Monday Mailbag: UFC’s Bite of the Night and Rose Namajunas’ future at flyweight

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UFC Vegas 89 is in the books, and yeah, that just happened.
In the main event, Rose Namajunas won a decision over Amanda Ribas and is now a going concern in the flyweight title picture. But the big story coming out of Saturday is Igor Severino becoming the first fighter in UFC history to be disqualified for biting. It was a weird weekend, so let’s get to it.
Igor Severino, Andre Lima, and The Bite of the Night
do you see any promotion signing igor severino after biting andre lima last night and is he a dirty fighter — joefrombayonne (@joefrombayonne) March 24, 2024
“Do you see any promotion signing Igor Severino after biting Andre Lima last night and is he a dirty fighter?”
No-ish and yes, certainly.
First and foremost: You can’t bite people. That’s almost literally something you get taught from the time you start being socialized with other children. Two year olds don’t have a ton of hard and fast rules, but “No Biting” is absolutely one of them. So it is absolutely inexcusable for a 20-year-old man to bite another dude during a fight where the specific rules forbid it, not just the general rules of society.
So is Severino a dirty fighter? Of course! He bit a dude! We still have no insight into what he was thinking at the time, but there is no explanation that makes it OK. Biting is one of the rare things that’s incontrovertibly dirty, and he did it, ergo, Severino is a dirty fighter.
Now, he doesn’t have to always be a dirty fighter. I’m a firm believer in not judging a person by only their lowest moments, and this is a 20-year-old kid. He has a whole lifetime and career to make up for that. Hell, we’re entirely forgiven Mike Tyson (who also, lest anyone forget, is a convicted rapist) for his misdeeds, so I’m hopeful that Severino can recognize that what he did is inexcusable and weird, and be a better man for it. Who knows, maybe one day he even makes it back to the UFC. Wouldn’t that be an incredible story?
As for the other promotions signing him, that’s pretty straightforward. No major respectable promotion is going to sign Severino right now. The headlines would be a nightmare if he popped up in PFL next week (for content’s sake, I hope that happens), and while he’s a fine prospect, he’s not worth the headache. But regional promotions are less discerning, and frankly, don’t need to be. Severino was the Jungle Fight flyweight champion and it would be fine for him to return there.
But of course, the best option would be for the wonderful folks at Fight Circus to take a chance on him. For one thing, the headline “Fight Circus Signs Guy Who Bit Dude In UFC” is extremely on brand for them, and is actually appealing. But more importantly, the Fight Circus crew are innovators in combat sports. Just think of what they could accomplish with Igor Severino! Vampire Rules fight! MMA without mouth guards! Once Biting, Twice The Guys (branded 2-on-1 fight)! The possibilities are endless.
BRB, I’ve got to go send an email.
Biting, continued
Yeah do you think you could bite harder? — 1 LP Tiger year (@ThisShitTrashx9) March 24, 2024
“Yeah, do you think you could bite harder?”
No! Did you see those bite marks? The thing no one is talking about is how impressive the bite strength of that man must be to leave that kind of a mark through a gum shield! Igor Severino has the jaws of a Rottweiler.
Also, because I didn’t put this in the above section, can we talk about how weird of a decision biting was? Severino was barely losing the fight! Yeah, he was behind, but he was certainly competitive, and it’s not like the bite was the thing that saved him from being finished. It’s still wrong, but a part of me can understand if he’s getting his arm twisted and chomps down as a form of submission defense. But that’s not at all what was happening!
The only even mildly reasonable explanation I’ve seen is he was frustrated by all the fence grabs from Lima, which, I get. Lima was cheating real hard in that fight. But biting? That’s like the one foul that leaves irrefutable evidence of it happening. If you’re that frustrated, just haul off and thump him one down low. At worst you’ll just be warned. Plus, I have to imagine that hitting someone you dislike in the nether regions is more satisfying than biting them.
A truly bizarre situation. But shout out to Lima, who turned what could have been a super weird, negative situation into a ticket straight into Dana White’s good graces and $50,000.
Rose Namajunas at 125
Was Rose convincing enough to prove that she can compete at the top of Flyweight?
How’d you score Rendon Zheleznyakova?
