Not much good has come of Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight titleholder Brock Lesnar's bout with mononucleosis, but the champion's illness has indirectly aided Mike Brown and Jose Aldo.
Brown and Aldo will meet for Brown's World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight title in what legitimately figures to be one of the finest matches of 2009 on Nov. 18 at the Palms in Las Vegas.
That will put it three days before UFC 106, in which Lesnar was scheduled to defend his title against Shane Carwin in the main event. With Lesnar forced to withdraw because of mononucleosis, Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin were bumped to the UFC main event. However, the move also affords Brown and Aldo to escape Lesnar's considerable shadow.
The fight figures to get much more attention given the fact Lesnar is no longer competing and won't dominate the media's time and attention, though it must be noted that the card also comes four days after the 1-2 combo of Manny Pacquiao vs. Miguel Cotto and UFC 105. WEC 42, which was headlined by Brian Bowles' upset of Miguel Torres for the WEC bantamweight belt, received far less attention and coverage than it otherwise would have because it came the day after the much ballyhooed UFC 101, which featured Anderson Silva's stunning knockout of Forrest Griffin and B.J. Penn's stoppage of Kenny Florian in a lightweight title match.
WEC general manager Reed Harris said more conflicts with the UFC are inevitable in 2010. He said choosing a date is a tricky process that involves working with Versus, which broadcasts WEC cards, as well as venues.
"The first factor is really what Versus has available as far as dates and what works for them," Harris said. "We look at venues and we usually have two or three in a pool we're looking at. That was one of the factors here. We went first to the Hard Rock (in Las Vegas) and when the Hard Rock wasn't available and we went first to the Maloofs. The Maloofs (who own the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas and the NBA's Sacramento Kings) were interesting in having us at the Palms for a while. We're doing a show with them in Sacramento (in January) and that played into it as well.
"When you're in my spot, there are a number of factors that have to be considered. Really, though, the bottom line is that we have to focus on growing our company and not worry about the UFC. Brown-Aldo is a very strong fight and we felt it would work for us on the week of 106. We're solidly the No. 2 company in MMA behind the UFC in terms of things like TV partnerships, sponsorships, gates, etc., and we want to continue to build on that."
The WEC consistently puts on compelling shows. No one benefits when it gets hidden in the shadow of a major UFC event, though, so hopefully the WEC will be able to find dates where it gets the most visibility and attention possible.
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Fedor ducks elite competition
Tell me the last time Fedor fought a quality opponent in or near his prime? You have to go back to 2005, when he fought Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic and, surprise, surprise, it went to a decision. Before that it, was Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and, guess what, another decision. The myth continues all right: Fedor is the greatest to ever not fight the best. Plain and simple, since the fall of PRIDE, he has repeatedly avoided the best competition and when the media plays up this imaginary aura, it's even more maddening. I will admit, it was a good fight on Saturday night. That punch would have knocked out most workers in any Sam's Club.
I'm sort of in-between on this one, Erick. While I agree with your contention about his competition level, I do think he's a phenomenal fighter. I won't agree with the very vocal contingent who thinks Fedor is this monster who can't ever be touched. Rogers clearly proved that incorrect. Having said that, I do agree with you that if he were fighting guys like Brock Lesnar, Randy Couture, Cain Velasquez, Shane Carwin and Junior dos Santos on a regular basis he may not look as invincible as he does now.
Rematch talk ridiculous
After the Fedor/Rogers fight, the subject of a rematch came up. My question is why? Rogers' lost in a round-and-a-half and looked gassed at the end of the first. He is a tough guy with a big punch and briefly got Fedor in a tough position, but is that really enough? Or is the talk of a rematch have more to do with the lack of depth in Strikeforce's heavyweight division?
