Hot Tweets: The last rides of Frankie Edgar and Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua, plus Bo Nickal’s arrival


It’s another off week for the UFC but unlike last time, it’s seemingly an off weekend for the entire sport. Not a lot of MMA action for the rabid fan to consume, and so once again, I’m answering questions about any and everything related to MMA, including some recent UFC bookings, Bo Nickal, the state of MMA promotions, and Kevin Holland’s fake retirement.

Let’s go!

The travesty of UFC matchmaking

This week it was revealed that MMA legends Frankie Edgar and Mauricio Rua have booked the final fights of their illustrious careers. Edgar faces Chris Gutierrez at UFC 281 while “Shogun” faces Ihor Potieria at UFC 283, and if you have even an ounce of common sense, those bookings are abominations.

Gutierrez is an unranked bantamweight who is on a tremendous run at the moment, winning six of his past seven fights, with one draw mixed in there. He’s bigger, younger, faster, and most importantly, he’s not a big name. If you can’t remember off the top of your head, take a peak at Edgar’s resume: damn near every person on that list is a bona fide MMA star and/or legend. Gutierrez will have the lowest Q-score of a Frankie opponent since Matt Veach! If Edgar loses, you’re not building a new star, and if Edgar wins, it’s still about the quietest way possible to send him out. This fight does nothing for anyone that isn’t a relative of Gutierrez.

Similarly for Shogun, Potieria has no juice behind him and he’s even coming into this fight off of a loss. This fight is probably more winnable for Rua than Gutierrez is for Edgar, and Rua has already had some bouts against guys who don’t register with the broader fan base, but we’re still talking about a fight with minimal upside.

Here’s the deal, both Edgar and Rua wanted to fight on these specific cards, so they could go out in their home territory, and I fully support that. But you should still send them out with great matchups, or if that isn’t possible for some reason, send them out with total dunkers. Because if Gutierrez kicks Frankie’s leg off for 15 minutes, Madison Square Garden isn’t going to be stoked about it.

Edgar should’ve gotten the long-awaited Dominick Cruz matchup and, assuming Cruz couldn’t do it because of the short turnaround (which is really a condemnation of Cruz’s original booking, but whatever) then Rob Font would be acceptable. Failing that give him the worst dude on the roster. Or hell, a Jim Miller rematch would be fine! Anything but this one.

Shogun is a bit tougher because light heavyweight is a horrible division but he should probably be the guy who fights Dominick Reyes, instead of Ryan Spann.

Bo Nickal

I think the odds are pretty close to spot on. +250 implies a 29 percent win probability and that seems about right. Could Nickal win? Yes, he has a shot. Will he? Not a single person alive could reasonably be confident in saying so. There are simply too many unknowns.

Here’s the full extent of what we know about Bo Nickal.

  1. He’s a world-class wrestler (like, actually world class — give him a few years and he could have been competing for medals on the international stage).
  2. He’s an excellent athlete.
  3. He’s showing a natural ability to leverage his wrestling skill in grappling situations.

That’s it. That’s all. We don’t know if he can take a punch, we don’t know if he can fight longer than 62 seconds, we don’t know anything. Now, Khamzat Chimaev has many of the same questions about him, but we’ve seen him tested some, and we’ve seen him do his thing against legitimate opposition. That’s just not the case here, and until we do see it, you can’t have total confidence in Nickal. I’d pick Chimaev to win, because I know he hits like a truck and he’s a good enough wrestler to hold his own.

All that being said, I’d pick Bo Nickal to beat Darren Till tomorrow. Same for Alex Pereira, Jared Cannonier, and Derek Brunson. I’m all in on the Nickal Express. This dude is going to be a champion some day, sooner rather than later.

UFC 280

Doubtful. I think the UFC probably wants Islam Makhachev to win, because they can draft off Khabib’s stardom and potentially build Islam into a real draw. God love Charles Oliveira, but he’s not going to remain champion for long. He’s been in the game too long, has too much wear on the tires, and it’s simply not possible for someone to take as many shots as he does and not lose the die roll eventually.

Besides, Conor ain’t going down to Brazil to fight. There’s no reason for him to do so. If Oliveira wins, he’ll probably get Alexander Volkanovski in Brazil.

Kevin Holland

He wasn’t actually retiring, he was just mucking about. You know, like Conor McGregor and Henry Cejudo. Only Holland isn’t famous or good enough for people to actually care, so really, he just wasted everyone’s time. Oh well, him vs. Stephen Thompson is a good fight.

Mark Zuckerberg

Well, first off, I have no interest in renting out an arena. As one of the huddled, unwashed masses, I much prefer to be among my people. Plus, watching fights live, without an invested crowd, is not particularly engaging. Some of my best fight experiences are watching insane fights with 15,000 other people equally as captivated as I am.

