Does Fedor Emelianenko really need to "prove himself" in the UFC? Is WEC Middleweight Champion Paulo Filho better than UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva? Is the UFC finally at a turning point to have real international competition? All of this and more in another edition of 411 MMA Fact or Fiction!
Welcome back to yet another edition of 411 MMA Fact or Fiction. This week we have two true all-stars doing battle; Planet Tapout's Lotfi Sariahmed and our own MMA editor Caleb Newby.
And off we go:
1. WEC Middleweight Champion Paulo Filho is better than his friend UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva.
Sariahmed: FICTION. But just barely. Filho is a ground magician but his lackluster debut in the WEC leaves me with some questions. Silva's striking is second to none in the middleweight division. He's had more experience on the big stage fighting the bigger guys so far. I know Lutter exposed his weaknesses on the ground but Marquardt was supposed to do the same thing and was ripped apart. Obviously the big question in this battle is if it goes to the ground. If it does Filho will win and if not Silva will. I think Silva wins that battle and the fight. But again, it's fiction...just barely.
Newby: FICTION. I have to admit though, I have some Anderson Silva love that should become more apparent later on in this little article. Trying to curb whatever bias I may have, Silva has been passing each test he's been thrown that was supposed to seriously test his weaknesses. I don't think it's a stretch to call Anderson the most dangerous middleweight striker in the world, as he is in contention for the title most dangerous striker in all of MMA. And while we are supposed to see Silva struggle on the ground against superior wrestlers and BJJ artists in Lutter and Marquardt, Lutter was tapped and Marquardt unable to gain the advantage he that he'd be able to utilize on the ground. Couple that with Filho's lackluster debut in the WEC and as it currently stands, Silva's disadvantage on the ground doesn't seem as great as Filho's disadvantage on the feet striking.
Score: 1 for 1.
2. The feeling by some that Fedor Emelianenko needs to prove himself in the UFC is, for lack of a better word, retarded.
Sariahmed: FICTION. Trust me, I'm not completely crazy. I know Fedor has been the best pound for pound fighter so far in MMA. But Cro Cop was supposed to be a stud when he came to the UFC...then Gonzaga knocked his head off. Herring was supposed to be this solid heavyweight that could be a top contender...he's stunk. Fabricio Werdum looked horrible against Andrei Arlovski. It can't be disputed that these big guys coming into PRIDE so far have looked less than stellar so far. Going from the ring to a cage is undoubtedly a transition. It's at least a bit of a different arena for Fedor coming to the UFC. It's not necessarily an issue of him having to prove himself but how can we look back on his reign and say he's undoubtedly an all-time great if it were to end right now? How is he in the ring? How will he adapt? He hasn't faced Couture yet. Lets give him another shot at Cro Cop. That's what everyone was clammoring about when Cro Cop won the Grand Prix. Call me crazy if you'd like but this is fiction for me.
Newby: FACT. Here's the thing. Fedor doesn't NEED to prove himself, he already has. He beat the all the top heavyweights in the world convincingly and without a blemish on his record in PRIDE. What we want as fans is for Fedor to continue to prove himself against the face of new competition (Gonzaga and Arlovski), rematch against a potentially dangerous rival (Cro Cop), and finish off the last few dream matches that remain (Couture, Barnett). But the thing is Fedor doesn't HAVE to do any of this to cement his legacy as the best fighter we have ever seen. It can be all sorts of frustrating that Fedor doesn't jump into the UFC and take these bouts willy nilly, but that's his choice, and he's earned this selective right by being the best in the world. Say Fedor never fights a top contender again and only does a couple more fights against decent, but uninspired competition. That takes nothing away from his past accomplishments and while it sucks for us, so be it. Fedor is still the best fighter we have seen to this point in mixed martial arts.
Score: 1 for 2, and I'll be looking out for a story in the paper about a murder suspect described as an expressionless robot.
3. With Spencer Fisher, Tim Sylvia, and Drew McFedries as just the latest victims, not nearly enough is being at MMA training facilities to curb staph infection.
Sariahmed: FACT. This is so stupid, it really is. And it's not because it's not something serious. But it is SO easily avoidable. Clean your mats. Clean your gym. Make it clean enough for these fighters to not have to deal with this problem. We have steroids to deal with, promotions needing to work together, MMA still trying to break into the "mainstream." And we have to deal with gyms not being clean enough? This isn't just a Miletich camp problem either. We've had Diego Sanchez, Forrest Griffin, and so many others as well. Again, this is just too stupid. Of course there isnt enough being done. Lets fix these little problems.
Newby: FACT. It's hard to argue with the facts, and lately we've seen more than our share of staph infections. Maybe there are a number of reasons that this has happened beyond the obvious, but all I know is every month or two we are getting some camp hit by it and affecting fights... not to mention just the general health and safety concerns. From the little I know and understand of staph, it is pretty easily kept under control by regular cleaning and maintenance of the facility. You'd think especially for these top gyms this wouldn't arise as a problem as often as it has.
Score: 2 for 3.
