The first, albeit tiny, steps toward middleweight Matt Lindland's return to the UFC were taken last week when Lindland spoke to UFC president Dana White.
Lindland hasn't fought in the UFC since UFC 54 on Aug. 20, 2005. He wore a shirt bearing the logo of a sponsor not approved by UFC management and hasn't been back.
Lindland worked the corner of Chael Sonnen in Sonnen's unsuccessful WEC middleweight title bid against Paulo Filho last week in Las Vegas. After the bout, he said he'd spoken to White about returning to fight in the UFC.
White said he is "not sure" of whether Lindland will return. In a text message, he wrote, "He told me he wants to come back and I haven't thought about it at all."
Now would be a good time to start. Lindland is one of the world's five best middleweights, along with UFC champion Anderson Silva, Filho, Pride ex-champion Dan Henderson and UFC ex-champ Rich Franklin.
The middleweight division is clearly the UFC's weakest and could use a quality challenger like Lindland.
Whatever his grievances are with Lindland, White owes it to the UFC's fans to settle the dispute and bring "The Law" back to the UFC to fortify a lackluster division. With that, it's on to another edition of the reader mailbag.
After that Ricky Hatton-Floyd Mayweather fight, I have come to a conclusion: Boxing is a total joke! The way boxing is set up is the guy on top (the champion) is going to face fighters he can beat! The thing about being a champion isn't about winning the belt then taking on worthy opponents. No, you win the belt, maybe fight a rematch but then you are bombarded by fighters who aren't worthy. That's why you see so many boxers with undefeated records with 40-plus wins. Are they facing real opponents? No. They are facing opponents they can defeat. Unlike MMA, or the UFC in particular, you don't just fight a opponent who can challenge you occasionally. You face fighters who are not only a challenge all the time but are amazing fighters. No one cares if a boxer beats up some guy who has a 40-0 record if those 40 wins were against weak opponents.
While I disagree that boxing is a joke, I agree with your general premise about the way fights are made. In boxing, the fighters generally want to fight the easiest opponents for the most reward and only want to take on the truly difficult fights when the money is going to be overwhelming. MMA is much different in that regard and the fighters actually seek out the best competition. When welterweight champion Matt Serra injured his back and was forced to withdraw from his Dec. 29 bout at UFC 79 with Matt Hughes, Hughes could have taken a much easier opponent than the man he chose, Georges St. Pierre. In boxing, a loss hurts a fighter greatly. In MMA, a loss doesn't hurt as much if it comes in an entertaining fight against a quality opponent.
SHOULD TITO DROP?
Don't you think it would be better for Tito Ortiz to drop from light heavyweight to middleweight, if he can? It seems to me that in Tito's last few fights, he has lost his burst. He still has the skill and power but he can barely get through strikers' defenses without that burst. He's still an elite fighter but the light heavyweight division has become younger, stronger and faster. Losing weight will probably restore his speed and agility and I don't think he'll lose his strength. Strength was his main weapon in his younger days. The thought of Anderson Silva, arguably the best MMA fighter today, against one of the greatest ever is too enticing.
Some guys benefit from a drop in weight, such as Michael Bisping, who recently announced a move to middleweight. But I doubt Ortiz would benefit from such a move. He's a big guy and that would be cutting 20 pounds off an already lean body. If he could do it, it would probably actually sap him of strength, rather than make him stronger. Plus, dropping a class would be a signal that he believes he can't compete at 205 pounds and I don't think he believes that or wants to send out that message.
Roger Huerta's fans need to shut their mouths because Clay Guida won both the first two rounds in their fight at the TUF 6 finale. Guida then decided to stand up with Huerta and got kicked in the face. Guida gave Huerta the fight. If anyone actually believes Huerta is a top three lightweight, they should watch more MMA because B.J. Penn, Joe Stevenson, Kenny Florian, Manny Gamburyan, Sean Sherk, Hermes Franca, Tyson Griffin and even Nick Diaz are still better than overrated Roger Huerta. Dana White just wants a large Mexican fan base, so he tries so hard to promote these overrated Mexican fighters.
