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Tuesday, July 26, 2011
ESPN.com MMA mailbag: Chuck vs. Chad

By Chad Dundas and Chuck Mindenhall

(ESPN.com analysts Chuck Mindenhall and Chad Dundas answer readers' MMA questions in the first installment a mailbag column that will appear regularly on the site. Future questions can be submitted via Twitter to @chuckmindenhall or @chaddundas.)
@broncospower: How could you pick against Junior Dos Santos in his fight against Shane Carwin? And will you make the same mistake when he fights Velasquez?

Chuck: I’m an optimist. That’s why I’m confused by picking against dos Santos on a whim of skepticism. In short, I thought that Carwin would be able to take dos Santos down and lay waste to his body with those ham-hock fists. I was wrong. As for making the mistake again? Sad to say I am prone to repeat my mistakes.

Chad: Ditto for me on both questions. For the record, I was gearing up to pick Lesnar, too, before Brock’s diverticulitis flared up again. In retrospect, that fight probably would’ve been even more lopsided and made me look like even more of a doofus. Will I learn my lesson for UFC 139? Nah -- gimme Cain by UD.

@Steampunk22: Are you surprised at all with Jon Jones' heel turn? People just seem to be off of Jones lately.

Chad: I like most of what I’ve seen from Jones in the media lately. At the start of his career I thought he came off as a bit too scripted, a bit too rehearsed. Lately it seems like he’s “being himself” more, which I think is a good thing for his long-term marketability. He’s probably going to slip up and say dumb stuff now and again, but that’s just the price of being 24 years old and kind of famous.

Chuck: Barely 24 years old. You know, he was a fairly sheltered child in a very religious home growing up. Suddenly he finds himself surrounded by “yes” people, celebs, entrepreneurs and even hip-hop factions (!), with everyone handing out advice and reminding him how great he is. He’s bound to say a few dumb things as he adjusts to his very unique position in life. It’ll take a while for his demeanor to catch up to his talents.

@DzzyDzzyD: What do you guys think are common characteristics of champions? What makes a winner? (Training, attitude, etc.)

Chuck: Champions in this game are wired very, very differently in terms of personality, but the common thread seems to be sheer determination. Georges St. Pierre is neurotically afraid of complacency; Dominick Cruz has to be pushed out of the gym by the janitor’s broom. Jon Jones has freakishly long arms, which some might say is an extension of God’s determination.

Chad: Historically, it might’ve been athleticism and work ethic, but in 2011 I think we need to add another trait to the list: A willingness to learn. The “next generation” of UFC champs -- guys like Cruz, Jones and Frankie Edgar -- have all taken steps to significantly improve and evolve beyond the preexisting skills they brought to the fight game. I think that’s invaluable when it comes to not only becoming champion, but staying champion.

@heizerbjj: Are you excited/what’s your thoughts regarding @ONEFCMMA?
Phil Baroni and Joe Riggs
It's hard to get excited about a Phil Baroni fight these days.
Chad: I’m not one of these guys who goes crazy for Pride nostalgia and pines for stomps and soccer kicks and all that, but anything that can provide a lift for MMA in Asia is A-OK by me. Beyond that, honestly, it’s not really on my radar.

Chuck: True, Chad. And it’s hard to get overly excited right off the bat when Phil Baroni and Yoshiyuki Yoshida are the first faces associated with it, but hey, glad that markets in Asia are getting some cards. It never hurts for fighters to have more options to showcase their wares.

@StrengthSpeedNL: If u could choose one current and one all-time athlete to represent your sport in a decathlon, who would you choose?

Chuck: Very tough question because you’re forcing me to stuff historical context into my narrow focus (and to peep Wikipedia to see what’s involved in a decathlon) -- but I’d go with Phil Davis, who’s long, lean and fast. Or Kyle Kingsbury, who uses track and field training as a key part of his fight camps. All-time? Let’s say I’d skip over Tank Abbott’s candidacy.

Chad: Georges St. Pierre. Why? Because like any self-respecting NFL GM, when in doubt I go with the best athlete on the board. St. Pierre might be a little raw when it comes to the decathlon, but his “upside” is just tremendous. For my all-time guy, I’ll take a UFC 15-era Mark Kerr and just hope we crush the throwing events hard enough to make up for totally gassing out in the 1,500-meters.

@Jason_MMA: Will the UFC brass ever re-tweak the insurance claims so that fighters can't pull out with 30 days of a fight?

Chad: Objection! Leading the witness! This seems like more of a suggestion than a question from our pal Jason_MMA. Frankly, I don't know that there’s anything wrong with the UFC’s new insurance policy as written and I don’t know if it would be legal for the company to put any kind of limitations on when fighters can utilize it. For now, I like it as is.

Chuck: “Ever” is a big word. I would think if there’s a wild rash of last minute dropouts (wilder even than right now) they’d look at re-tweaking … presuming it was tweaked to begin with. Right now the insurance policy is a huge boon for fighters, and most are just happy it’s available. For a guy on a liquid diet with his jaw wired shut, Cub Swanson is totally ecstatic about it.

@BruceHazel: Now that Tito Ortiz is in the main event at UFC 133, what chance do you give him of springing the upset?

Chuck: I give him a solid chance. Ortiz fought well in their first encounter at UFC 73 (which ended in a draw), and he’s a veteran who’s had a lot of experience dealing in heavy-handed wrestlers … guys like Ryan Bader. Tito was hungry and aggressive in his revitalizing upset win over Bader, which makes it that much more intriguing.

Chad: I think Chuck is being a bit charitable here. I don’t think Ortiz has much chance to upset Rashad Evans, though if he did and somehow became No. 1 contender for the UFC title, it would be one of the biggest stories of the year. Evans isn’t as green as Bader and even if Ortiz surprises him with a shot and puts him in similar trouble (really, his only chance) Evans is cagey enough to survive and out-point him over the course of 15 minutes.
Ron Artest
From Queensbridge to court to ... cage? Ron Artest might have the goods to cut it in MMA.
@sethfalvo: Since it's fresh on my mind, what NBA player do you think should try MMA during the lockout?

Chad: No doubt about it, Ron Artest. He already talks as crazy as Chael Sonnen and at 6-foot-7, 260 pounds he fits in neatly under the heavyweight limit. Plus, he’s already on Twitter, so he can go ahead and skip the next Zuffa fighter summit.

Chuck: Dude. Chris “Birdman” Anderson. He’s tight with a lot of MMA fighters, trains in it in the offseason, and he and Stefan Struve make for a perfect main event at UFC 150: Battle of the Beanstalk. He also has MMA-like ink.