Hot Tweets: Colby Covington vs. Jorge Masvidal, the rest of UFC 272, and Islam Makhachev’s risky gamble


It’s been a crazy week in the MMA world and the best is still to come. Tonight, Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal finally settle their feud in the main event of UFC 272. There’s a lot of information to go over so we won’t waste time. Pitter patter.

The promotion of UFC 272: Covington vs. Masvidal

No. Not at all. This card isn’t even the weakest pay-per-view of the year. This is, in fact, the best pay-per view of all time, strictly from a point of star power. After knocking out Ben Askren and winning the “BMF” belt against Nate Diaz, Jorge Masvidal is a bonafide star. The man sold 1. 3 million PPV buys on short notice against Kamaru Usman the first time around and then, despite being thoroughly outclassed in that fight, he still managed 700,000 buys for the rematch. Masvidal is a proven draw at this point, and while Covington isn’t as strong in that respect as he would like to be, he’s still a noisy and well-known commodity. There is a strong case to be made that these two gentlemen and their heated backstory packs more promotional punch than the fabricated beef between Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane or the salty rivalry between Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker. And remember, it’s not like UFC 270 or 271 were star studded outside of the main events.

As far as the buyrate goes, I suspect it will draw more than 400,000 buys but the price hike does give me some amount of pause. I’ve had a number of people tell me that $75 for a fight card is too steep a price for them to feel comfortable paying, and given that UFC 273 is right around the corner, and it is STACKED, that may well depress the buy total somewhat. This is still a huge fight featuring one of the best-five fighters in the sport. They are also trying their hardest to sell the card. I think it’ll do around 650,000.

Where do we go from here?

Well it’s certainly not pointless as the two primary reasons to fight someone in MMA are making money and settling disputes — this is a two-for-one special in that regard — but I take your meaning. I have noticed some fans be less interested in this bout because for all the other stuff it comes with, both men have now lost twice to the current champion and are well out of title contention. The Rich Franklin Zone is a tough place promotionally and it’s even more difficult when both guys are there. However, we might be able to find something fun with each man after the fight, although it all depends on how things go.

If Covington wins in his typical, grinding fashion (the most likely outcome), there are no shortage of other fights for him. Other fighters are not far behind Covington’s detest and want to fight him. The most prominent being Dustin Poirier. Masvidal has the option to fight Conor McGregor or rematch Nate Diaz.

If it’s a close fight then we are probably looking at a rematch, regardless of who wins. It would still sell well and neither guy has anything pressing to attend to otherwise.

Lastly, if Masvidal “baptizes” Covington early, that’s the only one that could present problems. For Masvidal, it would obviously be great and he can comfortably pick and choose who he wants to fight next. It might even help him lock down a McGregor fight. For Covington though, a quick knockout loss given the circumstances would be a huge hit to him promotionally. He would likely have to accept a fight against some younger welterweight competitors to rebuild his self-esteem.

Regardless of what happens tonight though, neither man is walking away soon.

The co-main event

Since the previous question was mostly answered, I will just say that Shavkat Rahmonov does a lot of good things but that he shouldn’t make such a big jump. Instead, give him a guy of a lower rank and build him.

As for the co-main event, a 160-pound catchweight bout between Rafael dos Anjos and Renato Moicano, that’s tricky.

RDA is an ex-lightweight champion who will likely be on his last legs. In normal circumstances that would mean the UFC needs to fast-track a late-career title run, but the lightweight division is absurdly stacked and kind of broken. Justin Gaethje is getting the next title shot, Islam Makhachev should be getting one after that but who the hell knows (more on that later), Dustin Poirier is trying to fight money fights, five or six other guys are trying to climb the ladder but can’t because no one ahead of them will fight them, and Conor McGregor is looming. RDA has no place to go because it’s a very tight division. Even though he’s being forced to fight, a win here will guarantee that the UFC will rebook Fiziev’s fight.

For Moicano, all the same stuff applies as with RDA except the UFC has no real incentive to push him, meaning he will for sure be fighting someone behind him in the rankings, be it Fiziev or someone like Arman Tsarukyan.

Rafael dos Anjos

Because they’re a bunch of philistines.

Not only is Dos Anjos a former UFC lightweight champ, but he was also a challenger for an interim Welterweight strap. He should have faced Tyron Woodley, but the UFC denied him that fight due to the UFC timeline. Not to mention that he was also supposed to fight Conor McGregor, another fight he had a great chance of winning, but got injured and then again lost his big fight because he was willing to carry water for the UFC and fight whenever. RDA is a fighter who almost never declines fights. This is why RDA has more losses than one might think and also why his opponent list is among the best in the sport. For a decade, he has been fighting the top guys in both weight categories.

Fortunately, I think more people are coming around on how dope RDA is, especially with what has transpired this week, but it may still take some time for the broader public to register it and there are two main reasons in my opinion. First, the most memorable highlights of RDA’s career are losses — losing the belt to Eddie Alvarez, Jeremy Stephens hitting him with a Mortal Kombat uppercut — because his best wins are complete performances, lacking a flashy moment. People forget RDA’s lightweight title win. It started just after Khabib Nurmagomedov beat him. If we are honest, Khabib went through a two year stretch of injuries that brought RDA down and delayed his title bid. Both of those things just take some of the shine off what has been a sterling career, at least to the public at large.

