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MMA Roundup: Wanderlei Silva, Lesnar, Couture, Liddell

By on June 23, 2010

wanderlei silvaThere’s plenty to discuss right now- including what I’m dubbing as “the most disappointing MMA news of the year so far”. Tomorrow we’ll have final looks at last weekend’s WEC event and the TUF 11 finale, and we have Fedor Emelianenko vs. Fabricio Werdum (as well as other fights) to look forward to, but for now, let’s talk news.

Disaster Strikes! Silva Out, Replaced by Leben Against Akiyama

Yoshihiro Akiyama, better known on many MMA forums by the puzzling and rather hilarious nickname of “Sexyama”, will not be facing an axe murderer on July 3rd…he’ll have to settle for a crippler, instead. In news that instantly sent me into a spiral of depression, one of our semiannual viewings of glorious Wanderlei Silva violence has been ruined by what is being reported as fractured ribs. And just like that, we already have a reported sub, as Chris Leben has stepped up on the heels of a knockout win over Aaron Simpson.

It’s not that Leben and Akiyama won’t put on an entertaining fight, as both will clearly be down to put it all on the line, as they have in the past. However, there simply is no substitute for Silva, and it sucks to see that the ongoing trend of injuries to MMA fighters will continue probably for good. It’s strange- fighters are fighting less often, but seem to be pulling out of fights with injuries more often. Anyway, enough about that. On to less-depressing matters.

Lesnar and Couture Hug it Out

It’s always heart-warming when people who beat the living snot out of each other can enjoy activities like hunting, fishing, and beating the crap out of each other again, but just for practice this time. Such is the story of UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture and current UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar, who just finished some training time together in Lesnar’s Minnesota gym and have released a video of the lovefest to commemorate the event.

For his part, the always-articulate (and diplomatic) Couture gave Lesnar his props, saying that while he may not be quite as heavy as before, he is just as strong thanks to his new emphasis on being leaner. He also said that Lesnar has used the last year to greatly improve on the technical aspects of his game, making him a more dangerous opponent for Shane Carwin in the process. Couture and Lesnar agreed that Couture wasn’t the type of guy to come into Lesnar’s gym and try to take over, and Couture simply noted some differences between the two, such as that Lesnar seems to “taper off” a bit quicker in his workout sessions, probably due to his being bigger than Couture is.

Aside from that little shot, the two seem to have gotten along quite nicely. It’s good to see Lesnar embracing some aspects of the sport, such as camaraderie between former opponents, that he didn’t seem to “get” early on in his career. I’m not sure how training with Lesnar will help Couture in his fight with former boxing champion James Toney, but it’s not like Couture isn’t already prepared to walk into a cage at this very moment and destroy that guy, so whatever.

Speaking of Lesnar, he also commented on Fedor possibly retiring (“He’s the greatest champion ever, of all-time, in his own little world. Good for him.”) and former WWE Champion Dave Batista getting into the sport (“Get in line, everybody and their dog wants to get into fighting”). I actually really enjoy Lesnar’s frank quotes and opinions, even if Fedor probably doesn’t have the kind of ego that Lesnar may believe he has.

Liddell Done…or Not?

Not so fast, Dana White! Though White swears up and down that Liddell will never fight again, Liddell is still unsure about whether he will retire, citing how good he felt during training and how well he was doing against Rich Franklin up until he over-committed with a big right hand near the end of round one, eating a right hand counter in the process.

“I thought I did great before I was caught. I have to look at it some more and think about it. I think I looked good and I definitely was in great shape. I could have kept that pace up for another four rounds, without a doubt,” Liddell said to Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports. The thing is, it’s not just about keeping pace and mixing up your strikes. If you can’t eat a counter-punch with any consistency while remaining conscious, what can you do?

Still, my brother and I had a talk about this, and it’s hard to say with any accuracy that Liddell fighting again would be “unsafe”. If he was 32 would we be saying he should retire? How about 27? It’s not as if Liddell took a lot of punishment in his career up until about 2-3 years ago. If he wants to fight again, I wouldn’t be among those to predictably proclaim that it’s a travesty. It’s funny that people are so worried about a guy getting knocked out another time or two in the cage, when the repetitive beatings taken in sparring are probably just as dangerous, if not more so. If Wanderlei Silva, Keith Jardine, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and others who have been on the receiving ends of brutal knockouts in recent times are still fighting, I don’t see why Chuck can’t, too.

Quick Shots

–I mentioned former WWE Champion Dave Batista earlier (who wrestled under the very creative name of “Batista”). Well, Batista says that he will be fighting for Strikeforce, but a spokesman for the promotion has said that Batista has definitely not signed with the organization. We had a similar issue with Jose Canseco a while back, if you all remember. Canseco seemed to think he was a lock to become a Strikeforce fighter, and the company had to come out and embarrass the guy by essentially saying, “Uh…no.”

If fellow former WWE champ Kurt Angle is crazy for his annual “I’m going to fight in MMA” comments, Batista is doubly crazy for thinking he can make a true splash in the sport at 41 years old. Batista never displayed out-of-this-world athleticism like Angle or Lesnar did in his WWE days, and has no combat sport experience to fall back on. At least Angle would have among the best amateur wrestling credentials in the sport if he ever took the plunge. Perhaps Batista figures that if Herschel Walker can get a few easy fights and some sponsors at his age, he can do the same? Certainly he hasn’t been hit with a steel chair enough times to think that he can become a future champion in a reputable organization at this point in his life.

–There is a big deal being made of Shane Carwin supposedly not doing any media during the last part of the lead-up to his fight with Brock Lesnar on July 3rd. According to the man himself, he simply isn’t working with media directly at this time, and is instead doing media appearances booked through Zuffa until the fight goes down. Carwin mentioned that all the little 15-minute interviews add up, which makes sense. It seems that there are about 10,000 MMA websites anymore, and most fighters (Carwin included) have been great about doing interviews for any of them, even if no one has heard of them before. Having said that, Carwin isn’t doing anything wrong by limiting his media appearances for the last month or so until the biggest fight of his life.

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