For the last several months, I've been voting for Georges St. Pierre at No. 1 in the Yahoo! Sports pound-for-pound poll conducted by my colleague, Dave Doyle.
Not after Saturday's impressive performance by Anderson Silva at UFC 82, when he submitted Dan Henderson in the second round.
If there was anybody around at middleweight who matched up favorably with Silva, it was Henderson. But Henderson simply wasn't nearly as good as Silva, who overcame a bad first round by calmly and coolly executing his plan in the second.
For what it's worth, I now have Silva in my top spot, followed by St. Pierre, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, B.J. Penn, Randy Couture, Miguel Torres (I was tremendously impressed with his victory over Chase Beebe last month), Urijah Faber, Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and J.Z. Calvancante.
The results of the voting will be revealed in a Doyle column later this week.
Let's get to your questions, remembering that my answers appear in italics below.
With Anderson Silva's victory over an elite opponent like Dan Henderson, is he the new Chuck Liddell of the UFC as its most dominant fighter?
Dan Wetzel's outstanding column on Anderson last week hit the nail on the head. He's dominating MMA now the way Tyson did boxing in the late 1980s and then again in the mid-1990s. He's not only beating elite fighters, he's destroying them, which may be even better than what Tyson was doing. Tyson lost to the best fighters he faced (Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis), but Silva isn't letting them get out of the second round.
UP TO 205?
Presently, there seems to be no challenger who poses a threat of getting Anderson Silva's middleweight championship belt after his victory over Dan Henderson. Do you think he would consider moving up to the light heavyweight division? If so, what are the chances of him being the light heavyweight champion? The 205-pound division is stacked, but he could easily get a crack at that belt since he is the middleweight champion and considered the best fighter pound-for-pound. Henderson was very competitive and was a champion at both middleweight and light heavyweight. There would absolutely be no doubt that Anderson Silva is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world if he gets the light heavyweight belt.
Silva doesn't have to move up to prove he's the best, because he's already proven it. What more does he need to do? If Silva were to move up, it would either be because he could no longer make the 185-pound middleweight limit or to take a monster fight the public is demanding to see. But right now, light heavyweight champion Rampage Jackson has plenty of big challenges in his own division. I also don't believe Silva has trouble making 185, so there is no compelling reason for him to go. Wanderlei Silva plans to drop to 185 after his May 24 fight with Keith Jardine and UFC president Dana White said Tuesday he wouldn't mind a Silva vs. Silva bout sometime later this year. White said he wouldn't stand in the way if Anderson Silva wanted to move to light heavyweight. "What else is there for him to prove at middleweight?" White said. "If he comes to me and says he wants to fight at light heavyweight, I can't argue with him." But White said Silva has given him no indications he's planning to do that.
I had my doubts going into the Silva/Henderson fight. I wanted Silva to win, but I thought Dan was the favorite. What do I know? After the fight, Silva mentioned dropping weight. Do you think St. Pierre/Silva is a possibility?
If Silva-St. Pierre happens, it will happen at 185, not 170. Silva can not make 170 safely. I wouldn't expect to see that fight, as much fun as it might be.
BULLISH ON LARKIN
After reading the story on IFL CEO Jay Larkin, I'm convinced that this is a stock with nowhere to go but up. I am also sure one man can make it happen. By the way, what is the IFL's stock symbol?
Jay Larkin is a great guy who did a wonderful job building Showtime's boxing franchise. When he left, it was putting on better fights on a more regular basis than HBO. He's got his hands full at the IFL, though. The IFL's season opener Friday at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas turned out to be a box office bomb. It attracted a crowd of 4,280, but that figure included just 1,606 tickets sold. It gave away 2,674 tickets and had 2,011 tickets unsold. The paid gate was $102,120. By way of comparison, the last UFC event in Las Vegas, UFC 81, had 7,167 paid tickets for a gate of $2,437,890. The IFL's stock symbol is IFLI.OB.
SOME PEOPLE ARE NEVER SATISFIED
Good way to overhype Anderson Silva. You know what his weakness is? Matchstick legs! Leg kicks bother him a lot. He will go down in a heap if he ever decides to take on the great Kaoklai.
