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UFC Vegas 38: Seven unanswered questions

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UFC Vegas 38 is in the books, but there are still some questions that need answers

UFC Vegas 38 is in the books, but the card left some unanswered questions In this column, I will discuss those questions and why they matter.

Why did the Aspen Ladd vs. Macy Chiasson fight not get scratched by the UFC or NSAC?

Aspen Ladd did not look good on the scale at the UFC Vegas 38 weigh in. According to ESPN, getting an accurate read on Ladd’s weight took over five minutes. Ladd was shaky on the scale and seemed to lose her balance more than once while the athletic commission tried to dial in her official weight. When the commission got that reading, it was 137 pounds, which put Ladd one pound over the limit bantamweight limit.

The fight was scratched from the card on weigh-in day and the assumption was that the athletic commission or the UFC had canceled the fight. According to Ladd, that wasn’t the case. Ladd said her opponent, Macy Chiasson, who made the contracted weight for the woman’s bantamweight scrap, had elected not to fight Ladd — as per Chiasson’s contractual right.

The UFC did not offer a statement why or how Ladd was approved to fight, nor did the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The UFC and NSAC should answer as to their reasoning in approving Ladd to fight Chiasson after she failed the eye test during the weigh in. Those organizations are tasked with fighter health and safety, that Ladd would have been allowed to fight had Chiasson not said no is unsettling.

Did Macy Chiasson get paid?

Macy Chiasson fulfilled her contractual obligations when she made weight to face Aspen Ladd. The UFC has not said if Chiasson was paid for meeting her end of the deal. The organization does not seem to have a hard and fast rule for paying fighters who make weight when their opponents miss weight or a fight falls through for another reason.

In May, Jim Miller made weight, but his opponent, Bobby Green — who also made weight — collapsed after he weighed in. The fight was scratched and Miller received “a couple thousand dollars” or “a fraction” of his contracted pay.

That fighters do not know, in writing, if they will get paid if their fight falls apart if their opponent does not meet the contracted requirements of the bout is wrong. That the media needs to ask the UFC about the pay status after each incident is silly. But here we are, wondering if Chiasson got paid, as she should have.

As Tim Elliott said in 2017, “I should not get half my pay because other fighters can’t do their jobs, first opponent got injured, seconds missed weight.”

Will Aspen Ladd be forced to change weight divisions?

Aspen Ladd has struggled on the scale before. In 2016, she weighed in at 138.1 pounds for an Invicta FC scrap that was booked for 135 pounds.

In April 2018, Ladd weighed in at 137.8 pounds for a scheduled bout against Leslie Smith. Like Chiasson, Smith turned down the fight after Ladd missed weight and the UFC removed the fight from the card.

In Jully 2019, Ladd, according to ESPN, “looked ill weighing in” for her fight against Germaine de Randamie. ESPN also reported that Ladd weighed in at 159 pounds on fight night and that the California State Athletic Commission, per its weight cutting rules, suspended her bantamweight license in California. Ladd lost to De Randamie by knockout in 16 seconds.

California reinstated Ladd’s license after she provided documentation to the CSAC that she could safely make 135 pounds. She also passed safety weight checks by the CSAC, which is part of the state’s weight cutting rules.

Athletic commissions can force fighters to move up in weight and it might be time for that to happen with Aspen Ladd.

Mark Smith’s “early” stoppage

I am usually not one to criticize a referee for an early stoppage as I think too early is far better than too late, but Mark Smith’s stoppage in the Stephanie Egger vs. Shanna Young fight seemed very early to me. It would be great if the NSAC or Smith would comment on the reason behind that stoppage.

Why was the UFC near an NSAC discussion?

When the officials were trying to decipher the proper call for the Kevin Holland vs. Kyle Daukaus matchup, it was a surprise to see the eyes of the referees and the NSAC official trained on UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby while UFC official Marc Ratner stood nearby. The NSAC and UFC need to explain why two high-ranking members of the promotion were around and perhaps involved in a decision that they had no business discussing. Athletic commission officials who are overseeing the event should make the instant reply ruling. The promotion should be nowhere near the discussion. The UFC and NSAC should make a statement on why the UFC employees were involved in the discussion. It was a bad look for both sides.

Did SBG Ireland help or hurt Johnny Walker?

Johnny Walker has been working with SBG Ireland and that fight camp made a difference in Walker’s style, but the jury is out if that change was for the better. Walker was once known for his dangerously aggressive fighting style. He was much more contained and technical against Thiago Santos. He seemed restrained and reluctant to engage and he lost the fight by decision. There was a fair share of online criticism of Walker’s approach to this fight, so much so that one has to wonder if he will stick with SBG for his next outing.

From a technical standpoint, Walker is probably a better fighter working with SBG, but I’m not sure the style fits his mindset. In my opinion, Walker should stick with the gym for one more fight, but he and his coaches should try to find a happy medium between his old reckless style and the new technical style.

Is the UFC going to stay in the Thiago Santos business?

If the UFC was looking for Thiago Santos to make a statement before deciding if it is going to ink him to a new deal, the promotion was left wanting. Santos fought out his UFC contract on Saturday night and he got a win, but the 37-year-old former title challenger did not give off future title challenger vibes during that win. With that, Santos might have to take a less lucrative deal to stay with the UFC or shop his services elsewhere. There have been questions about Santos since he underwent leg surgery following his 2019 loss to Jon Jones. His win over Walker did not answer those questions.