Mailbag: Getting it right

Fans often complain when they believe a referee stops a fight too quickly. It's hard, though, to ever criticize a referee's stoppage because they always do it with the fighter's safety in mind.

Joe Riggs became the latest of many to complain when, during the Strikeforce card Saturday at the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, Calif., referee Josh Rosenthal stopped his bout with Kazuo Misaki in the second round as Misaki was raining down blows upon Riggs.

It appeared from watching the live stream of the fight on – which was excellent, by the way – that Riggs blocked most of the punches Misaki was throwing after being knocked down. However, Riggs did not respond verbally when Rosenthal was asking if he were alright.

I'd always rather a referee err on the side of caution rather than allow a fight to go too long. That one extra punch could be the one that proves to be the one that delivers either a serious injury or worse.

However, a fighter should have the chance to fight his way out of a bad situation. Riggs seemed to be defending himself intelligently.

Though the California Athletic Commission can't overturn a judgment call by a referee, Strikeforce can and should rectify the situation by making a rematch as soon as possible. Riggs, Misaki and the public deserve it. That way, there is no question about the outcome.

Now, let's get on to your questions and comments in this week's edition of the MMA mailbag. My answers are in italics.


I just heard a rumor that at UFC 91 Quinton "Rampage" Jackson will be fighting Wanderlei Silva. If that is true, my mind will explode! I can't believe that they took this card away from Portland, Ore., especially when Couture is from the area! Why did we get screwed over so badly? I was so ready to go to this event and then once the Couture-Lesnar bout was announced, UFC president Dana White decided to run back to Las Vegas instead of taking a chance in a state that is one of the more prominent in the MMA game.

Rene S.
Eugene, Ore.

A very good source told me on Tuesday he expects Jackson and Silva to fight Jan. 31 (Super Bowl weekend) in Las Vegas in UFC 93. It's a very fluid situation, but it's almost certain it won't happen in November and it's very unlikely for December.


In response to your comments regarding the death of EliteXC, should Ken Shamrock somehow defeat Kimbo Slice I just wanted to add that a Shamrock victory could inevitably lead to the death of Shamrock himself. Since 2001, I have had to watch this MMA legend continuously make a mockery of the image he once had as "the world's most dangerous man" as he has endured one beatdown after another. It would appear that the biggest danger he faces is his own hubris and I fear a victory over Kimbo would only serve to further his convoluted notion that he can continue fighting and be competitive. I would then not be surprised to wake up one day to read on Yahoo! Sports that Ken Shamrock was taken to a hospital in critical condition following a fight in which he, once again, bit off more than his aged body could chew. For his sake and for the sake of all MMA fans, I hope Kimbo wins and Shamrock finally, and definitively, realizes that his time has long since passed.

Jimmy Williams
Derry, N.H.

Jimmy, I totally understand where you're coming from because Shamrock is the dictionary definition of a shot fighter. However, I don't think you have anything to worry about. First, no state athletic commission is going to approve him much longer. It's clear that he's no longer a competitive fighter. Secondly, he knows that. Shamrock is a smart guy and he's aware of it. And thirdly, no one is going to offer to put him in against a top heavyweight. The Kimbo circumstance is unique. Kimbo is a phenomenon in terms of his ability to draw, but he can't fight. Elite XC is struggling badly and will, as I noted last week, likely die once the myth of Kimbo is exposed. So CBS is willing to continue to perpetrate frauds upon the public and keeps matching him with low-level fighters who have some kind of name recognition. The fact that there are some knowledgeable MMA people who believe Shamrock has a chance to win shows how lightly regarded Kimbo is.


You continually say that competition for the UFC will make for better fights in MMA. I do not agree. Look at the NFL, MLB, NBA, etc. They have all the best players in their respective sports. This is what the UFC is trying to do, as well. By having a competitor (e.g. Affliction) who may take some of the best fighters away (e.g. Fedor), it takes away from having some of the best fights possible (e.g. Couture vs. Fedor).

Aaron O.

