Mailbag: Fans aren't only outside the cage

Kevin Iole
Yahoo! Sports

For more than eight years, Ross Pearson has idolized Randy Couture. He's had a poster of the Ultimate Fighting Championship Hall of Famer hanging on the wall in his bedroom for six years.

And sometime next month, Pearson will peel that poster, which was printed to promote Couture's Sept. 26, 2003, fight with Tito Ortiz at UFC 44, off of his wall and bring it with him to the Manchester Evening News Arena in hopes of having it signed by Couture. Couture, who fights Brandon Vera in the main event of UFC 105 on Nov. 14, has signed countless items of himself over the years.

This, though, may be the first time that Couture is signing an item for a fighter with whom he is sharing a card. Pearson is fighting Aaron Riley on the first bout on the Spike TV-televised card.

"I was nearly as excited as I was when I found out who I was fighting," said Pearson, the lightweight winner from Season 9 of "The Ultimate Fighter." "I was a little shocked, to be honest with you. It took a while to sink in that I am actually going to share a card with Randy Couture. This is a massive opportunity for me and my career to be on the same card as him. It's just unbelievable."

He first saw Couture on May 4, 2001, when Couture defeated Pedro Rizzo at UFC 31 in one of the great fights in UFC history.

He said he's been inspired by Couture ever since.

"He's a hero of mine, no question about it," said Pearson, who caught the H1N1 virus in the summer and lost several pounds while he was ill. "Growing up watching Randy and watching his fights, I used to love how everyone would write him off because he was older than the other competitors. His personality and his charisma just comes across as him being a real genuinely nice guy. I've never met the bloke, but he comes across as an honest guy who loves fighting. That's pretty much what I am."

Pearson said his favorite Couture fights are his first with Chuck Liddell, the Ortiz bout and the first with Vitor Belfort.

He's amazed by the way Couture is able to game plan and said he's tried to pattern himself after Couture in the way.

"I've got Randy's books and DVDs and I've tried to learn as much about what he does as I possibly can," Pearson said. "I love how he game plans fights. He trains very specifically for each opponent and he's a really clever bloke with how he fights. He's very strategic in the way he fights and trains. It's a massive, massive part of the fight game to be able to do what you do in training in the fights. No one is better at that than Randy and I'd just love to be able to have that ability."

Let's get to your questions and comments, but a couple of requests: If you want me to consider your message for publication, you must include a name and a hometown. A nickname or initials won't do. And please include put your state, because there are some cities which have the same name and are in different states. Also, please remember to follow me on Twitter.

Forrest to face Tito

Forrest Griffin is a joke. Look at his fight at UFC 101 with Anderson Silva. Silva toyed around with him like a kid. I don't think people want to see him fight this soon. It's just gonna hurt the pay-per-view card. Bottom line, Dana is baby sitting Forrest for too long.
Moua Yang
Charlotte, N.C.

He's not a joke, Moua. I'll disagree. Now, he's not in the class of Silva, but who in MMA is? And I'll guarantee you that even following that bad defeat, he's still extremely popular if the volume of email I receive about him is an indication.

Why does Tito Ortiz all of a sudden get the opportunity to fight Forrest Griffin after he is 0-2-1 in his last three fights? It makes no sense.
Jeff Martinez
San Diego

Personally, I think the fight makes great sense. First, Griffin is a replacement for Mark Coleman, who is injured. Second, Griffin is coming off back-to-back knockout losses. And thirdly, Ortiz has been one of the elite fighters in MMA for a long time. He's healthy for the first time in years, so he deserves a good opponent.

Woodley a class act

I read your article about Tyron Woodley and I must say your portrayal of him is spot on. I've had the pleasure of getting to know Tyron and train with him dating back to before his first pro fight. It was pretty obvious from the first time I sparred him that the guy is a natural talent/athlete. However, the fact that he combines that kind of athleticism, with incredible work ethic and amazing moral values makes him even more unique. His devotion to family and God, while it might not be everyone's bag, is admirable. Many people would do well to emulate as it could only help the sport. I can speak from first-hand experience that this guy is only hitting the tip of the iceberg on his talent. Mark my words he's going to be doing crazy and crazier stuff as his knowledge base expands, this dude is special fighter.
Quinton O'Brien
St. Louis, Mo.

