or some type of girls are with him. I don’t want to make a scene in front of them, but he’s just a coward. As long as (media events are) happening, he’s going to talk, and he’s going to do sh*t. But if it’s just me and him, and we go somewhere to talk, he’s not going to do that.”

Masvidal, who previously competed at lightweight before a somewhat permanent move to welterweight in 2015, said he’s willing to move up another weight class for a fight with Bisping. So far, it looks like Gastelum, who’s struggled with past weight cuts, is good to go for Saturday. That means a late-notice slot for Masvidal is looking less and less likely. However, if Bisping is game and still wants to retire after UFC Fight Night 127, which takes place in March 2018 in “The Count’s” native England, Masvidal is willing to be his final opponent.

“I already made it clear: I’ll fight that guy anywhere, bro,” he said. “I’m not going to say I’d do it for free because then the UFC might not pay me, but I’d fight him anywhere.

“For him, it’s whatever, whenever. I dislike the guy genuinely.”

For more on UFC Fight Night 122 and UFC Fight Night 127, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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UFC-Shanghai headliner Kelvin Gastelum talks 'badass' Bisping – and why he wants a Woodley rematch

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SHANGHAI – A couple weeks back, Kelvin Gastelum was sick to his stomach over the thought of what might happen to his third straight UFC main event with his opponent out.

Gastelum (13-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC) didn’t just have any opponent for UFC Fight Night 122. He had former longtime middleweight champ and onetime pound-for-pound legend Anderson Silva, regarded by many to be the greatest in history. But when Silva got flagged for a potential doping violation, Gastelum wondered if his fight would be off.

And if he’s just being honest, he even wondered if the entire card would survive for the promotion’s debut in mainstream China without a name the caliber of Silva’s.

But then Michael Bisping (30-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC) came to the rescue. Just a week after losing his middleweight title to Georges St-Pierre in the UFC 217 main event, Bisping wanted to get the bad taste out of his mouth and take advantage of the chance for another payday while he was still (mostly) in fight shape.

Now Gastelum vs. Bisping headlines UFC Fight Night 122 in a middleweight bout Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai. The entire card streams on UFC Fight Pass.

“I didn’t want to go from fighting the greatest of all time to just fighting Joe Schmoe – that just wouldn’t make sense for me, for my career,” Gastelum told MMAjunkie today in Shanghai. “I want to keep making steps forward, not making steps backward. … I was really happy we got a replacement. I was really happy that Mike stepped up – how badass is he? I feel this is actually an even bigger fight for my career.”

The fight is bigger, Gastelum thinks, because Bisping just was the champion a few weeks ago, unlike Silva, whose best days appear to be several years in the rearview mirror.

The fight against Silva was to be just the latest in a string of standouts Gastelum has stepped into the ocatagon with. And now Bisping is his latest ex-champion opponent.

Consider Gastelum’s previous seven fights: a split-decision loss to current welterweight champ Tyron Woodley at UFC 183; a TKO of former Strikeforce middleweight champ Nate Marquardt at UFC 188; a decision win over former welterweight champ Johny Hendricks at 170 pounds at UFC 200; a TKO of former light heavyweight champ Vitor Belfort in March (later flipped to a no-contest when Gastelum tested positive for marijuana); and in July, a submission loss to former middleweight champ Chris Weidman in the UFC on FOX 25 main event.

So while all the talk has been on just how legendary a move Bisping made by taking the short-notice fight with Gastelum, who is a 3-1 favorite, Gastelum thinks maybe he ought to get a little love, too.

“It doesn’t matter to me, but it would be cool if I got a little bit of credit, too, for stepping up and accepting the fight,” he said. “This will be my third or fourth former champion that I’ve fought in the last 12 months. I don’t think people have been giving me credit for the fights I’ve been taking in the last 12 months. This will be my third main event in a row. (But) I’m just riding the wave.”

Prior to the loss to Weidman, Gastelum had been on a serious roll with the wins over Hendricks, Kennedy and Belfort. The submission loss to Weidman was the first time he had been stopped, and it obviously left a bad taste in his mouth.

That gave him the motivation to get back in the win column against another former champion, first Silva and now Bisping. But if Gastelum is just being honest, there’s another loss that hurts him even more.

