There are times that, in the U.S., it's easy to believe that mixed martial arts has "made it."
But then one goes to a fight in Germany and hears that some believe the fights are held to the death, that bouts are conducted without gloves and that essentially anything goes inside the cage.
Surveying that scene gives one pause, but it's also a reason to hope for the future. There is so much misinformation about the sport that still exists and many misconceptions abound.
The mainstream media, both in the U.S. and around the world, largely ignores the sport. Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White has gone on record repeatedly saying that someday the UFC will be bigger than soccer around the world.
That's an exaggeration, but it's obvious that MMA is going to only get bigger as the barriers keep getting broken down and the media begins to understand the sport.
The sport has gotten to the cusp of the mainstream in the U.S., largely without mainstream media coverage. When that coverage comes – and, sooner or later, it will – MMA will be regarded in the U.S. as one of the big five sports, along with the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NHL.
Before I get on to the mailbag, I'd like to invite you to follow me on Twitter. Feel free to send me questions for the mailbag there, too, though I'll need your first and last name and hometown.
With that, let's get to your questions and comments in this week's edition of the boxing mailbag.
'Cro Cop' heading to DREAM
I think you should definitely retract your report on Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic leaving the UFC, especially the way you made it seem like Mirko was the bad guy. Mirko responded to these rumors and said, "I don't know why Dana fell for the hype and rumors before talking to me. I hoped we could talk to continue working together, and the only problematic thing is how long I have to wait between the fights. I don't want to sit at home for months and wait for somebody to call me to fight. I'm grateful for the opportunity in Cologne, and despite Dana's harsh words, I'm ready to prolong my contract."
Cro Cop is absolutely, 100 percent going to fight in DREAM. His quotes were an attempt to save face, because he did not realize that media knew about the situation. He plans to run for political office again in his native Croatia when his fighting days are done and doesn't want a story in the public that he went back on his word. That, of course, is exactly what he did. He is going to fight for DREAM in July, September and on New Year's Eve, barring injuries. Bank on that. And also bank on the fact that he will never fight in the UFC again.
How do you feel Cro Cop's future as an MMA fighter is tarnished by his recent actions? Do you feel it will hinder future relationships with MMA organizations? I mean, he boldface lied to not only Dana White but the people that were asking him about his future before the fight. Very unprofessional and speaks volumes about who he is.
Lying doesn't say a lot about him as a man, but it has nothing to do with his fighting ability, Marcus. Obviously, DREAM was only too happy to swipe him from the UFC. Promoters know he's a big name who will help sell them tickets. I don't think they'll worry if he fibs every now and then.
For all of those fans who ask why the UFC won't sign Fedor Emelianenko to a one-fight deal to fight Randy Couture or Brock Lesnar, just look at how the Cro Cop deal turned out. It's just free publicity for a rival promotion. Mark my words: As long as Dana White and the Fertittas run the UFC, there will NEVER be another one-fight contract offered to a high-profile fighter.
You're right, of course, Joe. But a lot of fans look at it only from what fights they want to see and not from a business standpoint. Interestingly, before the fight last week, Wanderlei Silva told me that "Fedor is a very simple man" who Silva believed was getting poor advice. He thought Emelianenko should have signed with the UFC a long time ago and was hurting his career by not doing so.
Velasquez and the heavyweight belt
I'm glad you enjoyed UFC 99 in Cologne, as I did myself. However, I do worry about your ability to focus on the cage, from however close by, when reading your article on Cain Velasquez. If he becomes heavyweight champion, it would only be because all others are unavailable. In other words: He will not. The holes in Velasquez' game are huge! Granted, he controlled Cheick Kongo pretty much throughout the match with relative ease. But, apart from the fact that he wore him down striking, that was 'only' because Kongo's ground game is nonexistent. On a few occasions, he even could have easily put on a rear naked choke and didn't! God knows why not, and probably he doesn't either. Before this fight I saw him as a top contender, now I think he'll be just that, a top contender. No more. I would love to see him fight again soon, though.
A lot more people probably agree with you than with me, Lutek, but I'm not going to change my opinion. I think Velasquez performed well below his own standards on Saturday, and he still dominated Kongo, a guy many were touting as a potential champion. He's not ready today, but he's not far away, believe me.
It's gotta be Cain and Shane Carwin next, right?
San Salvador, El Salvador
That would be a great, great fight to watch, but I think it is still a ways off. I may be proven wrong, but I'm not sure that's the next one. I'd love it, though, because it is one of the fights on my list of must-see bouts.
I have to laugh at your article on Cain Velasquez, 6-0 or not. All he proved Saturday were two things. One, he has huge holes in his stand-up game, and two, Kongo has no ground game. He showed an extreme lack of power and ability to finish when it comes to facing a top-caliber opponent and as a diehard MMA fan, I have to take offense to someone saying that was a championship-level performance. He controlled a man with no ground game because of his excellent wrestling background. I can tell you three things for sure: He would never control Lesnar that way due to strength, size, and wrestling ability. Plus Brock hits harder then Kongo. Secondly, the same goes for Carwin and I don't even like Carwin. He is stronger, faster, and would not be controlled like that by Cain. Even Frank Mir, whom I despise, would have finished Cain on the ground.
I didn't say Cain had a championship-level performance. I noted he made many mistakes and that the performance wasn't as good as he has been in the past. But I said his potential is enormous and he'll be a champion some day. I stand by that.
Why the spoilers?
As a devout MMA follower, it always pains me to see results announced before I see the fight. Sometimes I don't see the fight on PPV but can catch a replay later in the week. I understand that I may come across a headline after the fight, but Yahoo! posted a photo on its main sports page that I saw at 4 p.m. PST on Saturday. This was four hours before I was supposed to order the fight! The headline gave away the result, so I knew he won the fight before I had a chance to see it. Can you please talk to your staff and the Web guys to see if this can be avoided in the future? Thank you.
I feel your pain, Sean, but I'm not sure there's much we can do. A lot of people ask this question after the European fights, which is why I'm posting your question. Here's the problem: When DO we run the results? Now, just to make a point, you say you often catch the result later in the week. So when is it OK to show it? And just because you've seen it a few days later, doesn't mean the guy in Minneapolis has, correct? So when is appropriate to run, then? We're a news organization and we're going to provide results, Sean. I apologize, but there's no way around it. Should we not have run the NBA Finals result the other night because there were people who went to a movie and TiVOed the game? If you don't want to know, don't visit sites that cover MMA, including ours, because the results are going to be there.
I was curious how the German media is reacting to seeing its first sanctioned MMA event. You and your colleagues reported the wild allegations about what happens at MMA events. With everything at UFC 99 being close to business as usual, has there been any change of heart from the media in Germany?
Sioux Falls, S.D.
I flew home to Las Vegas from Germany on Sunday, so I didn't see first-hand. However, at the post-fight news conference, there was none of the sensationalism or over-reacting that had occurred previously.