By Jeremy Pinnell & Kevin Broughton
This weekend’s UFC 291 fight card may be the best of the year so far and includes the revival of a “fun for the fans” faux-title. Let’s dig into another edition of Mixed Music Action. And look! We’ve got company, too.
Kevin: Saturday's UFC 291 features a great card. There's no conventional title on the line, but Dana White has reincarnated the "BMF" belt with the retirement of Jorge Masvidal. And you know what, JP? Let's just give the folks some highlights of that scrap -- Masvidal's last win in the UFC -- from almost four years ago:
Personally, I like the idea of the BMF ("Baddest Mother Fucker," for those wondering) belt; it's cool for the fans. I thought Diaz-Masvidal was a perfect matchup, and I really like Dustin-Justin 2 for the second incarnation. Your thoughts?
Jeremy: Hey, Kevin. We’re on tour right now so I’m gonna include our tour manager -- and my jiu jitsu instructor -- Mr. Blayne Hodges, who has kindly taken some of his time to hit the road. He’s been a good friend and huge part -- maybe the biggest part -- of my martial arts journey. He also teaches my son and I’m grateful for his friendship.
Kevin: A little irregular, but I’ll allow it. Is there some proof that this Mr. Hodges exists?
Jeremy: Well, here’s a picture from the other night…
Kevin: Oh, my goodness. You & Blayne have the floor.
Jeremy: I’m a Gaethje fan, but Dustin’s jiu jitsu is legit. It’ll be a banger for sure. Either way I’ll like the outcome. I’m gonna pass on to Blayne.
Blayne: I like both guys but have always had a slight personal bias towards Dustin. He’s a little bit cleaner, but still thrives in the pocket under fire. One of the best switch hitters we’ve seen outside (Max) Holloway and (Cory) Sandhagen. I think his volume and composure gets the job done again, but Justin is a dog for sure. I also like the BMF title -- nothing wrong with a little theatrics. It’s good for the sport.
Kevin: Masvidal said that Dana "picked the right two guys" for BMF 2, so I'm excited. I don't think we'll see much grappling.
There are several other intriguing fights on this card. In the light heavyweight division -- where the belt keeps getting vacated due to injuries -- Jan Blachowicz is a slight favorite over former 185 champ Alex Pereira. You have to think the winner will fight for the belt next.
At welterweight, Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson -- the #7 contender -- reprises his role as division gatekeeper and will be a slight favorite over *another* Pereira, this one named Michel. Somehow Tony Ferguson keeps getting paid to fight; he's a big underdog to Bobby Green at lightweight. And finally, there's a tasty, contrast-of-styles fight at 170 with grappler Michael Chiesa facing off with striker Kevin Holland.
I think this card is fire. What blows your dress up here?
Jeremy: I mean I’m stoked to see all of it, but Blayne and I were just saying how crazy it is that Wonderboy is still in the top ten. He’s been at it for a while and is still incredible. I’m going with Tony in the Bobby Green fight. Also, I think Blachowicz will probably dominate if it goes to the ground.
Blayne: The whole card is really compelling front to back. I’m curious to see how Alex does moving up. His hand speed and power are obviously always a factor but that cut to 185 had to be killing him. All the OG’s around him talk about how big he is so potentially that could really help his gas tank. Jan has underrated grappling in my opinion, but I’m not sure it will be enough to get the finish. Excited to see how that one plays out.
Kevin: Sorry, I just keep looking at that picture of you two, wondering if anybody would be crazy enough to try & swipe a tee shirt from the merch table.
There's one dude worth mentioning on the prelim card, because he's a fan favorite. I mean, who doesn't love The Black Beast, Derrick Lewis? But lo and behold, dude's lost four of his last five (and they haven't been pretty losses) and I find myself dreading every fight for him. I guess when I look at the way Robbie Lawler went out with a win, it's sad to see guys like Cowboy and Jorge and Tony Ferguson go out on long losing streaks. Am I too sentimental?
Jeremy: Don’t get soft on me Kevin! I feel similarly, but just from my observation, it doesn’t look like Derrick cares. So, whatevs. Also, Lawler shouldn’t have been in a prelim for his retirement. That’s like a gold watch and fuck off.
Blayne: I understand the sentiment, but I think fighters have a clear choice to move on at an appropriate time -- and some hold on for different reasons. Whether that be an unrealistic perception of where their skills are currently in relation to the other top athletes, or just for a paycheck. I hate to see it but it’s a part of the human condition. To walk away from fighting for some is like looking at their mortality.
I have so many questions. Go.
Jeremy: Tulsa was great. We rehearsed in St. Louis on Monday, then the air conditioning went out. Some good people in Tulsa helped us out, and now the van is an ice box. Little Rock at the Whitewater tavern was super fun. A lot of good people and good energy. Friday the Whitehorse is gonna be great. Always a good time. I’m a big fan of Texas.
Kevin: You fellas have fun out there. (No need to say “Stay safe.”) And just hear me out, now: I think you guys, if you’re ever looking to fill some down time, well, the possibilities are endless.