The mailbag was overflowing with praise for two mixed martial arts fighters, featherweight Jens Pulver and heavyweight Randy Couture, but they were two different kinds of comments.
Yahoo! Sports readers marveled at the tenacity and the courage Pulver showed in overcoming an almost unbelievably horrid childhood. He was abused by his father and nearly shot to death when he was just 7.
The story touched readers in a big way, many of whom responded just to say thanks to Pulver for the inspiration they found in his tale.
But Couture, the UFC's erstwhile heavyweight champion, was also the subject of a high number of comments.
Readers heaped praise upon Couture for his performance at a news conference on Thursday, when he explained his decision to resign from the UFC, saying he felt he wasn't respected by UFC management.
Couture also spent much of that news conference complaining about his pay. He specifically said that he asked for a signing bonus prior to signing the current four-fight contract he's in the middle of and that the UFC declined.
When I did my column on the news conference last week, I reported that UFC president Dana White said Couture had indeed received a bonus.
Fans seemed to take Couture's side and called White – and me – a liar. Their position was that since Couture said he didn't get a signing bonus, he must not have gotten a signing bonus.
But I was in White's office on Monday. He produced a copy of a letter sent to Couture along with a copy of the canceled check that Couture signed. The check was clearly marked as a signing bonus and the letter indicated that the enclosed check was his signing bonus per the contract.
White, UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta and chief financial officer John Mulkey scheduled a news conference at the Zuffa offices in Las Vegas on Tuesday to address Couture's comments.
Based on the documents I saw on Monday, this isn't a news conference that will portray Couture favorably.
I'll miss the news conference as I'll be flying to cover the Joe Calzaghe-Mikkel Kessler boxing match, but the news conference will be streamed live on Yahoo! Sports at 4 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday and my colleague, Dave Meltzer, will have complete coverage. Anyway, on to the reader comments, both good and bad.
If you're looking for the boxing mailbag, please note we've split our sites now and you can find the boxing mailbag on our boxing page.
My answers are, as always, in italics after the questions.
Do you believe that an M-1 main event such as Randy Couture vs. Fedor Emelianenko would solidify it as a solid No. 2 promoter behind the UFC?
West Milford, N.J. It will take more than one fight to solidify any promoter. That would be a great event, if it happened. I doubt it will, as much as I would love to see it.
LOVES LITTLE EVIL
Good article on Jens Pulver. It is nice when media outlets shine a bright light on people who have had troubled lives. It gives them a chance to show a deeper personal side. I think there was a little evidence of that during the Ultimate Fighter show. Pulver, although he comes across as crazy and not book smart, seemed to have a lot to offer everyone on the show. He earned the respect of the contestants, coaches and Dana White. Pulver taught them all about persistence, humility and compassion.
You could sit and talk to Pulver for hours and it would seem like minutes. He's an incredibly gifted speaker who has the ability to command attention. He said he's interested in doing motivational speeches as a full-time job when his fighting career is over. I have no doubt he'd be at least as good at that as he has been at his fighting.
NO FAN OF SYLVIA
I don't see how you can say Tim Sylvia is back with that performance against Brandon Vera at UFC 77. They did more hugging then fighting. It was a joke. If his next fight is against anyone in the top 6, it's a loss. He's gotten away with being the big man long enough. With Randy being the champ and the new up and comers, he won't last too much longer.
I totally agree it was a boring fight. But Sylvia won and with Couture's status with the UFC up in the air, he's likely to fight Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira for the title next year. He's hardly invincible, but I don't see six heavyweights in the UFC who are guaranteed to beat him on a given night.
SPIDER VS. HENDO
What are the chances of seeing a fight between Anderson Silva and Dan Henderson? I realize Henderson fought Rampage at 205, but didn't he hold the 185-pound title in Pride at the same time as the 205-pound title? That seems like it would be the best fight at 185 available right now.
I'd say Henderson is the most likely next opponent for Silva. There are only two problems with that, both of which revolve around Henderson. First, he'd much prefer to continue to fight at 205. His rationale is that since he believes he can beat most, if not all, of the fighters at light heavyweight, he should stay there and not have to cut weight to make 185. Also, he only has one fight left on his contract and the UFC isn't likely to let him fight for the title without an extension beforehand.
Not only are you twisting the facts in a biased way, for reasons I don't understand, you are trying in some way to make Randy Couture out to be a bad guy in this situation. Why is it that you feel the need to vindicate the UFC in such a way that causes you to not take Mr. Couture's opinion as truth? It seems as though you feel that you are in the inside of one of the most secretive sports business' payout sheets. Not only are you refuting what Randy said with second-hand knowledge, you are downplaying the significance and credence of one of MMA's greatest athlete/icon/spokesperson. You take the word of Dana White as if it is handed down from God himself. Graham
I'm not sure how I made Couture out to be a bad guy. I called him one of the greatest mixed martial artists ever and arguably the most significant fighter in UFC history. I referred to him as the Willie Mays of MMA. I said he had been a class act and would continue to help the sport.
But I also said, as I believed from the first moment, that this was an issue about money. I'm not faulting Couture for wanting more money; but you're denying the obvious if you think it's anything but that.
I personally held in my hands a UFC check to Couture that was a signing bonus. Couture said directly at the news conference he asked for a signing bonus and didn't get one.
Call that what you will. Those are the facts.
I just wanted to congratulate you on the article about Randy Couture. It was well thought out and well written. You changed my mind on the whole resignation issue. I enjoy your articles. Keep up the good work!
Where did you say I should send that check, Uncle Patrick?
HOW ABOUT LESNAR
Does it seem weird that the UFC has signed Brock Lesnar after Randy Couture retires? Do you think that the UFC would have signed him if Couture didn't retire? I think it's a bit coincidental that the UFC signs a name, not a star of MMA, but a name that people know from the horrible WWE, to be that future star of the heavyweight division. But, what if Lesnar is a bust, kind of like Cro Cop? What do you think?
The UFC was negotiating with Lesnar long before they had an inkling Couture would resign. Lesnar has the ability to be very, very good as a mixed martial artist. He's incredibly quick for a guy 265 pounds, he's extraordinarily athletic and he's a great wrestler. Remember, he is a former NCAA wrestling champion.
If he's rushed, he won't pan out. But give him a series of fights and some time in the gym and I think he'll become one of the best heavyweights in the world.
It will depend upon how he's handled. I could see him becoming the UFC champion and I could also see him being a bust.
HIGH ON SPIDER
Anderson Silva has exposed an enormous gap in talent in the UFC middleweight division. On one side, you have Silva the champ and on the other you have the rest of the middleweight division, with Rich Franklin at the top. What do you think is next for Rich Franklin? He can beat anyone in the middleweight division, except for Silva. I think he should move back to light heavyweight. Unless Georges St. Pierre ever moves up a weight class or Henderson comes down, I don't see anyone coming close to loosening Silva's grip on the title.
I agree, Ryan, that Silva will hold the title for a while. He's awesome. I would love to see a fight between Silva and Paulo Filho, the WEC champion. Franklin may never be the same after the beating he took from Silva. If he decides for certain he'll fight again, the UFC will give him a decent match. They've signed a few new middleweights like Ricardo Almeida and Ryo Chonan and perhaps Franklin may meet one of them.