The inbox was overflowing this week with reaction to Randy Couture's successful UFC heavyweight title defense against Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 74 on Saturday at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Couture stopped Gonzaga in the third round, prompting rejoicing from many Yahoo! Sports readers, who clearly are Couture diehards.
But for all of you who are now saying, "I told you so," I have a simple question: Where were you before the fight?
Before the fight, I was receiving a heavy dose of messages from Couture fans expressing concern for his safety.
I'll tackle the Couture questions as well as assorted other mixed martial arts and boxing topics in this edition of the mailbag.
My answers appear in italics below the questions.
How does Randy do it? He just leaves me speechless. Competing at that level at that age is one of the most amazing sports stories the general public has never heard. I think what he did Saturday night is about as impressive as any single sports moment I've ever seen in any genre. Bar none!
Merritt Island, Fla.
I was impressed, too, Lemmy, though I won't go so far as to say it was impressive as anything I've ever seen. How about Shun Fujimoto, the Japanese gymnast in the 1976 Olympics who scored a 9.7 on the rings despite a broken leg. There are many other examples, to be sure. That said, I was amazed by the 44-year-old Couture, especially given that he broke his left arm in the third round while blocking a Gonzaga kick and still went on to win. What makes Couture great is that he not only comes in superb shape for every fight, but he knows the sport perhaps better than anyone. He can analyze it and find even the most minute weaknesses in an opponent and then finds a way to exploit it.
Who poses the biggest threat to Randy Couture as the UFC's heavyweight division continues to stack up? Who will be his next challenger?
As I wrote in my post-fight column on Saturday, the division is amazingly deep. Couture's injury will keep him out of training for six weeks and will probably delay a return to competition until 2008. I asked UFC president Dana White that question on Monday and said he hadn't had time to think it through. I'd bet on Mirko Cro Cop, but that's far from a given.
NO RANDY FAN
Hi, Kevin. When a 44-year-old man wins the UFC championship (Editor's note: Couture was 43 when he won the title) and looks like no normal 44-year-old man, one should NOT be writing about his amazing, age-defying feat. Instead, one should write about the obvious abuse of performance enhancing substances that led Randy Couture to the title.
UFC is nothing more than a bloodier, more brutal (albeit realistic) cousin of the WWE. How can you hold the UFC to be a worthy competitor for boxing? I'm not a boxing fan either, but at least at its most refined it can be an elegant and sophisticated demonstration of skill.
The few WWE bouts I've witnessed more closely resembled a bar room brawl without the stools and broken bottles.
I urge you to help hasten an end to the UFC's five minutes of fame before more than a few of the combatants end up dead inside or outside the ring (Editor's note: UFC's matches are not conducted in a ring).
Couture looks no different than he did when he was in his 20s or 30s. He trains like a demon. There is ZERO evidence he's ever taken performance-enhancing substances. He was tested by the Nevada Athletic Commission on Saturday, so we'll see if he fails.
Even though I believe there are a lot of MMA fighters and boxers who are using steroids, I don't believe Couture to be one.
Further, it's flat ignorant to accuse someone of such a thing without a shred of evidence. I will blast Couture as a fraud if he ever tests positive for steroids, but I tend to doubt that will happen because I don't believe he is now or ever has used steroids. Your points about comparing MMA to boxing are ludicrous and simply show your lack of understanding of either sport.
Not only haven't there been any deaths in government-sanctioned MMA competition, there haven't been fighters suffering long-term brain damage like what has happened in boxing because they don't take the constant pounding to the head that boxers do.
And while I agree that at its highest level boxing is very skilled, so, too, is MMA. The fighters are highly trained and skilled. If you don't like the sport, fine. But don't make statements you can't back up with any evidence.
You've clearly jumped to conclusions with nothing to support them and your conclusions are flat wrong.
What, if anything, do you have to say to the people who seem to think that the UFC is fixed? Minutes after the Couture/Gonzaga fight, there were people on several boards claiming that Dana White fixes the fights. I don't see any reason to think that in any of the cards I've seen. I guess some people just want this sport to fail.
What would I say? Well, how about that they're moron losers with no lives who get their kicks trying to upset others. That, and pointing out that they're clueless, ought to cover what I have to say to those, ahem, fans.
BRING ON FEDOR
The only fight anyone who is an MMA fan wants and deserves to see Randy in is one against Fedor Emelianenko, the Pride champion. Put him against "The Natural" at this so-called Super Bowl of MMA at the end of the year. Keep all your Matt Hughes fights or Sean Sherk and his 'roid rage. We want to see who the greatest champ of all-time really is.
Bringing Fedor to the UFC seems to be one of the most consistent themes in the feedback I receive from MMA fans. I know White is trying to pull this off, but it's not as easy as placing a phone call. But a Couture-Emelianenko would be the biggest bout in MMA history. How about this for a scenario: White signs Fedor and matches him with Cro Cop on the Dec. 29 show from Las Vegas, with the winner getting a title shot early in 2008?
HIGH ON VERA
Do you think some are taking notice of little-known heavyweight Brandon Vera? This guy is different than your usual up-and-comer. Something tells me he will making much noise very soon.
I agree Vera is a talented heavyweight. He's been in a dispute with his manager, Mark Dion, which delayed the signing of a new UFC contract. But the deal is now signed and Vera will return to face ex-heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia at UFC 77 on Oct. 20 in Cincinnati. I had a very interesting interview with Vera and his wife, Kerry, last week and will have a column on him posted later this week.
Will Ricardo Mayorga take an interim fight now that his bout with Fernando Vargas is off due to Vargas' illness? Can he be a world champion again?
If there is one fighter whose act has gotten extraordinarily old, it's Mayorga's. He makes these outrageous comments and then consistently gets drilled by anyone who can fight a little bit. I guess Mayorga forgets about the drubbings he took from Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya. The Vargas-Mayorga fight was postponed because Vargas was anemic. But I think interest in Mayorga is anemic, too.
When talking pound-for-pound best fighter – this subject never goes away – I have never heard anyone say Evander Holyfield is in the mix. Every opponent he has fought in his career as a heavyweight was bigger than he was. Some were 30 pounds heavier. For about a 10-year stretch, when he was basically under 212 pounds, he was the best pound-for-pound. No 212-pound guy was going to get close to beating him.
Holyfield deserves a spot in the International Boxing Hall of Fame, which he will get five years after he retires. Based on the way he's going, his induction ceremony may not come until 2023. I think Evander is one of the better heavyweights ever, but certainly it's a stretch to call him one of the 10 best fighters regardless of weight ever. He's not even close to that level, in my opinion.
CHINA CHECKS IN
How about making the ring 3 meters x 3 meters so guys like Floyd Mayweather don't win by touching his opponent then making a swift move like ballet dancers do, then run? If he wins, he calls it a scientific strategy. We want a real fight, not a hugging show like Travis Simms did in his last fight. We want a fight like Manny Pacquiao is providing, a real fight not a hugging contest.
Lander, I hear you and I love a toe-to-toe slugfest as much as anyone. But if there is anyone who is good enough to make Mayweather stand and fight, I think he'll do it. I don't for a second think that's going to be Ricky Hatton, Mayweather’s opponent on Dec. 8. That's going to be a one-sided bloodletting.
Can’t get enough of Kevin Iole’s mailbag column? Then check out last week’s edition.
- Randy Couture
- Fedor Emelianenko