It was an off week for major MMA this past weekend so not a lot of pressing matters to discuss. Given that, the questions this week cover a whole range of topics, including the looming specter of UFC 300. Let’s talk about it, Road House, and ONE Championship’s latest fiasco.
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ONE Championship Snafu
How did you feel about John Lineker sliding in for Sage Northcutt against Shinya Aoki last night? Ha ha ha, what a story, Mark.
— Jay Pettry (@jaypettry) January 28, 2024
In case you missed it, ONE Championship held ONE 165 on Saturday evening in Tokyo, which was supposed to feature a 170-pound matchup between Shinya Aoki and Sage Northcutt. However, mere hours before the fight, Northcutt withdrew because his cornermen were denied visas into Japan and so he opted not to compete without them. In his stead, career flyweight/bantamweight John Lineker stepped in for an openweight bout, and Aoki effortlessly throttled him. The entire thing was absurd, and then to make matters worse, ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong decided to take shots at the country of Japan. Just a deeply unserious combat sports promotion through and through.
The Lineker-Aoki situation is ridiculous, not because they fought, but because it was necessary. I’m actually totally down for the openweight bout as a last-ditch resort, because that is cool. But the inability to see this as a problem beforehand and mitigate it? That’s rookie stuff. What, you think fighters are going to just compete without their coaches? Have you ever talked to professional fighters before? Screw that, have you ever met Sage Northcutt?! You think he’s about to cowboy up out there with three dudes from the crowd giving him pointers? This was some vintage Pride era booking here to an end that doesn’t even matter. Aoki is 40 years old! What are we doing here?
Anyway, John Lineker rules for accepting that fight and it would be way more fun to have more openweight matches, just with fighters that are prepared and, preferably, not very good. Y’all telling me you wouldn’t watch Chris Barnett vs. Paul Craig? Liars.
UFC 300 and the Meshewlin Star System
I know you mentioned this week that UFC 300 has got 3 Meshewlan stars Jed. So I am curious – what was the most recent event prior to 300 that you would give 3 stars to?
— Samuel Tromans (@SamuelJTromans) January 28, 2024
For those unaware, the Meshewlin Star System is a patented method for grading fight cards that some have called “a revelation of incisive commentary and brilliant simplicity.” (It was me, I called it that.)
The premise is simple and based on the Michelin Guide, the most venerated food guide in the world. The Michelin Guide gives out one star to restaurants that are “very good,” two stars for restaurants “excellent, worth a detour,” and three stars for “exceptional, worth a special journey.” I have co-opted this to rate fight cards, with one star being worthy of attending if you live in the city it takes place in, two stars being worth of a small road trip to attend, and three stars being worth a special trip to attend. See? Simple.
And with that out of the way, even without a main event yet, UFC 300 is the most three-star Meshewlin card I’ve ever seen. On paper, this has a pretty strong case for being the best card the UFC has ever put together. One title fight, the BMF fight which is the favorite to win Fight of the Year, Charles Oliveira vs. Arman Tsarukyan which is third in Fight of the Year voting right now (Dustin Poirier vs. Benoit Saint Denis is second), and eight other great fights that could co-main event a pay-per-view without issue. This card rocks in a way that almost makes me want to break the rules and add a fourth star.
As for other three-star cards, there aren’t many. In fact, because I wasn’t doing the Meshewlin Star System until fairly recently, UFC 300 will be the first. But going back into the archives and applying the scale retroactively, UFC 285 was definitely a two-star event, and might have cleared the three-star bar, but if it didn’t, UFC 281 absolutely did. And that feels about right, honestly: Around one three-star event a year.
UFC 300 ideas
Should the UFC have considered turning 300 into a 2-night event, similar to what WWE has done with Wrestlemania?
— ADRUWO (@ADRUWO1) January 28, 2024
I don’t think the UFC should make 300 a two-night event for two reasons. First, it’s just a lot. UFC 300 is already stacked beyond belief and if they make it a two-night event, one of two outcomes happens: Either they water down 300 and split up the great fights, or they just have one card that is clearly inferior beforehand. Both choices aren’t all that great. I’m fine with just going all out for 300.
Secondly, I actually do think this is something they should do every year with International Fight Week. Previously, UFC did exactly this. Back in 2018 they had an Ultimate Fighter finale show on the Friday before UFC 226. But in recent years they’ve put less of a priority on making IFW a big deal. Sure, it’s a big PPV every year, but it’s not really living up to Wrestlemania levels of hype. I would like UFC to go back to that sort of build, because it’s cool and I think doing a two-night event like that works better for a yearly planned thing.
