Mailbag: Scheduling Fedor

Kevin Iole
Yahoo! Sports

Fedor Emelianenko is going to make his debut for Strikeforce in a fight on Showtime sometime in the fall.

Dana White, the Ultimate Fighting Championship's ultra-competitive president, is certain to counterprogram it whenever Showtime/Strikeforce announces its date. He did it each time Affliction promoted a show and he put a replay of UFC 100 on opposite Strikeforce's Gina Carano-Christiane "Cyborg" Santos card on Aug. 15 in San Jose, Calif.

Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said after the Carano- Santos fight that Emelianenko's debut will probably be in November.

That could turn out to be a brilliant move, because it could prevent the UFC from counterprogramming Emelianenko with a live show of its own. Zuffa, parent company of the UFC and World Extreme Cagefighting has a WEC card set for Oct. 10. UFC 104 is on Oct. 24 in Los Angeles. It has no shows Oct. 31 or Nov. 7, then has UFC 105 set for Manchester, England, on Nov. 14 and UFC 106 in Las Vegas on Nov. 21. It has no fight scheduled over the Thanksgiving weekend, but then has shows on back-to-back weekends Dec. 5 ("The Ultimate Fighter" finale) and Dec. 12 (UFC 107).

Starting with UFC 104, White already has three live cards scheduled in a five-week span and five in an eight-week span. So if Showtime were to put Emelianenko on Oct. 31, Nov. 7 or Nov. 28, it might prevent White from counterprogramming it with a live show.

It's going to be fascinating to see the way these two maneuver over the next few months. It may be almost as entertaining as the fights themselves.

Before we delve into the mailbag and I respond to your questions and comments, I'd like to remind you to follow me on Twitter. You can send me questions for the mailbag there or just choose to talk some MMA.

Carwin gets the gig

Why do you think Shane Carwin got the fight against Brock Lesnar for the UFC heavyweight championship over others like Cain Velasquez or Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic? Carwin has an impressive record, but his only notable win over top competition was against Gabriel Gonzaga, who is best known for beating Cro Cop. Cain Velasquez just beat Cheick Kongo, who also beat Cro Cop. I remember hearing all the hype that Velasquez would eventually be champ. Is this just not his time? Or does it boil down to how they won their last fights? Cro Cop, who has more big names under his belt, would be a huge name to put up against Brock, also.
Cesar Q.
Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Well, he's 11-0 overall, 3-0 in the UFC and he's never had a fight go longer than 2:11. That was his first pro fight. He also has the size and wrestling background to pose a challenge to Lesnar. UFC president Dana White was looking for a quality opponent for Lesnar after his bid to sign Fedor Emelianenko and match him with Lesnar failed. He said Carwin's record and his win over Gonzaga were big factors for him. I have been extremely impressed by both Carwin and Velasquez since they've signed with the UFC and believe either would have been a worthy opponent. Carwin, though, has more experience. Also, when White was asked at a fan question-and-answer session prior to UFC 101 who would be next for Lesnar, before he could answer, many in the crowd began to shout Carwin's name. Believe me, White heard that. I don't think it hurt his chances at all of getting the fight. As for Cro Cop, he will get his shot when he racks up a few quality wins in the UFC. He has yet to do that.

How do you think Brock Lesnar will handle Shane Carwin's explosiveness and devastating knockout power? And who do you think will win that fight?
Oliver Williams
Los Angeles

I'm not going out on a limb when I say it's going to be a first-round knockout. I'm not sure who, but I'll lean toward Lesnar. I think the man who lands first will win and given Lesnar's long reach, I think it will be him. He's the better wrestler and he has faced better competition. Knocking out Randy Couture says a lot to me. This could be one of the great 75-second fights we've ever seen. But if Carwin catches him on the chin, it will be lights out for Lesnar.

I'm not looking past anyone, but let's imagine that, despite the hopes and dreams of many a fan, Lesnar retains his belt after the dust settles in his match with Carwin. Who's next? Couture probably had the best go with Lesnar, but could he do it again? Would Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira be up for it? Or is Velasquez the next piece of meat already on the block for Lesnar to chew on?
Ian Clark

I'd guess Velasquez has the next crack, assuming he beats Ben Rothwell at UFC 104. The winner of the Couture-Nogueira fight Saturday at UFC 102 in Portland would be the co-favorite.

