Welcome to the debut of the Bloody Elbow Roundtable. For our maiden voyage, we’re starting out with recent addition to the crew Evan Zivin, who’s done wonderful work in the past and has some great perspectives. We’ve also enlisted another newcomer in Jack Wannan, as well as familiar BE faces in Kristen King and me, Victor Rodriguez.
Together we discussed Nate Diaz and his scuffle in NOLA, Jon Anik’s assertion that Joe Rogan is deserving of Emmy consideration and Sergei Pavlovich’s waiting game with the UFC heavyweight title. The team also delves into some more under-the-radar subjects from around MMA.
Leave Nate Diaz alone, kids
With the wild weekend Nate Diaz had, is there any reason why anyone would want to mess with him?
Read: New angle on Nate Diaz street brawl with Logan Paul impersonator
Victor Rodriguez: Yes, people are fucking stupid. Criminally so. There’s a reason we need to bring back Pros vs Joes. People need to be humbled on the regular. In fact, I’m not sure that show would do that much good when it comes to MMA and combat sports. Basketball and football, sure. But some people really think they’re the toughest cat in Shangri-La, and that the fake UFC stuff on TV has too many rules. Those guys on TV? They can’t head-butt you or kick you in the nuts.
These average guys probably wouldn’t thrive in that MMA ruleset. But out in the street, ain’t no stopping them. No way, no how. So when this moron thought it was a good idea to walk up and talk shit to not just an MMA fighter – one of the quickest fighters to street violence in living history – well, shit. He had to know who Nate Diaz was and what he was about.
Didn’t stop his dumb ass. Now he gets Worldstarred in front of God an country like a fucking imbecile. And I’m not sure if this is a matter of some sort of “masculinity in crisis” nonsense where people try to act harder and “manlier” as if that’s what’s truly needed or this is the avenue by which the nonexistent problem is to be remedied. Maybe it’s a cultural thing where no one can fathom being wrong or being defeated in any way. But the biggest factor is the common person’s lack of understanding of violence before, during, and after it happens.
Dude walked up to Nate hands down, bad stance, jaw flapping. He had a problem, and Nate solved it. I got a hunch most guys like this wouldn’t challenge old-ass Scottie Pippen to a game of horse. But there’s something about MMA and combat sports guys that some people can’t help themselves and be dumb around.
They always gotta test fighters, and this guy won the pony by picking the worst one to try to style on. Maybe Nate isn’t some jacked dude and these guys think their athleticism will carry them or something. Nate just seems to attract that level of heat even when minding his own business. Might have that orange aura Charlie Murphy talked about
Jack Wannan: “Guy sees fighter and wants to test if he is as good as said fighter” is a tale as old as time. Mix that in with the social media reality that we live in, and you get an equation where Nate Diaz will get fists, water bottles, drinks, and more thrown at him when he attends public events. Clout is clout: that means beating up Diaz or getting beat up by Diaz is probably a win to any influencer who gets into it with him.
So, I guess that means we’ll keep seeing interesting headlines involving him. But if Nate Diaz is reading this (is he a big Bloody Elbow guy? don’t know), I want him to hear this: I’ve never wanted to mess with you, nor do I ever plan on doing so.
Evan Zivin: Beside the police? Otherwise, it only makes sense to increase your social media following. I’m sure the guy who Nate choked out is enjoying the added attention he’s getting right now. For all we know, KSI is already on the phone with him to book him as a future opponent on one of his Misfit Boxing events. Maybe we’ll get him on the same card as the next Salt Papi fight.
I seriously have no idea who that is. I just remember seeing his name plastered on all the MMA sites the other week and wondering how long I’ve been frozen for.
Kristen King: No — unless you want some attention. And from what we have heard and seen from Nate Diaz, he is fine with giving it to you. The two people he had run-ins with — Rodney Peterson (a Logan Paul impersonator) and Chase DeMoor (a reality TV personality) have now doled out challenges to Diaz.
And I guarantee you, these two are going to ride this wave for as long as they can (which, for Peterson, could be awhile since there is now an arrest warrant out for Diaz as a result of his run-in). I could do without these ‘test ya gangsta’ type of incidents. Everyone involved is going to face some type of consequence, so you gotta ask yourself: is it worth it?
