Chat with Chuck Mindenhall
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, MMA blogger Chuck Mindenhall stops by to chat about the news from the octagon.
Mindenhall began covering MMA for ESPN.com in October 2010. He has worked as a features writer for FIGHT! Magazine, and contributed to many other publications, such as the LA Times, Village Voice and LA Weekly.
Send your questions now and join Mindenhall Friday at 2 p.m. ET!
Chuck Mindenhall (1:58 PM)
Guys, good to be back on the Friday chat. I'm in Vegas for UFC 160. Lot of things to discuss if you're so inclined. Josh Barnett back with the UFC...Mark Hunt and his renaissance...Vitor, Cholish, Diaz, Caraway, Healy, Saturday's fights. Let's dive right in.
Hey Chuck, who should Josh Barnett fight first in the UFC? Mir? or any of the winners/losers from 160?
Chuck Mindenhall (1:59 PM)
I think the most obvious one would be Mir, with both guys having come off a loss, and each a stalwart in the game with submission skills and good old-fashioned polarity. If not Mir, the loser of Hunt/Dos Santos would be good.
Chris Ceres CA [via mobile]
Chucky! How does a Velasquez vs Hunt fight play out? Easy payday for Cain id say. Take down GNP rinse n repeat.
Chuck Mindenhall (2:01 PM)
In a strange way, this weekend is like the Final Four. The excitement is sort of bound up in the "playing out" of the four-man field. If it came down to it, and Hunt upsets JDS, and Velasquez takes care of Bigfoot again, a Hunt/Velasquez fight will look pretty one-sided on paper. Exactly what you said: Velasquez take-down, a couple of intense minutes of boom-boom, and the fat lady belting at the top of her lungs.
lets say bigfoot wins an upset and jds beat hunt would they fight even with their friendship????
Chuck Mindenhall (2:02 PM)
I believe they said they would. A lot of "big ifs" in there, but hey, if it's for a title, can't see them putting each other off limits. It would be a greater disservice to JDS if the newly crowned champion Bigfoot said "no, won't fight my buddy JDS."
TJ GRANT IS A TOUGH DUDE.
Chuck Mindenhall (2:03 PM)
That he is. And he's a live threat to Maynard in this fight. I know Maynard likes to dictate the space, but Grant does too. Both are big for 155. As Grant said yesterday, it should be a dog fight.
And just where the heck have you been, mister? These last couple of Fridays I've actually had to WORK rather than kill time with the Hey Bro chat.
Chuck Mindenhall (2:04 PM)
Might be a little more sporadic with the Friday chat, but we'll try and be in here as frequently as I can. Sorry about the working thing. That sucks.
How long do you think the main event will last?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:05 PM)
I think a little over three minutes.
Tyler (Mission Viejo)
Koch and Poirier still looks like a barnburner to me. Glad that the UFC put that fight back together!
Chuck Mindenhall (2:06 PM)
Yeah, when they first made that fight, both were these up-and-comers who had the shine. But each has lost since then. Big fight for Poirier, particularly. The Korean Zombie loss was back and forth and forgivable. The Cub Swanson loss was a little more solemn. Lose to Koch, and all that hype from the documentary (etc) sort of fleets out the window.
Barnett is coming off of a loss? I thought he won his fight in the final Strikeforce event...
Chuck Mindenhall (2:07 PM)
Yes, I keep forgetting about Nandor. He did win that one, even with a flu-like problem and a tooth that had recently be extracted. Good point.
Chuck Mindenhall (2:07 PM)
The Cormier loss still feels fresh, though.
Jordan Breen (Sherdog.com Terrordome)
What is your most anticipated hip-hop releases? I feel like it might be Schoolboy Q's Oxymoron, not because I think you're a pill addict, but because you and Groovy Q are both big-time unique hat enthusiasts.
Chuck Mindenhall (2:08 PM)
Scroobius Pip, baby. That old Brit can flap the tongue.
Tobias (Sao Paulo)
How many hats you have? Nice trademark just like the light blue shirt of Big John
Chuck Mindenhall (2:09 PM)
I have maybe a half dozen driving caps. Plus assorted ballcaps. Need to get a new Rockies hat. They are actually playing well above expectations this year.
Luke (Grand Rapids, MI)
Hey chuck,Is it possible to KO the super samoan?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:09 PM)
Dos Santos thinks so.
Toggle Auto Update (West Memphis)
Can you foresee a scenario where Bigfoot wins, but the fight warrants an immediate rematch?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:10 PM)
Not totally, no. I mean, it's MMA, anything's possible. That's why they take off their shoes. But in my mind, Velasquez will attack, put Bigfoot on his back, and then it's just a matter of time.
any idea what james te-huna's entrance will look like? really enjoyed his last one.
