Welcome to “Spinning Back Clique,” MMA Junkie’s weekly show that takes a spin through the biggest topics in mixed martial arts. This week, Simon Head hosts and is joined by MMA Junkie Radio’s “Gorgeous” George and “Goze,” as well as MMA Junkie reporter Farah Hannoun. Let’s get to it!
- At UFC on ESPN+ 33 on Saturday night, Aleksandar Rakic surged into the title picture at light heavyweight with a dominant win over Anthony Smith. We already know that Jan Blachowicz and Dominick Reyes will do battle for the belt at UFC 253, and we also know that Thiago Santos and Glover Teixeira are set to face off in a bout that may well determine the next challenger. Despite that, there are still plenty of options at 205 pounds, which leads to wonder how Rakic fits in. Who should he fight next as he looks to position himself for a shot at light heavyweight gold?
- Unfortunately for Smith, his post-fight comments suggested that he’s going to sit down and take stock of his career before making a call on what direction he takes. He hinted that a return to 185 pounds might be in the cards, but is that the right decision, or should he stay at 205, where he’s had his best success in the UFC?
- Switching gears, we look forward to the UFC lightweight title unification fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje. But, rather than talking about the showdown, the majority of headlines about Khabib have centered around his discussing potential matchups with Conor McGregor and Georges St-Pierre. When you see these comments from Khabib talking about GSP and Conor, is there any concern that Khabib might not be fully focused on Gaethje? Given everything else that’s happened to him this year, does the Gaethje fight represent the biggest threat to Khabib‘s title reign to date?
- It feels like we’re seeing a changing of the guard in the UFC right now, with some of the established stars approaching the end of their careers or announcing their retirement, while a host of talented young stars are working their way up the ladder. Looking at the latest crop of young stars, who do you see standing the test of time and eventually walking away from the sport with legend status?
- And, speaking of legends, one man who could well go down as one of the sport, Alistair Overeem, returns to action in the main event this weekend at UFC on ESPN+ 34 when he takes on Augusto Sakai. Overeem’s won almost everything there is to win in MMA – except a UFC title. So, with that in mind, let’s finish with this: Which UFC fighter currently stands as the best fighter not to have won a UFC title?
For answers to all of those questions, watch Episode 44 of “Spinning Back Clique” above.