WEC News, Rumblings and Predictions

This is a good fight on paper.  The card would have been much better with the Sonnen vs. Filho II fight on it.  I am looking forward to this fight, it has been billed as a good guy vs. bad guy fight.  On one side you have the champ, Doug “Rhino” Marshall.  He talks a lot of talk, he has a foul mouth and he looks the bad guy part.  On the other side you have an army veteran, the “All American” Brian Stann.  I am not going to pull any punches, I am rooting for Stann.  I think he could be a great MMA fighter, especialyl if he has any ground game.  Marshall may never find out.  I am predicting a round 1 TKO for Stann.  He is a potential star, and a win for Stann translates to $$$ for the WEC. 

     Today it was announced that June would be the date for the Urijah Faber vs. Jens Pulver fight.  Also they announced a Miguel Torres vs. Manny Tapia bantamweight title fight.  I am lookign forward to that card.  Torres really impressed me against Beebe.  He is 33-1.  I think he could dominate that divison and then move up and beat Faber.  The Faber vs. Pulver fight will be good.  Pulver I thought was done in MMA and then he comes and beat Cub Swanson quickly.  Faber is the man and the face of his division.  I will root for and pick Faber and Torres to retain their belts.   

       I also wonder what other title defenses will come.  When will Paulo Filho get it together and come out of rehab ready to fight?  Who will he fight?  I would say Filho will be offered the winner of the Sonnen vs. Baker fight tonight, which I am not counting out Baker to win.  Who will Jamie Varner face in his first title defense?  My bet would be a re-match with Rob McCullough.  I think Razor Rob is a better fighter than Varner and will get the belt back eventually.  Who will Carlos Condit next fight?  Heaven knows, he is awesome.  The WEC has done well and have 4 or 5 stars in Faber, Torres, Filho, Stann, and Condit.  The WEC is better off when these guys win.  I’d still like to see some of them against the best in the UFC, especially Condit and Filho.  If Faber could move to 155, he could be a great UFC fighter. 

UFC’s Competition

I have been critical of Dana White’ abilitiy to sign the free agents in the MMA world.  I think the bottom line is that Dana is unwilling to bend.  I just heard that Jacare, an excellent jiu-jitsu guy signed with DREAM.  The negotions broke down with the UFC because Dana felt they wanted too much money.  Maybe he is right, but nevertheless Jacare is now in a competitong organization.  Furthermore, it seems the UFC fails to sign top notch fighters especailly Japanese guys like Ishida, Ayoki or Sakurai.  There are other top level fighters that the UFC couldn’t sign.  Worse than that there are several top tier guys I don’t know if the UFC even cares about (Jakes Shields, JZ Calvancante, Gilbert Melendez).  He won’t sign Fedor.  He won’t sign Lindand.  In my opinion UFC will never be a monopoly and has some serious competition. With some of the internal problems and some of the UFC stars upset we could see another organization become the “big dog” in MMA.  In my opinion here is UFC’s biggest competitors.

1. EliteXC.  Dana’s feud with Shaw hasn’t helped.  Shaw is a much more typical commissioner than White.  The CBS deal will bring them in a lot of viewers, but will also help all MMA.  They have some stars in EliteXC (Nick Diaz, Jake Shields, Cung Le, Robbie Lawler). They are willing to take chances as seen by the future star Kimbo Slice.  They offered Fedor, and may get him.

2. WEC – I know it is Zuffa owned, but they have some great fighters that the UFC should bring over to the UFC.  I don’t know why you have another organization with top level fighters.  They have some great guys that would translate well anywhere (Paulo Filho, Carlos Condit, Urijah Faber, Miguel Torres, Doug Marshall, Brian Stann, Rob McCullough, Jamie Varner, Chael Sonnen, Leonard Garcia and Jens Pulver)

3. DREAM – Not much competition now, but has some good fighters (Sakurai, Cro Cop, Calvancanti, Ishida, Aoki, Denis Kang, Yamamoto, Joachim Hansen, Eddie Alvarez and Mark Hunt).  The American market is next to nothing though.

