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Mailbag: Big Apple or bust for UFC

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports

UFC president Dana White has said that one of his long-term goals is to have mixed martial arts sanctioned in New York so that the UFC can host an event at Madison Square Garden. Now, there is tangible evidence that he wasn't kidding. The UFC has hired a political consulting firm, Global Strategies, to handle media relations. Global Strategies promptly created a website, www.mmafacts.com, which provides gobs of information about the sport and the company. According to a story in The New York Times on Monday, Zuffa, the company that owns the UFC, hired a prominent lobbyist at the cost of $10,000 per month. Among the nuggets at mmafacts.com, it's reported that:

  • The UFC averaged $2.8 million per event in gate revenue in 2007.
  • Pay-per-view buys increased 352 percent in 2006 over 2003 levels.
  • Pay-per-view revenues increased 424 percent in 2006 over 2003 levels.
  • Attendees at UFC 69 in Houston reported mean incomes above $85,000.
  • Eighty-four percent of spectators at UFC 69 in Houston and 60 percent of attendees at UFC 67 in Las Vegas were attending their first event.
  • UFC 68 in Columbus, Ohio, produced $11 million in external economic activity for the city, according to the Ohio Athletic Commission.

The controversy involving New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who on Monday was linked to a prostitution ring, can't help the UFC's effort.

But, as UFC vice president Marc Ratner, who is heading the company's efforts to sanction the sport in all 50 states, said on Monday, "It's time. Plain and simple, it's time." Now, it's on to a mailbag which covers a variety of MMA topics. In order for me to consider your question for use, you must include your first and last name as well as your hometown.

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

CAN COLEMAN DO IT?

What chance does an aged veteran like Mark Coleman have against what seems to be the new improved version of himself in Brock Lesnar?
Hutch Malcolm
Salem, Va.

Coleman, who was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame at UFC 82 in Columbus, will meet the one-time NCAA wrestling champion and ex-WWE superstar at UFC 87 on Aug. 9 in Minneapolis. It doesn't make sense to discount Coleman, but the card is a showcase for Lesnar, whose UFC debut with Frank Mir at UFC 81 unofficially sold 650,000 on pay-per-view. Lesnar is bigger, stronger, quicker and, most importantly, much younger, and figures to win the fight.


NEXT FOR HENDO?

Where does Dan Henderson go after losing to Anderson Silva at UFC 82? He lost a unification bout at light heavyweight to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 75 and was tapped out by Silva at UFC 82. I would like to see a Rich Franklin vs. Dan Henderson fight later this year. How do you think that one would shake out?
David Harvey
Cleveland

There's an excellent chance that fight could occur in the second half of the year. I'd favor Henderson if and when it occurs.


TITLE BELTS

My question is about the PRIDE title belts. When Rampage beat Henderson at UFC 75, did he actually win and receive the PRIDE belt? Is he listed as a PRIDE champion? I'm wondering the same thing about Anderson Silva. John Osorio
Long Beach, Calif.

No, neither man received a PRIDE belt for beating Henderson. Because PRIDE was defunct at the time, UFC president Dana White determined there would be no PRIDE belts given to the winners. As such, there is no "official" recognition, but unofficially, both Jackson and Silva beat the man who was the man, so they're on an unofficial PRIDE champions list.


UFC'S NETWORK PLANS

Now that Elite XC landed a deal with CBS, do you know if the UFC is looking to land a deal with another television network such as ABC, FOX or NBC? Which company do you see as most likely to work with the UFC?
J.P. Villa
El Paso, Texas

I don't anticipate a network TV deal for the UFC any time soon. The UFC walked away from a deal to be on HBO – contrary to popular belief, the arrest of former HBO CEO and chairman Chris Albrecht had nothing to do with the deal falling apart – because White wasn't convinced it was a good deal for his side. When I asked White about the Elite XC/CBS deal, he scoffed. "People say I blew it, but I don't think I blew anything," White said. "I know what the deal was and I would never cut a stupid deal for myself. I wanted no part of that deal."


FEDOR FOLLIES

Until someone beats Fedor Emelianenko, he has to be considered the best fighter in mixed martial arts. He only has one loss, which came because of a cut suffered in the opening seconds of the fight. He came back to dominate that opponent. He beat all the top heavyweights in the world and seemingly has no weaknesses. I love Anderson Silva and agree he is no doubt one of the best, but until Fedor is beaten, I don't see how he can't be considered No. 1. Joey DaSilva
Chicago

Fedor has a great record and has beaten many terrific fighters. He has two wins over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, the UFC's interim heavyweight champion. But he hasn't faced a meaningful opponent in more than two years now. Each voter has to weigh competition level, but it's like the RPI ratings. If North Carolina were beating New Hampshire, Maine and Central Connecticut all the time instead of Duke, UCLA and Kansas, it wouldn't be No. 1. Fedor needs to fight quality fighters. If you said Fedor was the best heavyweight of all-time, I wouldn't argue. But to say he's the best active fighter now when he's either fighting middleweights or guys with one pro fight, I can't buy it. If Fedor were to come to the UFC, say, and defeat an exceptional heavyweight impressively, I'd probably move him right back up. But until he does it, he can't rest on what he did in 2005 and earlier.


WHAT ABOUT JACARE?

Any news on the BJJ fighter Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza? There was a rumor going around he was going to sign with the WEC. I have also heard that he could be a contestant on "The Ultimate Fighter". I would love to know his status. Brandon Robins
Arlington, Va.

Brandon has to be Souza's biggest fan, because he writes so frequently about him. Souza is best known in the States for grappling to a draw with Randy Couture while Couture was retired and shortly before he came back to fight Tim Sylvia. I asked White about Souza and he said, "We talked to his people and they asked for crazy money. They were out of their minds, so we forgot about him." He's definitely not going to be in "The Ultimate Fighter 7".


TOP FEATHERWEIGHT

Why do most people think Akitoshi Tamura is the No. 1 featherweight in the world? Is it not safe to say that Urijah Faber should hold that position?
Randy Holloway
Fort Lewis, Wash.

Faber is the No. 1 featherweight in the world, according to the top poll in the world, the one conducted by my Yahoo! Sports colleague, Dave Doyle. In that poll, comprised of leading MMA writers from around the world, Faber is ranked seventh in the world among all weight classes. Tamura didn't receive so much as a single 10th-place vote.


WORLD'S MOST BEATEN MAN?

Why do so many fighters hang on way past their primes? Look at Ken Shamrock. He once was great, but now, guys we've never heard of beat him easily. He needs to quit before he gets hurt. Why do they keep putting him on?
Alex Grove
Dallas

Shamrock is one of the most significant men in the history of MMA. I believe he's trying to hang around to reap some of the financial benefit that he helped create. He's been done as a world-class fighter for years. To be a fighter, you have to have a big ego and an intense competitive streak. Sometimes, it's easier to rationalize a loss than to accept the reality that it's over. But for Shamrock, it's over.


SYLVIA-MIR?

What do you think of a potential Tim Sylvia-Cheick Kongo fight? It makes sense because the two are coming off losses.
Tayshaun Bikurug
Philippines

It would be an interesting fight, but I'd favor Sylvia, probably by knockout. But Sylvia is a free agent and needs to re-sign with the UFC in order for that to happen. If Sylvia does re-sign, I believe the UFC will pursue a fight for him with Frank Mir. Mir broke Sylvia's arm in 2004 in their heavyweight title bout.