Out of albazi, kape, and Suarez do you think any of them injured/pulled out of a fight that leads to a shot at the belt now without doing anything?
— Laxmiddy34 (@laxmiddy34) January 28, 2024
It seems highly unlikely that any of the three fighters listed are going to get a title shot without another win. Amir Albazi and Manel Kape, I would put at actual zero percent to get one. Kape blew weight and Albazi doesn’t have the name or appeal to just get shoved into a title shot right now. He needed the big win, and now he can’t get it.
Tatiana Suarez is a bit of a wild card. It would be a bit ridiculous for her to just get a title shot next, however, she’s decently popular and if Weili Zhang beats Yan Xiaonan at UFC 300, then there’s not a great next contender lined up for her. Given that, it’s possible UFC just says screw it and puts her in there, and honestly, I kind of hope they do.
Brian Ortega vs. Ilia Topuria
How well do you feel Brian Ortega matches up with Ilia Topuria?
— Florida Man Chael (@FLManChael) January 28, 2024
These two aren’t especially close to facing one another right now, but I assume they will at some point in the future, and when that happens, I will feel exactly the same as I have about every Brian Ortega fight: He isn’t very good and shouldn’t win, and there he is getting sonned and — oh, submission out of nowhere, Ortega wins again.
Ortega is the Brock Purdy of MMA: He doesn’t make sense. He loses almost every fight he wins, but then he just … stops that. He’s not very defensively sound, his offense is disjointed, and it doesn’t matter. It’s infuriating. I said after the Cub Swanson fight that Brian Ortega was going to put together a 20-fight win streak and set the record for featherweight title defenses and all the while I would still be shaking my head and muttering that he’s not good, and I stand by it.
When he and Ilia Topuria inevitable clash, I firmly expect Topuria to batter him around the cage for 12 minutes before falling in a guillotine and going to sleep.
Conor McGregor and Road House
In case you missed it, the first trailer for the remake of Road House dropped last week, with Conor McGregor featured prominently in it. That led me to the above tweet, which then raised this question: What are the top-four MMA fighters as actor performances in cinema?
Oddly enough, this is a topic I’m deeply invested in. I have made it my mission to watch as many of these performances as I can because I find it deeply amusing. So while I haven’t seen all of them, I feel like I’m well-versed enough to give you a pretty solid list. And the Mount Rushmore goes like this:
- Gina Carano in Haywire: Carano is not a good actress and she got a lot worse as she tried to act more, but Steven Soderbergh rocks and she showcases some good action chops in this one.
- Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson in The A-Team: This movie rules and I was bummed and a bit shocked when it somehow didn’t kick off a Mission Impossible-esque run of films. It may have been a few years too early for peak IP movie making, but it remains a cable classic and Rampage is good as Mr. T (aka B.A. Baracus). Not perfect, and like Carano, he struggles with the acting bits, but he’s great in the action sequences.
- Tait Fletcher in various roles: Shout out to Tait Fletcher, man. This man lost to flabby Josh Haynes on The Ultimate Fighter and somehow ended up being an elite movie henchman. If you don’t know, check out his IMDB. In half of the fun action movies of the past decade or so, Fletcher is filling five minutes of screen time getting whomped on by the hero. How many people can you say got thumped by John Wick, Robert McCall (The Equalizer), and Christian Wolff (The Accountant)? Legend.
- Keith Jardine in Shot Caller: Jardine is basically just Tait Fletcher redux. He’s got a look and that got him in the door and now he’s a regular henchman in films (even made his directorial debut last year). Fletcher has the better portfolio of work, but “The Dean of Mean” has a solid, albeit brief, performance as “Ripper” in Shot Caller, which is a movie that more people should love.
Obviously, I chose not to include Dave Bautista as he has one MMA fight in his career, but if we’re adding him in, then he probably has the entire Mount Rushmore to himself. He’s a legitimately good character actor. Also, Kimbo Slice has some decent work as a heavy in bad action movies, but he’s also not entirely an MMA fighter, so I left him off. Other than that, everyone is terrible, though it can often be fun. So like I said above, if Conor can simply hold his own opposite Jake Gyllenhaal, he’ll be a top-tier MMA fighter-turned actor.
And if you want to see the worst performances of all-time, let me leave you with a little film called D-Day: Battle of Omaha Beach, starring Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, and Nicholas Cage’s son Weston Cage Coppola. It may be the worst thing you’ll ever see, but you won’t be able to tear your eyes away from it.
Thanks for reading, and thank you for everyone who sent in Tweets (Xs?)! 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 Tweets to me, @JedKMeshew, and I will answer my favorite ones! Doesn’t matter if they’re topical or insane, just so long as they are good. Thanks again and see y’all next week.