by MMAWeekly.com Staff
1. Okay, So Here’s One More Opinion About Who’s Number 1 at 205…
Everyone and their brother has their own idea about who is truly the number 1 fighter at 205lbs. Let’s break it down fighter by fighter. First off you have the new frontrunner in Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Okay, so if you look at his track record prior to the Pride Grand Prix, he didn’t have that many impressive wins, but he had the toughest fights on his way to the finals. He was the definitive underdog when he blasted Quinton Jackson in their fight. He had an unbelievable war with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in which he showed tremendous heart pulling out a decision win. He had his hands full with Alistair Overeem, who raised his stock quite a bit with his run in the tournament as well, but Shogun pulled out another great victory. And last but not least he face stomped one of the most unpopular fighters out there in Ricardo Arona, which I’m sure garnered more than a few new fans.
Then you have Chuck Liddell whose list of wins could be a career top ten list. He’s beaten Babalu, Randy Couture, Jeremy Horn, Tito Ortiz, Alistair Overeem and the list goes on. Chuck is very much on the top of his game right now and he may have a very long run as the UFC Light heavyweight champion. I think it’s pretty much assumed that we’ll never get to see him take on a top fighter from Pride anytime soon, but he stacks up pretty well against anyone out there. And how about Wanderlei Silva? MMA is just like any other sport out there and it’s always a big game of “what have you done for me lately?” Never mind the fact that before the Grand Prix started he was the definitive number 1 fighter and he looked almost untouchable when you saw him fight. For whatever reason, he looked slow and tentative when he fought Arona and honestly got dominated. But now Wanderlei is like a wounded animal and he may come back with a new fire that could spark a string of wins that will make people remember why he was undefeated in his weight class for so long.
I think that those are the top 3 and I don’t think anyone is wrong putting any one of them as number 1. I guess we’ll just have to wait it out and give each of those guys a few more fights to see where it all shakes out at.
2. Elvis Sinosic In The Co-Main Event Against Forrest Griffin??
First off, I’m very sorry to hear that Ian Freeman was injured and now has to retire. He was a great fighter and a true warrior for MMA. That said, now that he’s out, and with 4 weeks left to go the UFC replaces him with Elvis Sinosic. Now, let’s not get in on the fact that Elvis really isn’t made for the 205lb weight class. He could easily cut down to 185 where he may be able to pull off some victories, but I just don’t see the logic in putting him in against Forrest Griffin. The guys from the “Ultimate Fighter” already get enough slack from people who are ready for some of these guys to start taking on top tier talent, and I honestly believe Forrest is a guy who could hang with some of the best out there right now. I guess the logic is that Forrest is becoming one of the most popular fighters in the UFC and they don’t want to feed him to the wolves just yet, but I think their had to be another fighter out there that could lend some more legitimacy to this fight than Sinosic. If Tim McKenzie is healthy, he’d be a great opponent, or how about Vernon White…he’s got a record similar to Sinosic but he always comes ready to fight and after the performance he gave against Liddell, he deserves another shot in the UFC. My point is that Elvis being back isn’t a bad thing, I just don’t see him as a co-headliner for a show that is a month away and only has 3 official fights.
3. “Ultimate Fighter” Season 2
The new season of the “Ultimate Fighter” show is on and so far so good. The ratings have been solid and the promotion that the show has been getting on Spike is absolutely tremendous. You can’t turn on that station without seeing at least one preview for the show. This season it looks like they are focusing more on the training and less around the house, which could be a problem down the road…here’s why.
A lot of fans that watched the first season didn’t like the reality part of the show, they mostly just wanted to see the training and the fights. And the fights were pretty solid throughout. But the fight that got the biggest ratings and had the most people talking about it was the showdown between Koscheck and Leben. They legitimately had problems with each other and instead of letting it boil over in the house, Dana White made the smart decision and said, “go fight and the loser goes home.” That was brilliant television! Personalities are what made the show so great. Diego with his channeled lightning. Forrest and Stephan with their humor. And of course Mr. Personality himself, Chris Leben, lost twice during the show and is still one of the most popular guys to come out of that season. The hardcore MMA fans will probably watch the show no matter what, but the new fans need to learn the sport to understand it and watching these guys train and get ready for fights is great education. I just hope that when the show is over, the casual fan remembers some of the fighters from this season the way they rally around a guy like Nate Quarry, who never even fought on the show, but now gets some of the loudest ovations when he steps into a fight. Why? Because television viewers got to see another side of him…not just the guy who steps into the octagon to beat up his opponent.
4. A Healthy and Focused Josh Barnett Could Be Number 1
I know I wrote the article that said “Fedor could be the best we’ve ever seen” and I’m not retracting that statement, but do you remember when Josh Barnett was on the top of his game, how good he was?!? Barnett was ready to explode and really be the champion that the UFC wanted for their heavyweight division when he had his steroid incident and was let go. First, I really think letting Barnett walk away was a bad decision on the part of the guys at Zuffa because Josh made a mistake and he owned up to it, but he was still an amazing fighter that deserved another shot. The problem that I think Josh faces is that with his shoulder injury last year and with his other job in New Japan Pro Wrestling, he may never truly focus on fighting again and that’s sad. He’s in a similar situation as Frank Mir, except he was seriously injured and we again may never know how great of a champion he could have been either.
Barnett stood toe to toe with Pedro Rizzo, back when he was still a legitimate top 5 fighter. He made Randy Couture look bad in their fight and even though Randy was undersized going in, no one had really made Randy look bad in any fight. I wish we could see him return to fighting full time and really see what he could do in the Pride heavyweight division. I think he’ll beat CroCop if they fight again, and I would love to see him match up with Nogueira. I don’t think anyone is beating Fedor anytime soon, but that would still be a phenomenal match-up. I hope Josh comes back and stays with MMA for a while and reminds people why he was considered to be one of the best fighters in the world just a couple of years ago.
5. Rich Franklin Is The Next Big Thing
Rich Franklin is now the coach on the “Ultimate Fighter” show and he also happens to be the UFC Middleweight champion…on top of that he is poised to be one of the stars that the UFC will rely on for years to come. When Rich beat Ken Shamrock some months ago, he was vaulted into the public eye and it was only a matter of time before the Cincinnati kid made even bigger waves. Then he had a great performance defeating one of the best fighters in the world today when he unseated Evan Tanner as champion back in June. And now, the former school teacher is the coach on one of the most popular cable shows on television, the future is very bright for Rich Franklin. Rich is truly a class act and one of the most genuine people in this industry. He doesn’t talk smack about his opponents before or after they fight and even in the midst of cutting weight the day of a fight when many fighters are apt to want to be left alone (and for obvious reasons I might add!), Rich still poses for pictures and signs autographs for fans. Rich is humble and always respectful when talking about anyone in MMA. I think that Rich Franklin is the definition of what people should be talking about when they are looking for a role model for the ultimate mixed martial artist, and I for one, am glad to see him succeeding. And just to think, after his loss in Japan to Ryoto Machida, he honesty didn’t know if the UFC would have him back and contemplated retirement. I know we need good teachers in this world, but I’m glad the school systems missed out on Franklin and we still have him in the UFC.