Joe Rogan is not getting an Emmy
Jon Anik said Joe Rogan should be nominated for an Emmy. Who in the MMA world is actually deserving of such an honor?
Read: Joe Rogan deserves an Emmy for ‘elite’ analysis, says Jon Anik
Victor Rodriguez: Definitely not Joe Rogan. Not for nothing, but he’s not a standard of excellence in broadcasting. Especially not now. He had a time where he was great at attempting to explain to the less-knowledgable what they were witnessing in MMA fights, but others have done better at that since.
I’d probably go with Jimmy Smith. The guy was clear, concise, always had a clear picture of what was going on and relayed that to the audience. Smith did well with any broadcast partner, especially with Sean Wheelock in a combo that really gelled and got better with time. So I’d say Smith.
Jack Wannan: When I first heard about this Jon Anik, Joe Rogan thing, I was sort of perplexed. Then I realized there’s a Sports Emmy Awards that exists, and Anik wasn’t trying to nominate Joe Rogan for that and not Best Lead Drama Actor or something.
I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of Joe Rogan commentary. With that being said, I think he’s in his role because a lot of people like him. I can only imagine UFC offers him a solid chunk of cash to be there. But zooming out, I’m not really huge on a lot of commentary in the sport. I think a few MMA play-by-play guys are good (Brendan Fitzgerald, Mauro Ranallo and Sean O’Connell come to mind), but besides that nothing really stands out to me.
I know Ranallo is polarizing due to his flashy character, but I really like it. I feel he strikes a balance between having his own personal flair but not making the product about him. If any broadcaster gets a nomination, I might have to go with him.
When I listen to some voices in soccer, baseball, hockey, or even something like professional wrestling, it makes me feel like this sport still has a ways to go broadcast wise. Do I think there is anything stopping MMA from having an Emmy Sports winner? Absolutely not. Just not this year!
Evan Zivin: Honestly, Jon Anik is more deserving of an award for putting up with Joe Rogan on a regular basis. Only other nominees in the running are Daniel Cormier for pretending that Power Slap wasn’t just the worst and “Big John” McCarthy for being the only member of the Bellator broadcast team capable of pulling off a Hawaiian shirt. No wonder Dana isn’t so eager to put on a show there.
Kristen King: I misread the original headline because I thought Joe Rogan was saying Jon Anik should be nominated for an Emmy. And honestly? He should, so I’ll expand on that! Jon Anik is the crème de la crème when it comes to MMA play-by-play announcers. He is the perfect mix of professionalism and enthusiasm, and I enjoy hearing him when I tune into a UFC event. If I had to choose someone else, it would be between Brendan Fitzgerald and John Gooden. Anik, Fitzgerald and Gooden are some of the greatest voices we have in the sport.
Is waiting the smart play for Sergei Pavlovich ?
After defeating Curtis Blaydes at UFC Vegas 71, Sergei Pavlovich stated that he will wait for a title shot against the winner of Jon Jones vs. Stipe Miocic. Blaydes said before the fight that he would do the same. With the state of heavyweight being what it is right now, does it make sense for Pavlovich, or any heavyweight, to wait instead of remaining active?
Read: ‘I’ll wait’ — Sergei Pavlovich waiting for winner of Jon Jones vs. Stipe Miocic after UFC Vegas 71 win
Victor Rodriguez: It’s the only smart thing to do. Besides, it’s late April and Jones isn’t set to tangle with Stipe until (allegedly) the UFC’s big MSG card in November. Why risk your spot if you’re already likely to be next in line? Sergei Pavlovich came in at #3, beat #4, with the number 1 guy being Ciryl Gane. #2 is Stipe, who’s fighting Jones next. Aspinall is at #5 and recovering from a knee injury and behind him is Tai Tuivasa.
Take another fight in the interim? For what? It’s not like he’s gonna get a bump in pay. Might as well wait, get back in the gym, and get ready for the winner of the next matchup. No need to roll the dice on this.
Jack Wannan: If there’s anyone that should wait, it’s Sergei Pavlovich… But it’s not that simple of a question. Let’s get to the reasoning.
