UFC president Dana White is as good with the hyperbole as any promoter who ever lived, but he was totally correct on Monday when he was praising Georges St. Pierre and Matt Hughes for agreeing to fight each other on Dec. 29 at UFC 79 in Las Vegas.
Hughes was slated to face bitter rival Matt Serra for the UFC welterweight title on that card, but the bout was postponed last week when Serra herniated two disks in his back. The UFC didn't want to keep Hughes on ice and wound up getting St. Pierre to step in for Serra, which actually means a more exciting fight to watch.
It would have been easy for St. Pierre to turn down such a significant bout on short notice, but he did not. And it would have been easy for Hughes to ask for someone else, since he had been training for Serra and St. Pierre presents a whole separate set of problems. But he did not.
Both men should be commended.
With that, let's get to a very full reader mailbag. My answers appear in italics below the questions.
Any word on the Randy Couture-Dana White meeting that was scheduled for Nov. 20?
There was a misunderstanding and the Nov. 20 meeting to resolve the differences between Couture and the UFC never occurred. Couture was under the impression the meeting was on Nov. 13. White believed it was Nov. 20. White said during a conference call Monday that he exchanged text messages with Couture and that he expects to meet in person soon.
MY MAN SOKOUDJOU
What are your thoughts on Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou? He's beaten two big names in Pride, but seems untested. Do you think beating Lyoto Machida will vault him into title contention? It would be very intriguing to see a Sokoudjou vs. either Liddell or Wanderlei Silva.
Sokoudjou is a very strong guy and a powerful puncher. He's got a very tough fight with Machida and the UFC's 205-pound division is loaded. Even though I think he's good enough to be champion some day, that day is not necessarily now. But he has a chance to be outstanding.
UFC in BRAZIL
What are your thoughts of hosting the UFC in Brazil again? Having so many talented Brazilian fighters currently in the UFC, I am sure they would love to fight in their home country and definitely selling out the show would not be a problem at all since the sport is so popular down there. I am sure that the UFC wants to expand to new countries, but allowing the Brazilian fighters to compete in front of the home crowd would be quite exciting.
Eventually, I think the UFC will land in Brazil. But they're focusing their expansion efforts on Europe, Canada, Mexico and Australia for the time being. I think it's probably not realistic until mid-2009, at the earliest.
ADD A WEIGHT CLASS
While I'm an MMA fan of about five years, I've never spent much time on Yahoo! Sports, so I'm new to your column. Here's my question for the mailbag: If the UFC continues to grow, do they add another belt and adjust the division weight limits accordingly? Where would you see the new belt coming in?
Darren, I don't see them adding a weight class. One of boxing's problems is that there are so many classes, fans can't keep track of who holds the titles or even what the weight classes are. I think the UFC will stick with five.
WHY NOT THE LOU?
I hear all these things about UFC wanting to do shows all over the country, but St. Louis is never mentioned in those talks. The UFC has been very popular in Midwest venues and St. Louis is one of the bigger cities. It just seems like a given. What do you think?
St. Louis, Mo.
There are a lot of fight fans in St. Louis and the city is clearly one of the best sports towns in the country. It makes a lot of sense.
BRING BACK LINDLAND
What do you think are the chances of getting Matt Lindland back into the UFC? Other than Fedor, I think Lindland is clearly the best pound-for-pound fighter not fighting in the UFC. He has not lost to anyone in his weight class in over three years, went to a split decision with Rampage Jackson and is a very exciting fighter. I think he would wipe the floor with Anderson Silva.
I don't think the chances are good of Lindland returning to the UFC. Lindland's not what I call an exciting fighter. I guess that's what you happens when you're stuck watching that pitiful Ravens offense for so long, you begin to think Lindland is exciting. And to say that Lindland would wipe the floor with Anderson Silva is like saying Kyle Boller is a better quarterback than Tom Brady. Lindland is one of the world's elite middleweights and is one of the few 185-pounders who would have a shot to defeat Silva. It would be a highly competitive bout and neither guy would wipe the floor with the other.
LESNAR A STAR?
Do you think Brock Lesnar is going to be a superstar in the UFC? I can't wait to see him fight to see if he is the real deal.
We'll learn a lot about Lesnar by how he fares against Frank Mir at UFC 81 in February. It's way too early, though, to be talking of Lesnar in superstar terms. I think Lesnar has the ability to be a top-rated UFC heavyweight, but he needs a lot of experience.
NOT ENOUGH FIGHTS
Maybe it's just me, but it seems the problem with UFC 78 isn't that the fights were disappointing or boring, but that there were only four of them. Sure, they threw in a 1.5 minute fight from the preliminaries at the end, sort of like an apology for the fact that they charged people $30 to watch four fights, one of which was over in three minutes. The simple fact is, they do way too much talking and hyping on these PPVs. We've already paid to watch, so shut up and fight already.
I sympathize with your desire to see more fights, Joe. But there were five fights on the main card of UFC 78. The problem is really over satellite time. They have to plan as if all fights will go the distance. That's nearly 90 minutes there. Then they have to have time to clear the ring and get the next fight into the ring. That's another 40 minutes, so you're talking over two hours. That gives them time to squeeze in a taped fight or two off the preliminary card, but they have to be careful they don't run out of satellite time and get booted off during the main event, as happened at UFC 33.
How can you consider the UFC 78 fight card to be one of the two or three best of the year. It didn't have a title fight, only featured one fighter who can be considered top 10 in his weight class (Karo Parisyan) and had two fighters coming out of unimpressive and controversial decisions as its main event. You shouldn't be surprised when a fight card like that produces a lackluster performance, because it's lacking any meaningful fights. You should be calling out the UFC for putting together such an uninspiring group of fights, not buying into the hype machine. You know better.
I respect your opinion, Brock, but going in, I thought UFC 78 had the makings of an entertaining card. The Parisyan-Ryo Chonan fight seemed as if it would be a war, which it turned out not to be. The Frankie Edgar-Spencer Fisher match looked like it could be a Fight of the Night candidate going on, but instead of fast-paced two-way action, it was a one-sided drubbing by Edgar. Many people were interested to see the UFC's human highlight film, Houston Alexander, in his toughest test against Thiago Silva. Instead of the anticipated slugfest, Alexander's poor ground game was exposed. And the main event pitted two guys whose styles seemed to mesh and looked like they'd produce an interesting bout.
As an increasing number of MMA fighters develop well-rounded fighting skills, we are going to witness more fights going to decisions and see fewer submissions and knockouts. Do you agree, and if so what does it mean for the future of MMA?
The next generation of fighters is going to be unbelievably skilled, so I think it's inevitable that you'll have not only better fights, but more knockouts and submissions, not less.
HENDO AT MIDDLEWEIGHT
I know Anderson Silva-Dan Henderson (for the UFC middleweight title on March 1) could be one of the best fights 2008. But do you think Henderson is cheating himself by dropping down to a division where the level of fighters is nowhere near the light heavyweight division? Don't get me wrong! I want to see this fight! The middleweight division needs this fight!
Henderson deserves to be praised. He's taking a fight the fans want to see. He at least gives Silva a good rival. He can always go back and fight at light heavyweight if he wants. Silva-Henderson is a must-see bout, in my opinion. If he didn't take the fight, fans would be saying he's ducking Silva. In that sense, perhaps, he can't win. But he made the right move in accepting the fight.
Can't get enough of Kevin Iole's mailbag? Then check out last week's edition.