UFC 81 is on Saturday and the debut of Brock Lesnar is attracting a lot of attention. This could be the UFC's biggest pay-per-view in a long time given the mainstream curiosity in Lesnar.
But I'm picking Frank Mir, the former UFC heavyweight champion, to submit Lesnar even though I believe Lesnar will eventually become a force in the game.
I'm also going to go with Tim Sylvia to win a decision from Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Logic says that Nogueira should win, but Sylvia is so big, his submission defense is improving and he has great motivation to prove his legion of critics wrong.
I look for Jeremy Horn to decision Nate Marquardt in their middleweight bout. I'm also picking Alan Belcher, Tyson Griffin, Chris Lytle, Terry Martin and David Heath to win on Saturday.
Let's get to the mailbag and tackle a variety of mixed martial arts topics:
PRAISE AND CRITICISM
I am a huge UFC fan from the U.K. Given that you wrote the UFC is losing money in the U.K., what is it doing wrong, seeing as they are selling out the biggest cities here? Is the UFC thinking of giving up on the U.K. as a market? Now a little praise and grumble on Yahoo! Sports. Praise: You and Dave Meltzer are the best one-two combo in all of MMA. I literally check the site three times a day. I really enjoy it and it enhances my enjoyment of the sport! Grumble: The MMA Weekly rankings on Yahoo! Sports are an utter disgrace. The pro-PRIDE/anti-UFC bias has long since stopped being cute or funny. Can you convince the editor to dump this crap in a river somewhere?
Thanks, Paul. The UFC has big plans for the U.K. and Europe. They aren't abandoning the market. They lose money because they have to move nearly 200 people to the U.K. from the U.S. for each show. Plus, they only recently worked out a television deal with Setanta Sports. They see the losses as an investment and feel that long-term, Europe will be a significant market. As for MMA Weekly's rankings, I disagree with many of them, but realize it's like anything else. It's an opinion and it doesn't matter a whit. What matters is what happens during the fights.
There is no way B.J. Penn will get past either Kenny Florian or Sean Sherk, never mind Georges St. Pierre, who would take him out in very short time. To put Penn beside these guys is to belittle their talents.
I disagree, Mark. Penn already fought St. Pierre and lost a highly controversial decision. I'd favor Penn over Florian and Sherk, but Florian would pose an interesting threat because of his versatility.
I was hoping you could explain to me how the system works for determining who gets a title shot in the UFC. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira has one fight in the UFC and he has a title shot against Tim Sylvia? I assume the depth of the weight division is a factor, but are there any other reasons?
Sioux Falls, S.D.
Specifically on Nogueira, he's one of the most decorated MMA heavyweights ever. He is a former Pride champion and has quality wins over Josh Barnett, Mirko CroCop, Fabricio Werdum, Dan Henderson and Mark Coleman, among others. He deserves his chance. Generally, fighters are picked for title shots based on a series of wins. However, because it is a business and the UFC wants to sell tickets/pay per views, a fighter's appeal also plays a part. If the public has great interest in Fighter A and little in Fighter B, if Fighters A and B are even on the merits, then Fighter A is going to get the shot every time.
What does Roger Huerta need to do to get a shot at the UFC lightweight title? He is one of the toughest guys in this sport and after the Clay Guida fight I thought his name would be in the mix for a title shot. People talk like B.J. is just going to run through the lightweight division, but with names like Huerta, Sherk and Tyson Griffin, I think the fans are in for some awesome battles.
For Huerta to get a shot, he has to beat someone like Griffin, Frank Edgar or Florian first, in my opinion, to prove his legitimacy. He's on the cusp, though.
NEXT AT 205
Who do you see getting the light heavyweight title shot after the Quinton "Rampage" Jackson-Forrest Griffin fight in the summer? If Chuck Liddell can fight and beat Keith Jardine before or around the time of the Jackson title defense, he should get a shot to get his belt back.
Undoubtedly, if Liddell beats Jardine or Wanderlei Silva in a rematch, he'll get a shot at the title. That's because he's so popular and has done so much for the UFC. A lot will depend upon how the Jackson-Griffin bout goes, but I think Shogun Rua and Lyoto Machida each deserve strong consideration.
