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Twitter Mailbag: Don't even talk to me about Georges St-Pierre vs. Nate Diaz right now

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In this week’s Twitter Mailbag, all discussion of GSP vs. Diaz the younger is banned until further notice, while we also dissect where the value for fans will lie in the UFC’s new lineup of streaming, broadcast, and pay-per-view events.

Plus, what’s a Machida to do now? And have we stumbled upon the yanny vs. laurel argument for the MMA sphere?

To ask a question of your own, tweet to @BenFowlkesMMA.

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If Dana is to be believed, and GSP vs Nate at '55 was in the works, how wld that be a "Legacy Fight" that Georges keeps referrring to as his next bout? To say he beat both Diaz brothers? I like Nate but wouldnt a LW title bout vs reigning Champ Khabib be more "Legacy-esque"?!

— Navy Mike (@mike1fierce) May 16, 2018

Hear me now: I am done with this Georges St-Pierre vs. Nate Diaz business. I’m done with the whole stupid topic. I’m done talking about it, done listening to other people talk about it, done thinking about it. I don’t even want to think about whether or not it’s worth thinking about it.

It’s a silly fight in a weight class neither of them really wants to make, and I’m not going to believe a word about it until I see signed bout agreements from both parties. Even then, I’m going to loudly demand to know why, since it’s not like anybody was asking for this. It makes no sense. It ignores so many better options. It would be like going out of your way to screw up a sure thing.

Which is not to say that the UFC won’t do exactly that. But until I see an official announcement with confirmation from all sides, as far as I’m concerned it’s just wolf tickets, homie. And I am not in the market.

If you’re Machida, do you try to get a fight that elevates you in the rankings or you want to bank big on entertaining fights before retirement? I don’t know what I want him to do. https://t.co/Zj9ZgW56Zy

— Charles (@chjobin) May 17, 2018

What’s the end game of climbing up the rankings right now, if you’re Lyoto Machida? He’s 39, has relatively recent and predominantly brutal losses to most of the relevant people in the middleweight title picture, and there are a bunch of people ahead of him in line for a title shot.

Even if he got the top of that heap, his reward would likely be getting slept on live TV. Just saying, there are better options for a respected elder statesman in this sport.

The fight with Vitor Belfort is exactly the kind of bout Machida should be looking for. A big name whose claws aren’t quite as sharp as they used to be, but who still feels like a meaningful challenge for a former champ.

The only problem is, there’s fewer of those types left with each passing year. You stick around long enough, you run out of game without talons. Then you become dinner for wolves.

ESPN+ will pay the UFC $10M per show, the equivalent of just over 250k in PPV buys, for non-PPV quality events. In 2017 the UFC only averaged 309k buys for its PPVs, yet apparently they aren’t planning to reduce PPVs for big money TV cards. Why?

— Charles Dutch (@MrCharlesDutch) May 16, 2018

First of all, we don’t know yet what the ESPN+ cards will look like. I’m not saying they’ll all be stacked with big name talent from top to bottom, but just because they’re on the internet that doesn’t mean we should assume that they’ll be garbage. It’s one thing to dump the lowest tier of your programming options on your own streaming service. It’s another thing to serve that up to ESPN for $150 million a year.

Which leads me to another thing: We can’t entirely assume that each event comes at a cost of $10 million. The UFC isn’t just giving ESPN these 15 live fight cards; there’s also the UFC library and other programming associated with the deal. I agree that the live events are the big asset here, but they aren’t the whole ballgame.

But your question is still valid. According to Bloomberg, which cited UFC COO Lawrence Epstein as its source, the UFC is still planning on 12 pay-per-views for 2019, and that’s in addition to these 15 events, as well as 15 more events for an eventual TV partner.

But if the UFC is getting such a good deal from ESPN, why is it still trying to get fans to shell out for the same number of pay-per-views, which, by the way, keep going up in price? The answer lies somewhere in that $4 billion purchase price.

Reading the investor documents that the UFC’s new owners put together, you don’t get a sense that the plan was ever to continue making the same amount of money, or even just marginally increase the profitability of the UFC. The plan was always to jack revenues way up while simultaneously reducing costs. That’s how they justified paying so much for the company in the first place.

So yes, the ESPN+ deal helps insulate the UFC somewhat from the feast-or-famine nature of the pay-per-view model. But why would the UFC settle for taking ESPN’s money instead of ours when it can get that money in addition to ours?

At least, it thinks it can. As you hinted at, this plan spreads the UFC pretty thin, especially after a 2018 in which it has struggled to put on pay-per-views worthy of the distinction, all while TV ratings plummet. It’s fair to wonder whether this plan to cash in over the next five years will result in a watered-down product that jeopardizes the five years after that.

@benfowlkesMMA if you asked Dana White, why aren't the fighters getting a piece of the pie with regards to the new tv deals and fight pass subscriptions, what would be his response?

