Mailbag: This 'n' that

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There were two columns I ran across on the Internet I found interesting and wanted to share.

One, done by Ryan May and his staff at MMATraining.com, ranks the best fighters never to have been knocked out by strikes in a mixed martial arts fight.

The other, a television report brought to the Internet by WJZ.com, a Baltimore-area CBS affiliate, speaks of the "controversy" surrounding MMA and is a display of how far the sport still needs to go.

May's column, which can be found here, includes many of the sport's biggest names, including Yahoo! Sports' reigning pound-for-pound king, UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.

Also on the elite list are UFC interim heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, who is renowned in the sport for his granite chin; former PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko; ex-PRIDE lightweight champion Takanori Gomi; and ex-UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia.

The WJZ.com column, which can be found here, takes a look at MMA since it's been legalized in Maryland. But it's a ridiculously short-sighted and uninformed report that tries to sensationalize the sport's brutality and once again dredges up the tired "human cockfighting" line.

Twice in the first three paragraphs, the story references "worldwide controversy." The most disturbing aspect, though, is its failure to do any research.

It quotes Dr. Tyler Cymet as calling MMA "a simulated bar fight." Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. Cymet, who is identified in the report as the Mid-Atlantic doctor for World Wrestling Entertainment, goes on to say that pro wrestling injuries are accidental while MMA injuries are inevitable, as if that somehow matters.

But neither Cymet nor reporter Kai Jackson did even the most basic research on the sport's safety. If it had, it could have cited a study by physicians at Maryland's Johns Hopkins University that was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that concludes " … the overall risk of critical sports-related injury (in MMA) appears low."

All the WJZ report proves is that the movers and shakers in MMA still have a long way to go before the sport is truly in the mainstream.

With that, let's move on to your questions. My answers are in italics.

TITO-DANA FEUD

I know that Dana (White) and Tito Ortiz have had an ongoing personal conflict for awhile. Did this bad blood start prior to Tito being a coach on "The Ultimate Fighter" or during the show itself? I understand that Tito has lost some of the "spark" in his fight game, but I personally think it's a loss for UFC if he goes to a competitor. Your thoughts?

Joe Moreno
El Paso, Texas

The feud goes back well before TUF was created, though, frankly, I don't get it. White did say last week he'd like to sign Ortiz to a new contract extension, but then he proceeded to rip into him, as he usually does. On the countdown show that will air before UFC 84, Ortiz says that after he defeats Lyoto Machida (which I highly doubt he'll do), he's going to go to the cage and shout thanks to UFC owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta for all they've done for him. Then, he said, he's going to look at White and say, "Dana, (expletive) you!"

One of the reasons Ortiz was such a dominant fighter was that he had terrific takedowns and his cardio was first-rate. He had a back injury that has hurt his takedowns and his cardio isn't near what it was at his peak. So now, he's not nearly as good of a fighter as he once was. Both White and Ortiz are acting idiotic in this scenario. A healthy, motivated Ortiz is huge for the UFC. The UFC gives Ortiz the biggest stage to operate from. It would seem to me they each need each other and ought to stop with the childish name-calling and come to a resolution.

PPV, UP OR DOWN?

Do you think the UFC 85 event in London should be viewed on pay per view? There are no title fights there and that some of the fighters are not really contenders with Hughes and Alves headlining the event? That should be free on cable TV?

Tayshaun Bikurug
Philippines

I'm against pay-per-view all the time. I liken it to copy protection on CDs. If you make it hard on people to listen to the music the way they want, they'll steal it at online file-sharing sites. But if you remove the digital rights management (DRM), recent trends show stealing stops and sales go up. That's why Amazon.com is selling unprotected music and why Apple's iTunes is selling more and more DRM-free music. Having said that, pay-per-view is a reality in today's world for combat sports fans. But pay-per-view is also very democratic. If you don't like the card, don't buy it. That will send a very clear message to the promoters. Each person has to make their call whether the cost of the show is worth the reward of seeing it. If enough people decide no, the promoters will change quickly.

CAN BAS STILL FIGHT?

