Sunday, July 06, 2008

UFC Weak at the top and weak at the bottom (part 1)

The UFC is the largest MMA organization in the world. Overall they have the most talent in fighting and if you look at the top people in every weight class they have all the top guys except for Fedor Emelianenko in the Heavyweight division and Takanori Gomi in the Lightweight Division. For the purpose of this article I'm using the MMA Worldwide rankings, there are many other top 10 lists by division that may fluctuate away from these rankings but all in all I think they are pretty good.

For now I will focus on the top, or Heavyweight Division. When I get a chance to sit down I will finish part 2, the Lightweight Division. (if my insomnia kicks in it may be tonight!)

Here are the top 10 HW's as ranked by MMA Worldwide. I'll place a UFC next to those who are in the UFC.

#1 - Fedor Emelianenko
#2 - Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (UFC)
#3 - Randy Couture (technically with UFC but won't fight with them)
#4 - Tim Sylvia
#5 - Andrei Arlovski
#6 - Fabricio Werdum (UFC)
#7 - Josh Barnett
#8 - Gabriel Gonzaga (UFC)
#9 - Ben Rothwell
#10 - Mirko "Crocop" Filipovic

Basically 3 of the top 10 HW's in the world are with the largest organization. On July 19th those who order Affliction on PPV will see the #1 and #4 fighters square off as well as the #5 and #9, #7 is also on the card.

While that fight is going on UFC fans get to wait for the not so much anticipated upcoming match between Nogueira (#2) and Frank Mir (not ranked but a former UFC champ). When this fight was announced many in the MMA community screamed why, why, why? But who else are they going to put in there? Werdum would be my top choice, Herring? Kongo? Gonzaga? Outside of Werdum none of those matchups really perk my interest.

As a comparison here is the top 10 in the Light Heavyweight division.

#1 - Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (just lost to Forrust Griffin Saturday)
#2 - Mauricio Rua
#3 - Chuck Liddell
#4 - Lyoto Machida
#5 - Wanderlei Silva
#6 - Rameau Sokoudjou
#7 - Keith Jardine
#8 - Forrest Griffin (New UFC LHW Champ)
#9 - Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (Only one NOT in the UFC)
#10 - Rashad Evans.

(9 of the top 10 in the UFC in the LHW Division)

While the internet continue's to flow with information and opinions that agree or disagree with Dana White and the UFC on the many things I think we can all agree the 'Top' organization should have a better grip on the big boys. Traditionally in all combat sports the HW's have been the big draw. While 'true' fans or practitioners typically appreciate the lower weight classes for a better skill set, quicker pace and better cardio the average fan is more likely to want to see a big guy KO another big guy.

Over the past year we have seen the UFC miss out on many opportunities to ramp up this division, for whatever reason they could not make it happen. Some of these things, of course, are not at the fault of the UFC. In no particular order here are some of the most recent dissapointing HW outcomes when looking at the UFC.

#1 - The UFC failed to land Fedor Emelianenko. Fedor is believed by most to be the best HW in the world. Even though he hasn't really fought a legit top tier HW opponent since beating Crocop in August of 2005, most people still consider him the best. Bottom line, in my opinion, is that the UFC/Dana White should have made this happen!

#2 - Randy Couture had a much publicized retirement from the UFC basically due to the failed attempt to land Fedor. In hind sight this wasn't handled as good as it could have been handled but he has been holding his ground. He wanted Fedor before he gets to old to compete. If Randy gets out of his contract in September, which looks like a done deal, we may see a Randy vs. Fedor in November or December on another stacked Affliction card.

#3 - The Crocop flop. The UFC did sign Mirko to a deal but he lost 2 of his 3 fights. Crocop didn't seem to be himself, was it age? Was it the cage as opposed to the ring? Elbows? Who knows the truth but this definately was a bust for the UFC. I tend to think that it is possible that Dana let the Fedor deal slide based on some big PRIDE names not doing so well. His thought process could have been that

#4 - Tim Sylvia and Anrdei Arlovsky both negotiated out of their last fight with the UFC. While I don't fully know why they decided to leave the UFC I do know that Tim is fighting Fedor, dream match up for all heavyweights. I also know that if Arlovsky wins his fight and Affliction puts on another show that he, along with Barnett, will be in the drivers seat for the winner of the Tim vs. Fedor fight depending on the final verdict with the Randy Couture contract disputes.

#5 - Did the UFC even go after Barnett? I haven't heard anything either way but I would assume there would have been rumors flying around if they were going after him. My personal opinion is that he should be in the top 4 of the division.

The UFC is obviously a little concerned about the Affliction card, they have scrambled together a card on free tv (Spike TV) on July 19th to try and pull some business from Affliction. They are headlining the card with Anderson Silva who most believe is the current best pound for pound fighter in the world. Those who don't believe Anderson is the best have a pretty good argument with BJ Penn and George St Pierre. Dana has been all over the internet and radio shows saying how ridiculous it is that Affliction is putting a card together. If affliction can put together 4 cards a year with 1 or 2 of these top HW's on each card I believe they will get the buys they need to stay in business. They certainly won't be able to put a card like this together every few months, it is the most stacked HW card in MMA history.


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