Pavlovich has a really strong case to challenge for the belt after his win this weekend. There’s certainly still lots of questions around him (as there would be for anyone who puts away most of their opponents in the first round), but he has a strong streak of victories that make him a sound challenger.
But should he wait? Well, it depends I guess. Let’s get one thing straight: if he’s going to wait, he’s going to WAIT. Jon Jones vs. Stipe Miocic is being targeted for November, so it wouldn’t surprise me if a Pavlovich title shot wouldn’t be until summer 2024 at the absolute earliest. He’s 30, which by heavyweight standards means he has a ton of time and can certainly wait a little.
But this is a job, and Pavlovich not fighting until summer 2024 means going more than a year without a paycheck. And who even knows if he will get a fight then? Stipe Miocic had a multi-year title reign and he has still had to wait more than two years for a title fight rematch — and that’s assuming his fight in the fall gets made.
In a perfect world, it would make sense for Pavlovich to wait because he is certainly a fair challenger. But I won’t be mad if being stuck in contender purgatory causes temptation to get the best of him, and he takes another fight.
Evan Zivin: I think waiting in most circumstances is a risky proposition if only because the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” carries a lot of weight in this sport. If Dana White made something clear when he gave the next welterweight title shot to Colby Convington over more deserving fighters like Belal Muhammad and Gilbert Burns (who now have to fight over the #2 contender spot), it’s that he’s focused on creating the biggest potential fights over the ones that make the most sense from a rankings perspective. Quality wins and streaks don’t matter. Making sure you’re first and foremost on the boss’ mind when he’s matchmaking is what matters.
Sergei Pavlovich performed excellently in that he got a statement win in a division where there’s not a whole lot to be excited about besides what’s happening at the very top (or should be happening, anyway). Sergei could probably wait and would more than likely get the Jones/Miocic winner, but is remaining on the sidelines waiting for that to play out going to strengthen his case for the fight in the meantime?
Maybe but maybe not. For all he knows, Stipe could beat Jones and Cyril Gane could win a fight and then that’s the matchup Dana wants. Or delays push the fight back so much that UFC all but forces Sergei to take another fight. Until Dana says publicly the fight is his, nothing is guaranteed.
Sergei may deserve the fight but, if he’s not careful, he may be forced to prove it one more time.
Kristen King: I say waiting for the winner of Jon Jones vs. Stipe Miocic is fine-ish (I’ll explain!) for Sergei Pavlovich. His recent performances have shown us he is a legitimate threat to anyone in the UFC heavyweight division, including whoever the champion is after their rumored fight near the end of the year. Aside from Jones, the toughest test for Pavlovich was Blaydes — and he laid waste to him within one round. To do that, and break your own previous record for most consecutive first-round KOs in modern UFC history is quite a feat. That said, I do have some concerns over waiting for something that may or may not happen.
First, was there any clear indication that this was an official No. 1 contender fight? It felt that way, right? This was No. 3 and No. 4 going up against each other. Ahead of Pavlovich and Blaydes are Miocic and Ciryl Gane, and we are aware of their current situations. Miocic is next for Jones, and Gane recently lost to Jones, so the only other option for a new No. 1 contender was the winner of Pavlovich vs. Blaydes, right?
But we have no idea if that is the direction the UFC wants to go. Second, what happens if, in Pavlovich’s absence, someone else in the division turns in a title-shot worthy performance? We have a slew of names like Tom Aspinall, Serghei Spivac and Jailton Almeida a couple of wins away from that title shot, and who’s to say they can’t squeeze in a few more fights to make that case in the year or so Pavlovich may be away waiting for either Jones or Miocic. Again, I say it’s fine for Pavlovich to wait. However, I can see so many scenarios that could force his hand to fight again before the year is over.
Patchy Mix’s GP win overshadowed?
As thrilling as Patchy Mix’s win in the Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix finals was, did the win and the tournament accomplish anything knowing that the actual Bantamweight Champion, Sergio Pettis, will be defending his title in June against Patricio Pitbull?
