Mailbag: Readers debate the Top 10

Mailbag: Readers debate the Top 10
By Kevin Iole, Yahoo Sports
November 6, 2007

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports
There were no major events last week and so the questions in this week's mailbag are all over the map.

There's not a major topic in MMA that's not touched, but I spend a lot of time looking at the Yahoo! Sports MMA rankings and debating various fighters' worthiness for inclusion.

A note to anyone who may have sent me feedback: We had a problem with some of my email last week when I was in the U.K. covering a boxing match and some of it was lost.

My colleague, Dave Doyle, forwarded me a few of the questions he received in his feedback for use in this mailbag, which is greatly appreciated.

If you sent me an MMA question last week and I haven't answered it, feel free to resubmit it for consideration.

As always, my answers appear in italics below the questions.

HUGHES IN THE SPIDER'S WEB?

I read an MMAnews.com interview with Matt Hughes in which he expressed an interest in moving up a weight class and fighting Anderson Silva after his title fight with Matt Serra. How do you see a Silva/Hughes match playing out? I'll admit it's an intriguing match on paper but could Hughes handle Silva's brutal striking or would it be a rout like the two Rich Franklin fights?

Brent Funderburk
Bloomington, Ind.

It's a very interesting question. Hughes' physical strength is phenomenal and he would have a wrestling advantage over Silva. But Silva's striking is the best in MMA and his jiu-jitsu is also terrific.

I hesitate to pick against Hughes, because he's one of the all-time greats in MMA, but I'd go with Silva if this fight ever occurred.


FILHO TO TOP SILVA?

Paulo Filho fights in the WEC, which is owned by Zuffa. He would beat Silva hands down. Silva is one of my favorite fighters, but his takedown defense if weak and his ground game would not work against a solid wrestler such as Filho. Watch some of his fights. Dan Henderson also stands a good chance.

Eric
New York

I love Filho as a fighter and I voted him No. 10 in the Yahoo! Sports MMA Top 10 poll. But I think Silva has more ways to win. If they fought 10 times, each would win his share but I believe Silva would have a majority. I have no argument about Henderson. A fight between him and Silva would be fantastic. These are the kinds of fights that could invigorate the division. A Silva-Henderson fight remains a possibility. Sadly, a Silva-Filho fight is unlikely at this point because the UFC doesn't want to intermingle its fighters with the WEC.


FEDOR NOT NO. 1

Why oh why do you keep ranking Fedor Emelianenko No. 1 in your Yahoo! Sports MMA fighter rankings? The guy needs to be kicked off this slot because he hasn't fought a top-ranked heavyweight in years. Please give credibility to your rankings for next month, by removing Emelianenko until he is an active fighter.

Alan Taylor
Ottawa, Ont.

If Dana White sees your question, Alan, I think he may offer you a lifetime pass to UFC events, because this is exactly his position. I voted Emelianenko No. 1 in my poll, but after a lot of thinking.

Certainly, his recent opponents have not been challenging and I'm not sure what he was thinking by signing to face Matt Lindland, who is a natural middleweight.

I covered Emelianenko's fight against Mark Coleman (yes, Dana, against then-41-year-old Mark Coleman) live at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

I sat a few feet away and marveled at Emelianenko's athleticism. He's strong from the top, versed in submissions and a good striker.

Now that he's signed with a promoter, I'm going to put the onus on Emelianenko to fight the best available fighter, which is Josh Barnett. If he does, and wins, he remains No. 1 in my book.

But there has been talk of him facing Jeff Monson. The moment he signs for that bout, I drop him from the top slot, because while Monson is a solid pro, it's yet another mid-level guy and not a top guy

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CORRUPT POLL

How can someone who put Anderson Silva at No. 10 on their ballot be qualified to even contribute to the poll? It says that your poll is as crooked as the sport of boxing, which is why a lot of us left boxing in the first place.

Lanny Morton
Phoenix

While I might disagree with Silva's placement, voting him No. 10 is hardly corrupt. There are a lot of great fighters in the world and to be considered one of the top 10 is a great honor.

When you get to this level, the fighters are so close that you have to split hairs to separate them. While I like Silva a great deal and moved him to No. 2 in my ballot in light of his dominating win over Rich Franklin, I can understand others' reluctance to put him that high.

My point is, just because you disagree doesn't mean it's corrupt.

Mistaken, perhaps. Time will prove that. But it's hardly corrupt.

Our poll includes a strong list of voters, all of whom adhere to the strictest ethical standards.


GSP TOO HIGH

I look forward to the Yahoo! Sports MMA poll each time it comes out, but I have a few issues with the latest installment. How is Georges St. Pierre rated so highly? Yes, he is a great, elite fighter but he was badly beaten by Matt Serra. Whether or not it was luck does not matter. Just for that fact alone GSP can not be ranked that high.

I will also agree that Fedor is one of the best MMA fighters in the world but the fact that he hasn't fought in so long should knock him down him at least to 3. Anderson Silva is clearly the best fighter in the world right now. It's just too bad he's in the worst weight class in the UFC, talent-wise.

Kevin Dailey
Pacifica, Calif.

St. Pierre is a terrific athlete and perhaps the most well-rounded fighter in the game. Everyone is going to lose eventually in MMA because of the nature of the sport. I voted St. Pierre No. 3, behind Emelianenko and Silva, because I believe he'd win more often than not if he weighed the same as the other guys and they fought 10 matches.

I have no argument with anyone who pushes him down a bit, but the St. Pierre who beat Matt Hughes and the one who was phenomenal in decisioning Josh Koscheck is one heck of a fighter.


KNEES TO THE HEAD

I just watched the IFL Grand Prix and it reminded me how much I miss the knees to the head of a downed opponent from the Pride days. Is there any chance that comes back? The fights aren't nearly as good without them.

Chris Tucker
Nashville, Tenn.

I agree that the unified rules should include knees to the head of a downed opponent. I'm not in favor of the stomp or the soccer kicks, but I do think knees to the head is a tactic which should be allowed.

I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the rule to change, unfortunately. And speaking of rules changes, I hope the IFL considers some rules changes for next year. It runs four-minute rounds instead of five-minute rounds, which I assume is for TV purposes. But one test of a fighter is stamina and it's a lot different going three five-minute rounds as it is three four-minute rounds.

Plus, the IFL bans elbows to the head. This, I believe, was to minimize the cuts which cause the blood, which they (mistakenly) believe would appeal to TV. The elbows are part of the game.

The IFL needs to adopt the unified rules that most other mainstream MMA organizations use if it wants to gain credibility.


CAN CHUCK DO IT?

I'm a big Chuck Liddell fan and I'm very excited that he's finally going to face Wanderlei Silva. I've wanted to see this fight for a long time. I read an interview with Chuck in which he was predicting a knockout of Wanderlei. I'm not sure if he can, though I hope he does. Do you think he has a chance to KO Wanderlei?

Chrystal
El Monte, Calif.

Chuck can knock out Wanderlei. And Wanderlei can knock out Chuck. And either can do it in the first round. That's what makes this fight so intriguing. That's why people have been waiting for this fight for years, literally.

Adding to the interest is the fact that each has lost his last two and will be desperate to win.

I can't wait to see it and expect it to end in a KO. At this point, I'm just not sure who is going to be the winner.

Can't get enough of Kevin Iole's MMA mailbag? Then check out last week's edition.

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 on Tuesday, Nov 6, 2007 8:21 pm, EST

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