More than anything, he seems to want another shot at Woodley. When they fought at UFC 183, it was at welterweight, the division in which Gastelum infamously had trouble hitting the limit. That forced the move up to middleweight, where he’s now been for three fights.

Against Woodley, he came in at 180 pounds – nine pounds over the non-title 171-pound limit.

“I’m a little bit salty on the Tyron Woodley fight,” Gastelum said. “I’m a little hurt, still, after all these years. I want that rematch. I know I can beat him. And I know I can make the weight. I was immature, I was young, and stupid, and I feel I’ve grown from all those experiences. There’s been a lot of trial and error in my career. When I fought him, I was 23 years old. Finally, we’re putting all the experiences togehter, the good, the bad, and making something that actually works.”

That’s why Gastelum hopes – even if he has to admit it might be a long shot – he might be able to get a title shot at welterweight against Woodley. Fighting him at a catchweight or with Woodley moving up to middleweight without the title on the line wouldn’t be worth it.

“I’ve got to be up there in those discussions (with a win), whether I fight for the middleweight title or the welterweight title,” Gastelum said. “I’ve always had my eyes set on that welterweight title and a rematch with Tyron. (But) if I win this fight, I might have permanently cemented myself as a middleweight whether I want it or not.

“… It has to be for the title, and now that he’s the champion, I want to take it from him. But let me just say I respect Tyron. As a person, as a fighter, I respect him. It’s just (the loss) doesn’t sit (with me) well.”

For more from Gastelum, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC Fight Night 122, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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3-1 'dog Michael Bisping 'not expecting a walk in the park' at UFC-Shanghai vs. Kelvin Gastelum

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SHANGHAI – Once again, Michael Bisping will be part of UFC history on Saturday.

Bisping (30-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC) headlines UFC Fight Night 122 in a middleweight bout against Kelvin Gastelum (13-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC). It’s historic because it’s the UFC’s first card in mainland China.

UFC Fight Night 122 takes place Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai. The entire card streams on UFC Fight Pass.

But it’s also historic because Bisping earlier this month was the UFC’s middleweight champion, and he’s making a turnaround just three weeks later to step in for another former champ in Anderson Silva, who was pulled from the card due to a potential doping violation. Bisping lost his title to Georges St-Pierre in the UFC 217 main event at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Bisping said taking the fight actually bought him some points with fans who normally have been a little critical of him.

“It’s weird – for most of my career, I’ve been Public Enemy No. 1,” Bisping told MMAjunkie. “It’s a refreshing change – I’ve been getting a lot of compliments from people. … To be honest, I just don’t understand why someone in my position wouldn’t take that fight. I’ve got no injuries from the last one, I’m in shape, I had a tremendous training camp (for St-Pierre). The fight didn’t go my way – for whatever reason, it wasn’t clicking on the night. That’s just the way it goes – I had a bad night at the office. I get a chance now to go out there and fight the way I wanted to fight.”

St-Pierre, the longtime welterweight champ and pound-for-pound great, was returning after a four-year hiatus. He put Bisping to sleep with a rear-naked choke in the third round to become the fourth two-division champ in UFC history.

If there were critics of Bisping taking the fight against Gastelum on such short notice, it was because his initial medical suspension from the New York State Athletic Commission was for 30 days, given the bumps and bruises from a typical physical Bisping fight, as well as the fact he went unconscious.

But that suspension was reduced when Bisping was cleared by doctors to return early to save the card in China.

“(UFC President) Dana (White) was very adamant that I go through a bunch of medical hoops, which was a pain in the ass,” Bisping said. “… It was a very, very stressful week. But I’m good, I’m fine, I passed all my medicals – I’m great.”

Kelvin Gastelum

Now Bisping will have to contend with Gastelum, who will be trying to rebound from a loss, as well. In July in the UFC on FOX 25 main event, Gastelum tapped to an arm-triangle choke against former champ Chris Weidman in front of Weidman’s home crowd on Long Island.

Prior to that, he had a TKO win over Vitor Belfort overturned to a no-contest after he tested positive for marijuana. But he also had key wins over former welterweight champ Johny Hendricks (when both still were fighting at 170 pounds) and Tim Kennedy.