Chuck Mindenhall (2:12 PM)
He said yesterday in the scrums that he had something up his sleeve. Love these guys who spend time choreographing their walkouts. It's an art form that pioneers like Seth Petruzelli, King Mo and Jason Mayhem Miller have really only scratched the surface with.
Hi Chuck, what do you think of Barnet returning to the UFC? And who would you like to see him fight?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:13 PM)
I like it a lot. There are only 25 heavyweights or so on the UFC's roster. Barnett opens the matchmaking possibilities up again. What were they going to do with Mir? Now they've got a very intriguing guy to stick in front of him.
what's up with caraway, man? seems like fans and media hate themselves some caraway, but dana really likes the guy.
Chuck Mindenhall (2:15 PM)
Caraway does have Dana's ear. It was him who drove the bonus price up from $50K to $65K at UFC 159, a bonus he would later collect. I think the thing that media and fans are picking up on is the shrewdness of it all...and the soapbox.
How's Vegas treating you?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:16 PM)
Not bad so far. Weather's actually very pleasant for Memorial Day weekend. Come UFC 162, in early July, we'll be back to feeling like Rango out in the dessert.
I'd love to see Gray Maynard get by Grant and get that shot at Bendo. There's something about that match-up that I really like. Agree?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:17 PM)
I do agree. I like the idea of Maynard/Bendo, and have mentioned that in here before. I think Maynard is a true threat to take that belt from Henderson. But, styles making fights, Grant may make the whole thing moot.
Somebody told me that the UFC is coming back to Houston! Is that true? WHEN?!
Chuck Mindenhall (2:18 PM)
Dana mentioned yesterday that he might roll out Cain Velasquez's next title fight in Houston (presuming he beats Bigfoot). They want to have him fight in Mexico, but that's a "tough place to navigate and do business."
Is it me, or is it strange that Brian Bowles and Jeremy Stephens are both fighting on the Facebook portion of the card?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:19 PM)
Glad to see Bowles back, but he hasn't fought since NOV 2011. So he returns on tiptoe. As for Stephens, he has lost three in a row and is testing feathers...might be trying to take the spotlight off him a little and see if he can get rolling.
What do you think of Nick Newell refusing to fight? Do you think he will end up in the UFC? If not, what would he have to do to make the UFC guys have no choice but want to sign him?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:21 PM)
You know, I was under the impression that Nick's fight was all set for June. I did a piece in ESPN Mag about him. I had asked Dana about him, and he'd thawed out a little bit on the "no way a one-handed fighter will fight in the UFC." He was more like "never say never" and "if he wins a couple more fights...we'll see." So I guess we're in wait and see mode until he fights again this summer.
James (New Orleans) [via mobile]
Weidman beats Silva for Middleweight Belt!!! Buy or Sell?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:23 PM)
Definitely a big-time challenge for Silva. I am going to buy it. It's hard to pick against Silva, but Weidman has the tools. He has the wrestling. He has the ground game. I don't think he'll make the mental mistakes Sonnen made. And even in the stand-up, if he has the threat of the takedown working for him, he may surprise Silva.
Aaron (Calgary, AB)
Saw a couple fights made for Roy Nelson and Damien Maia to fight outside top 10 guys Stipe Miocic and Josh Koscheck respectably. I don't see the benefit for Nelson or Maia in these matchups. Thoughts?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:25 PM)
It is a little puzzling. I know Roy is on the last fight of his contract. That might have weighed in on the matchmaking there. Maia/Koscheck is baffling to me. Kos has lost a pair in a row, just as Maia is surging through the ranks. Unusual to have two momentums heading in opposite ways collide.
Brad (Long Beach)
Been missing the Friday chat, Sir Charles! Glad to see it didn't go the way of the dodo. Buy or sell Hunt-JDS lasting more than a single round.
Chuck Mindenhall (2:26 PM)
Going to buy, Brad. I think it'll make it to the second round. That's when JDS will take the fight over, land a sequence of punches and finish the job.
How many more fights in a row would Okami have to win to get a title shot? I feel like his grappling could neutralize every person in that division other than Jacare. Who do you think he would fight next?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:27 PM)
Perhaps this is why Jacare looks like he is getting Okami next...