In your last mailbag you stated that the UFC heavyweight division "isn't nearly as deep as it once was." The UFC currently has everybody who is reasonably top 10 under contract except the Emelianenkos and Josh Barnett. They have Tim Sylvia, Andrei Arlovski, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Fabricio Werdum, Cheick Kongo, CroCop, Heath Herring, Gabriel Gonzaga, Brock Lesnar, Frank Mir and Jake O'Brien. Even if Randy Couture never fights for them again, that's a good list. I am just curious as to when it was much deeper that it is now?
Well, nine months ago, the UFC had Couture fighting and not just under contract. CroCop hadn't lost to Gonzaga and Kongo and he was considered an elite guy. Gonzaga didn't have back-to-back bad losses to Couture and Werdum. Given what's happened, I think the perception of the division has diminished a bit.
I am curious to know why some fight outcomes have been overturned to no contest for banned substance usage and some have not. Nick Diaz's fight with Takanori Gomi became a no contest due to Diaz' positive test for marijuana. But Sean Sherk and Hermes Franca both tested positive for steroids and that result wasn't changed. Why is this?
It depends upon where the fight is held. Nevada has a rule that allows a decision to be overturned when the winner tests positive for a banned substance. If the loser tests positive, a win isn't taken away from the winner. But Sherk-Franca was in California and that state currently doesn't have such a rule, though it is in the process of adding it.
I just read the UFC signed a promising South Korean fighter, Dong Hyun Kim. Do you have any insights on this guy?
Kim has fought at middleweight, but projects as a welterweight. He's a left-hander with an 8-0-1 record. He's a good striker and has a decent ground game.
JUICING?Is there any reason to think that Brock Lesnar isn't a steroid user, and therefore the exact wrong thing for the UFC right now?
He has to commit a crime before he's punished, doesn't he? Just because he's big doesn't mean he's on steroids. But because he's fighting in Nevada, he'll be tested after the fight and will be subject to random tests in the future. If he is using, he'll be caught. But it's highly unfair to any athlete to accuse him of steroid use without any evidence. Lesnar has always been big. This isn't a case like a certain free agent home-run hitting baseball player, who was a lean and lithe guy until his skull suddenly began to grow as rapidly as his chest and arms.
What are the possibilities of WEC lightweight champ Rob McCullough facing UFC lightweight champ B.J. Penn? This would be a great match and I feel Rob would come out victorious given his great striking ability and Muay Thai skills. Since the UFC and WEC are sister companies, when can we expect the best from each to meet?
I don't think it's going to happen for a while, if at all. First, Penn has a slew of challengers in the UFC. Second, White hasn't shown any indication of having WEC fighters meet UFC fighters. It would be a terrific fight, though.
SHOW THEM ALL
Why doesn't the UFC show all the fight cards on a PPV event? I went to the FAQ on the UFC website and it states: "Fights labeled as 'may not be broadcast' are scheduled to take place before the live broadcast begins. These pre- recorded fights are inserted into the broadcast if time permits. However, due to broadcast time constraints some of these undercard bouts may not be seen on a broadcast. These additional bouts can be found as bonus footage on the event DVD." I just don't understand the time constraints issue since the fights are not on network TV. I paid to see the event and believe I should get to see it in its entirety.
This is a common question which I answer repeatedly. Again, it's because of satellite time. It costs a lot of money to buy the time on a satellite to broadcast a sporting event. The UFC buys three hours of satellite time per pay-per-view card. If you are that outraged, write to White in care of the UFC, P.O. Box 26959, Las Vegas, NV 89126 and let him know your feelings.
IGNORANT, NOT NAIVE
I wouldn't say you're naive. I'd say you're ignorant. For you to say that Sherk didn't know that he took steroids and that you believe him is absolutely ridiculous. Are you going to tell me that you don't know what you put in your own body? Athletes are the most conscious people of what they do to their bodies, what they eat, medications they take, etc. Sherk fooled you but didn't fool the steroid test. By stating you actually believed Sherk, you made a fool of yourself.
I have heard dozens of fighters say they didn't take it and rarely believe them. Sherk is the only one I've heard whom I've believed. If that makes me ignorant, so be it. But Sherk will be subject to random testing by the Nevada Athletic Commission, so time will tell if my faith was misplaced.
- Can’t get enough of Kevin Iole’s mailbag? Then check out last week’s edition.
- Brock Lesnar
- Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
- Sean Sherk