Mailbag: UFC 76, heavyweights, and more

Kevin Iole
Yahoo! Sports

It's perhaps the busiest time I can remember in boxing and mixed martial arts, as there are fight cards of significance nearly every weekend.

The majority of my mail this week related to UFC 76, so I'll have a heavy dose of that in this edition of the mailbag, but as always, I'll tackle a wide variety of topics in boxing and MMA.

I love hearing from you and want to see this column grow. Click on the feedback link at the bottom of any of my columns to send me questions, comments or insights into anything going on in either boxing or MMA.

Please, remember to leave your hometown, because that's important.

My answers appear in italics below the questions.


My question concerns reporting of the UFC in major metropolitan newspapers. I feel embarrassment as a sports fan that I cannot open up the sports page of my local newspaper and read about Keith Jardine's upset victory over Chuck Lidell on Saturday. Is this sport not newsworthy? What does it take? I am concerned, curious, and pissed off that this sport is not more recognized. The people especially the old fight fans deserve the real deal.

Clay Myers
Chico, Calif.

You're right, Clay. Not many newspapers cover MMA regularly. I worked at a daily newspaper for 25 years, so I understand some of the problems editors face. The space in the physical paper is shrinking rapidly due to declining ad sales, so making room for a new sport which they have difficulty understanding is a problem. But I think they're making a mistake. As in any business, you have to give the customers what they want and I think there's a big market for MMA coverage.


Chuck Liddell will not retire. He did not lose his drive. He was just shocked and stunned, because when he went after Jardine, he could not faze him. I knew before the fight that Jardine would be his toughest match ever because of the way they match up. Jardine has a huge chin, and he is a straight forward jab and kick striker. Liddell is a wild KO striker, who overwhelms people with his aggression. That being said, it was easy to tell that no one was going to get knocked out, and it would be a good fight. Liddell will go into refuge for awhile, doing his thing and training. But he will come back sometime in the future, to fight for the title. just as Randy Couture did.

Joshua Smith
Norco, Calif.

I doubt Chuck will retire, either, though fighting is a tough way to make a living and he's financially set for life. But he's also a competitor and I don't think he wants to go out on back-to-back losses. Jardine's kicks were very important in the fight, because they made it difficult for Chuck to set and throw punches. I honestly thought it would be a shootout and that Chuck would win because of more power. All the credit to Jardine for a great game plan and executing it perfectly.


I believe that what was wrong with Chuck Liddell was what is wrong about all sports. He had a large check coming his way, win or lose. When you start overpaying athletes they just show up to collect a check. The winner should get the big purse.

Tony Howell
New Vienna, Ohio

Fighting is a hard way to make a living and I don't begrudge anyone a cent they make. Remember, Liddell's presence helped sell a large number of those tickets. He deserves something for that. That being said, I do like the idea of returning it to prize fighting. It never hurts the quality of the show if the fighters are highly motivated.


We need not debate whether Pride is superior to UFC. We just simply let the fights show it. Let Jackson/Liddell, Rua/Griffin, Machida/Nakamura, Gonzaga/Cro Cop, and other UFC vs. Pride fights show it. And I will no longer be surprised if Randy Couture dominates Fedor Emelianenko once he comes to the UFC.


Let me say this again: It's got to be about the fighters, not the promoter. I don't care who promotes a fight if it's a good fight. But you're right, the best way to settle any debate over who is better is by a competition and, at last, that's what is happening. But if Couture beats Emelianenko, that doesn't prove the UFC is better than Pride, it simply proved that on one night, Couture was better than Emelianenko.


How did you score the Jon Fitch-Diego Sanchez fight at UFC 76 for Sanchez? I don't get it. I can see maybe giving him the last round, but the other two aren't even a question. He took way more punishment. He was dominated. I think if you watch it again, you'll see what I mean. I like your columns and respect what you write about MMA, but I definitely think you got this one wrong.

Brooklyn, N.Y.