'I want to put on an exciting fight'

Do you think that Zuffa has anything to do with all of the fighters promising a very exciting fight every time they're interviewed? In every promo you see now, it is always a plug for an exciting fight. I feel this was never the case in the past before the two Anderson Silva fights, at UFC 90 and UFC 97. You always noticed the fighters saying "I am going to win," or "I want to win," or "I want to be the best," etc. Now it is just "I can promise an exciting fight!" It makes me nervous where the UFC is heading.
Tom MacGregor
Albany, N.Y.

Of course the fighters are encouraged to try to hype the fights, Tom. That can't come as a shock. To use your word, what is a "promo" for? It's to promote the fight and make it sound exciting so that the fans want to buy a ticket or see it on pay-per-view.

Women's size gap

In a recent mailbag you commented that you did not think that Gina Carano could drop to a lower weight class. After some research, I learned that nearly all women's fights occur within a range of about 40 pounds. Given the current dearth of female superstars, do you think it makes sense to have such narrow weight classes? Tara LaRosa and Sarah Kaufman are probably the two best American fighters next to Carano, but fight at 125 and 135 pounds respectively. Is the size gap between these women and Strikeforce women's lightweight champion Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos really substantial enough to keep them in separate weight classes? Is it harder for women to gain/lose weight? Or is there more talent out there than I'm aware of?
Adam Miller
San Francisco

It wouldn't be impossible for either, but it depends upon their frame. Obviously, the more skilled the lighter fighter, the better her chances would be to succeed against a bigger opponent. However, remember that Santos is big and talented. There aren't as many top-level women as there are men now, but that's slowly changing as more women are training. I don't believe the number of quality women's fighters will equal the number of quality men's fighters, because far fewer women gravitate to combat sports than men, but I think you'll see the depth and quality of the women increase over time.

Free undercard on Spike no big deal

If the UFC really wanted to give back to its fans, they should allow those purchasing pay-per-views to watch the undercards for free and not pay more money on to see them. It's cool an hour's worth of preliminary fights will be on free television on Spike for an hour, but the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Juan Manuel Marquez boxing match won't begin until 11:30 ET anyway, so it isn't like this will stop anybody from ordering it.
Donnie Howard
Chattanooga, Tenn.

Obviously, one could watch the MMA fights on Spike and then buy the Mayweather pay-per-view. I get that. They're doing it as a marketing tool to get you interested and make you do exactly the opposite, however. As for giving PPV customers all the fights, Dana White answered this at his fan Q&A in Philadelphia. He said he believes in giving the fans who purchased tickets, paid to travel to the event and had to get hotel rooms, etc., a bonus that those who stay at home and watch on television don't get. So he said one of those bonuses is that they know they'll get all the fights. If you buy the pay-per-view, you never can be sure how many, if any, of the preliminary fights you'll see.

What's the deal with Cro Cop?

I just read the article about the preliminary fights on UFC 103 being free on Spike. I noticed Cro Cop will be fighting. The last I heard of him, he left under dubious circumstances. There were talks of him using UFC to further his political career, etc. I haven't really heard anything since and yet here he is on the undercard fight. What gives?

On the day of UFC 99, Filipovic told White he would not sign an extension with the UFC and had agreed to a deal with DREAM. He was actually slated to fight "Mighty" Mo Siliaga on a DREAM card in July. But he didn't sign that contract and UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta stopped in Croatia to visit Filipovic. They had a nice conversation, Fertitta said, and Cro Cop signed the contract extension with the UFC that he'd negotiated over the phone with White. Filipovic still has political ambitions in Croatia. He is a former member of parliament and is considering another run after his fighting career is over. By the way, Filipovic's fight at UFC 103 is on the pay-per-view portion of the card.

What's up with Forrest?

My question is about Forrest Griffin and the UFC's weak attempt to track him down and get some answers for MMA fans after his loss to Anderson Silva earlier this month at UFC 101. Why isn't more energy being put into tracking him down. After all, he still made $60,000 from that fight.
Whitney Burns

I don't believe Forrest has been interested in doing any interviews, frankly, Whitney. And I wouldn't say the UFC has made a weak attempt; it's made NO attempt. The UFC is a promoter and it's not the job of the promoter to track down a fighter after a fight. That's up to the media. I can assure you Griffin is physically healthy. I'm sure he'll speak publicly about UFC 101 and his plans before too long.

Should Mousasi have gotten a raise?

Don't you think Gegard Mousasi should've been paid a bit more for his fight on the Aug. 15 Strikeforce card considering the fact that he destroyed Renato "Babalu" Sobral?
Matthew Salzer
Orange, Calif.

Fighters are paid based upon what they negotiate before the fight. The promoter, obviously, can pay more if he likes, but he's only obligated to pay the contracted amount.

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