Mailbag: Cowboys call UFC?

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Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White and chairman Lorenzo Fertitta were ringside at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday for the boxing match between Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey.

White, who received one of the night’s loudest ovations when he was shown on the giant video board, said he was extremely impressed by the venue and wants to bring a UFC show there.

He hasn’t spoken yet with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, but expect that call to occur shortly.

It’s unlikely the Cowboys will schedule a UFC event during football season, but sometime between March and July of 2011, count on a UFC card in Cowboys Stadium.

That said, let’s get to the mailbag where I respond to your questions and comments.

Will the UFC bring back tournaments?
Do you think there is any chance the UFC would consider having a tournament? With the declining pay-per-view numbers, I think it would generate a ton of interest and create some great storylines.

Albert Cutler
Chantilly, Va.

I don’t, Albert, for a variety of reasons. First, UFC president Dana White is vehemently against them, which he explained at length when he was in Australia. He essentially said it’s too rough on the fighters, as good as they are today. Second, I doubt athletic commissions would sanction it. Asking someone to fight three times in one night against world-class competition is very tough, and I doubt many commissions would go along. I know for sure Nevada won’t, and I suspect most of the major commissions in the U.S. would either. Also, the pay-per-view numbers are not declining.

Adding divisions
A fairly hot topic regarding many of the UFC champions is their need/desire to move up weight classes to face new challenges as they have dominated their class so decisively. As we saw, Georges St. Pierre dominated B.J. Penn when Penn attempted to challenge for another the welterweight title. Rumor has it that GSP is slowly trying to add weight for a chance to fight at middleweight. All this leads me to the question of when will the UFC add a cruiserweight division? Size matters and there is no greater disparity than in the heavyweight division. Consider that a fighter like Randy Couture weighing 230 realistically gives up 60 pounds to fighters like Shane Carwin or Brock Lesnar. That is the equivalent of Jose Aldo fighting Lyoto Machida. Yet a couple of years ago, fans were up in arms that Alves missed weight by four pounds and that gave him an unfair advantage in his fight with Hughes. But there is little discussion on the fairness when a massive heavyweight smashes a much smaller foe. Shouldn’t there be a class at 235?

Chris DeMay
Grand Rapids, Mich.

One of the benefits of mixed martial arts being such a young sport is that it can learn from mistakes that boxing made. In boxing, there are 17 weight classes and, given that there are four, ahem, “major” sanctioning bodies, there are a minimum of 68 world champions. That doesn’t include ridiculous things such as super champions, champion emeritus, interim champions and the like. I think the weight classes are perfect as they are for MMA. I don’t see the need to change it. Size matters when everything else is equal, but that’s rarely the case. Couture was 45 pounds or so lighter than Tim Sylvia but dominated him in their 2007 title fight. Couture also was doing well against Lesnar until he was caught. I think too much confusion would result by adding weight classes, and I’m firmly against changing it.

Can Cro Cop move down?
Do you think Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic could cut down to 205 pounds effectively and is that something that has ever been discussed? He just always seems to be smaller than his opponent at heavyweight and that’s dangerous without much of a ground game. And just for fun, who would win a fight between Cro Cop and Andrei Arlovski?


I’m sure it’s been discussed, Nathan, but he’s never shown much of an inclination to do it. And at this stage of his career, I don’t see him making such a fundamental change. If he got back to being the fighter he was a couple of years back, he would still be a factor. As for your hypothetical, I’d go with Cro Cop. I think he has more of his best left than Andrei.

Lord of the flys
When, if ever, will the World Extreme Cagefighting add a flyweight division, as Dana White said last year that they would?

Matthew Salzer
Orange, Calif.

I asked WEC vice president Peter Dropick your question, Matthew. Here’s what he said: “We’re still working on it, and we’re still hoping to launch it. The important thing is, we want to make sure it’s launched properly. We want a deep division and not just a couple of one-off fights. It’s finding the right talent and making sure there is depth in the division. There are quality flyweight fighters out there, but we need to make sure we make a deep division. We want the best 125-pounders in the world, just like we have the best 135-pounders and the best 145-pounders.”

What happened to Torres?
I am a huge Miguel Angel Torres fan, and I can’t help but wonder what has happened to him? He seems to have lost all of his confidence and championship swagger. I find it hard to believe that the last two guys he fought are that much better than he is. What do you think he need to do to get back on track?

Joel Engle
Fort Worth, Texas

Joel, Miguel’s back-to-back losses are a mystery to a lot of people. I don’t think he was focused on his fight with Brian Bowles, which is the first of his two losses, and he paid for it by getting knocked out in the first round. Of course, don’t slight Bowles in that equation. He’s proven to be a hard hitter and he caught Torres flush. In his most recent loss, to Joe Benavidez, Torres seemed much too timid to me. He seemed in the first round as he circled away from Benavidez that he was not particularly willing to engage. I think you saw residual effects of the knockout by Bowles in that loss. Torres still has a great deal of talent and can make a comeback, but it’s going to be a long, hard grind for him.

Toney can punch
I might be the only one who feels this way, but James Toney in four-ounce gloves probably makes him one the best punchers in MMA, if not the best. He will have the best chin. He also will come with great balance and footwork. This means to me that Toney would have a decent shot at beating anyone in MMA that doesn’t, or can’t, take him down and keep him there. Just ask Tim Sylvia about his fight with an old Ray Mercer. Of course, even Kimbo had the sense to take Mercer down.

Devin Galaudet
Los Angeles

Toney will have great boxing skills, and I agree with you about his chin. He’s legendary in boxing circles for the quality of his whiskers. That said, boxing and striking in MMA are very different. And Toney is a defensive-oriented fighter. I don’t think his patented shoulder roll will translate well to MMA. I’m willing to give him a chance, but I’m skeptical until he proves to me he can make the transition effectively.

Best UFC champ ever?
I believe the five most important indicators of the greatest UFC champion of all-time are 1. Number of UFC title fights won; 2. Most UFC fights won; 3. Overall winning percentage; 4. Record vs. current/future UFC Hall of Famers; and 5. Overall percentage of fights finished. What do you think of this, and who do you think is the UFC’s best-ever champion?

Anthony Fontanetta
New York

I think your criteria is very solid, Anthony, but there needs to be a more subjective one, too. Baseball scouts make a lot of physical assessments, but most of them fill out a form which includes the question, “Can he play?” I think in MMA, for instance, if Fighter A has wins over Mark Coleman and Ken Shamrock, both of whom are in the UFC Hall of Fame, and Fighter B has wins over Georges St. Pierre and B.J. Penn, both of whom will be in, the logical question to ask would be which defeated better competition? I think clearly it would be Fighter B, and that has to be taken into account. But your criteria is a very solid starting point. Right now, if I had to pick the greatest, I’d choose Anderson Silva.

Is Belfort legit?
I remember Vitor Belfort’s lightning quick knockouts in the UFC’s early days and instantly became a fan. They didn’t call this guy “The Phenom” for nothing. I lost track of the sport, though, and didn’t follow it much until recently. When I heard that Vitor had somehow managed to earn a middleweight title shot against Anderson Silva, of course I went nuts. I know he was injured and had to pull out of the fight at UFC 112 next month, but I wonder if he has the tools to compete with Silva and defeat him when he returns. Belfort seemed a little timid in his return match, at UFC 103, a win over Rich Franklin. I’m asking if he could win legitimately and not by some fluke.

Westland, Mich.

If and when the fight happens, Corey, I’d heavily favor Silva. Anyone with Belfort’s power, though, has a chance and a knockout is rarely a fluke.

Kevin Iole covers boxing and mixed martial arts for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter. Send Kevin a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010