Bisping said he expects Gastelum to provide a stiff challenge Saturday – and the oddsmakers agree. They’ve made the 26-year-old Gastelum, 12 years Bisping’s junior, a 3-1 favorite in the fight.

“I work as an analyst – I’ve broken down his fights many times,” said Bisping, who does analyst work for FOX Sports in between fights. “Kelvin’s a great guy. I’ve got nothing bad to say about Kelvin. This isn’t on pay-per-view – I’m not trying to sell pay-per-views or any of that. Kelvin seems like a very, very nice guy – apart from the fact he does a little bit too much pouting on Instagram. Other than that, he seems like a lovely guy.

“Great fighter, good hands, good wrestler. He’s got some good wins – he beat some guys I didn’t beat. Granted, they’re not on steroids anymore. I’m expecting a tough fight. I’m not expecting a walk in the park. What I am expecting is a smaller guy with a shorter reach, without the experience. If I fight the way I fight, I’ll win this fight pretty handily. But we’ll see what happens.”

For more from Bisping, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC Fight Night 122, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Georges St-Pierre: 'My entourage told me it was a bad idea' to fight Michael Bisping at UFC 217

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Georges St-Pierre admits there was some conflict within his team regarding whether it was wise to make his return from a four-year layoff to challenge Michael Bisping for the middleweight title at UFC 217. As we now know, though, his decision paid off.

St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC), a former longtime welterweight champ, moved up a weight class to challenge then-champ Bisping (30-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC) for the 185-pound title earlier this month at UFC 217 in New York. “Rush” emerged with the gold via third-round submission, proving wrong his naysayers, some of whom came from his own camp.

St-Pierre’s longtime training partner Rory MacDonald said he would have advised a different comeback plan. The French-Canadian’s longtime mentor Kristof Midoux publicly criticized his preparedness for the bout, and even grappling coach John Danaher admitted to having some doubts along the way.

Despite all that, St-Pierre claimed the belt from Bisping with a solid performance, which made him just the fourth fighter in UFC history to win belts in two weight classes. That historic moment is what St-Pierre was pursuing for his comeback, and he said he relishes his accomplishment even more after what he was forced to overcome.

“What I’ve done, it’s never going to be taken away from me,” St-Pierre told MMAjunkie at a media appearance following UFC 217. “It’s something I will keep for the rest of my life. Maybe one day I will go through some negative thing in my life. I will be able to think back about that moment, and it will make me smile. That’s what it is what people don’t understand. I do this to live a moment. (UFC 217), I lived a moment.

“I feel very privileged to live that moment. It was a big risk, but bigger the risk, bigger the reward. Even though a lot of people in my entourage told me it was a bad idea, I always trusted my myself and I always believed I was able to do it, and I did it and I’m very proud.”

In the wake of his legendary win, which took place Nov. 4 at Madison Square Garden and aired on pay-per-view, St-Pierre said he was going on vacation before resuming business and deciding what’s next. He’s contractually obligated to meet interim middleweight champ Robert Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) in a title-unification bout, but he also knows that could change at any time, so he left the door open for a return to welterweight.

St-Pierre also hinted that there’s no guarantee he actually fights again. At 36, he has only so many prime years left, and one of his biggest fears is to stick around the octagon beyond his expiration date.

For St-Pierre, the way he ends his career is just as important to his legacy as everything else he does along the way. He said that’s something he keeps in mind as he plots out his next move.

“The goal in this game is to retire on top, to not leave too late like a lot of guys like Muhammad Ali,” St-Pierre said. “They made the mistake of believing they were on top, but when you start to get a little bit greedy thinking that you’re special – we’re all human beings, and nobody is invisible. There’s no such thing as being the strongest man. When I was young, I wanted to do MMA because I wanted to be the strongest man. There’s no such thing. I realize now. Everybody can beat everybody on any given day.”

For complete coverage of UFC 217, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Before UFC-Shanghai, watch Michael Bisping's 2014 bout with Cung Le

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

Before the UFC set its debut in mainland China for this coming weekend, the organization visited Macau, where Michael Bisping headlined against Cung Le in 2014.

