As the dust settles on what was a very eventful couple of weeks in the MMA world, it’s time to reflect on some of the biggest happenings to occur recently, including the UFC’s signings of Tito Ortiz and Vitor Belfort, news on the upcoming Strikeforce show, and of course, the promotion’s signing of Fedor Emelianenko.
Sigh, Fedor Signs With Strikeforce
Well, that ended abruptly. Apparently, Fedor…or, more likely, Fedor’s manager Vadim Finklestein, got what they wanted from Strikeforce. After hearing Finklestein boast that they were speaking with “all the major promotions” (how many would that be, exactly? Two?), he and the top heavyweight in the world chose the California-based promotion that airs on Showtime.
Let’s get this part out of the way: it’s a disappointment that we won’t see Fedor in the UFC. People who are just listing the fighters who Fedor could face that are currently on the UFC roster are being short-sighted. You can’t just look at the fighters on the roster who Fedor could fight today. Look outside of the UFC at the best up-and-coming young heavyweights…most of them will end up in the UFC, also. That means Bobby Lashley will end up there (he already has said that the UFC championship is his ultimate goal), and don’t be surprised if Brett Rogers does, as well. If fighters like Andrei Arlovski or Tim Sylvia can ever reach the levels that they used to compete at, they’ll be there, as well.
The bottom line is that Fedor’s dance card will be primarily filled with fighters that Zuffa can’t be bothered to deal with. He will be fighting young fighters who still have some maturation ahead of them and journeymen, for the most part. There simply aren’t that many elite fighters who would pass up the chance to fight for the UFC, as Fedor chose to. Also, now that Fedor has burned the UFC by not accepting what Dana White whole-heartedly believes was a better deal, you can bet that the competition will become personal. Any time the UFC can sign a good possible opponent for Fedor away from Strikeforce, they will. And they won’t be letting any quality heavyweights go unless they are on a multiple-fight losing streak, as well.
Other than that, and the disappointment from knowing we will likely never see such fights as Fedor against Randy Couture, Frank Mir, and of course, Brock Lesnar, I suppose there are a few positives, here. That is, if you are a Showtime subscriber. Even then, Strikeforce will obviously be looking to move to pay-per-view before long. If they do based on the strength of a Fedor fight as the headliner, let’s hope they do so with caution: although Fedor is the best heavyweight in the world, he has never been a box office draw. Three of the promotions he has fought for in recent years are now dead and gone.
The More Things Change…UFC Signs Vitor Belfort and Tito Ortiz
Ah, just like the old saying goes, “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. MMA fans were hoping to hear that the UFC had signed Fedor Emelianenko, and instead heard that two former champions of the promotion were coming back in Vitor Belfort and Tito Ortiz.
That’s not to say that the signings won’t bring some extra excitement into the UFC, of course. It’s just a little underwhelming when we were all hoping for fresh matchups between Fedor and the UFC’s best heavyweights. Still, the signings will have an almost-immediate impact on UFC fans, as the planned UFC 103 main event has already been changed to reflect the roster additions. Originally, Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson were supposed to face off, and now it will be Franklin and Vitor Belfort, apparently at a 195 pound catchweight.
At this point, Franklin might as well be the 195 pound champion, and you have to wonder if he will ever make it all the way to 205 pounds. Even if he had faced Henderson, he would have been going against a fighter who makes his living primarily as a middleweight. Anderson Silva can get fights at 205, why can’t Rich Franklin? But, that aside, this is a more exciting fight, in my opinion. The best news to come of all this is that Dan Henderson will get his much-deserved title shot against Anderson Silva. Even though Silva was able to get angry and finish Dan convincingly the first time, I still think Henderson has the best skill set to give Silva trouble in a rematch.
As far as Tito goes, what can be said? Love him or hate him, the guy brings a certain level of excitement every time he fights. There are plenty of matchups to be had with Tito back in the UFC, thanks to all the roster additions the UFC has made in the last few years. At 205 pounds, we can see Tito against Franklin, Shogun, rematches against Forrest Griffin or Rashad Evans, or even another fight against Chuck Liddell to see if the Iceman can get his groove back. Hey, if Liddell can no longer dominate Ortiz, then we know he’s done.
I wouldn’t mind seeing Ortiz fight at heavyweight against Randy Couture, if Couture loses to Nogueira. If Ortiz was willing to face Fedor at about 215 or 220 anyway, then why not? Also, depending on how things go with Wanderlei Silva, there is a rematch to be had there that I’m sure Wanderlei would jump on if given the chance.
Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg Deserves Some Good Luck
Hopefully the fights go well at next week’s Strikeforce event, “Carano vs. Cyborg”. After all, we’ve had what seems like an unprecedented number of drop-outs from title fights in the event. Only the Carano-Cyborg fight remains untouched by injury, as we’ve seen Joe Riggs drop out of the Strikeforce Welterweight Championship bout against Nick Diaz (which I was really looking forward to), Josh Thomson drop out of his lightweight title defense against Gil Melendez, and the outright cancellation of Alistair Overeem’s title defense, thanks to his hand injury. Luckily, a great bout that was scheduled for Affliction’s third event was added in Gegard Mousasi vs. Renato “Babalu” Sobral for the light heavyweight championship.
Other reasons to tune in would include some sort of official announcement regarding Fedor’s signing (and who knows, maybe a look at who he will be fighting in his first bout?), and of course, seeing Gina Carano in general. The fact that she’s fighting is just a bonus, really.
As far as Fedor goes, Scott Coker has said that he will not fight for the title in his first bout (to “build awareness” of him in the States by giving him a non-title bout first), so who knows who he will be facing. It seems doubtful that Strikeforce would throw Brett Rogers to the proverbial wolves already, and Fabricio Werdum would be the likely choice to face Alistair Overeem still for the heavyweight title, probably on the same card that Fedor will debut on. Hopefully, we’ll hear more next Saturday night.
In the meantime, stay tuned as we will have an extensive preview of UFC 101 over the next two days, beginning with our look at the preliminary bouts later today!
by Jon Hartley for Fightmania.com
Tags: Alistair Overeem, Anderson Silva, Andrei Arlovski, Brett Rogers, Brock Lesnar, Chuck Liddell, Dan Henderson, Dana White, Fabricio Werdum, Fedor Emelianenko, Forrest Griffin, Frank Mir, Gegard Mousasi, Nick Diaz, Randy Couture, Rashad Evans, Rich Franklin, Strikeforce, Tim Sylvia, Tito Ortiz, UFC, Vitor Belfort, Wanderlei Silva