----SWITCH IT UP----
4. The upheld one-year suspension of Hermes Franca was fair given the circumstances.
Newby: FACT. He admitted to doing it, the tests showed a positive result, there isn't much more to it. The punishment is what it is, and if you're guilty so be it. I think it's actually kind of nice that they allowed him to corner fighters, which is more than can be said for Nick Diaz. Hermes is a likable guy and it is easy to feel for him, but I really don't know what reducing the sentence would have done other than showing if you test positive, coming in apologetic and polite will cut your suspension period in half or something. I don't think that's the message to send in these early stages of the roid war.
Sariahmed: FACT. The only reason anyone would say Fiction here is because of what happened with James Toney. The boxer strong armed the commission basically stopping just short of playing the race card and had his suspension reduced to 180 days. You can call it whatever you want and you'll probably be right. But that doesn't make what happened to Hermes Franca all of a sudden unfair. It's unfortunate sure but it's plenty fair. Franca cheated and he admitted to it. I give him all the credit in the world for being a stand-up guy and just admitting it. But I can't feel sorry for him for not getting any mercy. Serve your time and come back and you'll be fine. He'll still be able to show up in fight corners during bouts. The CSAC should be ripped apart for how it handled the Toney situation. They basically caved to him. But they were fair in the Franca situation.
Score: 3 for 4. I'd make another murder suspect joke but the truth is you'd land the first 80 punches in a fight with Toney so you'd be okay.
5. The Krazy Horse Bennett vs Joe Boxer fight can live up to their first bout when they main event the second ShoXC card, August 24th on Showtime.
Newby: FICTION. Granted I am changing the question from "can" to "will" in my mind. I'm just reminded of rematches of great MMA fights and how often they actually deliver. Royce/Sakuraba 2 and Griffin/Bonnar 2 were both rematches to highly regarded bouts that ended in much less than memorable second performances. Even Liddell/Rampage 2 was much less of a bout than the first, albeit providing an exciting finish. It's safer to assume a rematch won't recapture whatever made the first bout so special, and then be pleasantly surprised if it does. Of course, this is depending entirely on my currently selective and potentially selective memory of great memories that have surpassed their original fights, but being as the Royce/Sakuraba and Griffin/Bonnar examples came to mind first, I think I'm locked in at Fiction. Lotfi, don't you go making me look stupid here.
Sariahmed: FICTION. This is simple here, I won't make you look stupid at all Caleb. Rematches are almost NEVER as good as the first fight. Never. Forget whether or not the first fight was any good. Forget Griffin v. Bonnar 2 or Royce v. Sakuraba 2. What about Liddell v. Jackson 2? Liddell v. Sobral 2? Ortiz v. Shamrock 2? Herring's 2nd chance at a UFC fight on a TV or PPV card? The good rematches are so few and far between. And it doesn't mean this bout still can't be good. It just can't be as good as the last one. Besides, who's to say Krazy Horse won't get arrested again. You can't guarantee he won't. So Fiction.
Score: 4 for 5.
6. The Kazuhiro Nakamura vs Ryoto Machida main card fight at UFC 76 should be seen as a turning point for real international competition beginning in the UFC.
Newby: FACT. I like this question. Going back scanning the past numbered UFC events, Cro Cop vs. Gonzaga is the closest profile bout I can find of a real "international" flair, but Nakamura vs. Machida seems a bit different. As the UFC continues to acquire more and more of PRIDE's former stars it stands to reason we'll be seeing higher profile bouts between true international stars as the skill of the opponents can carry the fight, instead of the marketability of the American born fighter. Of course having someone who speaks English is good for working in an American market, but Anderson Silva has become wildly popular without uttering more than a phrase or two of English. If anything, Silva seems to have been somewhat of a modern day trailblazer showing that a foreign, non-English speaker can carry an event. Of course not all have Silva's charisma that crosses across the language barrier easily, but the point still stands. The UFC is seeing an abundance of fighters from around the world come in as they seek to maintain their status as the number one MMA organization. And as the Shogun's and Big Nog's of the world move past their opening debuts to familiarize themselves with the U.S. audience, it is only a matter of time until international bouts dominate the top of several UFC events. Fortunately for your flag waving U.S. loyalists, we have a large and talented pool of guys that ensures the American boys won't get lost in the shuffle of increased talent. So, umm, yes. Fact, Machida vs. Nakamura is something of a turning point.
Sariahmed: FACT. Here's a genuinely interesting bout that SHOULD garner the fans interest come fight time. Nakamura and Machida are easily top 15 in the light heavyweight division and could put on a great fight. The problem is Machida might go and screw this all up plodding through the fight. So I'm a bit worried about saying Fact here. But I think Nakamura should push him and bring out the best in Machida. Since there is no American in the fight, the fans will really just want to see great action and they'll get it in this fight. As long as Machida doesn't screw it up, we can call it a turning point.
Score: 5 for 6, and don't totally blame Machida, it's not like Nakamura will be setting a stoppage record either.
Join us next week when two more columnists will debate a special Rankings Edition of Fact or Fiction where we'll ask if the #1 ranked fighters in each weight class deserve their spot. Then in two weeks we're back to live events as we'll be coming with a UFC 74-exclusive Fact or Fiction.