I received my usual flood of questions and comments on mixed martial arts in the past week, but what I didn't receive was telling: I received zero comments on the main event at UFC 78.
I've gotten questions about why Rashad Evans, who defeated Michael Bisping Saturday by split decision at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., didn't fight Tito Ortiz. And I've gotten complaints about the quality of the card.
But I didn't receive a single comment about Evans-Bisping – or any other fight on the card. That is highly unusual.
I'm not sure how to analyze that. Is it because Evans and Bisping aren't as well-known as UFC officials thought? Or was it that the card was a turnoff to many fans?
I'll get into a mixed bag of MMA questions here. My answers, as usual, are in italics.
WHERE IS TITO?
Could you tell me why Tito Ortiz hasn't been given an opportunity for a rematch against Rashad Evans? Surely UFC president Dana White can see that Tito is still a big draw.
Tito was offered the fight but declined. He was filming "Celebrity Apprentice" on NBC and also had a minor injury.
What do you see as the future of the welterweight division following the Serra-Hughes fight in December? Will we be forced to watch Matt Serra, Matt Hughes and Georges St. Pierre fight it out round-robin style for the next half-year, or will we see some diversity? Don't get me wrong, those three guys are fantastic fighters who always bring it and put on a good show. I can't remember the last time I would call any of their fights lackluster, but I'm ready to see guys like Jon Fitch and Karo Parisyan get their well-deserved title shots. Will these guys a shot anytime soon?
The winner of the Serra-Hughes fight at UFC 79 will fight St. Pierre in the first quarter of 2008. After that, Fitch will likely get a shot. Parisyan's title shot is going to have to wait, particularly given his less-than-thrilling fight Saturday with Ryo Chonan.
I'm not sure I understand your column calling for MMA to be sanctioned in New York. Why should success (or lack of) be reason to sanction an activity? I don't pretend to know anything of the sport, but the few times I have seen a few minutes while flipping channels, I have seen a prone person being battered into submission. If I were on a panel making the decision as to whether to sanction MMA, I would balance the appeal against the rules that appear to specifically allow beating a person to a bloody pulp.
I'll assume that the folks making that decision will be a little more informed on MMA than someone who comments after watching a few minutes while flipping channels.
What is all the hype about Cung Le? He has fought bums. He has movie skills, but he will be exposed and embarrassed by Frank Shamrock. Do you agree?
Le has terrific kicks and is extraordinarily athletic. I think at this stage, Shamrock is too well-rounded for him, but Le is improving by the day and he'll make it a tough go for Shamrock when they meet next year.
MORE ON RANDY
I wanted to ask you a belated question related to Randy Couture's departure from the UFC. Randy made it clear to the UFC brass that he wanted to fight Fedor Emelianenko, and, presumably, wanted them to pursue the fight aggresively. But, after Fedor declined to sign with the UFC, Randy gets mad at the amount he says was offered to Emelianenko? Doesn't that seem like a classic Catch-22 for the UFC? Doesn't it seem like Randy wanted Fedor under the UFC umbrella to leverage his own position for more money at that point?
Will Couture is a competitor and wanted to fight Emelianenko because he knew Emelianenko was widely regarded as the best fighter in the world and he felt he deserved to be. He thought he could knock Emelianenko off and make a lot of money in the process.
Gee, would you make more money if MMA were sanctioned in "every state (and) in every country," like you suggest? I would guess if more states banned it you would have less readers and income. When someone dies, which they eventually they will, it's OK. You can get a bigger BMW. Best of luck being you.
Did you call for the NFL to be banned after Kory Stringer died during training camp in 2001? Did you call for high school football to be banned after any of the countless deaths every year? Did you call for college basketball to be banned after Hank Gathers died during a 1990 game? Were you leading the charge to ban NASCAR after Dale Earnhardt died during the Daytona 500 in 2001?
And, by the way, when was the last death in the ring during a sanctioned MMA match? Never, you say? Wow.
Will Matt Serra ever get the credibility that he seeks? While I believe he beat Georges St. Pierre fair and square and deserves the respect that should come with that, most people I've spoken with disagree. So my concern is this: Will it even matter if Serra beats Hughes in December? If he loses, people will say his win over GSP was pure luck. If he wins, people will say he faced an older, down-and-out Matt Hughes, thereby negating some of the respect.
Carle Place, N.Y.
I think Serra has all the credibility he needs with the belt he has wrapped around his waist. But if he beats Hughes, he'll have beaten back-to-back Top-10 guys (Hughes is No. 9 and St. Pierre is No. 4 in the Yahoo! Sports Top 10) and he'll get all the respect he could ever want.
THOUGHTS ON KIMBO
What are your thoughts of Kimbo Slice? Do you think he can be the real deal?
Terre Haute, Ind.
Kimbo clearly has great power, but has a long way to go before he can compete with the upper echelon MMA fighters. He'll be moved very slowly, I suspect.
There are a lot of up-and-coming fighters in the UFC and most of them aren't given a shot at the title. Fighters like Jon Fitch, Thiago Silva, Forrest Griffin and Tyson Griffin come to mind. I think having a tournament format similar to Pride and K-1 where fighters go through elimination rounds can best determine the best among the best.
I've never liked the tournament format, because it doesn't determine the best fighter in a division. All it does is determine who has the best recuperative powers on a given night. Besides, it doesn't matter, because Dana White said after UFC 78 Saturday he will never host a tournament. Remember, there are only five belts and the UFC has 250 fighters under contract. If the fighters you mention keep winning, they'll eventually fight for the title.
MOVE TO MIDDLEWEIGHT
It's obvious that the light heavyweight and welterweight divisions in the UFC are incredibly stacked. They have Rampage Jackson, Dan Henderson, Chuck Liddell, Keith Jardine, Houston Alexander, Wanderlei Silva, Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, Shogun Rua, and now Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou at light heavyweight. For the welterweights they have Serra, St. Pierre, Hughes, Fitch, Josh Koscheck, Diego Sanchez, Karo Parisyan, and now Ryo Chonan. Wouldn't it make sense for some of these guys to move to the very sparse middleweight division? They could instantly go from middle-of-the-pack to a top contender. Especially Ryo Chonan who has an impressive victory over the champ Anderson Silva. Who do you think is likely to make the switch?
Dan Henderson is going to drop to middleweight and fight Silva for the title on March 1. I think Michael Bisping may also move down to 185. I'm not sure any of the other light heavyweights could make it. Sanchez, by the way, is considering a move to lightweight, so I doubt he'll be going up.
Why is steroid testing random? If steroid usage is such a problem right now, why not just test every fighter all the time? That way, the fighters know full well that they'll be tested. Dana White keeps saying that steroid use is a problem; well, I would think that if the fighters knew that everyone is going to be tested after a fight, they'd think twice about doing it.
All fighters are subject to testing after fights, though not all fighters are tested. But if a fighter is using steroids, he can cycle off in time for a fight and then test clean even though he's using. If random testing was instituted, when a fighter could be tested at any point during his training camp, he won't be able to do that.
- Can't get enough of Kevin Iole's mailbag? Then check out last week's edition.
- Rashad Evans
- Matt Hughes
- Fedor Emelianenko
- Randy Couture
- Matt Serra
- Tito Ortiz
- Michael Bisping