Your point is valid, Aaron, except for this: The NFL, Major League Baseball and the NBA are established sports now. MMA is still a new and growing sport. I liken this period in MMA to 1960, when the AFL was established. The NFL was the dominant league, but it was not nearly as popular as it is today. The AFL clearly had an impact upon the pro football landscape and forced the NFL to be better. Without the AFL, the NFL may not have become what it is today. Look how the competition benefits the fans: On Oct. 4, with Elite XC showing its card on CBS, the UFC is going to air the entire UFC 86 pay-per-view card free on Spike. Then, on Oct. 11, Spike is going to air UFC 87, which was going to go head-to-head with the Affliction show that had been planned for that date in Las Vegas. There were people a little over a year ago who thought the IFL was going to overtake the UFC after the big piece on "60 Minutes." Once MMA is established, I would agree with your point. But it's still not at that point yet, which is why I believe competition is good.


I was totally amazed by the fact that when Chuck Liddell and UFC chairman Lorenzo Fertitta came here in the Philippines, they were greeted like rock stars. Four thousand people watched Chuck in his workout. I know once they do their show here in the Philippines, they will be selling tickets like hot potatoes! Let me say the UFC's decision to organize a card here is a perfect move on their part. I just have some worries on who among our Filipino fighters they will get on the card.

Marlon Mina
Manila, Philippines

Brandon Vera will be on that card for sure, Marlon. And I know he's looking forward to it. I believe that show will be successful, too. Other than the U.S., I get more feedback, both in MMA and in boxing, from fans in the Philippines. There are thousands of diehard fight fans there and they'll support the shows in a big way. One of the benefits to the UFC of Fertitta leaving his post at a Las Vegas casino company to work full-time in the UFC is that he can travel like this and make deals to expand the UFC's international presence. The international expansion is going to be rapid in 2009 and 2010. It would have been much more deliberate had Fertitta remained full-time in the casino business.


I was wondering why the UFC does not promote women's MMA? It seems like they are missing a potential market there. Imagine the ratings possibilities if they did a TUF season with an all-female cast.

Brandon Root
Tulsa, Okla.

It's simple, Brandon: UFC president Dana White doesn't like it. And if he doesn't like it, it isn't happening. I agree an all-female TUF show would be spectacular ratings. From what I've seen on the promotions that do consistently promote women's MMA fights, there are plenty of good female fighters available. I'm all in favor of it



Do you think Fedor and Kimbo will ever fight in the UFC (not necessarily against each other, of course)? How was Fedor able to fight Tim Sylvia at Affliction: Banned, if Tim is under contract to the UFC?

Junior Flores
San Antonio, Texas

I would say there is a chance that both men could fight in the UFC, but they'll never, ever fight each other. No chance of that, so don't even start. I would say it's a greater long shot that Kimbo makes it to the UFC, because he's not really qualified from a fighting standpoint. But if he were available, he's such a draw, it would be hard for the UFC to say no. Tim Sylvia was released from his UFC contract by mutual consent, so he was no longer under contract to the UFC and was thus able to fight in the Affliction show.


Since Fedor Emelianenko is still a free agent and will not sign with the UFC, do you think he is ducking a Randy Couture fight? Couture is now locked into another contract with UFC, so him fighting in another organization is unlikely. So it seems like the only way this fight will happen is if Fedor signs with UFC. No one can question whether Couture wants this fight, but if Fedor really wants this fight why wouldn't he sign a one- or two-fight deal just to get it done? It seems to me like Fedor is doing everything he can NOT to fight Couture.

Steve Rodriguez
Phoenix, Ariz.

First of all, Steve, your premise is incorrect. He is signed to a contract with M-1 Global and he is also signed to a deal with Affliction in the U.S. Affliction is trying to wrap up a contract to extend that exclusive deal in the U.S. to 2012. I have no doubt that both Fedor and Randy badly want that fight, but it's not as simple for Fedor to sign a one- or two-fight deal as you suggest. The UFC has to agree, too, and what would be in it for the UFC to sign a one-fight deal with Fedor, have him perhaps beat Couture and make his name even bigger, then leave and fight elsewhere? The UFC will want a long-term deal to sign him if he ever came available.