Mailbag: Dana, Lesnar, and more

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I was off for a few days last week, but the Yahoo! Sports readers kept e-mailing with their thoughts on various subjects in mixed martial arts.

I'll answer your questions on a variety of topics in this edition of the mailbag, including a few on whether I think UFC president Dana White is a jerk whose glib words harm the sport.

My answers, as always, are in italics after the questions.

DANA'S A JERK

Dana White comes off to me as an arrogant, egotistical jerk. I don't know him, but frequently I read his quotes in your articles. He seems to talk negatively about a lot of people and organizations. Do you think his strong opinions are hurting him as far as respect and business goes from MMA fighters, promoters, organizations and fans? Or does he not really care how he is perceived? Please tell me your thoughts about Dana White.

Troy Douglas

El Paso, Texas

Dana White is a man with a tremendous amount of passion and energy for the sport and for the UFC. He always says what he thinks, but one of the things I think many fans miss about him is that he is a promoter. He's trying to sell tickets and pay-per-views. You need to remember that about him and you won't get yourself worked up. Sometimes, he crosses the line and acts as if it's Dana's world and we just rent space in it. But he's passionate and confident and dedicated and that's why he's had the success he's had thus far.

MORE DANA

Dana White's quotes in your recent column on Fedor Emelianenko shows him to be a guy I will be rooting against for the time being. He has done a great job for the sport, and a great job period, but my thought is, does he ever show any maturity and class? He talks more and more like a22-year-old with real tight shoes and a jock strap that is much too tight. Insecurity? Paranoia? I have never known Tim Sylvia to be a jerk. Dana mouths off more in an hour than Sylvia, who is fairly thoughtful, has done in his entire life. Witness how much class Sylvia had when Fedor crushed him last month. He was very complimentary. He is intelligent. White reminds me of what one of my business law school professors once said about businessmen. This is going back many years now, but the gist of it was that there are many, many very successful businessmen who are not very bright, and quite a few who are downright thugs. Yet, he said, for quite a long time, given market conditions, good hunches and dumb luck, they can be very, very successful. For a time. This sounds like White to me. I hope you shine a little bit of light on this guy going forward. The sport is much bigger than Dana White (his Napoleonic thoughts to the contrary), and it will get a whole lot bigger going forward, regardless of Dana White.

Kevin O'Neill

Wilmington, Del.

With White, what you see is what you get. He says things occasionally to stoke the flames, but he's really just a big fan who suddenly found himself running the show. He brings great attention to the sport – I get more e-mail about White than any three fighters combined – and that doesn't hurt. I cringe sometimes when he says some of the things he does, but he often says things that others are thinking but won't say. For a long time, I got feedback from readers complaining about Sylvia's boring style. But when White comes out and says it publicly, all of a sudden, someone wants to jump on him. He needs to tone it done a few notches sometimes, and he shouldn't hold grudges as long as he does. All in all, I think his positives far outweigh his positives.

TERRIBLE HEAVYWEIGHTS

Please! The heavyweight division in the UFC is a joke. Cain Velasquez? Shane Carwin? Brock Lesnar? Cain is 4-0. Who the hell has heard of Carwin and Lesnar showed no maturity after his last fight. I was unhappy that Frank Mir beat him, but after Brock's antics in his fight with Heath Herring, I'm ecstatic that Mir made Lesnar tap. With only Mir and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira as the lead heavyweights in the UFC, they need Fedor Emelianenko more than ever.

Robert Sanchez

San Diego, Calif.

The UFC's heavyweight division, as I've noted numerous times, is not very deep at the moment. So, obviously, it could use a fighter the caliber of Emelianenko. Having said that, you're not much of a mixed martial arts fan if you need to ask who has heard of Carwin and you're selling Carwin, Velasquez and Lesnar way short. Not all prospects pan out, but these three all have big-time ability and can become forces at heavyweight as they develop.