Pick a next opponent for Mick Parkin
Who has the brighter future? Payton Talbott or Fernando Padilla? — MMA Meez (@MMAMeez) March 24, 2024
“Was Rose convincing enough to prove that she can compete at the top of Flyweight How’d you score Rendon Zheleznyakova? Pick a next opponent for Mick Parkin. Who has the brighter future? Payton Talbott or Fernando Padilla?
I’m going to focus primarily on the first question and then give quick hits for the rest.
No, in my opinion, Rose Namajunas did not prove to me she can compete at the very top level of women’s flyweight.
Though Namajunas won, it was far from the showcase performance many hoped for. Several people scored the bout for Amanda Ribas, and while I wasn’t one of them, I have no issue with those that did. There were simply long stretches of that fight where she looked like she did in the Carla Esparza fight, except Ribas forced the issue. It was not her worst performance, but it wasn’t one that reignited the fires of the bandwagon.
In her own post-fight speech, Namajunas basically said what a lot of people thought: She was slow in there. Like her, Ribas is also mainly a strawweight, and while Namajunas was not overpowering in the cage, she certainly looked like the less athletic fighter. That doesn’t bode well for her against the very top fighters who are solid athlete and naturally much larger than her. That was essentially the story of the Manon Fiorot fight, and while I believe Namajunas can be competitive against that level of competition, consistently beating them is a bridge too far.
My biggest concern for Namajunas at flyweight is that too many things are now against her. Namajunas is arguably the most talented fighter in strawweight history, but she was never a superior athlete. She won despite being a mid-level athlete. That gets harder when you give up size and it also gets harder when you start to decline. Namajunas is still young, but she’s got a lot of fight miles on her and it feels like she’s past her prime. Add in the fact that sometimes she simply doesn’t show up on fight night, and it’s hard to envision a true title run for her at this weight class.
As for the other stuff:
Who cares? – I literally watched every second of this fight and can’t remember a thing about it. In favor of Zhelezniakova. Andrei Arlovski, I guess. Payton Talbott. More on that in a second.
Head-and-arm throws
Is women flyweights going for headlock takeovers the less awesome version of Dustin jumping the gilly? — Dee J (@Daniel_J81) March 24, 2024
“Is women flyweights going for headlock takeovers the less awesome version of Dustin jumping the gilly?”
Well, that depends. Sure, Amanda Ribas tried about 20 head-and-arm throws (Kubi Nage in judo terms, I think?) and while they almost all resulted in Namajunas getting the back or top position, there was that one that led to Ribas getting on top and hammering punches into Namajunas. That level of success is more than Dustin Poirier has ever had with jumping the guillotine.
That being said, Poirier said it best: You miss 100 percent of the gillies you don’t jump.
Payton Talbott
How good is Talbott and who does he fight next? — Oliver Stoned (@safetyalwaysof) March 24, 2024
“How good is Talbott and who does he fight next?”
I tried to tell y’all, Talbott is legit. Kid is 25-years-old and super talented. Cameron Saaiman is no pushover, but that’s pretty much exactly what Talbott did: Pushed him over. Most impressively, he did it in a way that showed both improvement and awareness. One of the biggest weaknesses Talbott has shown in his young career thus far is a tendency to start a little slow. Well, he came out against Saaiman like hell on wheels. That’s a sign that Talbott knows where he needs to improve strategically as well, and that he’s working on it. The sky is the limit for this young man.
As far as who he fights next, I don’t really care. The only thing that matters is that the UFC doesn’t go full UFC and book him against a top-15 opponent right away. Because while he could compete against top guys, that’s not the phase his career is in right now. He needs to keep developing, gaining experience, and building on past improvements. Picking a name out of a hat, someone like Cody Stamann would make sense as an opponent with a path to victory, but who Talbott should ultimately showcase on.
Thanks for reading, and thank you for everyone who sent in tweets (Xs?)! Do you have any burning questions about things at least somewhat related to combat sports? Then you’re in luck, because you can send your tweets to me, @JedKMeshew, and I will answer my favorite ones! Doesn’t matter if they’re topical or insane, just so long as they are good. Thanks again, and see y’all next week.

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