4. World Victory Road — Josh Barnett and Takanori Gomi enough said.  A few more big names and they have something good.

5. Strikeforce.  Not great competition, but still have a few guys any monopoly would want (Frank Shamrock, Josh Thompson and Gilbert Melendez)

6. ICON.  They have Jason “Mayhem” Miller and a future star in Kala Hose.

 Right now the UFC is doing fine.  They have a few competitors, but they are still the big leagues.  They have the best fighters.  Some divisions they are better than others.  For example at Light Heavyweight they have a near monopoly and at welterweight they are doing pretty well.  There are several key free agents out there (Fedor, Arlovski, Couture).  If EliteXC or someone else picks up the other guys they can really compete.

The UFC Heavyweight Title

There is a huge mess for the UFC heavyweight title.  Right now Randy Couture is still the UFC Heavyweight champ, but he says he is not coming back.  All the litigation and the news of him signing with HDNet fights and Mark Cuban seems to verify that.  Therefore, the UFC Interim Heavyweight Champ is Antonio Rodrgio Nogueira.  It is reported that Randy Couture has been offered the fight with Nogueira.  I don’t know why he would take it.  I would say there could be a few motivating factors to accept the fight for Randy.  First would be to get the UFC off his back and fulfill his contract.  Second,  many people rank Randy as the third best heavyweight behind Fedor and Nogueira.  If he really is concerned about fighting the best he could prove himself against Nogueira.  Third, the Fedor fight is still possible in the UFC.  With the news of Fedor becoming a free agent, the UFC could sign him.  If the UFC signs him I look for Randy to have two more fights.  One with Nogueira and one with Fedor. What a way to end his career.  A much better ending than the chaos and controversy of lawsuits.  He could end his career beating the number one and number 2 guys in the world to solify himself as the best. 

   Previously, Dana White indicated that Fabricio Werdum was next in line for a title shot.  At first it sounded maybe one win premature.  However, if you run through the division who else will it be?  Arlovski’s contract is over.  Tim Sylvia just lost to Nogueira.  Kongo was the apparent other option, but he just loss to Herring.  Vera is coming off a loss.  Mir is still a few fights away from the title shot. Therefore Werdum seemed like a decent option.  However, werdum is going to fight Brandon Vera this summer.  The winner will be a contender.  I would assume that before that fight the UFC will book a fight for Nogueira.  Since Werdum is fighting someone else that only leaves me to conclude the UFC has someone else in mind.  They could have counted on Kongo, but his loss blew that.  I think that leaves just four options…

1. Randy Couture could fight Nogueira.  That all hinges on Fedor being signed.  This is the firsdt option for the UFC.  However, if the UFC signs Fedor and Randy first fights Nogueria, a loss would make it hard to make the Fedor vs. Randy fight work.  Fedor is bound to get a title shot right away.

2.  Andrei Arlovski could fight Nogueira.  Event hough his contract has expired and he is a free agent, he could still get the fight.  He is the best heavyweight in the UFC besides Randy and Nogueira.  However, he has to sign first.  If he signs this is a good possiblity and could come with Randy’s belt beign stripped. 

3. Fedor could sign and fight Nogueira.  We would assume Fedor would win and then Randy would be offered this fight.  That is very possible.  However, I remember when everyone planned on the Chuck vs. Wanderlai fight and Rampage messed that up. I don’t want Nogueira to spoil that fight, even thoguh I like Nogueira. 

4. Werdum could fight Nogueira.  The fight with Brandon Vera could be scratched and he could fight Nogueira if all the above doesn’t work out.  Or the UFC could hold off until Fall sometimes on any title defense in the division and Werdum could beat Vera and still be the next to fight Nogueira. 

5.  It could be someone else to fight Nogueira.  Not likely.  Who would it be?  Kongo lost.  Herring just fought and lost to Nogueira.  Sylvia just lost to Nogueira a re-match would be a horrible idea.  Gonzaga is coming off two losses.  Jake O’Brien lost.  Frank Mir is a possibility, but he still seems a fight or two away from contention.  Brock Lesnar?  Ha!  Eddie Sanchez?  Haha! Cro Cop left and went to DREAM for now.  Another guy not currently in the UFC?  Who?  It won’t be Josh Barnett.  It won’t be the other Emelianenko.  It won’t be someone like Kimbo…yet.  It won’t be Ricco Rodriguez.  It won’t be Ben Rothwell.   That exhausts the MMA heavyweights….