I teach MMA in Fairhope, Ala. Teaching has been my love and full-time job since I graduated college in 1985. At this point of my MMA career, I'm mainly consulting and training young fighters. I'm 46 and from the Netherlands. Thus, my question is about "El Guapo," Bas Rutten, my colleague in the sport and my hero since the 1980's. Will he, and can he, make a comeback, and is he able to beat the guys in the 2008 middleweight and/or light heavyweight divisions?

Nick Braaksma
Mobile, Ala.

I don't believe Bas has any plans to fight again. He made a brief comeback in 2006, competing on a World Fighting Alliance card in Los Angeles. It was his first fight in seven years. He's 43 and not likely to try to return to active competition. But Rutten is one of the legends of the sport and belongs in whatever MMA Halls of Fame are created.

FRANKLIN'S CLASS

What in your opinion should Rich Franklin do in his UFC career? Should he move up to light heavyweight? Can he hang with guys there at 205? Or do you think he should stay at middleweight, where he has a chance of beating everybody not named Anderson Silva? Who would want to see a Franklin-Silva 3 at 185?

Marlon Mina
Manila, Philippines

I think the wise move would be to stay at 185, assuming he can make the weight comfortably. As you say, he's probably still the No. 2 middleweight in the UFC. But everything Franklin does well, Silva simply does a little bit better. There are a lot of good fights he can take at 185. Wanderlei Silva is talking of moving down. That would be a superb battle. A Franklin-Dan Henderson fight would be interesting. There are many others. The men at 205 are so much bigger than he is. He'd be competitive, no doubt, but I think he'd struggle just as much against the top-tier guys at 205 as he does against Silva. And if Silva decides to move up at some point, Franklin would again be in title contention.

TELL THE TRUTH

I just read your column about Matt Hughes and his upcoming fight at UFC 85. You know, the one where he says he'll win impressively and prove that he's still one of the greats, blah, blah, blah? How can anyone believe this generic cookie cutter article after hearing his comments on "The Ultimate Fighter"? He admitted he was "coasting" for the last five fights, has greater difficulty willing himself to peak for a match, and is looking ahead to life after fighting. Jeremy Horn and Matt Hughes can still fight, no doubt. They just don't have the hunger anymore. Instead of just printing what Hughes says, let's ask him about why he appears content to merely show up, take a beating, and cash the check.

Shawn Proctor
Phoenixville, Pa.

It's not like Hughes has been showing up and getting beaten by nobodies. His only losses in the last five years have come against Georges St. Pierre (twice) and B.J. Penn. Those men are two of the finest fighters in the history of the sport. St. Pierre ranks No. 2 on the Yahoo! Sports poll of the world's best fighters and Penn is fifth. He's also beaten Penn and St. Pierre in that time frame, as well as Sean Sherk, Frank Trigg (twice) and others. I think his performance speaks for itself.

HATING ON KIMBO

I just wanted to clarify where some of the hate is coming from toward Kimbo Slice. Many of us long-time MMA fans see Kimbo as a setback for the sport. The athletes in MMA have had a long, hard road that they have walked to make this sport into what it is today. Kimbo may very well have a future in MMA, but the problem with that is the fact that the mainstream public is going to lump all fighters back into the "thug" category due to Slice's YouTube exposure, along with his interviews where he keeps saying "we can take it to the streets". Ya feel me?

Paul S.

I hear you, Paul, but I disagree. If the sport is to advance, it has to attract a broader fan base. Of course, the hardcore fans already know of Slice and his street-fighting videos on YouTube. But I'd bet a lot of the new fans who see MMA for the first time when it debuts on CBS on May 31 will have never heard of Slice or seen one of his street fights on YouTube. If he puts on a good show, he's a positive for the sport. And remember, the guy is no dummy. He earned an academic scholarship to the University of Miami. His coach, Bas Rutten, raves about his dedication to the sport. He's clearly making the effort to become a legitimate MMA fighter.

PIT BULL TO UFC?

What are your thoughts regarding the possibility of Andrei Arlovski re-signing with the UFC? I really believe he's got plenty of electrifying fights left in him, despite his past few poor performances.

Ronan
Toronto

I was speaking with UFC president Dana White last week and I asked him about Arlovski. He said, "It's funny you should ask me that. We were just talking about Arlovski. We want to sign him. It's our intention to sign him. But I don't know. We're, well, I don't know. We want to. Whether we will or not, I have no idea. We like Andrei and I know the fans like Andrei. I hope we can do something."