HYDEN’S TAKE: Interesting fights coming soon from McGregor vs. Mayweather to the possibility of Lesnar vs. Jones to GSP vs. Bisping

By Frank Hyden, MMATorch columnist

There were no events this past week so my focus shifts to upcoming fights. Of course, the biggest is the boxing match between UFC Lightweight Champion Conor McGregor and the undefeated and multiple division boxing champ Floyd Mayweather. My opinion on this fight is one that is, to be blunt, insane. I’m of the viewpoint that McGregor should rush Mayweather as soon as the fight starts and try to swarm him. McGregor can’t stand and try to box with Mayweather; he has virtually no chance of beating him that way. He’s not going to be able to outbox a guy who’s been boxing longer than McGregor has been alive. He’s been around boxing his entire life.

Mayweather recently suggested that McGregor has a chance and that he’s (Mayweather) lost a step, but even if that’s true, he’s still well ahead of McGregor in terms of boxing skill. Does McGregor know how to penetrate the defensive techniques that Mayweather uses in his fights? Do his coaches know? I hate to go against McGregor here because he’s made a habit of “shocking the world,” but I can’t bet against an undefeated boxer in a fight with a guy who has a fraction of the training time that he does.

Another big upcoming fight is the return of Georges St. Pierre to the UFC as he faces UFC Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping at UFC 217. GSP has never fought in the Middleweight Division and hasn’t competed in the UFC is nearly four years, so there’s a lot of intrigue with this fight. Bisping himself hasn’t fought in a year.

This fight was talked about before, but at the time there were other, more deserving contenders for the title shot. Now, though, there’s only one contender, Robert Whittaker, and he’s on the shelf with an injury. So this fight makes a little more sense now. There’s no question this is a big fight, it’s always been a big fight, but now it feels more okay to be excited for it.

GSP never lost the UFC Welterweight Title and, if we’re being real, Bisping is considered a weak champion. Whether that’s fair or not is another story, but that’s the perception. So more people than usual would be taking GSP in this fight. Usually when a guy hasn’t fought in four years and is moving up to a weight that he’s never fought at before, very few people would pick him to win. And even fewer people would pick him to beat the champion of that division.

In this case, though, considering the factors involved, I think a lot of people will pick GSP to win. I’m certainly leaning towards GSP winning. Unless I see or hear something that makes me think differently, I think GSP wins by decision. Bisping has a lot of heart so I don’t think he gets finished, but GSP is coming back for a reason. He wouldn’t be coming back if he didn’t think he could still get it done.

The last of the big fights is actually hypothetical at this point, though it seems almost inevitable now. UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones has called out Brock Lesnar for a fight at heavyweight. This fight doesn’t make any sense ratings-wise, title-wise, or even sporting-wise. At the same time, though, this is actually the most intriguing fight possible right now.

Jon Jones seems as if he’s back at the top of his game, having just finished a fighter the caliber of Daniel Cormier. Brock Lesnar is a mountain of a man who in the past has had freaky speed and athleticism. We don’t know if he still has those things, but they can’t be all gone. He also possesses a nearly unthinkable amount of raw power and ferocity.

The size difference would be amazing, but the skill difference would also be amazing. Jones is widely considered one of the greatest fighters of all-time, and he’s only 30 years old. He’s not over the hill or past his prime. Lesnar is 40 years old so he’s past his prime, but the question becomes how far past his prime?

This fight would be the living embodiment of the question: “Does skill trump size? In this case, I think it would. I would take Jones to finish Lesnar in the second round. Not because I think Lesnar is some bum or anything like that. However, Lesnar would gas and that would give Jones his opportunity. Or, to be more accurate, multiple opportunities. A large part of me would be rooting for Lesnar in this fight, though. Part of that is because I’m not convinced that Jones has truly changed. It’s also that I’m a Brock Lesnar fan. I’ve followed his career for a long time and I’ve enjoyed watching him compete.

At the same time, though, this would be history. Jones would be proving that size isn’t always the biggest factor in a fight. He would be proving that superior skill beats anything else. Ultimately, this is such an incredibly interesting fight to think about. And to be honest, I also think it’s the only one of the three I’ve named here that would be truly entertaining.

The buildup to McGregor-Mayweather is extremely interesting. The idea of what might happen will likely be better than what actually will happen. The most likely scenario for this fight is that we get a dozen rounds of Mayweather deftly dodging nearly all of McGregor’s punches while landing a few of his own here and there.

The same could also be said for GSP-Bisping. GSP has a long track record of fights where he controls his opponent with his wrestling and jabs, and Bisping is (was?) considered a soft puncher, the Luke Rockhold stoppage notwithstanding. That fight probably goes the distance as well. Some of that is the toughness of the fighters involved, but it’s also the style of the fighters.

Jones-Lesnar, on the other hand, is almost assuredly not going past two rounds, possibly three. I just can’t imagine a scenario where Lesnar either doesn’t finish Jones in the first round, or get finished in the second. Lesnar’s cardio isn’t made for going into the deep rounds. The only thing about this fight that would truly stun me is if it were to go to decision. I find the idea of that hard to believe. So that means we would pretty much be guaranteed an exciting fight. That alone is reason enough to want to see this fight. Throw in the historic possibilities and it becomes even more enticing. It’s still more of an idea than reality for now, but at this point, it almost becomes too big to pass up. The UFC will have millions of reasons to make this fight, and none to make them want to not make it.

Comments and suggestions can be emailed to me at hydenfrank@gmail.com and you can follow me on Twitter at @hydenfrank

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.