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MMA Roundtable: Werdum’s title chances, Metamoris, Henderson vs. Evans, Bellator’s UFC pick-ups

As the weather heats up and the summer schedule plows forward, it’s that time again to grab a seat and debate the latest comings and goings in the MMA world. For that I’m happy to be joined by my West Coast amigo, Dave Doyle, for this latest edition of the MMA Roundtable. We’ll talk the UFC heavyweight title, reflect on the merits of BJJ pay-per-views and peruse through Bellator’s recent signing spree. But first, let’s look ahead towards the weekend. 1. A year ago Rashad Evans vs. Dan Henderson would’ve been a huge fight. Now it’s met mostly with grumbles. Is there a chance either of these men regain any of their former momentum with a win at UFC 161? Al-Shatti: It’s crazy to see how much can change with one lethargic performance. Both of these guys, Evans and Henderson, were inches away from fighting for a title when last they gathered for a fight week. If he hadn’t pattycaked his way to a bizarre loss, Evans could’ve been locked against Anderson Silva right now. Same goes for Henderson and Jon Jones. So in more than a few ways, this question is pretty surreal. Unfortunately, it’s also somewhat inescapable. Of course you can never say never in MMA — all it takes is one brutal H-bomb or one Salmon-esque head kick for either of these men to be propelled back into the conversation. Yet for some reason I can’t shake the feeling that the light heavyweight division has passed Henderson and Evans by. Lyoto Machida is firmly entrenched above both guys, while Glover Teixeira and Alexander Gustafsson are the next big things. Where’s that leave Hendo and ”ËœShad? Perhaps this sentiment applies more so to Evans than Henderson, purely by virtue of his one-sided loss to Jones. Henderson, after all, has the unfinished business card on his side. But the road is treacherous from here on out. Teixeira wants the winner of this bout and it wouldn’t surprise me if he gets his wish. A 42-year-old Henderson beating Evans and Teixeira in succession wouldn’t be the most surprising thing we’ve ever seen, but it’s still a long shot, and sadly for Hendo — a true legend of the sport — that’s probably what he needs. Doyle: Pretty much agreed with Shaun here. Hendo has the better case for continued relevance of the two. If he scores an impressive win, then he’s probably one more solid win away from a title shot, depending on how things break. And given how everything went down last year, a Jones-Henderson fight would probably be more bankable now than it originally was. But it’s still a tough road. Time obviously isn’t on Henderson’s side. Was his UFC 157 loss merely attributable to Machida being able to effectively play his game, or was Henderson unable to get off because he’s a 42-year-old with a bum knee? UFC 161, if nothing else, should help clear that up. But while Henderson at least has a path, it’s hard to argue the same for Evans. Even if he looks good against Henderson, and even if he manages to win a relevant follow-up fight, is there really a market for a rematch with Jones? Win or lose on Saturday, a trip to a less-crowded middleweight division is likely Evans’ best option. 2. Metamoris used MMA fighters Brendan Schaub and Shinya Aoki to lure crossover fans to their submission grappling PPV. Do you think the company made any new fans on Sunday? Doyle: It’s hard to say. First, let me get into what Metamoris did right. I was at Pauley Pavilion on Sunday and the event was a first-class production. From the big screens to the lighting setup to just the mere fact that the event ran on time and went without a hitch, Metamoris was top-notch. I didn’t see the pay-per-view, so I don’t know if the arena experience translated to the broadcast. But assuming it came off online as it did in the building, the presentation of the product in and of itself was a good first impression and was the opposite of the fiasco which was last year’s World Jiu-Jitsu Expo in Long Beach. That said, I’m not sure Metamoris is going to grow beyond a well-presented version of a niche product. Casual fans who were asked to pay $19.95 and checked in for the first time saw the first two matches go to draws. The judges didn’t have to give justification for their choices, leading to a lack of transparency. Rodlfo Vieira was announced as a 2-1 split decision winner over Braulio Estima. How did the judges come to their conclusion on a tightly contested bout? For all the flaws of the 10-point must system in MMA, at least it gives us a quantifiable look at the judges’ thought process. You didn’t have to be a jiu-jitsu diehard to know something was a little off about the Brendan Schaub-Roberto Abreu fight. And after many fans had watched eight submissions during a UFC card the previous night, they had to wait more than three hours to see a submission on a submissions-only card. Hey, if this is your cup of tea, if you live and die for jiu-jitsu, this is the product for you. There’s nothing wrong with that. I just didn’t see much on Sunday night that would turn a cas…

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