Thanks, Quinton. I first saw Tyron in St. Louis on the Arlovski-Rogers card and was exceptionally impressed. I was then impressed by his work against Zach Light in the Strikeforce Challenger series fight he had last month. But I'm most impressed by the kind of person he seems to be. He's a class act. Thanks for sharing your personal impressions.

Fighter salaries released?

Is the UFC going to release the fighter payouts for UFC 103?
Long Beach, Calif.

No. It's the law or, at the minimum, a commission requirement in most states to make that information public. It is not, however, in Texas. UFC does not want to release the information and only does so to comply with the law. When they aren't required to do it, they don't.

Why make Junie's problems public?

In respect to Junie Browning, is it really wise to air his dirty laundry in public knowing he is bipolar and has some serious issues? For someone who can slip into depression, reading something about himself can put him further into his depression, seeing how he has already gone through some life altering changes recently. I respect the journalistic fashion in which stories are presented, I just think a generalized statement would have been better in this instance.
Jacob H.
Fort Collins, Colo.

I understand your point, Jacob, but the information must be included. It helps to explain his actions. Plus, if you don't put out the truth of the situation,, speculation will begin and that can be even worse. And as sad as it is to say, Junie has bigger problems to worry about than what is written about him on the Internet.

Velasquez-Dos Santos down the line?

Do you think is there any possibility that a fight between Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos can take place? They each have heavy hands, though Dos Santos has great jiu-jitsu and Velasquez has great wrestling. Might we see them in the cage against each other in the near future?
Chris Broncano
Copenhagen, Denmark

I do, Chris. Cain has a fight against Ben Rothwell on Oct. 24 in Los Angeles at UFC 104 and he'll have to win that in order to make a fight with Dos Santos happen in the short term. But even if he loses, I think that's a fight the UFC will make at some point.

Don't make it a Kimbo freak show

I have been a fan of MMA for about eight years now and couldn't be happier with the direction the sport is heading. With that said, I hope this Kimbo Slice thing goes away sooner rather than later. I understand all the reasons why "The Ultimate Fighter" is focusing entirely around Kimbo. Hopefully, once the show is over and Kimbo gets his one fight in the UFC that they part ways. Unless Kimbo significantly improves he just does not belong in the major leagues of MMA. If they want to go the freak show route, what is stopping the UFC from bringing in Bob Sapp and other side shows just for ratings?
Joshua Dormady
Weymouth, Mass.

I agree with pretty much everything you've said, Joshua. I'm going to give Kimbo the benefit of the doubt now, because I think he's working very hard to try to improve. He hasn't shown me in any fight he's had yet that he's particularly talented, but he's gained massive respect from me for his professionalism and desire to improve. I'm going to assume he's fighting again on TUF because of all the hints being dropped. Like you, unless I see a significant improvement, the UFC should part ways with him after the show because he's simply not up to its standards.

WEC lightweights in UFC

I am curious what your opinion on how some of the top World Extreme Cagefighting fighters would do in the UFC's lightweight division? While watching Donald Cerrone and Benson Henderson go at it, I wondered how they would rank in the top 10 of UFC lightweights. Thoughts?
Joey Gartin
Redding, Calif.

Interesting question, Joey. My thought is that they would fit in at the bottom of the top 10 or just outside. The WEC's lightweight champion, Jamie Varner, is 1-1 in the UFC, as was its final welterweight champion, Carlos Condit. My guess is that the WEC lightweights would be below guys like B.J. Penn, Kenny Florian, Diego Sanchez, Gray Maynard, Tyson Griffin, Frank Edgar and Roger Huerta. There may be a few others who don't leap immediately to mind, but I think guys like Varner, Cerrone and Henderson would fight around 8 to 15 if they were in the UFC.

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