The middleweight fight, which was part of UFC Fight Night 48 at CotaiArena in China’s special administrative region, saw Le – a former Strikeforce champion and Sanshou kickboxer – as the crowd favorite over the U.K.’s Bisping.

However, the scheduled five-rounder ultimately resulted in a “Performance of the Night” bonus and a big victory for Bisping, who was in for a grueling night of work.

Check out the full fight above.

And catch former middleweight champ Bisping (30-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC) back in action on Saturday, when he makes a 21-day turnaround to fight Kelvin Gastelum (13-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC) in UFC Fight Night 122’s headliner. The event takes place Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai and streams on UFC Fight Pass.

For more on UFC Fight Night 122, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA rankings, Nov. 21: Can Gastelum make big leap?

The UFC is in mainland China for the first time this week, and “The Ultimate Fighter 17” winner Kelvin Gastelum is poised for a potentially massive leap.

Gastelum (13-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC), who currently stands as an honorable mention in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings, meets former UFC 185-pound champion Michael Bisping (30-8 UFC, 20-8 UFC) in the main event of UFC Fight Night 122, which takes place Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai.

Bisping stands No. 3, meaning Gastelum could potentially make a big run up the list should he prove victorious in the UFC Fight Pass-streamed headliner. Just how far remains to be seen, provided he can get past a stern test against Bisping.

Check out all of the rankings above.

Filed under: AXS TV Fights, Bellator, MMA Rankings, News, PFL, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

MMAjunkie reader predictions: Make your picks for UFC Fight Night 122 in China

We want your predictions for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 122 event in China.

Our staff picks feature includes the consensus picks from MMAjunkie readers. Simply cast your vote for each bout below, and we’ll use the official tallies that are registered by Thursday at noon ET (9 a.m. PT).

Those MMAjunkie MMA reader consensus picks will be part of the UFC Fight Night 122 staff picks we release Friday ahead of the event. UFC Fight Night 122 takes place Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, and the entire card streams on UFC Fight Pass.

* * * *

Michael Bisping vs. Kelvin Gastelum

Records: Michael Bisping (30-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC), Kelvin Gastelum (13-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC)
Past five: Bisping 4-1, Gastelum 2-2 (one no-contest)
Division: Middleweight
Rankings: Bisping No. 3, Gastelum honorable mention
Odds (as of 11/19/17): Gastelum -260, Bisping +220

Take Our Poll
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Li Jingliang vs. Zak Ottow

Records: Li Jingliang (13-4 MMA, 5-2 UFC), Zak Ottow (15-4 MMA, 2-1 UFC)
Past five: Jingliang 4-1, Ottow 4-1
Division: Welterweight
Rankings: None
Odds (as of 11/19/17): Jingliang -175, Ottow +145

Take Our Poll
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Alex Caceres vs. Wang Guan

Records: Alex Caceres (13-10 MMA, 8-8 UFC), Wang Guan (16-1-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
Past five: Caceres 3-2, Guan 4-1
Division: Featherweight
Rankings: None
Odds (as of 11/19/17): Caceres -180, Guan +150

Take Our Poll
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Alex Garcia vs. Muslim Salikhov

Records: Alex Garcia (14-4 MMA, 4-3 UFC), Muslim Salikhov (12-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
Past five: Garcia 2-3, Salikhov 5-0
Division: Welterweight
Rankings: None
Odds (as of 11/19/17): Salikhov -180, Garcia +150

Take Our Poll
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For more on UFC Fight Night 122, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Twitter Mailbag: On McGregor's 'punishment,' Bisping's quick turnaround, and more

Did the UFC settle on an appropriate punishment for Conor McGregor’s Bellator run-in? And is Michael Bisping really fit to fight again so soon after his loss at UFC 217? And, honestly, who throws a boomerang at somebody?

All that and more in this week’s Twitter Mailbag. To ask a question of your own, tweet to @BenFowlkesMMA.

First of all, there’s nothing about either Dana White or Ariel Helwani that screams, “I love camping.” Second, I have some questions about the Dec. 30 bout that Conor McGregor was supposedly secretly booked in before he got pulled as punishment for his antics in Dublin.

For starters, this incident at Bellator 187 happened on Nov. 10. That’s about seven weeks prior to UFC 219, and we’d heard not even the slightest rumbling about a McGregor fight being booked.

