I was disappointed that I was going to miss the finale of The Ultimate Fighter on Saturday because I'm going to cover the boxing match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Ricky Hatton on Saturday in Las Vegas.
Then I heard that Sam Vasquez had died Friday as a result of injuries he suffered in an Oct. 20 mixed martial arts bout in Houston against Vince Libardi, and suddenly not getting to see the final episode of a reality series doesn't seem all that important.
I've covered several deaths in boxing and had one fighter, Martin Sanchez, literally fall into my lap at ringside after he was knocked out. He died a few hours later.
While Vasquez's death is tragic, it's important for those outside of the sport not to overreact. It needs to be studied carefully so that a repeat can be prevented.
The safety record of MMA is outstanding, and it's a less dangerous sport than many that are far more mainstream. That's significant to keep in mind as we grieve for Vasquez and his family.
With that, I'll answer reader questions on a variety of MMA topics, including Vasquez's death. As always, my answers are in italics following the question.
TOM IN BALTIMORE, PART DEUX
Matt Lindland not exciting?? Only (seven) fights out of 25 go the distance, he had classic brawls with Phil Baroni, and will fight anyone anywhere. Who else would fight the world pound-for-pound champion, who is two weight classes above him, in his own country?
Speaking of the Ravens, I will give you skybox tickets to the remaining games (including Baltimore vs. Indianapolis and Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh in exchange for press credentials and accommodations for UFC 79.
Tom gets a repeat in the mailbag because I wanted to clarify my response last week. I was making fun of the Ravens' offense because I'm a lifelong Steelers fan. By birth, I hate the Cleveland Browns, and because the Ravens are the former Browns, I hate the Ravens, too. I do think Lindland's a great fighter, as I wrote last week, and I wish UFC president Dana White wouldn't be so hard-headed and would allow him back into the company. The division needs more quality fighters. Having said that, I don't apologize for not finding him exciting.
How do you think the first death in a sanctioned MMA match will impact CBS and NBC's decision to broadcast bouts? And do you think it will have an impact upon states to pass legislation that sanctions it?
Bay City, Mich.
It couldn't have been worse timing as far as talks with TV networks are concerned because it's sure to scare advertisers. I don't think it will have an impact with state regulation, nor should it. The sport is only going to be safer if it is regulated and there are strict health and safety measures in place to protect the fighters.
STOP THE POLITICS
I was interested in hearing about Ariel Gandulla but was really turned off with your political agenda in the article. I suggest keeping a sports article a sports article. Why the need for such blatant propaganda about Cuba? So he decided to leave. Many people love Castro and cherish living in communist Cuba. I hope you make better decisions about how your writing intentionally or unintentionally affects people on a direct or subliminal level. I noticed it, that's why I'm commenting. Thanks for listening.
You should have asked Gandulla where he had the opportunity to learn to wrestling. Everyone can talk bad about the Cuba, but remember it was a popular people's revolution. Yes, there is no freedom of speech, which is horrible. You will never see a homeless black man in Cuba. Never see starving children in the streets. Just my two cents.
I was telling Gandulla's story and I was relating his feelings about Cuba, not mine.
With the Sean Sherk mess and now the Matt Serra injury, the UFC will have two "interim" champions until the champions are able to defend their titles or officially cannot defend their titles. Is there some rule in place that allows for this, or is it something UFC president Dana White made up on the fly? Major team sports have guidelines that control more than just the action on the field. Does the UFC have similar rules or guidelines in place which regulate what goes on outside of the Octagon that cover such things as interim belts or do they fly by the seat of Dana's proverbial pants?
The idea behind interim champions in boxing and MMA is to not freeze challengers from a title shot when the champion is unable to defend his belt in a timely manner. I think the UFC acted wisely in Sherk's situation. He faces a hearing on a steroid allegation Tuesday in Los Angeles. He tested positive after a July 7 bout. It wasn't fair to contenders like B.J. Penn and Joe Stevenson, who are going to fight at UFC 80 on Jan. 19 in Newcastle, England, to have to wait for Sherk's hearing. I disagree with making the Hughes-St. Pierre fight for an interim title because there is no indication Serra is going to be out a tremendously long time. I think White did that simply because he wanted to see those two fight five rounds.
I thought Robbie Lawler and Nick Diaz had one of the best fights ever. Is there any chance for a rematch? If so, do you see the same ending, or does Robbie knock out Nick this time?
Whitney Point, N.Y.
Size would seem to be an issue now because Lawler is competing at 185 pounds and Diaz is fighting in Elite XC's 160-pound division. That fight isn't one I would expect to see.
UNFAIR TITLE SHOTS
Do you think it is a bit unfair that Dan Henderson is getting two title shots in different weight classes in such a short amount of time?
I don't think it's unfair in the least. Henderson held two belts in Pride and is one of the elite middleweights in the world. Plus, the UFC's middleweight division isn't particularly compelling. A Henderson-Anderson Silva fight gives it a legitimate marquee event.
UFC GRAND PRIX
The IFL, Pride, Strikeforce and other MMA organizations have done Grand Prix events, but I never hear it mentioned with the UFC. I would love to see a Grand Prix in the light heavyweight division since it is as stacked as it is. Any chance of the UFC ever trying something like that?
Never say never, but Dana White doesn't like the concept. He was asked the question after UFC 78 and flat said it wouldn't happen.
I love The Ultimate Fighter, but I dislike one thing about it. The fighters are paid to be on the show and paid to win fights, and all they do is cuss each other out and abuse the house! Busting the walls, breaking the windows, throwing things in the swimming pool and breaking things. It may be fun, but come on guys, show some respect.
I've really enjoyed Season 6 of TUF, but I am with you, Wess. The writing on the walls and such is a bit much. I think it stems from the fact that there is nothing to do. I'd suggest at least letting them have one television in the house. Then, maybe they'd get some impromptu fights as the guys battle for control of the remote.
SHOGUN TO THE TITLE
Do you think Shogun Rua will bounce back and win the UFC light heavyweight belt? He holds wins over most of the current top contenders as well as the current champ. Although it appears Rampage Jackson has made the smoothest transition into the cage from Pride, I think Shogun has the skills to dominate this division for some time.
Rua is a very talented fighter and eventually could win the belt. But this division is loaded, and it wouldn't surprise me if the belt changed hands frequently in the next year or so.
GSP TO MIDDLEWEIGHT
When Georges St. Pierre cleans up this mess by finishing Matt Hughes off for good at UFC 79 and then by dominating Matt Serra in the rematch like he should have done the first time, I think he should consider moving up to middleweight to challenge Anderson Silva. Their striking and styles would no doubt make for a very exciting fight and in my mind they are the top fighters in the world under 200 pounds.
St. Catharines, Ont.
It's a big leap to simply write off a great fighter like Matt Hughes as flippantly as you did, Justin. Hughes is more than capable of winning that fight. But in your hypothetical, I think it would be great if St. Pierre moved up to face Silva. I have Silva rated No. 2 and St. Pierre No. 3 in my most recent vote in the Yahoo! Sports top-10 poll. A match between those two would be MMA at the highest order.
Can't get enough of Kevin Iole's mailbag? Then check out last week's edition.
- Dana White
- Sam Vasquez