I think rematch talk is premature now, but you're right that it has to do with the lack of depth on Strikeforce's roster. He's likely to fight Fabricio Werdum, who scored a decision over Antonio Silva in an entertaining fight in the CBS opener on Saturday, in his next outing. Let's be honest: Who wants to see that fight? Werdum was hardly exceptional in his UFC career and few would give him a legitimate chance to beat Fedor. After that, who is there? Alistair Overeem is Strikeforce's heavyweight champion. Bobby Lashley is expected to sign with Strikeforce, but he's at the beginning of his career and not nearly ready for such a fight. There simply aren't a lot of options for opponents who would produce competitive fights. That's why the rematch talk came up, since the fight Saturday was entertaining while it lasted.
Why hype Fedor?
Why do you guys hype Fedor? His entourage looks like a street gang and he continues to fight opponents who do not fit a true champion's abilities. I also thought the Jake Shields-Jason "Mayhem" Miller bout was boring. It was only exciting as Mayhem rolled moves. Jake seemed to just lay on him and do nothing. Good luck, CBS. You won't catch me wasting another weekend watching that garbage.
Blue Bell, Pa.
I think Fedor is a terrific fighter, Tim. I wish we could see him fight Brock Lesnar, but it's not going to happen. I thought the fights were fairly good on CBS on Saturday. The non-televised portion of the card was dreadful, though the TV bouts were pretty good for the most part (I, too, didn't care for Shields-Miller). But Silva-Werdum and Fedor-Rogers were highly entertaining and Gegard Mousasi-Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou wasn't half bad.
UFC should follow Strikeforce model
I think the UFC will have a tough time competing for TV popularity with Strikeforce. Don't get me wrong: I am a huge [Randy] Couture fan and am very excited for UFC 105 this weekend. However neither hell nor high water was going to keep me from watching Fedor last week. Do you think the UFC will ever put some of its biggest guns on display outside of pay-per-view?
Jesse, they do put their stars on free TV on Spike. Last year, Anderson Silva fought on Spike. Saturday, Randy Couture is facing Brandon Vera. They put several cards a year on Spike for free. In 2007, they put a major fight, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson vs. Dan Henderson for the UFC-PRIDE light heavyweight belts, on Spike. If you're asking if the UFC will land on network television, I'd say eventually. President Dana White was sounding very confident when I spoke to him on this topic last week.
As much as Fedor's knockout was impressive, I'm still not convinced. The guy he beat was a guy who used to work at Sam's Club, for crying out loud. Sure, he's beaten Big Nog, Cro Cop, and various others in the past in PRIDE, but don't you think he really needs to prove himself in UFC? I honestly think he needs to fight a guy who's got the courage and heart to take the fight to him, say maybe a Randy Couture or a Brock Lesnar, or maybe even a Cain Velasquez?
It's possible to be considered the best of all-time and not the best active heavyweight. When Sugar Ray Robinson was fighting in the 1960s, he wasn't even a top 25 fighter, but he was still the best of all-time in boxing. Fedor's competition level has dropped significantly since his hey-day about four-five years ago. He's still a major fighter, though, and even in a worst-case scenario is a top three or five heavyweight in the world. I think he'd have trouble with Lesnar given Lesnar's size and skill set, they're all interesting bouts.
Unify Strikeforce, UFC titles?
I think that you'll probably agree that if the Fedor Emelianenko-Brett Rogers fight is a ratings success on CBS that it will be a huge bonus for MMA and will help the sport to become more mainstream, such as boxing. I think it will also show some of the sport's best fighters that there is another place that they can call home other than the UFC. Don't get me wrong: I think the UFC has done more for MMA than any other organization. For the record, I'm not a UFC hater. My question is do you think that as Strikeforce becomes more popular and the sport evolves that we'll get some unification matches with fighters from both organizations? I think that unifying titles will be part of the natural evolution of the sport.
I would like to see all the best fighters in the world fight each other. It's not going to happen, though. The UFC is the dominant company right now and has the highest percentage of the world's top 100 fighters. They're not eager to help build their competitors and so there's no way they'll agree to co-promote with Strikeforce, M-1 Global, DREAM or anyone else. As fans of the sport, we may not like it – who wouldn't want to see Fedor against Lesnar? – but it's a reality.