Posted 01/30/2014 by Derek Suboticki in Subo Says

The Perils of a Unified Talent Pool, Part 3

(An ongoing series to be continued as events dictate.)

I beat this drum a lot, sure, even when the popular winds of discontent (be they with regulatory practices, foreign relations or transparency) are battering my position. There are a few reasons for this. You have the oodles and oodles of evidence; the consistent naysaying from the usual suspects in the media; my own abject fear regarding a return to the Dark Ages of the mid 2000′s. All in all, however, I feel it bears repeating that I wholeheartedly defend my vote for Barack Obama, despite the recent controversies that have swirled around hi…

(checks byline)

Oh. RIGHT. This is about that OTHER situation that is clearly, indisputably better than the alternative, while remaining somewhat less appealing than Paradise on Earth.

SF Champion v. WEC Champion: Josh Thomson v. Benson Henderson, UFC on Fox 10

We were spared the indignity of Scott Coker publicly challenging either the UFC or its (unnecessarily) subordinate little brother to a “winner takes the gate” PPV card. Coker, for all his grandiose promises and “I’ll get back to you next week” prevaricating, was above such chicanery when Bjorn Rebney proposed a co-promoted Alvarez-Melendez fight, which makes Rebney’s categorical refusal to even address WSOF’s challenge all the more laughable. Had such a strategically impossible and fiscally suicidal coupling taken place, however, a tilt between lightweight champions – Benson Henderson versus either Josh Thomson or Gilbert Melendez – would be sure to headline, as their match-ups ultimately did twice on Fox.

This is part of why I think Mike Fagan is crazy: to place Gilbert Melendez in a different tier (he’ll get pissed if I say “class” or “stratosphere”, despite the fact that they are clearly synonyms of “tier”) than Josh Thomson is to both ignore their recent history against each other (Thomson is 1-2 career against Melendez, including a split decision in May 2012 that many felt belonged to Josh) AND their recent history against common opponents (recent split decision losses to Benson Henderson, who both is really good and arguably did better against Melendez than against a one-handed Thomson). This is only part of why I think Mike Fagan is crazy.

Listen to last week’s episode of Untethered MMA. This is a family blog.

WEC Champion v. Jungle Fights Non-Champion: Urijah Faber v. Renan Barao, UFC 169

One of the many perils of a unified talent pool is the inexorable draw it provides to athletes from all across the world who are interested in plying their trade against the best in front of the largest audiences possible. A split market – with, say, two equally viable promotions centered on opposite ends of the globe – creates barriers and incentives against fights being made; a multipolar market may make it more lucrative for a local, promising champion to stay put rather than come stateside. As an American, of course, that I can’t abide. Renan Barao’s rise from relative obscurity – unless you make a habit of catching up on Jungle Fights, Shooto and Watch Out Combat Show, in which case you’re both a liar and very weird – to the UFC bantamweight title is a credit to the UFC’s talent scouting department, the shining beacon to fighters worldwide that the UFC represents, and, of course, whatever cozy manager-promoter-sponsor relationship resulted in his WEC debut.

Just prior to Barao’s aforementioned debut, at WEC 48, Urijah Faber lost his long-held featherweight strap to Jose Aldo, who has done nothing since but bedazzle and upgrade it while casually kneeing anyone that tried to interrupt. We all have fond memories of the WEC, but the truth is that it didn’t die fast enough for Barao, Faber or Dominick Cruz, the latter of whom is watching his former co-workers excel on the world stage while he misses a huge chunk of his athletic prime due to injury. He and the rest of the world-class talent that was in WEC – and in Strikeforce – should have been in the UFC earlier. It’s a damn shame they weren’t.

SF/DREAM/K-1 Champion v. Former UFC Champion – Alistair Overeem v. Frank Mir, UFC 169

This isn’t the first time this has happened, as Accoladereem pulverized Brock Lesnar’s guts before allegedly stovepiping a woman at the Wynn hours later on NYE 2011 (maybe it was the testosterone). In fact, this is probably the first and last time two guys that beat Brock Lesnar will fight, assuming neither of these men earn the right to fight Cain Velasquez… ever. Overeem’s came post-surgery and on the juice and Mir’s came with a Mazzagatti assist against an impossibly green 1-0 Lesnar; I’ll leave it to you to decide which means less. Basically, what I’m saying is Brock Lesnar Forever.

Those calling this a loser-leaves-town match are probably incorrect, but I’m intrigued by the line of thinking that has Mir a more likely casualty in the event of a loss. Overeem costs a LOT of money – curiously, his show money seems to be exactly $264,285.71 (199,900 Euros), with a win bonus of $121,428.57 (89,590 Euros) – and his sizable signing bonus is beginning to look more and more like a sunk cost if he can’t reliably headline or co-headline PPV’s on a regular basis. Beating Mir is a step in the right direction; losing to him makes three straight against lower and lower ranked fighters. I can’t really see how he keeps his job if he loses.

Lord, if you’re up there (and even if you’re not), please grant Semmy Schilt the strength and Alistair Overeem the free agency to right what has been wronged.

Derek Suboticki

Derek Suboticki is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also co-hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET at, also available as a podcast via iTunes. Previous work includes being former editor at Head Kick Legend and Fightlinker and contributor for Watch Kalib Run and Cageside Seats.