Kevin Holland, the welterweight

It’s very interesting to me. On the one hand, Holland was clearly a bit undersized at middleweight and so dropping down should be an easy enough cut for him (he certainly made a statement coming in at championship weight), but on the other hand, Holland’s main issue has been his wrestling defense, and welterweight has a lot more elite wrestlers to contend with. Alex Oliveira seems like the ideal first weight for Holland at this new class. Oliveira, an underrated wrestler who is also a strong and athletic athlete. Holland is expected to win, but he will need to put in a lot of effort and may have to perform some defensive wrestling. This is a great test of his skills in the new division.

Marina Rodriguez vs. Yan Xiaonan

Unfortunately for Rodriguez, unless she delivers the greatest knockout of all time, she’s not getting the next strawweight title shot, that’s going to Carla Esparza. Aside from having a win over her (contentious or otherwise) Esparza has done all she needs to for her shot and even Dana White has finally admitted so. More to the point, you don’t bury a fight between two top-five fighters on the prelims if you think the winner is getting a title fight. The winner of this fight will need to win one more before they can face Esparza or Rose Namajunas, if that fight takes place on the same card.

Greg Hardy

The UFC shouldn’t have signed Greg Hardy and should never have resigned him. However, regardless of what happens tonight they will continue to do so. It’s incredible but true that this will be Hardy’s 10th fight in the organization and the fact that they continue to book him in premium spots is proof that they love this guy, and honestly, I can see why. Although Hardy may not be a great fighter, he is a talented athlete and one of few people who can speak well on the microphone. He’s not some promotional genius about selling his own fights or anything, but if you just watch him in a scrum versus almost anyone else in the UFC and you will see a clear difference. He’s had legitimate media training and it shows.

Would Hardy do a better job fighting in the region and getting more experience? Of course. Either he would improve or lose at the regionals, and then he would retire. If it’s the former, at least there would then be a reason for him to be in the UFC beyond his name, and if it’s the latter then we never have to care again. Unfortunately, it’s not on the cards. In the immortal words of Max Holloway, it is what it is.

Islam Makhachev

This entire story is the most classic bit of MMA tomfudgery imaginable. Everybody here is doing or did something tremendously dumb, any or all of it could be a lie, and the end result is going to be everyone being worse off than they were at the start of the week.

First let’s establish the clear and obvious point: Makhachev doesn’t need to fight anyone else to get a title shot. Makhachev should be able to fight Justin Gaethje, the winner of Charles Oliveira. He doesn’t have top five wins, but he has tried hard and is one of the best lightweights anywhere. Denying him a title shot for any reason at this point is pure hateration.

Second, let’s talk about Dana White. White often just speaks the truth, so it might not be wise to take his remarks about Makhachev having to confront Dariush as true. White has always been the biggest advocate of cutting his nose off to make his face look better, so this could be completely true. It would be absurd, as Makhachev, possibly? Makhachev is, quite possibly (probably?) the most skilled lightweight in the entire world. Khabib was the best lightweight in the world, but stupid things like these kept him from winning for three years. And then remember how Khabib’s title reign got cut short by tragedy and so instead of having an immensely promotable Fight God as their champion for half a decade, Khabib came and went in a blink? UFC must not repeat that. (Also, stop throwing your fighters, especially future champions, under the bus because they didn’t do exactly what you wanted at all points in time).

Third, they will probably do it again because people like watching Conor McGregor fight. With his contract almost up and McGregor going off to boxing matches where he earns the majority of the income, UFC will get the most out of him once the contract is up. You can also add in the fact that Oliveira & Gaethje would rather fight Khabib Redux for half the money, and you’d wager that this is the future.

Finally Islam Makhachev or his management, what are you doing all this time? If you don’t want to take it, please do not put your name into the hat. Hell, don’t throw your name out there unless you will for sure take it, no questions asked, and with no stipulations of your own. UFC’s M.O. in situations like this is extremely clear: a lot of people will opt in, they get a feel from the scheduled fighter what he or she is thinking, and then they will offer the fight to a few people and go with whoever creates the least fuss/takes the smallest paycheck. Then if you aren’t the one they chose, or if you just turned down their offer, they are absolutely going to blame you for the fight falling through. It is a rookie mistake to make, especially when you are likely going for the title fight. If Makhachev (or his manager) had simply said nothing, no one would have batted an eye about the circumstances given that he literally just fought. Islam would be still the top contender for the title fight, and his promoter wouldn’t publicly mock him. This is unimaginable.

Keep in mind that this was a stupid idea and only made everyone worse off.

Thanks for reading and thank you for everyone who sent in Tweets! Do you have any burning questions about things at least somewhat related to combat sports? Then you’re in luck, because you can send your Hot Tweets to me, @JedKMeshew, and I will answer them! It doesn’t matter what they are, it doesn’t really matter. You can send them to me, and I will answer those I love the most. Let’s laugh.