Any chance if TJ Grant *just barely* beats Maynard on the scorecards we see him overlooked for a title shot?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:29 PM)
I'm done believing pre-event promises. There are so many instances where we're told X fighter is one fight away, and then X fighter wins and turns out he's not next (poor Johny Hendricks...he's something like 11-0 in title eliminators). So, if Grant wins but it's a frustrating exercise in nihilistic toil, I could see the UFC changing its mind on who to give Bendo next.
zac irvine.CA [via mobile]
Wat up chuck.? First and foremost who u got hendo vs evans? And reem vs. Jds?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:30 PM)
Hendo/Evans will be a good fight. I think that it bothers both guys not that they lost their previous fights, but that the fights themselves were viewed as stinkers. I think they'll be throwing down. Going to give Hendo the nod here. As for Reem/JDS, the fight that is forever on the horizon? JDS.
sean, monrovia, ca [via mobile]
Hey chuck, which is the better nickname, Alexander "The Goof" Gustafson, or Gegard "Mickey" Moussasi? And will Disney ever let them fight?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:31 PM)
Hey Chuck, Buy or Sell: Eddie Alvarez fights once 2013.
Chuck Mindenhall (2:32 PM)
I'll buy. Towards the end. But this is a wild, very uneducated guess. Legal matters like his make my head hurt.
Is the UFC rushing a Cain-JDS trilogy? Both guys are young and getting them to have three fights within 2 years is a lot. I'd rather see Werdum get the shot next if he beats Big Nog.
Chuck Mindenhall (2:34 PM)
I wonder about this possibility. Somebody asked Velasquez if he looks at JDS as a rival yesterday, and he said "a little bit." If they both win, that looks like it'll be the fight. Strange thing with Werdum is that he should be right there in the discussion, but this long break pushed him off the radar. If he wins against Big Nog, he has to be in the discussion.
Happy Friday, Chuck! Glad to see the chat it back. Of the two heavyweight fights, who has the better shot at an upset, Bigfoot or Mark Hunt?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:36 PM)
I'd go with Mark Hunt on this. The possibility of him landing that big shot to down JDS is live. And there's a little bit of a question mark with JDS right now. How does he come back from that loss to Velasquez? Sometimes there's a hangover effect for guys coming off of one-sided fights like that.
tdiddy (winnipeg) [via mobile]
Chaz. Any idea on what Jason Miller is up to these days? Wildly likeable dude but just STUNK in the ufc.
Chuck Mindenhall (2:37 PM)
I haven't heard much about him recently. My guess is he's done. The UFC wasn't his best look. Though...he, we'll always have that noogie he gave Dollaway.
How about Barnett getting the winner (or loser) of Werdum v. Big Nog?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:37 PM)
Also a possibility. You see? Barnett opens up the full spectrum of heavyweight matchmaking possibilities.
Mica (Washington DC)
Oi! Chuck!Now that Barao has pulled out, and the interim belt is sitting on the shelf.... Is it time for an interim interim champion at bantamweight?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:39 PM)
Heaven forfend, Mica. Too many placeholders going on at once. And who would fight for this interim interim title? It would have to be Wineland and Faber....which is every stripe of wrong.
Aaron (Calgary, AB)
Any word on how long Renan Barao is out?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:39 PM)
Didn't hear any official word on that.
James (New Orleans) [via mobile]
Tyson Fury: Future UFC Heavyweight Champ or Cain's Future Ground and Pound Murder Victim?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:40 PM)
That fight will never happen. But man, what a field day that would be for Cain.
MMA Fan (Ohio)
Would you like to see faster stand ups by refs if the athlete with top position doesn't pass guard or attempt submissions?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:41 PM)
I don't know. It's tough, because sometimes a guy plays that top position with modest-to-halfhearted attempts to improve and they let it go on way too long before standing them up. Other times somebody is actively trying for submissions and/or to improve his position and they stand them up without seeing what's transpiring. Just need educated refs.
DJ (Bay Area) [via mobile]
Hey Chuck, lets say Weidman beats Silva decisively.. Would there be a posibility at a Silva vs Sonnen 3?? It would be the most anticipated rubber match in recent memory
Chuck Mindenhall (2:43 PM)
Doubt it. Not immediately, anyway. If Sonnen had actually beat Silva once, that might do the trick. But since he lost twice (the second time emphatically), my guess is the Silva/Sonnen series is done.
Eric Cincinnati,Oh [via mobile]
What up? My picks for saturday. Upset silva, maynard, dos santos? Am i gonna lose money or am i an idiot?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:44 PM)
The way the breaks have gone of late, might as well parlay with a dog like Bigfoot or Hunt. Strange things happen with the close those cage doors.
Chuck Mindenhall (2:46 PM)
Yeah, maybe we've exhausted the topic. I know yesterday people were asking Dana about TRT, and all that, and Dana defended Vitor, saying he was tested, and that he was confident that Vitor would fall within the legal range of where he needed to be.
