The New York State Assemby in Albany filled the void on a slow news week Tuesday, providing fight fans following along via live stream the same sort of free entertainment, equal parts hilarious and maddening, that we usually only get from the Nevada Athletic Commission.
At the end of a far-too-long day, though, New York did the right thing and took a giant step toward becoming the 50th state to legalize mixed martial arts. This was by far the biggest news item of the week, so we'll take a look at MMA's New York state of mind and a few here-and-there items in this week's Fightweets.
Bigger: UFC 200 or MSG?
@hunt5588: What will be a bigger spectacle, UFC 200 or the first card at MSG?
Obviously, UFC 200 is going to be a big deal. It's not just about the nice, round number. When people ask "what's the big deal about UFC 200?" they tend to gloss over that this is the first major MMA event at the T-Mobile Arena. Las Vegas' "home teams," so to speak, are UNLV, the UFC, and Floyd Mayweather. Mayweather's allegedly retired, and UNLV basketball will be out of season by the time the joint opens, so that leaves the UFC free to show off their hometown's state-of-the-art new arena to the sports world. Of course they're going to load it up and make it a big show. The arena is a big a reason as any we're talking about an immediate Nate Diaz-Conor McGregor rematch.
Still, though, there's something to be said about first-time shows in major markets. The Honda Center in Anaheim absolutely rocked for Tito Ortiz fighting at home in Orange County against Forrest Griffin in the UFC's first California show at UFC 59. Likewise the Montreal debut, at UFC 83, when the crowd went nuts for everything from the opening matchup to Georges St-Pierre regaining the welterweight title from Matt Serra. Oh, and let's not forget 55,000 fans showing up to Toronto's Rogers Centre for UFC 129, an evening no one who attended will ever forget.
So, now imagine what Madison Square Garden, one of the world's glamour venues, is going to be like on the night of its first UFC event, after weeks of full-on New York media hype, after two decades of pent-up demand, and presumably with a mix of the biggest stars and the most popular fighters from the area.
UFC 200 could very well end up being a bigger-money event, especially if they pull the trigger on Diaz-McGregor 2. But for Vegas, it's just another big combat sports event in a city which has had close to a monopoly on them the past couple decades. Considering how well remembered the first events in Southern California, Montreal, and Toronto are, cutting through the hazy clutter of so many dozens of shows over the years, it's a fair bet the MSG event will be remembered as the bigger one when all's said and done.
@MMAFANZONE: Do people really care about MMA being legal in NY? #whocares
Sigh. One in every crowd. Yeah, you're right. There's nothing big at all about MMA finally getting into the arena with the longest uninterrupted string of major fights in the history of combat sports. Nothing big about going to the home of the Ali-Frazier "Fight of the Century." Or, hell, the birthplace of WrestleMania, for that matter. Nothing big about going into a state with 20 million people, which boasts more venues capable of hosting national events than any state except California. Or what it will mean for not just UFC and Bellator and WSOF, but every regional promoter in the Northeast. Or for everyone who runs a gym, or owns a business near an arena who just got more busy nights added to their schedule. Nah, nothing to see here, just because it doesn't personally affect you. Sure thing, skippy.
@RuckerYeah: Did I have flashbacks to the 90s or did I really hear legislators compare MMA to slavery and porn?
Yeah, you really did. It's a tossup for me as to who put on the worst performance Tuesday in Albany. There was Ass. @DeborahJGlick, whose combination of ignorance of the issues she prattled over and eagerness to ban things she doesn't like made her sound like Donald Trump in a dress. I tried to ask her about her comments comparing MMA to public hangings, but she blocked me on Twitter. Then there was Ass. Daniel J. O'Donnell, hailed as an LGBT pioneer, making comments about MMA and gay porn which would have brought out the "get offended at everything" lynch mob had the words come from a person of heterosexual persuasion. And so on. There are plenty of meritorious arguments against combat sports, from head trauma to promoters who take advantage of fighters, but the Assembly instead took the express train to crazytown.
In a way, though, there was something cathartic about being subjected to one final round of anti-MMA lunacy Tuesday. It was similar unhinged, wild-eyed opposition which led to the New York ban in 1997 in the first place and precipitated the decline of MMA's early age. So to dredge up all sorts of hysterical accusations just before slamming the door on them once and for all — and by a wide margin in the final tally of 113-25 — and making the Empire State the final one to legalize the sport (pending a couple formalities) just seemed right.
@MacPherson9999: Who has the best chance of pulling off the upset: DC, Stipe, or Cejudo?
You know, given that nine new champions were crowned in 18 UFC title fights between March of last year and this March, it almost seems like you can flip the script and ask who will actually hold on to their belts?
There seem to be two borderline locks in the series of matchups to which you allude, both at UFC 197: Jon Jones, who never lost his belt and has never been legitimately defeated (just stop, person about to go into the comments section and say the Matt Hamill "loss" was legit), coming back for revenge against Daniel Cormier, who he's already defeated; and the longest reigning current champion the UFC, flyweight king Demetrious Johnson, against Henry Cejudo, a talented contender who seems to be getting the shot a bit too soon.
Of course, if you go through the list of title changes over the past year, how many people swore there was no way Ronda Rousey could lose to Holly Holm, or that Rafael dos Anjos had no chance against Anthony Pettis, who some at the time were touting for the No. 1 pound-for-pound spot? So you never know.
Given the choices you've presented, if I have to pick one, I guess i have to go with the heavyweight puncher's chance. I don't expect Stipe Miocic to dethrone Fabricio Werdum at UFC 198 in Brazil, but Stipe hits like a runaway train, and I'll take that over either DC or Cejudo figuring out a way to win.
@ynneKrepmatS: How can anyone not like Neil Magny?
Great question. I think we all have a soft spot for guys who came along during the era after we all stopped paying close attention to The Ultimate Fighter and forced us to take notice with their performances in the cage after the show ended. Tony Ferguson is at the top of that list. Michael Chiesa is pretty high up there, too. And the best bantamweights on TUF 14 hold up as well as any season in the show's history.
But Ferguson and Chiesa at least won their seasons; Magny was eliminated in the semifinals of TUF 16, and anyone outside Magny's immediate family who said they were looking forward to seeing what he'd do in the UFC is lying. Since then? He's fought 15 times in three years; won 10 of his past 11; shook off his lone loss in that span; and earned four bonuses in his last six fights, most recently for his impressive win over Hector Lombard.
In a day and age when hype, ratings, and cash grabs seem to matter above all else, there's something comforting about the fact that fighters like Magny, who earn their spot through good old-fashioned hard work, still have a chance to do their thing and make their mark.
How to stop Diaz-McGregor 2
@MacPherson9999: What do I have to do to prevent the Diaz/McG rematch from happening at 200?
I was going to ignore the presumed UFC 200 main event this week, since nothing's changed since I went into it last week, but hey, this is a good one. Umm, maybe you could travel back in time and create a diversion that keeps dos Anjos from going to that training session where he broke his foot? Other than that, I don't think there's any stopping it.
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