— joe from htown (@joedaddy85) May 16, 2018

You mean the real response or the public one? The real reason is fairly simple: Fighters don’t have any collective bargaining mechanism in place to force that issue.

The only reason athletes in leagues like the NBA get a pay raise when the league gets a rights fee increase is because they have that written into their collective bargaining agreements. It’s not something that’s happening out of the kindness of anyone’s heart, or because teams recognize that players deserve to share in the financial success. They’re doing it because they have to, because the players made them.

But in this sport, the athletes have not found a way to make management give them a similar deal. And so they don’t get it. And they won’t. Not unless they make it happen for themselves.

MMA is now highly regulated with @_CSAC @ #NSAC at the forefront of this. Without giving @MarcRatnerUFC more headaches, should there be exemptions applied so there can be more "openweight" tournaments rather than the current @BellatorMMA HW tournament where fat MW's fight HW's?

— Nick Jolly (@nickj812) May 17, 2018

Maybe let’s wait and see how this de facto openweight tournament in Bellator goes before we start pressuring the people on the regulatory side to pave the way for more of them. Since the next round features a former middleweight against a small heavyweight, and the current light heavyweight champ against a legit heavyweight, maybe we’re still in for a reminder that weight classes exist for a reason.

Is it me or is the "should Pennington's corner have stopped the fight" debate the MMA version of "Yanny or Laurel". You're going to hear what you want to hear and swear people who disagree are completely wrong?

— Tom J (@tjohn224) May 16, 2018

First of all, nice work tying this in with a trending topic. Second, I think you’re completely wrong.

The debate about whether Raquel Pennington’s corner should have sent her back out for the fifth round against Amanda Nunes at UFC 224 is one where I can see the argument for both sides.

While I still question the wisdom of talking her into continuing without giving her any helpful advice on what to do differently, I can almost see the argument that this saved her from a lifetime of regret. Getting stopped by Nunes rather by her own flagging will means she doesn’t have to wonder whether she could have won that fight in the fifth. She knows the answer is no.

Does that make it worth the risk or the added physical punishment? I think that’s debatable, but it’s a debate worth having. That’s different than the yanny vs. laurel thing, because, I mean, obviously it’s yanny and if you claim otherwise you’re a monster.

If CM Punk loses, will we see him on a third PPV in the future or will the #UFC not even bother despite the money that can always dangle in front of them? Maybe face Ken Shamrock in #Bellator? Or fight #50Cent? There are still options. And dare we think what happens if he wins?

— Logan SCW Saunders (@logsupacoowacky) May 16, 2018

If CM Punk beats Mike Jackson at UFC 225, I assume we’ll spend the next six months talking about his impending fight with Floyd Mayweather. If he loses, then I think something’s got to give.

Let’s be clear about what’s happening here. After the UFC signed the former pro wrestler whose real name is Phil Brooks, the UFC went in search of a plausible opponent. To that end, it held a little contest between Jackson and Mickey Gall. To let you know what expectations were like headed into that one, the promotion would only commit to giving Gall the Punk fight if he won – not Jackson.

And Gall won, then beat the brakes off Punk, so the UFC has now circled back to Jackson, who the UFC was otherwise completely uninterested in after that fight with Gall. So what we have here is a search for someone – anyone – who Punk can beat. It’s an attempt to make him seem borderline credible, all in the hope of short-term financial gain.

So what happens if he can’t even win that fight? I suspect even Punk might reevaluate his career choice. If not? Next stop: Dana White’s Contender Series. Where he’ll presumably fight a hobo who was pulled off a boxcar earlier that day.

Thoughts on forcing fighters that miss weight to fight in the weight class above for their next fight? Might introduce some interesting match-ups for those that violate the terms of their contract.

— __scalesodot__ (@scales_odot) May 16, 2018

I like the idea in theory, but all weigh-in misses are not created equal. If you come in a pound over and it’s your first offense, forcing you to do the cliched I-swear-this-never-happens-to-me apology dance afterward? I’m not convinced that we need to detour your entire career and possibly get you beat up by a larger opponent as punishment.

But if you’re someone like Mackenzie Dern, and you’re off by a mile in a weight class that you’ve missed as many times as you’ve made? Then yeah, something must be done. You’re basically cheating at that point, and you shouldn’t be rewarded for it. You definitely shouldn’t break into the rankings as a result. At least, not at the weight class that you didn’t even come close to fighting in.

If I were to bet the house on Greg Hardy getting a first round KO and getting a UFC contract, how safe would I be?

— Myku (@WorldsWorstHero) May 16, 2018

His quality of competition thus far makes it difficult to determine whether he’s a lock for a first-round knockout, but it seems like the UFC is looking for a way to sign Greg Hardy to a contract. If he wins at all, provided he doesn’t look absolutely terrible, I’d say it’s guaranteed that he lands in the UFC next. Then “putting your hands on a woman” will get added to the list of things you “don’t come back from” – unless there’s money to be made by looking the other way.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMAjunkie.

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