The bottom line is the only realistic options are Randy, Fedor, or Werdum, with Vera and Mir standing on the outside looking in.

UFC News: Fedor a Free Agent

It is being reported that Fedor is going to part ways from M1.  He initally signed with the new organization, but now ina  efw days will part ways with him.  Ouch!  That hurts.  What exactly does this mean?  It means the UFC has a second chance.  It also seems Fedor is willing to listen to the UFC and Dana is willing to talk.  However, Dana publicalyl said again he does not think Fedor is even close to the top heavyweight fighter and thinks Randy would demolish him.  I don’t know if that is the way to get Fedor to sign.  Maybe reverse psychology will work.  I believe this is a must sign right now for the UFC.  The heavyweight divison is depleting.  I believe with signing Fedor, Dana could lock up two of it’s other top fighters for a long term deal in Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski.  Everyone wants to fight Fedor.  Also, the potential of the Randy vs. Fedor fight seems compelling.  I don’t know how it would work exactly with Nogueira and the interim title, but I would hope for it.  I am guessing that Randy could step in and fight Nogueira if the UFC signs Fedor and then win or loose we could see the Fedor/Randy dream fight.  

Here is a bit of advice….The UFC is near loosing some of it’s old guard popular fighters.  Matt Hughes is on the way out, Tim Sylvia is on the way out, Andrei Arlovski isn’t what he used to be, Randy Couture is out, Chuck Liddell isn’t getting younger, Tito wants out.  The UFC despertley needs some new blood that will attract a large fan base.  They have a few guys that can (Georges St. Pierre, B.J. Penn, Forrest Griffin).  Fedor could be that guy.  He could bring a fan base in the U.S. and worldwide like no one else in the world can.  He is a great investment.  I would offer him the world.  He is worth more than any other fighter.  Give him a shot Dana, please.  Here is your chance to fix your biggest blunder.  I wonder though how much will Dana’s ego get in the way? 

The Impact of UFC 82

I believe that UFC 82 had a much greater impact that some will see right away.  Let us look at some of the impacts and break it down…

1. Many of the top tier welterweights competed and won their fights (Fitch, Koscheck and Sanchez)

2.  Jon Fitch established himself as the next guy to get a title shot, sorry Karo. 

3. The Heavyweight divison lost a contender in Checik Kongo.  Kongo dropped in the rankings following his loss to Herring.  Previously Kongo was in line for a title shot if he had pulled off a win.

4.  The title in the Heavyweight divison is a mess.  You still have Randy Couture.  You have Nogueira and the Interim Champ.  Initially, Dana White suggested that Fabricio Werdum was in line to get the next title shot after his win over Gabriel Gonzaga.  However, it appears Werdum will fight Brandon Vera this summer.  I doubt they could hold off a title defense until after the outcome of that fight.  I believe the UFC expected Kongo to win and get the title shot.  I will write more on this later. 

5.  Anderson Silva solidified himself as the top pound for pound fighter in the world and caused everyone to wonder if anyone can ever take his middleweight belt.  If anyone was to beat him I thought it would be Dan Henderson.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Dan fought badly, I just think Anderson is that good.  I believe the UFC is now forced to find another contender.  It looks like Yushin Okami will get the next shot, and I believe it is well deserved.  However, if Silva beats Okami he has literally cleaned out the top of the divison, who will contend Cote? Bisping? Kampmann?  The UFC can either let him walk through the three or four other guys he has yet to beat or they can sign a top tier guy to challenge him.  I see only two options: Matt Lindaland and Paulo Filho.  Or someone can drop down from light heavyweight (Wanderlai) or go up from welterweight (St. Pierre or Hughes). 

5. Evan Tanner’s comeback was halted.  Can he compete in the UFC? Yes.  Can he re-gain hsi title?  I doubt it.  Okami by the way looked very good and I believe is very underrated.  I don’t think Anderson Silva will walk over him and he deserves the next title shot.