LIGHTWEIGHT CHALLENGERS

Out of all the lightweight fighters still in contention to possibly fight B.J. Penn for the title, who do you think is most deserving? After watching Kenny Florian-Roger Huerta, I'd have to go with Tyson Griffin.

Dan Steinmiller

Delta, Ohio

I think Florian is the most deserving lightweight at this point. He's got the best resume and he's been the most impressive. Griffin is very good, but Dana White made a somewhat surprising comment at one of the UFC 87 news conferences. He suggested Griffin may drop to 145 pounds and fight in the WEC. He said he'd love to see a rematch between Griffin and Urijah Faber. As much as I'd like to see that fight, I don't see it happening at 145, because I don't think Tyson could make the weight. If Griffin, as expected, stays at 155, he'll be in the mix for a shot at the lightweight belt shortly after Florian.

DON'T OVERREACT

Enough of the over-reacting to Brock Lesnar's post-fight antics. Tito Ortiz and Nick Diaz have the double-finger salute, Florian used to shoot a guy with an arrow out of a quiver, Kendall Grove dances and digs a grave and Anderson Silva does the hip-shaking air guitar. So, tell me how is Lesnar any different? He's only getting the scrutiny because it reminds folks that he was in the WWE. I like the sportsmanship usually displayed after a fight, but Brock didn't do anything worse than what's been done before by others. wouldn't you say Josh Barnett and his throat slash is worse? I think you are applying a double standard here.

John

Seattle, Wash.

I disagree, John. I don't think there is a double standard at all. First, I gave Lesnar full props in my post-fight column. But he wasn't showing excitement he won, he was taunting his opponent. There's a big difference. It's a penalty in the NFL, by the way. And while other fighters may have done it, it doesn't make it right that they just because they acted like fools that Lesnar should, too. MMA is a sport of respect and Lesnar's antics were out of line. They weren't heinous nor are they deserving of a lifetime ban, but a true professional can celebrate a win while also respecting his opponent. Ever see Georges St. Pierre? If Lesnar could model himself after St. Pierre, he'd be in great shape.

REMEMBER URIJAH

You forgot to mention Urijah Faber in your best "pound-for- pound champion" article. Do not forget that he is currently helping to build the WEC into a formidable organization with Miguel Torres.

Justin Newman

Mankato, Minn.

I certainly haven't forgotten Faber, who is one of my favorite fighters to watch. I had him sixth in my recent pound-for-pound poll. I like him a lot.

MAKE THE MATCH

I recently read your column on Fedor Emelianenko and I came away even more impressed with him. What, if anything, can we the fans do to help make the Fedor-Randy Couture fight a reality? If we all could somehow turn our back on the UFC until they let the Fedor-Couture bout happen, I'm sure they would shift their stance.

Austin

Denton, Texas

The best way to make the fight happen is to let the promoters know how badly you want to see it. The problem now is that Couture's rights are in legal limbo. But when the Couture situation is clarified later this year, it will be a lot easier. Either, it will be Affliction or the UFC promoting the show and you could lobby the one that winds up with Couture. Obviously, if Couture is granted his freedom from his UFC contract, a Fedor-Couture fight would happen relatively quickly. If the arbitrator affirms the UFC's contract, then the UFC would have to reach a contract with Emelianenko to stage that bout. History would suggest such a contract might be next-to-impossible to get done.

WHO'S THE BEST?

Who do you think is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world? I personally would have to go with Fedor. He is lightning fast and I can't ever see him losing to Couture, but do you think that Randy could have a chance and why?

Matt Fertich

St. Catharines, Ont.

For the last several months, I'd been voting B.J. Penn as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world. After Fedor's impressive win over Sylvia, I think he deserved to move back up on top and I voted for him in the most recent Yahoo! Sports poll. But my top five of Fedor, Penn, UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Torres are so close, you could almost put them in any order and you wouldn't be wrong. I think Couture would stand a chance, because he's one of the greats in the history of the game, but I think Fedor would win that fight. But it would be a fight I'd love to watch.

  • Can’t get enough of Kevin Iole’s mailbag? Then check out last week’s edition.