In this week’s edition of ‘Five Questions with Phil Chertok’, we look back at Nick Diaz’s lengthy interview with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani on a potential fight with Jorge Masvidal in 2020 and where the public’s level of interest is regarding the elder Diaz returning five years after his last fight.
This weekend, Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza will move to in weight to fight light heavyweight Jan Blachowicz. ‘Jacare’ follows former middleweight champions Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidman, who jumped up to 205 pounds unsuccessfully this past year, including a knockout loss by Rockhold to Blachowicz this past July. For ‘Jacare’, he is about to turn 40 next month and this could be his final attempt to mount a campaign for a championship opportunity in his UFC career.
Plus, Phil discusses his reaction to this past weekend’s wildly successful, albeit criticized, rematch between KSI and Logan Paul that streamed on DAZN.
POST Wrestling: This week, Nick Diaz was a guest on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. Where is your interest level in seeing Diaz fight and would Jorge Masvidal be the right fight to attempt and book?
Phil Chertok: It’s pretty low, Nick has not fought in nearly five years, his last win was in 2011 and that was against BJ Penn. Masvidal is at the top of the division and in his prime, even if Nick could get in fight shape and make it through the camp, it hardly sounds like a competitive matchup. I love the Diaz brothers as much as anyone but I think it’s time we put the idea of Nick fighting again to rest.
Did you venture to watch KSI vs. Logan Paul this past weekend and are you a fan of the concept or vehemently opposed? Did you have an awareness of these two prior to their two fights?
Chertok: I knew Logan Paul prior to the first match but not well and had never heard of KSI. I did not see the match and had little interest in it, but I have no problem with it. Paul and KSI, along with the BMF main event from earlier this month remind us that when it comes to promotion, people are way more invested in a story than in a clash of skills. The two internet stars prepared to the best of their ability and gave it their all made a lot of money and created a platform for the more skilled under-card fighters. It’s not the type of contest I’m going to be tuning into anytime soon, but I don’t begrudge them or anyone interested in their spectacle.
What is next for Gilbert Melendez and what is the defining moment of his UFC career following his release?
Chertok: Melendez’s defining moment will definitely be his thrilling three-round war with UFC veteran Diego Sanchez. It’s the type of fight that could end up in the UFC Hall of Fame one day. Unfortunately, for Melendez, outside of that legendary bout, his career in the UFC falls a little short. He was never able to achieve the same level of success in the octagon that he had in Strikeforce where he was the lightweight champion. At this point in his career, I’d prefer it if Melendez retired from competition and focused on his broadcasting roles which he has improved dramatically over the last few years. Now, Melendez was not getting blown out at the end of his UFC tenure so I believe that he can still make an impact and get some wins in Bellator or perhaps an Asian promotion like One or Rizin but it’s clear that his best days are behind him.
After seeing several middleweights move up to light heavyweight this past year, how do you expect Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza to fare this Saturday against Jan Blachowicz on the Fight Night card from Sao Paulo?
Chertok: I’m not terribly optimistic about his chances. Jacare has looked uninspired in several of his last performances, although his win over Chris Weidman did feel like a refreshing return for the BJJ black belt. Going from middleweight to light-heavyweight is a 20-pound jump which is double the difference between weight classes compared to the lighter divisions. Based on the results of the other two middleweights that moved up this year, Souza’s former rivals Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidman, it looks like the jump in divisions is no cakewalk. Souza’s opponent Blachowicz has won five of his last six and was the one that took out Rockhold. Blachowicz is quietly making a name for himself and putting together a case for a title shot, it’s hard to imagine Jacare disrupting those plans.
When Phil Chertok is 80-years young, reflecting on the incredible life he has lived and is asked ‘What do you remember about the UFC Fight Night card from Russia on November 9th of 2019?’, what is the memory of that card that will last a lifetime?
Chertok: If I’m 80 and I remember anything about UFC Fight Night: Zabit vs. Kattar, aka UFC Fight Night 163, aka UFC on ESPN+ 21, then that means that my life was not at all as incredible as you suggest. Look, it wasn’t the worst event ever, but it certainly wasn’t the best. We’ve been a little bit spoiled in 2019, it feels like the UFC has been putting on an incredible series of exciting fight cards, so we were due for a dud. If I had pinpoint a couple of takeaways I’d have to go with the following: First, Calvin Kattar established himself as a clear prospect who is ready for the top fighters in the division and second, Zabit really needs a five-round fight to answer questions about his gas tank. Zabit controlled the opening rounds but his output evaporated in the third as Kattar relentlessly attacked, including non-stop elbows from the bottom. Zabit’s fighting style is incredible but if he can’t keep up his pace through all five rounds he’ll have no chance against the champion Max Holloway.
Phil Chertok is the co-host of our monthly UFC POST Shows and returns on Saturday, December 14th following UFC 245.