Congratulations to you guys for getting a full 5 fights analyzed in the UFC 160 preview! It was getting to the point where the only fight featured was the main event. Maybe this is a sign that MMA is swinging back into a favorable position at ESPN again? MMA Live being broadcast on TV again soon maybe?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:47 PM)
Fingers crossed, Jonathan....fingers crossed. Hopefully we'll see MMA Live back up and running soon.
Ian (santa cruz)
I know I'm in the minority, but I feel like the only way to beat Mark Hunt right now is to take him down. I don't think Junior will try (or how effective it would be if he did) AND he drops his hands. I'm taking hunt by ko and can't understand why people aren't giving him more than a punchers chance beside perception. What say you?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:48 PM)
When you think about it, it would be very smart of JDS to go in there, flirt with the jab, and then take Hunt down and take him out of the danger area. I wouldn't be surprised if Dos Santos does this. Then again, if he does decide to stand in there and trade, even with his footwork and boxing, that chin is open for business.
Which upset are you keying in on Saturday night?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:50 PM)
One fight that stands out....James Te Huna against Glover Teixeira. Te Huna is a fill-in for Bader, but he's a live dog here. He's been on a run of late. And Teixeira, for as good as he is, does get hit a lot.
If Teixera wins tomorrow night...poss title shot?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:51 PM)
Not quite to title shot. But he should face the winner of Rashad/Hendo, in that case. Have Machida/Gusty.
I love watching Cerrone fight but it seems like he freezes in the big fights (minus the first Henderson bout). Do you think he can put it together for a title run or is he destined for high level gate-keeper?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:52 PM)
I think he's still got a run in him. With Diaz, he was too accommodating. Diaz was throwing all that volume at him and he just defiantly went about taking it. Against Pettis, hey, that liver kick was bad. Still think he's one of the better 155ers. He's got another run in him.
Bill (Albany, NY)
It seems as if the HW division, which looked really promising a year ago, is going to require a Cormier/Cain match-up. Who do you take in that fight, if it happens, and why?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:53 PM)
On a related note, it's funny how AKA stays in the limelight for guys being "off limits" to each other. All those welters back in the day (Fitch, Swick, Kos), and now Cormier and Velasquez. If they ever did fight, I would lean towards Velasquez. But if you asked me again tomorrow, I might say Cormier.
Gil Chicago,IL [via mobile]
What's up Chuck? Any word on Jon Jones big toe? Do you think we will eventually see Cormier drop to LH if Valesquez defends his title?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:55 PM)
He's been active on Twitter, asking about Cormier's weight cut and firing salvos at Gusty. He's in Russia right now, so guess he's bored. Yesterday Dana said it could be six weeks, could be six months. They'll know more soon. Here's hoping it's six weeks.
Mica (Washington DC)
Chuck, I was only drawing attention to the messed up state of the BW division hierarchy. Are you among those that believe Dominic Cruz should have been stripped of the title?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:57 PM)
I thought they would strip him of the title (and I agreed with it) for the UFC 161 card. If they were going to have Barao defend his interim title against Wineland, I thought they'd want to do away with "interim." Wasn't the case. I think if Cruz has any more setbacks as he comes back from that knee, they'll strip him.
Aaron (Calgary, AB)
With Matt Serra retiring, it made me think how much one (lucky) win can really swing a person's entire career...
Chuck Mindenhall (2:58 PM)
Yeah, Serra will always be that guy. People really liked Serra, too. He was one of those guys that you couldn't help but root for. Now he's helping Weidman try and upset the other P4P kingpin of our times.
Didn't Cormier lose some of his luster after his fight with Mir?
Chuck Mindenhall (2:59 PM)
He did a little bit, but going off his body of work as a whole, still think he looks intriguing in a title fight at either heavyweight or 205. But that last showing did take some of the luster off.
With the Browne-Overeem fight looking like co-main for the UFC on FS1 card, what could the headliner possibly be for that slot? Who has a big enough name and is on that timeline? I hope they put someone besides Bendo on a free card main like that.
Chuck Mindenhall (3:01 PM)
Good question, Adam. There's a chance they are holding out for news on Jon Jones and his availability. Honestly, I wondered about myself. Not sure who they could book in that main event that would blow the lid off the joint....
Better home crowd advantage for a fighter: Canada or Brazil?
Chuck Mindenhall (3:02 PM)
They're both strong, but I'd lean towards Brazil. Down there it's a different sort of energy. Those crowds are way into it. WAY into it.
Chuck Mindenhall (3:04 PM)
OK guys, I need to shut her down. Thanks for stopping in here today. Was good to chat with you after missing the last couple of chats. If I didn't get to your question, or if you want to complain to me more directly, hit the Twitter, @ChuckMindenhall. Enjoy the fights.