by Damon Martin
“Five Hot Topics in MMA” by Damon Martin, MMAWeekly.com

1.The biggest heavyweight title fight in the history of MMA?

Fedor takes on CroCop: Obviously being in America, we tend to focus on the happenings of MMA around the states and sometimes lose sight of the events in Japan. Coming up in two weeks is possibly the most anticipated heavyweight title fight, with a worldwide audience tuning in to watch the undisputed top heavyweight in the world, Fedor Emeilianenko finally take on Mirko CroCop. Although neither fighter would ever be accused of ducking an opponent, this fight mimics the time we all had to wait to finally see Chuck Liddell take on Tito Ortiz. When these two finally square off, we will get to see a fight that has been on everyone’s wishlist for over 2 years now. If the casual MMA fan that has started to pay attention to the UFC wants to see an epic battle of heavyweights, pay the fee and get the Pride pay-per-view and watch possibly the top two fighters in that weight class go to war for the Pride Heavyweight title. CroCop’s skill and attitude would probably make him one of the biggest draws in the states if he ever made it to the UFC, and Fedor is making a claim to be the greatest fighter of all time.

2. Phil Baroni doesn’t agree with the Top 10 rankings for middleweights.

Although no one ever seems to really agree with a top anything list these days, Phil Baroni has a point when it comes to the recent list that was released. Phil has rekindled his career with his two wins in Pride and he stands a very good chance to win the recently announced 182lb Pride Grand Prix, if he fights like he’s capable of. I think the biggest problem that Baroni will have ever being considered a top 5 competitor will be the fact that the UFC has the top 185lb fighters in the world. For as much grief as people give the UFC about how much better the Pride heavyweights are, the middleweights in the UFC are leaps and bounds ahead of the fighters in Pride. Rich Franklin, Matt Lindland, Evan Tanner…the list goes on and on of fighters on the UFC roster that I believe would honestly be the number 1 guy in Pride. Baroni has a legitimate beef that he’s not on the list and his latest victim, Ryo Chonan is on there, but even with a solid comeback in Pride, he would still be an undercard performer in the stacked 185lb UFC division.

3. Ivan Salaverry being released is a travesty.

I understand that fighting is a business and when you get put on as a main event draw in the first ever full show the UFC has produced on free television, and your performance is lackluster, you can land in the dog house, but to release Ivan Salaverry, the UFC has made a huge error. Granted, Salaverry looked slow and tentative throughout his fight with Nate Marquardt, but he dominated both Tony Fryklund and Joe Riggs and I don’t think one loss by decision is reason enough to release a fighter the caliber of Salaverry. Looking much deeper into this situation, you can start playing conspiracy theories that Salaverry’s relationship with former UFC star, Tito Ortiz, played into this release somehow. Tito Ortiz has been very vocal about the UFC’s decision to deny his sponsorship of Salaverry before the fight, and with Ivan being released so suddenly, one can only question if maybe Dana White’s grudge with Tito Ortiz is starting to reach other fighters.

4. Can Frank Mir ever return to form and prove that he is truly a champion?

Now that Frank Mir doesn’t have the added pressure of returning to the UFC only to have his first fight out be against new heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski, he will have the time needed to really regain his skill and confidence necessary to compete inside the octagon. Mir’s presence and personality are top notch and the UFC would be very lucky to have him back at 100%. Regardless of how many great fighters are out there in the lower weight classes, the Americans love to see the heavyweights and Mir was probably the UFC’s best hope for a fighter they could really get behind with the right marketing. Andrei Arlovski is a great fighter and with a few more wins he very well may be the dominating champion that the UFC wants, but American fans always want to see an American as champion. I remember the night I met Frank Mir at UFC 47. He was at the post fight party and no matter how many fans came up asking for an autograph or picture, he smiled and signed everything and posed for every photo, never looking like he wanted to walk away or not give the fans the chance to meet him. I, for one, really hope Mir can come back and give the UFC another top flight heavyweight contender.

5. Are the “Ultimate Fighters” good for the UFC???

In a quick answer yes, all the guys who were on season 1 of the “Ultimate Fighter” reality show are a good media boost for the UFC. These guys are being made instant stars because of their appearance on the show and seeing as all of them have been victorious in their official debuts, the logic sticks. But here’s the problem…a lot of these guys are getting a shot ahead of so many veterans that really deserved a shot first and a great many fighters that have worked for the UFC for years get put on the undercard of a pay-per-view to make way for the “Ultimate Fighters.” I think this puts so much pressure on them to perform and it will be very interesting to see when one of these guys gets put in with a proven veteran who is going to make a name for themselves by destroying a “television star.” What happens if they finally put an unproven fighter like Josh Koscheck in against someone like Frank Trigg? All of these guys have a huge target on their back, and only time will tell which of these guys are legitimate contenders or pretenders getting by on television fame.