Nothing on social media from McGregor or his camp. Nothing from Tony Ferguson or any other likely next opponent. Nothing from the UFC, which is weird because you’d think this would be the kind of thing the company would want to get out there and promote. The rest of the card is mostly set, so much so that it’s already suffered a major injury withdrawal.

Plus, with its year-end events, the UFC usually announces headliners far in advance. Remember when Brock Lesnar fought Alistair Overeem? Announced in September. Amanda Nunes vs. Ronda Rousey? Announced in October. Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva? Announced in July.

You’re telling me that when it comes to the biggest star in the sport, you sit on the news of his next fight until we’re less than two months out?

That makes you think that either the plan to have McGregor headline UFC 219 was in very preliminary stages, or else it didn’t exist.

Even if it did exist, so what? The punishment for a more egregious version of the same transgression that’s gotten other UFC fighters fired is that McGregor’s next fight gets … slightly delayed? In what way is that a punishment for the guy who’s a few months removed from a monster boxing payday?

The whole thing smacks of wolf tickets, as Nick Diaz might say. And as his brother might say, I’m not surprised.

Depends. In this alternate reality, are fans more interested in rankings, or will they still drop everything and reach for their credit cards when the next “money fight” rolls around?

If we’re upset with the current matchmaking trends, we can’t blame promoters. They have no ideals to abandon. They’re just chasing our dollars and following wherever it leads. If we really wanted a world where No. 1 always fights No. 2 – even if we’ve already seen it, and even if it wasn’t much fun the last time – then promoters would give it to us. But apparently we don’t want that reality, because we keep paying for the other one.

It’s always a questionable move to fight twice in three weeks, especially when you’re in your late 30s and you’ve taken a lot of punishment over the years, which Michael Bisping certainly has.

The choke doesn’t worry me. It was a blood choke, released right away once Bisping was out, so I wouldn’t worry about lasting damage.

But according to the Fightmetric stats, GSP landed 41 significant strikes to Bisping’s head in that fight, including the hard left that dropped him at the end. Add to that all the blows he likely took in training, plus the blows he may very well have to take against Kelvin Gastelum in either victory or defeat, and you have an awful lot of brain-jostling in a short period of time.

Bisping should be concerned about that, but so should the UFC. I suspect that in the not-too distant future some brain trauma chickens are going to come home to roost for MMA, in much the same way they have in other sports. If and when that happens, the UFC could face some tough questions about its decision to give a 38-year-old man two fights in three weeks – especially when it’s acting as its own regulator for the second one.

As of this writing, a welterweight title fight between champion Tyron Woodley and challenger Nate Diaz is still just a rumor. Hopefully it stays that way. There’s so much interesting stuff going on at welterweight that it makes no sense to reach for Diaz, whose last win at welterweight came against a lightweight.

Diaz has barely fought in the division in the last six years, and the only reason for him to do so now would be to inject some of that Diaz flair into the welterweight title picture. Not a fan.

A whole different energy, for one. It seems obvious, but everything seems bigger and louder and more urgent in the arena. Even little stuff like the walkout music, which you hear as background noise on the TV broadcasts (if it’s broadcast at all), becomes an assault on the senses when you’re there live. That carries over into those big, fight-ending moments. You get sucked into the experience more fully inside the arena.

Also, especially since you’re going to a UFC “Fight Night” event? You can use the delays between fights to hit up the beer and hot dog vendor. Instead of, you know, getting forcibly thrown back to the studio in between FarmersOnly.com commercials.

Until I see with my own eyes a person in boxing gloves throwing a punch at another person with boxing gloves at a Zuffa-promoted event, I will regard any talk of the UFC getting into boxing as pure Just Saying Stuff™. It’s the simplest possible explanation at this point.

What Bellator is onto is this: Its biggest names are all fighters who used to be somebody, and that only gets you so far one matchup at a time. But throwing them all together for a tournament that is almost guaranteed to get weird is a way of leveraging their collective drawing power, as well as appealing to the disaster-loving rubberneck impulse of MMA fans in general.

And, honestly, it’s probably going to work. We’re going to watch this thing. At least for as long as it lasts.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMAjunkie.

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie