There are still more than seven full months left in the year, but as it stands right now, the Ultimate Fighting Championship will be shut out when it comes to Fight of the Year, Submission of the Year and Knockout of the Year.
Matt Hamill's head kick knockout of Mark Munoz at UFC 96 in Columbus, Ohio, was highlight reel stuff, but my vote for KO of the Year at this moment would go to Yahir Reyes.
In case you missed it, Reyes came out of nowhere with a lightning quick and devastating spinning back fist to knock out Estevan Payan on Friday in the semifinals of the Bellator Fighting Championship's featherweight tournament.
The Submission of the Year was a week earlier in another Bellator fight, when Toby Imada used a reverse triangle choke to finish Jorge Masvidal. It was fascinating stuff and should be fodder for those who insist submission fighting is boring.
Right now, I can't make up my mind for the Fight of the Year to this point. I'm going to either go with the Strikeforce bout between Scott Smith and Benji Radach on April 18, or the World Extreme Cagefighting bantamweight title bout between the great Miguel Torres and Takeya Mizugaki.
Before I move to your questions and comments in the weekly mixed martial arts mailbag, I invite you to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kevini. If you send me a message with your first name, last initial as well as hometown, I'll consider your question for the mailbag. Please use the tags #MMA and #mailbag, as it will be easier for me to find.
Now, on to the mailbag, remembering that my responses are, as always, in italics.
SPIDER'S FUTURE OPPONENT
I was excited to hear the announcement of Anderson Silva-Forrest Griffin at UFC 101, because I think it's about time they gave Silva someone who will stand there and trade with him. My question, though, is if Silva manages to get through Griffin, what are your thoughts on him fighting the winner of the Rich Franklin-Wanderlei Silva fight that will take place at UFC 99? My goal would be hopefully to see Silva-Franklin III! I know it seemed ridiculous after the second fight, but with the recent disasters that were called Anderson Silva fights, to me it doesn't seem like such a ridiculous proposition anymore. I think either of those guys would get real pumped up for that fight, especially Franklin. What do you think?
Honestly, I don't like the idea, Matt, if it's to arrange another Silva-Franklin fight. There are plenty of quality fighters who deserve a shot at Anderson Silva. I'm OK with a Wanderlei Silva fight, because it would be a war for as long as it lasted and it's a fight a lot of people would want to see. But Franklin hasn't really done anything to earn another shot and I think Anderson Silva pretty conclusively proved he has Rich's number.
PENN VS. FLORIAN SET?
Is the UFC lightweight title fight between B.J. Penn and Kenny Florian scheduled for UFC 101? I've seen posts online relating to this, but the UFC does not have it listed on any of their upcoming fight cards.
The fight will be the main event of UFC 101 on Aug. 8 in Philadelphia. Silva-Griffin will be the co-main.
WHY NOT SILVA AND LITTLE ROY?
I've been reading a lot of buzz lately about boxer Roy Jones Jr. wanting to fight Anderson Silva in an MMA match. UFC president Dana White shot it down, possibly because he didn't want to risk the livelihood of one of his champions. But at UFC 60, they pitted the reigning welterweight champ, Matt Hughes, against Royce Gracie, a non-title fight. It seemed like a great match at the time. Why would the same not apply in this case? It's a fight that would spark a lot of interest.
Martin County, Fla.
I'm with Dana on this one. Roy is not a mixed martial artist. If they fought under MMA rules, he would be lucky to last a minute. If they boxed, Jones would dominate, because Silva is not a professional boxer. What would be the point? Would you want to see LeBron James, the best player in the NBA, playing Tiger Woods in an 18-hole winner-take-all match in golf? Of course not. They're different sports. And so are boxing and MMA. Roy is pursuing the fight because he needs the money, but it would make a circus of both sports and would prove nothing.
WHY NOT ROY AND CHUCK INSTEAD?
I would agree that Roy Jones Jr. has not earned the right to fight Anderson Silva in MMA, and that it would be viewed as a circus act, and not much else. However, I'm not opposed to RJJ fighting a lesser talent in the UFC, as a semi-feature attraction. Why not have him fight former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell, for example. They are both at a similar stage in their careers right now, and Liddell will engage RJJ in a standup war that will be crowd pleasing for as long as it lasts. Dana White seems to have completely nixed the idea of a RJJ UFC fight, but I don't think it's a smart move on his part. RJJ can bring a lot of boxing fans to MMA that have otherwise shunned it. Your thoughts?
I say no again. Again, what is the point? This would be one of those fights where Chuck's wrestling would be what would win him the fight. The UFC doesn't need an over-the-hill boxer, which is what Roy is at this stage. What does he bring? UFC pay-per-views regularly trounce boxing's, and clearly UFC sells more tickets to its events. Not only does the UFC as a company not need Jones, but MMA as a sport does not, either. If Jones were to learn MMA and fight inexperienced MMA fighters and build, I'm not against it, but all Roy is looking for is a quick payday. Move on, folks.
IS CHUCK OVER THE HILL?
Do you believe Chuck Liddell is really past it because of his age or have people just figured out how to beat him now and his inability to adjust to a two-dimensional game plan leaves him open to more skillful fighters? No doubt, the man is a legend in the sport but is this down to his image and the way he was built up as opposed to MMA abilities?
The bottom line with Chuck is that his chin is no longer what it once was. Punches he used to walk through are now knocking him silly. He could still compete on better than even terms with all but maybe six or eight light heavyweights in the world. But would he be happy fighting what essentially are meaningless fights? I don't think so.
UFC'S MATCHMAKING SUCKS
Why does the UFC make fights in which one guy is coming off a loss and the other is coming off a win? The Liddell-Shogun Rua fight is an example. Chuck would have been better off fighting Thiago Silva or Forrest Griffin. That would have made more sense. I like the UFC, but its matchmaking can be horrible at times.
Kris, I think you're shortchanging Joe Silva, the UFC's matchmaker and, in my mind, one of the brightest minds in the sport. He does a brilliant job. Though Liddell was coming off a loss and Rua off a win, this was still a great fight to make. Rua desperately needed a win because he looked awful in his fight with Mark Coleman and he had lost before that. That meant each man was desperate for a victory and each fought with the pressure of knowing it could have been his last in the UFC with a loss. There are a lot of variables that go into matchmaking and you have to remember that Silva has a lot of cards to make. I think he's phenomenally good.
I think I have discovered a weakness in Lyoto Machida and that is the left side of his face, the temple area. I think he could be caught by an overhand right by someone moving counter clockwise. You just have to be wary that you don't set yourself up for one of his kicks or knees.
I haven't noticed that, but if you're right, I'm sure Rashad Evans will try to exploit it when they meet for the light heavyweight belt at UFC 98 on May 23 in Las Vegas.
TITO'S TITLE SHOT
Do you think Strikeforce will give Tito Ortiz an automatic title shot once he's ready to fight? I admit I am a huge Tito fan and anxious for his return. Do you think he should take on a lesser opponent to start off?
If he signs with Strikeforce, I think Scott Coker & Co. will talk to Tito. If he wants the title shot, I believe he'll get it. Strikeforce doesn't have a lot of depth and I think they'd give Ortiz a chance if he wanted it. But given that it will have been around 18 months since he last fought, I'd bet Ortiz would want one fight first before chasing the Renato Sobral's belt.
PPV START TIMES
I just have a random question about the timing of UFC events. When the event is in Las Vegas, it goes live at 7 p.m. PT, which is 10 p.m. on the East Coast. That means the main event usually starts around 9 p.m. PT. UFC 97 was in Montreal, and still went live at 10 p.m. The main event didn't start until around midnight. Don't you think that all events should go live at 7 p.m. in whatever time zone they happen to be in? Maybe the reason why Anderson Silva was so lazy during his fight was because he was ready for bed. Having fighters fight after midnight is way too late and completely ruins the after party.
Matt, they start when they do because they're trying to maximize the number of pay-per-view buys. If a fight is on the East Coast and they start it at 7 p.m., it's then 4 p.m. in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Those are two of the UFC's top markets in terms of pay-per-view buys. They keep the time consistent so that fans know when to expect them and they can get as many sales as possible.
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