Read: Bellator 295: Stots vs. Mix results and highlights
Victor Rodriguez: Most absolutely. The only reason the main title wasn’t on the line was because Sergio got injured. Patchy still gets the reputation bump of winning the big tournament with the million bucks, plus the fact that he got the interim belt off Archuleta himself. Look at the field of vets he beat as a lesser-experienced fighter: Horiguchi, Magomedov, and Stots. And look at how he did it. He looked majestic in there, and added even more highlight-reel finishes.
It’s unfortunate Bellator doesn’t get enough credit for their scouting and matchmaking. Mix got tossed into a shark tank and beasted on a bunch of dudes, and if anything, this Pettis/Pitbull thing being so close helps. It reduces the likelihood of having to wait ages for a title unification, and keeps the hype a bit fresher. Nobody looks bad in the end and they keep all the pieces moving. It’s beautiful.
Jack Wannan: Bellator’s bantamweight Grand Prix successfully accomplished a few things that I must credit them for. First: it came and went in a fair amount of time. Some tournaments can last ages due to logistics or other issues, but this one wrapped up in roughly a year. Second: it kept the division moving while the champion had an injury on the sidelines. I totally understand taking the belt off a champion when they’re seriously injured. But, when you have the opportunity to do something like this instead, I’m taking it over stripping the belt any day of the week. And three: it made a real dangerous challenger in Patchy Mix.
Anyone who has watched Bellator closely knows that Mix has been legit for a long time. His sole loss was a five-round title fight against Juan Archuleta in 2020. For me, I knew he was not one to mess with when I saw him catch veteran Yuki Motoya with a guillotine choke in late 2019. His three-fight tournament run saw him beat some legitimate names in dominant fashion, and his victory Saturday was certainly the peak of that. I think this tournament did good for the division and has set up a solid title fight for the future.
Kristen King: Yes it did! Patchy Mix set himself up perfectly — again. Do y’all remember his post-fight interview after he defeated James Gallagher nearly two years ago? Mix said, “I’m hoping that [Bellator] goes for a $1 million tournament at this weight class. That’s what I’m really hoping for…I feel, at bantamweight, all of us are such high-level competitors that there would be no boring fights. You put us in a fight for $1 million, that’d be the craziest tournament.”
I have one question for y’all: DID HE LIE? Not only was Mix completely right regarding the Bellator World Grand Prix, but he also won the whole thing (with a fantastic first-round finish, by the way) and got paid? That is definitely an accomplishment! And now, Mix set himself up for a fight against the winner of Sergio Pettis vs. Patricio Freire. Mix vs. Pettis and Mix vs. Freire are fights I want to see, and I hope I do!
Evan Zivin: Well, it accomplished getting Patchy Mix a million dollars. That must feel pretty good for him.
I know the original intent was for Sergio to compete in the tournament and defend his title throughout it, since Bellator has done that with each Grand Prix. That fact he had to pull out, meaning Patchy made it through without becoming the undisputed champion, is disappointing.
However, it does help in promoting the eventual showdown between Mix and the winner of the June title fight. Bellator struggles in a way UFC doesn’t when it comes to establishing top contenders and nothing says top contender more than winning a fancy tournament belt. I’m more hyped for that future fight than I would have been if Patchy and Sergio fought in the Grand Prix. I’d call it a win for Scott Coker.
Dominance dropping Ray Borg
What do you find most concerning about Ray Borg being cut from both Bellator and his management group, Dominance MMA, following his failed attempt to make weight for a fight at Bellator 295?
Read: Ex-UFC title contender cut by promotion, management, after yet another weigh-in scandal
Victor Rodriguez: In the entertainment industry, when your agent drops you, it’s usually the kiss of death. Ask Armie Hammer. Or check in with Jonathan Majors two years from now. Usually you messed up so bad that no PR department would find it worth their time or money to try to help you with your image. You done goofed in the most irreparable form, playboy. You’re toxic beyond helping.
But this Borg thing is so weird, because I can’t remember this happening in MMA in such a public way. And let’s be frank: here: Dominance MMA has an image problem purely by virtue of the man at the top. But it seems that Borg must’ve cost them some money.