Second, of the upcoming slate, the only correct answer is UFC 280, because that card rules. I’d rather it not take place in Abu Dhabi though. That’s a long way to travel and it’s hot. But watching Islam take the lightweight title at Madison Square Garden? That would be sick.

Speaking of UFC 280

He isn’t a big underdog. Not anymore. Sean O’Malley is currently only a +250 underdog to Petr Yan. That’s not small, but at some points Yan was up to a -400 favorite. It appears that you’re not alone in thinking the odds were a bit off.

As for me? -400 seemed a big large for Yan, but -300 feels close to right. He is a better fighter than O’Malley, and in a five-rounder I would bet him at nearly any price, but as you point out, Yan is a bit of a slow starter and three rounds is so short. Kookiness can happen. At the end of the day though, Yan has more tools, more durability, and his game builds so well. This is probably too much for “Sugar” at this point.

UFC 284

UFC 284 is reportedly set to take place Feb. 12 in Perth, Australia. It’s the UFC’s first time going back since Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker fought at UFC 243. Considering we’re going to get nearly every fighter from that hemisphere on the card, it’s going to be awesome.

With Adesanya set to defend his middleweight belt in November, he’s probably not in play for this fight card. So if I’m fantasy booking it, here’s what things look like:

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Yair Rodriguez

Robert Whittaker vs. Paulo Costa

Kai Kara-France vs. Alexandre Pantoja

Tai Tuivasa vs. Sergei Pavlovich

Jake Matthews vs. Michael Chiesa

And have Brad Riddell fight any random lightweight on the undercard.

MMA Promotions

I’m sure financially that the non-UFC Big Three (Bellator, PFL, ONE Championship) are all in better shape than Strikeforce was, because Strikeforce was basically ruined by one fight. But in terms of MMA community cache? No. And I doubt we ever get there again. The UFC has consolidated its position atop the MMA world and so even a stout No. 2 still would feel miles off.

Unless and until the Ali Act comes to MMA, this is how things will always be.

UFC vs. Bellator

0-9. They’d have a legitimately competitive bouts in three or four weight classes, and if they got absurdly lucky, they could maybe pull off a 5-4 record, but that would be a near miracle. Here’s a quick breakdown:

265: Ryan Bader could never possibly beat Francis Ngannou.

205: Vadim Nemkov could be competitive with Jiri Prochazka, but I wouldn’t pick him to win (plus, Prochazka already holds a win over him from back in 2015). Now if Corey Anderson gets the belt, that probably is Bellator’s best shot at an outright win. Still taking Jiri though.

185: Israel Adesanya is quite adept at beating dudes like Johnny Eblen, but if Alex Pereira becomes the champ, Eblen has a real shot.

170: One of the more competitive matchups. Yaroslav Amosov or Logan Storley would give Leon Edwards a good fight.

155: Patricky Pitbull couldn’t beat anyone in the UFC’s top 15.

145: I love Patricio Pitbull but Volkanovski would pants him.

135: Raufeon Stots has a very real shot at beating Aljamain Sterling. Sergio Pettis, not so much.

W145: Cris Cyborg already got run over by Amanda Nunes, but she could win a rematch.

W125: Liz Carmouche already lost to Valentina Shevchenko, and that fight would go exactly the same.

Buy out

Nope. Per my above answer, there isn’t ever going to be another promotion that rivals the UFC for cachet, and so they won’t feel the need to buy them out. The UFC will just poach top talent from the other orgs and send them its castoffs when they become too expensive, then replace those fighters with Contender Series dudes making 10 and 10.


Jon Jones

One percent. That’s probably high actually. My understanding is that the UFC is hoping they can do Jon Jones vs. Francis Ngannou, should they re-sign Ngannou, but I remain convinced that Ngannou won’t do it. He’s going to go off, and when he does, then the UFC will move forward with Jones vs. Stipe Miocic for the vacant title, sometime early next year.


Either Gray Maynard or Alexander Gustafsson. Both men came as close as you possibly can to winning a title without actually doing so. Twice. 90 percent of referees would’ve stopped Maynard’s first fight with Edgar, and his second one was damn near the same. Similarly, Gus was one scorecard away from upsetting Jones, and another few punches away from finishing Daniel Cormier. Both men had one hand on the belt, twice, but couldn’t finish the drill.

Make sure you go listen to the latest episode of DAMN! They Were Good, celebrating one of the best action fighters of all time, Melvin Manhoef.

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! Doesn’t matter if they’re topical or insane. Send them to me and I’ll answer the ones I like the most. Let’s have fun.