I wouldn't say Huerta's a top three lightweight, but I would disagree that he's overrated. He's making great strides and is improving rapidly. I don't think he's the equal of Penn — few are — but Huerta is definitely someone to watch. I'd love to see him fight either Griffin or Florian sometime early next year.
FABER IS GREAT
I know you are going to agree with me and state that WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber needs to get more recognition. I don't think the general viewing audience of MMA has really taken notice to him, but after his victory over Jeff Curran on Dec. 12 in Las Vegas, I think they will jump on his bandwagon as well. Where do you rate Urijah and his tremendous potential?
Fort Lewis, Wash.
I've had Faber on the cusp of the pound-for-pound top 10. When our next poll comes out, I'll vote for him in my top 10, somewhere between 7 and 10. He's young enough and athletic enough and cares enough that I could see him moving up on that list in the next 18 months.
WHO WOULD WIN?
Kimbo Slice vs. Butterbean ... who would win?
I'll take a flier and say Butterbean based on a stronger chin. But of all the fights I'd like to see, that would be at the bottom of the list.
Do you believe the UFC is more of a popularity contest than a competition between the best mixed martial artists? At light heavyweight, Lyota Machida or Thiago Silva could probably give champion Rampage Jackson some competition, but I can almost guarantee that Forrest Griffin (who has a win over one elite-level fighter, if memory serves me correct), or the winner between Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva will get a shot because they are more popular. I think Dana White should just let the best fighters fight. If they do that, I honestly believe they would not need to worry about PPV sales.
You're pretty harsh, Michael. I think by and large they've had the best fight the fight. Rampage fought Dan Henderson in his last outing. Henderson is No. 5 in the Yahoo! Sports MMA top 10. In his fight before that, he won the title from Liddell. You're right, Jackson will defend the belt against Griffin, but Griffin defeated Shogun Rua, who was rated No. 2 in our poll at the time and who many fans were saying was the best fighter in the world, period. It is a business, though, and they do have to sell tickets and pay-per-views, but the UFC in particular and MMA in general does a good job of matching its best fighters regularly.
I guess after watching Paulo Filho's last fight, Yahoo! may want to reconsider saying he is as good as Anderson Silva. I watched the fight and believe me the Spider would destroy him.
I don't think we've said Filho is better than Silva, since we have Silva ranked No. 2 and Filho is unranked. However, I'll say it: Silva is better than Filho and would beat him if they met. Not destroy him, mind you, but I think he'd beat him in an awesome fight. Given that heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko is fighting Hong Man Choi, who only has one MMA bout and can't even be medically approved to fight in the U.S., I'm no longer going to vote him No. 1. Silva will be my top choice when the next poll is conducted.
I don't know why Matt Lindland is considered top three among middleweights. As a coach, I have to say he is that good. But as a fighter, who has he defeated? He got knocked out by Dave Terrell and Niko Vitale, who are average fighters. I think he won't even beat Kendall Grove or Allan Belcher. Stop praising that guy. He is the master of the "lay and pray" strategy.
He used to be the master of the lay and pray. No longer. As for quality wins, how about two over Phil Baroni and victories over Pat Miletich, Travis Lutter, Jeremy Horn and Carlos Newton? That's pretty impressive to me.
GIVE FILHO A BREAK
You are too harsh on Paulo. I think every fighter has his dull moment. Filho's less than impressive performance is just a part of that! Matt Hughes just laid over Chris Lytle at UFC 68 and Andrei Arlovski just danced with Tim Sylvia and Fabricio Werdum! At least on Filho's part, he finished Sonnen by an armbar. Forgive him for that flat performance.
I still think he's one of the top middleweights in the world. He wasn't ready to fight against Sonnen and I just pointed that out.
- Can't get enough of Kevin Iole's mailbag? Then check out last week's edition.