Mailbag: The right call on Daley

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There is at least one thing that UFC president Dana White has in common with a majority of the promotion’s fans: He isn’t fond of welterweight Josh Koscheck.

Paul Daley (left) punched Josh Koscheck after the bell, causing UFC president Dana White to cut him from the promotion.
(Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

“I’m no Josh Koscheck fan,” White said Tuesday. “Personally, I think he’s [expletive]. We actually don’t get along very well.”

That said, White doesn’t regret his decision to cut Paul Daley following Koscheck’s unanimous decision victory over Daley in the semi-main event of UFC 113 at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Saturday.

Seconds after Koscheck’s one-sided unanimous decision victory, Daley walked over and sucker punched Koscheck. There had been harsh feelings between the two before the fight and much trash talk exchanged. Koscheck verbally taunted Daley as he had him pinned to the ground in the final minute.

But when Daley walked up to Koscheck and slugged him after the bell, White immediately cut him.

“I like Paul Daley a lot, but what he did was inexcusable,” White said. “He walked over to Koscheck and Koscheck could have thought he was coming over to shake hands or congratulate him and he took a cheap shot at him like that. If you throw a sucker punch like that after a fight in the UFC, I don’t care who you are, you’re done. He’ll never fight for us again.”

White said he had no problem defending his decision not to take disciplinary action against Nathan Diaz for Diaz’s role in an in-cage brawl following Jake Shields’ win over Dan Henderson on a Strikeforce card on April 17, a show that was broadcast nationally on CBS.

Jason “Mayhem” Miller entered the cage without authorization and got in Shields’ face as Shields was being interviewed by CBS’s Gus Johnson. Shields shoved Miller and an all-out brawl ensued.

Diaz, who is a UFC welterweight, was working Shields’ corner and got involved in the scrap. White said he wouldn’t suspend Diaz at the time and reiterated that stance Tuesday. He said the Strikeforce brawl and the situation involving Daley and Koscheck are completely different.

“Mayhem got into the cage when he didn’t belong inside there,” White said. “He didn’t belong in the interview, but he forced his way into Shields’ interview and he started a fight. When you start a fight next to the Diaz brothers [Nathan’s older brother, Nick, was also involved], what do you think is going to happen, particularly if you start a fight with someone from their crew?

“I cut Nick Diaz after he was fighting [Joe Riggs in an emergency room] at the hospital [in Las Vegas following a Feb. 4, 2006, fight]. People are sick and dying and you can’t be in the hospital fighting. I cut the guy even though I know he’s a very good fighter. But the thing with Jake Shields happened because someone wasn’t in control of the cage and let Mayhem in where he didn’t belong. That caused everything else.”

I still think Nathan Diaz should be punished in some way, but White clearly made the correct call when it comes to Daley. Whenever UFC personnel meets with a legislative body while trying to help get the sport sanctioned in a particular state, it always discusses the respect factor. Daley showed none of it for the game or his opponent and he deserved the punishment he got, however harsh it might be.

With that, I’ll respond to your questions and comments in this edition of the MMA mailbag.

Was Kimbo’s release fair?
Do you think it is fair that the UFC cut Kimbo Slice on Saturday after his loss to Matt Mitrione? He was holding his own in the first part of the fight and let’s not forget he beat Houston Alexander. Shouldn’t he at least get one more chance?

Michael Aiken
New York

It was fair, Michael. First, if his contract didn’t permit it, he wouldn’t have been cut. But let’s be honest: Kimbo wasn’t making the kind of progress he needed to make. I have been one of his biggest boosters because I have admired the effort he put into becoming a legitimate mixed martial artist. But against whom in the UFC could Kimbo be competitive? Kimbo showed nothing against Roy Nelson in his fight on “The Ultimate Fighter” and he showed nothing against Mitrione, himself an MMA newbie. Kimbo proved to be a very good guy and he tried hard, but he’s not good enough to compete in the UFC. That’s hardly a damning statement, as 99.99 percent of the people in the world aren’t either.

Light heavies not the best

Your post-fight column on Shogun was pretty much on point except for one thing: The UFC’s light heavyweight division, while an entertaining one, is not its best. While several of the most popular fighters in the UFC inhabit that division, the ones right below it are stacked with the most talent. Just take a look at the lightweight and welterweight divisions. They are stocked so full of talent that on any night one of six to 10 guys could legitimately contend for a title. Not to mention the up-and-coming newbies among numerous other guys who would make for entertaining matchups.

