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The readers always write and I usually have an answer. And after Cain Velasquez's dramatic knockout of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in the main event of UFC 110 on Saturday in Sydney, Australia, there are plenty of comments and questions about Velasquez' place in the heavyweight hierarchy.
I'll tackle those questions, plus many more, in this week's edition of the MMA mailbag.
ALL ABOUT VELASQUEZ
The first few times I saw Cain Velasquez fight, I thought he was a decent prospect, but I thought he was lacking in his standup, particularly his standup defense. Then he came in and dominated Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 110. I'm no longer a doubter about his standup. It's no longer an if regarding a title shot, it's when. When Velasquez faces heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar (I don't think either Frank Mir or Shane Carwin has a chance, even if they can face him) who do you see winning? I give the edge to Cain now for striking, but can Brock overpower him?
When I talk about Lesnar, let's assume he hasn't lost anything from his bout with diverticulitis, which admittedly we won't know until he fights. Having said that, I would favor Brock at this point, but Velasquez is improving rapidly and the more time he has before he fights Lesnar, I believe his chances would increase. Yes, Brock will have a huge size advantage, but Randy Couture was doing well and even took Lesnar down before getting knocked out. If they fought in July, I'd favor Brock; if it were in, say, December, I'd probably go with Cain. He's such a hard worker and he adds so much each time you see him, I think he'll eventually catch Brock. But I think this scenario is setting up for multiple fights between Velasquez-Lesnar, Lesnar-Mir, Mir-Carwin, Carwin-Velasquez, etc. And, no, I'm not forgetting Junior dos Santos. He's in that mix, too.
While I agree that Cain is now among the elite, I disagree that he has faced the right competition. Against Nogueira, his game plan was obviously to stand with him. Against Cheick Kongo, his game plan was to take him down. Let's put Cain against someone who is proven on both the ground and standup. Let's put him against the loser of the Mir/Carwin fight or maybe even dos Santos.
Fort Collins, Colo.
Your point is well-taken, Jacob, and I believe Cain will continue to improve. I don't think he's nearly as good as he will become and which he'll prove when he fights the elite fighters in the world.
Wow, UFC 110 was a good card. I believe Cain is a real threat now. I believe he could potentially face Brock Lesnar now but I believe one more test is in the works. I see Cain taking on the winner of the March 21 dos Santos-Gabriel Gonzaga fight. What do you think?
Cain's next opponent will depend upon the health of the winner of the March 27 Mir-Carwin fight in Newark, N.J. If the winner is healthy (which he theoretically should be given there will three-four months before Lesnar is ready to compete), he will face Lesnar. If not, Cain will take that position. We'll know for sure after the fight on March 27.
HISPANIC FIGHTERS BOOST MMA
I just want to commend you for such a great pre-fight piece on Cain. Being a Latino, it is great to see more faces in MMA that I can relate to such as Cain, Miguel Torres, and others. I think by promoting these great fighters, the UFC and mixed martial arts will soon be expanding to more Spanish speaking homes, not only here in the U.S., but all over Latin America, as well.
Harbor City, Calif.
Some of the best fight fans in the world are in Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries and they're no doubt important to the sport's growth and development.
CRO COP AT THE PRESS CONFERENCE?
Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic never attends press conferences but following UFC 110 he actually did. He cracked jokes and actually was smiling alongside UFC president Dana White for the first time ever. Did Dana give Mirko a talk about how he needs to be more involved with the company or something? What's the story on his reason for attending?
UFC public-relations whiz Ant Evans deserves credit for this one. He's the one who got Cro Cop to attend the news conference. Cro Cop is a popular fighter and a bright guy and he should make himself more accessible. That will increase not only his own visibility and popularity, but the sport's as well. He's probably going to fight Ben Rothwell in his next outing. White said he wanted to make the fight quickly, since Rothwell pulled out of UFC 110 just 48 hours before the bout with stomach flu. Cro Cop didn't suffer any injuries, so I'd think this fight could occur any time beginning with say, UFC 113-115.
SPIDER AT 205, HEAVYWEIGHT?
It is rumored that UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva may move to the light heavyweight division soon. What are your thoughts on how successful he might be against the elite fighters? Do you think he would have a chance at heavyweight with his amazing technical abilities?
Fort Worth, Texas
Silva is close to a full-time move to light heavyweight, though he's not anxious to surrender the middleweight title. UFC president Dana White said if and when Silva moves up to 205, he'd face a No. 1 contender in his first outing and then get a title shot if he won that. I do think he'd be highly successful at 205, though not as dominant as he has been in the UFC at middleweight. I also think he could win fights at heavyweight, as well, and actually be one of the top heavyweights. Size would be an issue for him against guys like Carwin and Lesnar, but I believe he'd do very well against most of the heavyweights.
RASHAD DOESN'T STAND A CHANCE
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson is going to whip Rashad Evans' entire body. I don't think Evans can stand the slam, nor do I feel he has the knockout power needed to take the legs and turn the lights out on an athlete such as Jackson. Good luck to both, and thanks for all the MMA news. Keep up the great work.
I'll favor Jackson in this fight, as well. He isn't close to being in shape now, though his Muay Thai coach, Dave Jackson, insists he's already working hard. But I saw him in Australia and he looked plenty plump to me. I was also surprised to see him smoking a cigarette. But if Rampage is in shape and committed, I think he's definitely the favorite.
MORE ON THE 10-POINT MUST
Why is it that judges very rarely allocate less than nine points to the losing fighter of a round? Frequently, fighters are dominated in a round, with no reply, and still seem to be given nine points. Often, a fighter losing so badly won't see the end of the fight, anyway, but I've seen guys get hammered for three rounds and still only lose 30-27.
That's one of the flaws in the 10-point must system, Jonathan. I agree with you. Judges need to use the extra point more liberally to differentiate between rounds. I've seen countless fights where Fighter A barely squeezes out two rounds and is given 10-9 for each of them and then Fighter B dominates the third and is also given a 10-9. If you look at the bout as a whole, you'd say Fighter B won, but Fighter A gets the decision. I think judges need to use the 10-8 more and it would lead to more just outcomes.
NEVER CUT WANDERLEI
Dana's never been shy about cutting fighters, even big names, and even when it seems they've been doing OK. I'm pleased Wanderlei got a victory at UFC 110, but please tell me he's not going to be on the chopping block after a loss.
He's safe. No matter what happens, White has made clear he'll have a place for Silva because of the way he fights. If you stall and fight cautiously, you may get axed. But White loves Silva's all-out style and said repeatedly during the buildup to UFC 110 that Silva was in no danger, regardless of the outcome.
MMA IN THE OLYMPICS
In your last mailbag you stated that you thought someday MMA would be an Olympic sport. I'm interested in hearing your thoughts as to how the rules would have to be modified in order to make a tournament work? Given the number of medical suspensions handed out after major fights, and the IOC's general squeamishness, I can't see them allowing early UFC-style tournaments to take place.
It's a major problem, James, but I think it would be handled like boxing. I think the length of the rounds may be cut from five to three and there would likely be some sort of headgear. I would also guess elbows would be banned as well as knees to the head. No matter how it is, it would be a modified version of the pro game. And truth be told, it's the same in boxing.
BELFORT'S TITLE SHOT
In your opinion, will Vitor Belfort have to re-earn his middleweight title by winning a match or two or will he get a shot after he has healed fully from his shoulder surgery?
I doubt he'll go straight to a championship bout, Matthew, regardless of who wins the UFC 112 main event in Abu Dhabi between Anderson Silva and challenger Demian Maia. I'd expect Belfort to have at least one fight, if not two, before fighting for the title.