I thought Sanchez deserved to win because he was going for submissions and I didn't think Fitch was doing much to advance his position. If I got it wrong, it wouldn't be the first time. But one of the judges scored it exactly as I did. That was a close fight.


Great columns and I like the new use of stats from CompuStrike. My question relates to Matt Serra vs. Matt Hughes being on Dec. 29. Is the protracted gap between Serra's title win on April 7 and his first defense because of The Ultimate Fighter? It just seems like a long time.

Brent Funderburk
Bloomington, Ind.

The lag is completely due to The Ultimate Fighter. The UFC knows that Serra and Hughes don't like each other (and it's not fake), but a lot of average fans don't realize that. They believe that by showcasing them each week on cable television, they'll tell their story and make their title match that much more compelling and, ultimately, sell more pay-per-views as a result.


Why does everyone think Ricky Hatton is going to be an easy fight for Floyd Mayweather Jr.? Every fighter who has ever given Floyd serious problems had Hatton's key attribute: the ability to apply relentless, unorthodox pressure. Fighters on this list include Jose Luis Castillo, Emanuel Burton and Jesus Chavez. With the exception of Oscar De La Hoya, boxers who tried to box Mayweather had very little success. I submit that Hatton is going to wrestle, maul and brawl with PBF to make the fight tougher and more competitive than the casual boxing fan might think.

San Diego

Hatton is a talented fighter, but Mayweather is in a different league when it comes to speed. You mention the fighters who gave Mayweather trouble, but it's not like they really had him in difficulty. Mayweather is just too quick and will box rings around Hatton, I believe. I hope I'm wrong, because I want to see a competitive fight, but I think it will be one-sided in Mayweather's favor.


Older fight fans love to look at the past with rose-colored glasses. The heavyweight division is probably more complex and harder today then it was in the past. Rarely did Ali ever go up against opponents who stood 6-6, weighed 245 pounds and had a 78-inch reach like say Wladimir Klitschko. You point out that Ali fought such Hall of Famers as Archie Moore and Bob Foster. Both those guys where light heavyweights. No kidding Ali beat them. They always got beat when they stepped up to heavyweight. Moore was also 45 years old when he fought Ali. And you criticize Lennox Lewis for fighting past their prime fighters?

Grant Martin
Portland, Ore.

While I'd agree that older fans tend to be biased in favor of fighters from their generation, I vehemently disagree with your thoughts on the heavyweight division. The heavyweight division is boxing's worst, hands down. It is putrid. And while Moore was old when Ali fought him, Ali was still a young fighter on the way up. He was still known as Cassius Clay when he faced Moore in 1962. It was the kind of fight to help a promising young prospect grow against a grizzled veteran who knows the tricks. But in his prime, Ali faced a slew of superb fighters, most of whom would be super duper stars by today's standards.


I read your answer to a question regarding showing more fights on the UFC PPV. I do understand that time and money is a constraint to the UFC when broadcasting a PPV but to say "You can buy any of the fights you want from the UFC from its "UFC on Demand" service, though," is kind of screwed up. Do you not agree that they make enough money from the PPV and they should offer those fights for free to watch on their website? Come on. I know the UFC will show one or two PPV-level cards for free on Spike, but that is just being greedy.

Lenny Cusumano
Queens, N.Y.

The UFC is a business and, as such, businesses try to find ways to maximize revenues. Showing these fights with the UFC on Demand service is one way they've done that. I'm not going to criticize them for that. If their fans revolted against it, they wouldn't do it. If you don't like it, the best way to let them know is to not buy their product. But a lot of people are buying it, which tells the UFC it's on the right track.


As an MMA fan and a boxing fan, why is the sport of boxing in the heavyweights just falling apart? I think Don King and others ruin a great sport with greed and poor match-ups.

Guy Smalley
Waynesville, N.C.

I'll grant you, Guy, that bad matches are part of the problem. But they're a very small part. The kids who once grew up dreaming of becoming the next heavyweight champion now grow up dreaming of being the next Kobe Bryant or the next Peyton Manning. Boxing is losing its great athletes to other sports.

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