Even then, this is so strange. You wanna take a chance on booking a guy that has such a bad history of weight cuts? Fine. That’s all good and well. But you slot him back in at flyweight? Answer me this: who’s the Bellator flyweight champion. Go do your googles. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. If this was an attempt of kicking off a flyweight division (which would be amazing), they’d probably have announced it.
But that’s not the case. They’ve had flyweight fights before as showcase bouts, but this didn’t make sense from the jump. Horiguchi wants to drop back down to 125? Great! I know, let’s book him against Ray Borg. a man that is most absolutely going to suffer from internal organ damage quite soon if he isn’t already. Could have brought in literally anyone else. So he’s cut from Bellator before he even fights in a “grand opening, grand closing” situation.
But then dumped as a client? Oof. If you know he’s got this problem, part of this is on you. You don’t as a promoter or management firm wash your hands clean of this when you know good and goddamn well this was a concern 3-4 years ago, let alone now. Hope Ray finds different representation (even if that means repping himself) and another avenue for making a living that doesn’t involve turning his kidneys into Ethiopian dates. Maybe fight up a class or do bare knuckle or something. Damn.
Jack Wannan: After Ray Borg’s weight miss, I saw a lot of frustrated folks online airing their grievances. Here’s some needed context: he took a Kyoji Horiguchi fight off a card, and that truly brings out the pitchforks from some fight fans.
And while I totally get the anger from people, I just couldn’t get myself to feel that way. The news about his weight miss, then subsequent cut from Bellator, then proceeding cut from Dominance MMA, just made me feel sad. In real-time, over the course of just a few hours, we saw someone lose their job completely.
The fact that this is over weight cutting makes it all the more conflicting to me. I think a lot of us recognize that weight cutting can be incredibly unsafe, damaging maybe even an old fashioned part of the sport. If I had a genie with three wishes, one of them might be to implement a sudden, sweeping replacement to weight cutting that keeps the sport fair but even more safe (or bring a culture into the sport that discourages cutting down to unhealthy weights).
If you’re someone who is a critic of weight cutting, you might be in a tough position here. Sure, weight cutting isn’t a great thing, but it is still the duty of a fighter to make the weight they are contracted at. This is not to take blame off Borg here because this is still on him, but it’s just something that I do think about in these situations.
I’m not going to repeat what another Victor said here, but there is also something to be said about why this even came about. You can blame this on Borg, but also remember that a promoter and management team also agreed to set up this bout at flyweight.
Borg’s situation is one that I feel bad about. His long list of fight cancellations were not all his fault. Yet, there is certainly this stigma that he is unreliable and now can’t be worked with. And while I totally understand the anger being directed toward him, I just… I don’t know.
Evan Zivin: What’s concerning to me is that, all around, it feels like Borg was done dirty by everyone.
Yes, he’s the one who agreed to face Kyoji Horiguchi at flyweight so the burden was on him to make weight, but why did Bellator offer him that fight at 125 to begin with? The man has missed weight on multiple occasions and came into the promotion looking to compete at bantamweight. He said days before the fight that he was just as confused as everyone else why they insisted on him competing at 125.
We obviously don’t know all the behind-the-scenes details or what the nature of Borg’s relationship with Dominance MMA has been like or what they did or didn’t do to help prepare him to make weight, but dropping a client so quickly and in such a public manner is plain out unprofessional. There are plenty of ways this could have been handled and they went with the one that brought the most attention to themselves while making Borg out to be irresponsible and reckless. That doesn’t sit right with me.
Remember, kids: managers are never looking out for what’s best for you.
Kristen King: When I first saw Bellator signed Ray Borg, I was happy — and I’m sure all parties involved were, too. Bellator added a one-time UFC title challenger to its roster. Borg, who has done so well in his past three appearances, was paired against a former champion in Kyoji Horiguchi for his first Bellator fight. And Dominance MMA helped one of its clients find his way to yet another premiere promotion. It was a win-win-win situation.
That was until this past Friday. Borg missed weight. Bellator cut Borg. And Dominance MMA severed ties with him. Everything went wrong, and for the reasons my colleagues have explained, there is lots of blame to go around here, so there is no point in regurgitating them. It’s just a shitty situation all around.
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