Editorial Column by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Another week gone by and we’re coming up on some of the biggest shows of the year…with Pride’s New Year’s Eve show, Tito Ortiz vs. Chuck Liddell 2, as well as UFC Fight Night tonight, there is plenty of MMA to talk about…and even more to debate about!
1. The UFC Should Sell The Farm To Get Cro Cop
A great many people have been discussing the possibility of the UFC signing away Mirko Cro Cop from Pride lately and while there’s no ink on any contracts as of yet, everyone seems to wondering where the Croatian knockout artist will end up. On one hand you have Pride who helped to build Cro Cop into one of the most feared fighters in the world…and then you have the UFC who have gained quite a bit of momentum as of late and are and will continue to be the biggest MMA show in the United States. Cro Cop has said that the numbers from both offers are pretty similar, but he has referenced to the fact that he really wants to hold the Pride heavyweight title, something he’s been wanting for a very long time.
The simple fact is the UFC needs to find a way to sign this guy no matter the cost. Now, the hardcore fans will understand why bringing in a legitimate top heavyweight contender would be so huge considering that the UFC hasn’t had a top-ranked heavyweight fighter since Josh Barnett left the Octagon some years ago. That’s no disrespect to Tim Sylvia, who is a very proud champion, but as long as he has no top contender to fight, he will continue to toil away at about #5 in the rankings as long as Pride has who they have.
A big argument of course is that the American fans don’t know Mirko Cro Cop so spending all that money to sign one fighter would seemingly be a bad move, but I disagree. The signing does a few things for the UFC…first off they automatically bump up the level of competition in the heavyweight division by leaps and bounds. They get a lethal striker with a left high kick that would end up on every highlight reel the company would ever use. They also, for the first time ever, sign away a top fighter from their rival organization in Japan. Pride has long been thought of as the untouchable organization that the UFC simply couldn’t compete with financially, but that obviously isn’t true as of late. Signing Cro Cop would be a huge deal for the UFC, and a huge blow to Pride…especially considering if they lose Cro Cop they really have no one to face Fedor outside of Josh Barnett, who currently is 0-3 against Mirko.
There you go UFC….do whatever has to be done to get Cro Cop. You missed out on the sweepstakes to get Quinton Jackson when you knew that would be a huge fight down the road for him and Chuck Liddell to go at it again…don’t miss out a second time around…sign Mirko CroCop…whatever the cost!
2. If Diego Sanchez Defeats Joe Riggs He Is The #1 Contender
I wrote previously that when Georges St. Pierre won the UFC welterweight title, he opened up the door for so many possibilities as far as match-ups down the road for the championship and I will say right now that if Diego Sanchez beats Joe Riggs, he should be next in line (after Matt Serra of course who is already signed to fight for the title) to get a shot at Georges St. Pierre and the welterweight title. I honestly believe that Matt Hughes deserves another shot down the road, but to me he needs to fight one more time before getting back to GSP. He’s earned the right to get a rematch, but this automatic, back-to-back fight thing already backfired on the UFC once with Arlovski/Sylvia 3, let’s not make the same mistake this time around.
Diego Sanchez is still undefeated. He’s still one of the most tenacious and exciting fighters to watch. He’s a cardio machine. He’s still unbelievably underrated despite all of what I’ve previously mentioned. Plus, he’s still known as one of the stars from the show that helped to put the UFC back on the map. All of those things add up to a huge title fight for Diego Sanchez vs. Georges St. Pierre. That’s the fight I want to see. I’ve seen GSP take on Matt Hughes…I’ve seen him fight B.J. Penn…and I want something new.
Diego Sanchez is the real deal people…and he very well may be the next UFC welterweight champion.
3. Paul Buentello Not Being In The UFC Is A Joke
While I’m ranting about the UFC’s heavyweight division being in shambles…much like it has been for the past two years, can someone explain to me why Paul Buentello is not in the UFC right now? I mean the guy brings it every single time he steps into the Octagon and he has to be one of the most exciting big men in the sport. Okay, so he lost by a flash knockout to Andrei Arlovski…he’s not even the champ anymore and Paul has gone on to knockout his last three opponents. The UFC was trying to bring up Cheick Kongo who was supposed to be the next “big striker” in the heavyweight division. That plan worked well until he fought someone who could take him down and then he looked like a fish out of water.
Paul is a very talented big man with extremely fast and heavy hands who actually can handle himself on the ground. He trains with American Kickboxing Academy, one of the top teams in the country and he simply loves to fight. He floored Tank Abbott and say what you will about Tank, but not many people have simply dropped him. I’m sure Paul is doing okay for himself in StrikeForce because they have been putting on some phenomenal shows as of late, but the UFC really needs to ante up and re-sign this guy. He deserves to be in the UFC…and I wouldn’t bet too much against him getting back in there after a few fights and taking a shot at the title. I really believe he is that good.
4. And That’s A Wrap For The WFA…
As I announced last week on MMAWeekly Radio, WFA president Jeremy Lappen was seeking legal action against the owners of the organization for lack of payment and general breech of contract and with that, the UFC has purchased the company and the WFA is no more. A cancelled second show, poor numbers from their first show, a lawsuit from the president and fighters jumping ship left and right just didn’t seem like a successful business formula for the WFA. Its sad when you really start to think about it just based on the potential that they put together with the first show. Maybe they did put too much money out there up front for guys like Quinton Jackson and Bas Rutten. Maybe they tried to step up and take on the UFC way, way too early. Maybe that’s why they won’t be around for a second show, but its never a good day to see a MMA organization crumble.
The positives from this happening are few and far between outside of the possibility of finally seeing Chuck Liddell get his long awaited rematch against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Not many of the fighters in the WFA have exclusive contracts anyways so we will probably see most of them pop up here or there no matter what, but the WFA seemed like it was ready to go to war for the American market and instead they went to battle and forgot to bring any guns.
5. Pride New Year’s Eve Continues To Deliver
While the card hasn’t been finalized yet, Pride looks to deliver yet another star studded affair with their “Shockwave” New Year’s Eve show this year. The Japanese powerhouse organization will once again throw just about every top name in the company out there to compete for the fans on December 31st. This year’s card is topped with current Pride heavyweight champion and pound for pound the best fighter we may ever see, Fedor Emelianenko taking on former K-1 standout Mark Hunt. On paper this may seem like a complete mismatch because Fedor is light years ahead of Hunt as far as overall MMA skill goes, but it will be fun to watch if these two guys stand in front of each other for very long.
The lightweight match-ups on the card are also shaping up to be something down right phenomenal. Takanori Gomi takes on Mitsuhiro Ishida in what could be one of the toughest fights on the card, but unfortunately it won’t be for the title which is just ridiculous by the way. Tatsuya Kawajiri faces off against the still undefeated Gilbert Melendez in what should be a phenomenal bout, while Shinya Aoki gets his toughest test to date when he gets Joachim Hansen in another lightweight war.
We still have a few weeks to go and we still have yet to hear an official announcement for the opponents that Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Josh Barnett and many others may face off against, but this is already set to be a spectacular card. Here’s hoping that the Pride officials take a few of these bouts and put them on a show for Fox Sports so the new American fans can see what Pride is all about. Should be a fantastic show!