Roy Copeland

I’ll respectfully disagree, Roy. You’re talking about a division with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Lyoto Machida, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Rashad Evans, Forrest Griffin, Jon Jones, Ryan Bader, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Thiago Silva, Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Rich Franklin, Matt Hamill and Phil Davis, among others. It’s stacked. You could make a legitimate argument right now that Rua, Machida, Jackson and Evans belong in the pound-for-pound top 10. There is no other division with as many fighters at that level. Not by a long shot.

Kos a long shot

Am I the only one who thinks Josh Koscheck shouldn’t be rewarded with a title shot? I know it’s about the money, but I don’t think Josh has done enough to merit a reality show or a title shot. I went from a huge fan of his to a hater after watching UFC 106, where he fakes being hurt by Johnson’s illegal knee. Then at UFC 113, he did the same thing with Daley. Then you can go back and watch the third round of his UFC 90 (where it looks like he purposely pokes Thiago Alves in the eye) for more of his antics. Then there’s the fact that he has lost to welterweight top contender Thiago Alves, and has never fought Jon Fitch. He beat a couple of inexperienced newcomers in Johnson and Daley and now he’s the No. 1 contender? Get out of here!

Chavon Larmond
Las Vegas

Chavon, let me clarify that Koscheck’s complaint against Anthony Johnson wasn’t an illegal knee but rather that Johnson poked him in the eye with a finger. The referee thought he was complaining about the knee, but when Koscheck spoke to the referee and doctor, all he complained about was being poked in the eye. Keith Kizer of the Nevada Athletic Commission said replays supported Koscheck’s contention at UFC 106. Anyway, you’re right, there are guys he hasn’t fought, but I don’t think there’s a clear cut No. 1 contender, and so having Koscheck and Daley fight for the spot seemed fair to me.

Upset with Dana

Somebody needs to call Dana White out. He criticizes boxing for not putting fights fans want to see more and he talks about giving UFC fans what they want to see. Then he says Anderson Silva doesn’t deserve this fight or that fight after his performance at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. OK, fine. White’s putting him on somewhat of a punishment by keeping him at middleweight for at least two or three more fights, but didn’t Silva give a crowd-pleasing performance against Forrest Griffin at UFC 101? So why weren’t the fans rewarded with Silva vs. Georges St. Pierre?

Jesse Miller

It’s not as if it is that easy to make a Silva-St. Pierre fight. I don’t think St. Pierre is big enough to fairly fight Silva, who can easily make 205. I don’t agree with every move White makes, but he definitely cares about putting on a good product.

PPV impact?

I was wondering what the impact of having preliminaries on Spike has been on UFC pay-per-view sales? Is there any evidence that it is translating into more PPV buys since they have started that experiment?

Hilliard, Ohio

I asked Dana and here is his answer: “I really don’t know because it’s hard to calculate. Our pay-per-views have really been growing, but it’s difficult to determine how much (the Spike preliminaries) have had on it. I’ll tell you this, it definitely helped the WEC.”

Why Brilz?

I am super-excited about Rampage Jackson and Rashad Evans at UFC 114. Personally, I believe Evans is too quick for Rampage and he can outwrestle him. Who do you believe will win? Also I have a gripe about the replacement fighter for Forrest Griffin on that card. Jason Brilz? Honestly? This guy lost to Eliot Marshall. While the match has huge upside for Brilz, it has huge downside for fans who wanted to see Antonio Rogerio Nogueira showcase his talent against top contenders. Could the UFC not get a better replacement? Thiago Silva and Jon Jones would have been much better replacements if they would have been willing to fight.

Riverside, Calif.

Jon Jones turned down the fight because he hasn’t been in the gym since his win over Brandon Vera. Thiago Silva, Ryan Bader and Vera are injured and not ready. Brilz is coming off a win over Eric Schafer, is 18-2-1 and is 13-1-1 in his last 15. Plus, Nogueira was contractually owed a fight and no one else was available. And do you think the UFC wouldn’t want to make the best possible fight? It’s trying to sell, so do you think it wants to put a fight on people wouldn’t be interested in? I don’t.

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, May 11, 2010