Mailbag: UFC's big hopes for the Big Apple

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You can follow Kevin Iole on Twitter at @KevinI

When Gov. Jim Doyle signs the bill sometime this week, Wisconsin will become the 43rd state to regulate mixed martial arts.

It's one that doesn't regulate it that still stands out, however. The Ultimate Fighting Championship has been desperate to get into New York and has spent thousands on its lobbying effort.

But there will be no MMA in New York any time soon, even if the state legislature sends a bill to the desk of Gov. David Patterson for his signature in the next few months. That's because once the bill is signed by the governor, there would be a 120-day window that would have to pass before the bill became law and the sport became legal and regulated by the New York State Athletic Commission.

If the state does pass a bill this year, this is a thought that may essentially give UFC president Dana White a license to print money: Hold the company's annual New Year's Eve show in Madison Square Garden with a bout featuring reigning heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar. (Who knows if he'll hold the belt then, but he should be the headliner regardless.)

January 1, 2011, is a Saturday, the day the UFC normally holds its pay-per-view events. How about a New Year's Eve weigh-in and then a fight to kick off the New Year in the world's most famous arena?

It's going to be several months until there's any legislative activity. And it's no given a bill will make it to the governor's desk. But if it does, it's another four months after that before promoters could start holding shows in the state.

That means it's going to be mid-third quarter, at the earliest, before anyone can legally hold a fight in the state. So why not think big and put the biggest star on the biggest stage in the UFC's debut in New York?

It's worth considering.

With that, let's delve right into the mixed martial arts mailbag.

Lesnar's in trouble

I saw Brock Lesnar make the announcement of his return, but I think he'll be in trouble. I've heard reports he's lost as much as 40 pounds and he didn't look good. With guys like Frank Mir, Shane Carwin and Junior dos Santos, that's already a lot of great competition. Coming back to fight after such a long layoff and being so ill can't be easy, even for a great athlete like Brock.

Shelburne, Vt.

Lesnar has a lot of time to rebuild his body, Keith. I don't think he'll fight until late May at the earliest and more likely in either June or July. He'll have at least five months to regain his lost weight and strength.

Lesnar saga suspicious

I'm very skeptical about Lesnar's reputed illness. He appeared on ESPN a few days ago. That's all we know. All the secrecy surrounding his illness fuels my skepticism. Do you not doubt his illness? Were his problems other than an illness? Lack of training not due to his illness? Dana White said his illness prevented him from training. After that illness, he says his recovery was a miracle. Was he really sick? I'm not so sure.

Rony Guzman
Santa Barbara, Calif.

There are a string of doctors over North America who would tell you he was ill, Rony. He had diverticulitis and it was impossible for him to train with it. He lost between 40-50 pounds and joked he was thinking of moving to light heavyweight. His illness was very real. Given he's the sport's biggest draw, what would the UFC have had to gain by canceling a fight with Shane Carwin that would have done very big numbers? Nothing, I'd say.

Can Herschel succeed?

I know Herschel Walker is 47, but he's one of the greatest athletes in recent times. He's kind of like Bo Jackson, but he didn't get injured. I wonder if you think he can have an impact on Strikeforce's heavyweight division. I will be watching on Showtime on Saturday and I'm really curious to see how he does. Given his martial arts background, his freak athletic skills and his supposed world-class conditioning, is there a chance we could see this guy fighting some of the best?

Devin Taylor
Carnegie, Pa.

He's a good enough athlete to do it, but I don't think he has the time to do it. He just began to train MMA a few months ago. It's inconceivable to me that, for all his athletic ability, he could compete with guys who have been training in the sport for years. Even Lesnar trained for more than a year before he actually fought in competition.

Lashley needs to step it up

Bobby Lashley will be considered a freak show in my book until he does two things. First, he needs to stop doing professional (fake) wrestling. I don't care how much money they're paying him, it makes him look like a joke and shows how dedicated he really is to MMA. It's a disgrace. Two, he needs to stop fighting cans. I shouldn't have to go into any more detail on that one. Until these two things change, I will have absolutely zero interest in or respect for Bobby Lashley and rank him among the likes of Hong Man Choi and Herschel Walker.

Iowa City, Iowa

I agree with the part about pro wrestling, Greg. He needs to focus 100 percent on becoming the best fighter he can be and the time he devotes to professional wrestling takes away from that. I would like to see him improve his competition level, but slowly. He's still young in the game and he needs to be challenged, but not thrown in with guys who are far more advanced. Each fight, he should face someone slightly better until he's ready to get into the cage with the elite guys.

Give Diaz his respect

I think Nick Diaz is one of the most underrated fighters out there and that's saying something since he is on TV a lot and has a reputation from his days in the UFC. No one seems to want to give him much credit, which I guess is because he says what he thinks and doesn't kiss anyone's posterior. But he fights anyone, he's entertaining and he's got an all-around game. Do you think if he defeats Marius Zaromskis on Saturday for the Strikeforce welterweight title that he'll make it into the Top 10 and get the respect he has earned?

Lindsay Taylor
Rock Hill, S.C.

I think Nick is a very entertaining fighter and has improved, but I wouldn't say he's deserving of being in the top 10. A win over Zaromskis, who is the DREAM champion, would be impressive, but I think he'd still need to defeat a few more top guys. But I actually like Diaz and think he's good for a sport in an odd sort of way.

What's the point?

Do you think there is a point to Zuffa broadcasting the Best of PRIDE show on Spike?

Matthew Salzer
Orange, Calif.

They're trying to market fighters and build interest in the sport, neither of which is a bad thing. There are a lot of fans who became interested in MMA in the last couple of years, after PRIDE went defunct, and this is a way of introducing them to the sport's history. I think it's a good thing. There's no way it hurts.

Strictly hypothetical

I've been hearing a lot of talk that UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre is going to move up to challenge Anderson Silva for the middleweight belt. Of course, I'd love to see that fight. I'm just wondering your opinion, however: Which fight would be more competitive, a St. Pierre-Silva bout or a St. Pierre-B.J. Penn bout? I think Georges might have the same problem with Anderson that B.J. has with him.

Phil D.
San Leandro, Calif.

That's a very interesting question and one that's difficult to answer. St. Pierre right now walks around at about 185 between fights, so he's much too small at the present to be a serious threat to Silva, who cuts to 185 from around 220. Penn has already given St. Pierre one good fight (their first, which St. Pierre won by a disputed decision), and if he came in the kind of shape he's been in the last few times out, I think he would at the least make another good fight with St. Pierre. Unless GSP adds significant bulk, without sacrificing his quickness or athleticism, I just think Silva's size would be too much of a factor.

The next champion?

Be honest: Do you think Jon Jones has any shot at winning the UFC's light heavyweight championship this year?

Dan Gregson
Los Angeles

I think Jones has everything it takes to be a champion. But he's still young and I'll bet he doesn't get a shot at the belt this year. The light heavyweight division is loaded and there are plenty of guys who have an argument for a title shot. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua meets champion Lyoto Machida at UFC 113 in Montreal on May 8. The winner of the Quinton "Rampage" Jackson-Rashad Evans fight, which is at UFC 114 in Las Vegas on May 29, will deserve a crack. And, of course, you can never discount Randy Couture. I'd say it's unlikely Jones will get a shot in 2010. He does have a good fight coming up in March, when he meets Brandon Vera on March 21 in Broomfield, Colo.