I'm assuming you're referencing Kaoklai Kaennorsing. He's a kick boxer who hasn't had an MMA fight, to my knowledge. And if Silva's legs are so vulnerable, why hasn't anyone attacked them successfully yet?
After Anderson Silva's win, who's left to fight him? Yushin Okami is the logical choice. Silva won't fight WEC champion Paulo Filho because they train together. If Michael Bisping does well at middleweight, would he get a shot?
Filho never said he wouldn't fight Silva, but said it would take a lot of money to make it happen. Silva, though, ruled it out at the UFC 82 post-fight news conference. I'd say the next three logical opponents for Silva are Okami, Wanderlei Silva and Bisping.
KIMBO VS. CHUCK
What kills me about all this hate on Kimbo Slice is that he has far more boxing skill than Chuck Liddell. Kevin, you know boxing so you know the head movement and everything. Why is it that Kimbo is not a real MMA fighter to people? However, Chuck Liddell is the ultimate MMA fighter. How many arm bars has Chuck laid on people in his career? Let's be real. Is it because Kimbo wears big chains and has gold teeth?
Norman, Liddell is regarded as he is because he has victories over many of the greatest fighters in MMA today. Slice has yet to fight a legitimate opponent. It has nothing to do with chains or anything. I'm sure there are plenty of racists out there who oppose Kimbo because he's black, but he's in the embryonic stages of his MMA career. Let's see how he develops before we compare him with one of the best-ever in the sport. I'm not ruling out that some day he could pass Liddell. It doesn't seem likely to me, but I won't rule it out. I spoke with his trainer, Bas Rutten, at length last week and he's very high on Slice. But Liddell is a great striker, an excellent wrestler and is good at jiu-jitsu even though he doesn't rely on it. Slice hasn't proven he can do anything yet but slug. Let's give it time.
UFC FREE AGENTS
I was curious about Josh Koscheck, who defeated Dustin Hazelett on the UFC 82 undercard. He is in the final bout of his contract and was paid just $20,000, compared to $60,000 for Diego Sanchez and Jon Fitch. He seemed unusually emotional after the fight. Is he being dissed by the UFC? It seems like it. Will he be fighting elsewhere?
I had a lengthy conversation on Tuesday with White about the company's free agents, most notably Koscheck and heavyweight Andrei Arlovski. White said the UFC plans to offer each a new deal and hopes to sign both men, but he wouldn't guarantee it. Other promoters are going to be bidding heavily because no other organization has a roster of talent anywhere near as deep as the UFC's. White said, "This is a war and in a war there are going to be casualties." I interpret that from the tenor of the entire conversation we had that he is resigned to losing at least one of the men. But White also warned that fighters should be careful when comparing offers from the UFC and other promotional groups, most of whom are hemorrhaging money. "If we offer you a $300,000 contract for three fights, you know you're going to get that $300,000. But these other organizations are dying. They may offer you $600,000, but if you only fight one fight on the contract before the company goes under, what kind of guarantee do you have?" There's a lot of intrigue upcoming in the next few months.
FIGHTS ON PPV
First off, I love the mainstream MMA coverage on Yahoo! In your mailbags you've addressed the issue of the undercards not being aired on the PPVs. Your explanation has been that the PPV time is very costly and that the UFC only wants to pay for the three-hour timeslot. When I order the PPVs and watch and record on my DVR, I have access to six hours of PPV and the event simply repeats. If my purchase entitles me to six hours of PPV content (and the UFC has already paid for all this time), I am not sure why the undercards are not televised. Lastly, now that Yahoo! is broadcasting the PPV online, will that option include the untelevised fights?
First, Pete, the fights on Yahoo! will be the same ones provided to the cable/satellite companies, so you'll see on our site what someone sees on their TV. I was covering the Rafael Marquez-Israel Vazquez boxing match on Saturday and missed UFC 82 in person, but was watching at ringside. It was awesome and our team who worked on that deserve to be praised publicly for the great job they did. But you're making a little mistake. When the fight is re-aired, it doesn't cost satellite time, so they can repeat it for free if they wish. That's a contractual issue between the cable companies and the satellite companies and the UFC. The UFC pays for the three hours of satellite time when the fight is live.
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