The People's Champion + UFC Vancouver Picks
The Rock, Freddie Mitchell and Muhammad Ali all adopted the moniker of the peoples champion over the course of their careers, hell Manny Pacquiao even named a political party for it. The concept of a peoples champion is a simple one, for whatever reason your hero has been screwed over by an oppressive regime, and while he doesn't have gold around his waist, the fans know who the champion is in their hearts and minds. In the case of pro wrestling its an age old tactic to get a babyface over (see Dusty Rhodes "Hard Times" promo) in the case of Ali, the man was barred from competition for nearly 4 years because he didn't want to go fight a war he didn't believe in. Either way the sentiment is the same "If it wasn't for (Insert evil overlords here) I would be champion!"
In MMA we have seen more than our fair share of peoples champions, from Johnny Hendricks proclaiming that he would bring a ref to Canada to fight on GSP's front lawn if need be, to Tony Ferguson forced to win 12 fights in a row and an interim title and STILL no guarantee that he is next in line. In recent years however we have seen certain fighters transcend the gimmick and own the idea that "I don't need a title, I'll make my own". Eddie Alvarez, tired of seeing the LW division held up for over a year by Conor McGregor's foray into boxing created the "Most Violent Fighter" title for his matchup with Justin Gaetjhe. Anyone familiar with the style of those two men would have to agree that they were the perfect fight to bring it into existence. Alvarez won the fight, and after Poirier stopped Gaetjhe in a similar fashion it was time for the underground king to defend his crown of violence.
Poirier won the fight and despite poo pooing the notion that he was fighting for anything other than a shot at the world title, as a diehard fan that was always running through the back of my mind. It made all the sense in the world for the most violent man to defend that monicker against tough Hawaiian SOB Max Holloway, and eventually the Russian monster who held the title in the division to unify the belts. Being the most violent man at LW didn't get Dustin the title shot single handedly, but it certainly didn't hurt
On the second episode of Believe You Me this week, I brought this notion up to Bisping and he didn't seem to hate the concept. When there is a log jam in a division for whatever reason, the red headed step children who would never get the shot they deserve by waiting for "whats fair" just need to fight exciting fights against each other and let the chips fall where they may. Back in late 2017 Conor was the champion, Tony was the interim and Khabib was looming in the wings. Poirier was a fringe top 7 guys after his no contest with Eddie Alvarez, but plugging away at fun exciting fights that got fans to tune in got him his shot at the interim and eventually undisputed titles.
We are seeing something similar right now at WW with Jorge Masvidal actually choosing to fight Diaz for the B.M.F. title instead of getting his first crack at a title after 17 fights with the promotion. Similar story with this one, Woodley held up the title for quite some time, Colby got the interim and then ran for the hills rather than unify or defend and the rest of the division was left with their dicks in their hands. Masvidal put his mark on the division and proved that he couldn't be denied bouncing back from back to back losses with massive KO's against two of the UFC's hottest prospects in the division. Masvidal put himself in the driver seat by caring about one thing, fighting exciting fights. Nate Diaz claims he's been on the sidelines for 3 years waiting on opponents like Pettis and Masvidal to bring the best out of him. The entire saga of the east and west coast gangsters creating their own title in an attempt to sell out the worlds most famous arena shines a light on the power of two dudes just dying to scrap.
The truth that we are al hesitant to admit is that the belt is more for the casual passerby to see on a fight poster and maybe pop into Buffalo Wild Wings to catch the main card. We all knew Bisping was an all time badass and deserving of the "champ" monicker well before he KO'd Rockhold. Khabib was able to exert dominance over all 25 of his opponents before he had a UFC title letting us know he was a champion. There was actually a time where you could make the argument, the LW title on McGregors waist meant more for the title than it did for McGregor. The reason is simple, fans, real fans, can shift through the bullshit and get excited for the simplicity of MMA, two badass warriors stepping into a cage, attempting to separate their opponent from consciousness.
I say all that to say this, I am damn near giddy at tonights fight between Justin Gaethje and Cowboy Cerrone. I tweeted out a few weeks ago that it feels like we are back to the era of the UFC putting on the best fights possible and letting the chips fall where they may. As a reminder in just the last month or so we have had Pettis vs Diaz, Costa vs Romero, Sandhagen vs Assunção, Perry vs Luque and Felder vs Barboza. This is the latest and arguably greatest in that vein of "hey this would be a fun fight", two good ol' boys who are gonna come forward, bite down on their mouth pieces and try to knock the other man out.
For my money, it's the worst kept secret in MMA that the "plan" is to have the winner of this fight face off against McGregor. In the "BMF" era, that fight could headline any fight card. Yet neither man is going overboard talking about the opportunity in front of them, instead they are blissfully, singularly focused on the task at hand. There's already enough at stake in this one, two guys ranked in the top 5 at LW ready to come back with their shield or on it. It's not for the BMF, or the Most Violent Man, but seeing as these two have amassed 9 post fight bonuses combined in their past 9 fights its clear that they are fan favorites. Some might even argue they're fighting over who has the rights to call himself the peoples champion.
Bisping (Starting Salary 55 BYM Coin)
Justin Gaetjhe 55 TW 33.33 (-165 @5Dimes)
Luis (Starting Salary 50 BYM Coin)
No Picks Submitted
Harrington (Starting Salary 1,058.43 BYM Coin) (After Bisping Pinched 50 of em)
Uriah Hall 222.22 TW 500 (+225 @5Dimes)
Brad Katona 135 TW 100 (-135 @5Dimes)
Glover Texeira 100 TW 120 (+120 @5Dimes)
Cerrone vs Gaetjhe Over 2.5 Rounds 100 TW 125 (+125 @Bet365)
Cerrone vs Gaetjhe Draw 20 TW 1900 (+9500 @5Dimes)
Cerrone Wins in Round 3 20 TW 280 (+1400 @SportsInteraction)
Cerrone Wins in Round 4 20 TW 400 (+2000 @SportsInteraction)
Cerrone Wins in Round 5 20 TW 600 (+3000 @SportsInteration)
Cerrone Wins By Submission 20 TW 143 (+715 @5Dimes)
Gaetjhe Wins In Round 1 40 TW 140 (+350 @Bet365)
Jim Crute 218 TW 200 (-109 @Pinnacle)
Chas Skelly, Louis Smolka, Todd Duffee (140 TW 914.57)