September 19, 2005

by Damon Martin
Damon’s Top Five Topics in MMA
By Damon Martin, MMAWeekly.com

1. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and the UFC

There has been a lot of speculation lately about the possible re-match of current UFC light heavyweight champion, Chuck Liddell and the last fighter on his record that holds a victory over him that he hasn’t avenged yet, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. When Quinton made his appearance on MMAWeekly radio last week he revealed that he still has fights left on his Pride contract and is still planning on fulfilling that contract starting with his fight on October 23rd.

One of the comments that “Rampage” made during the show was that Pride will bring fighters back regardless of whether they win or lose as long as they put on an exciting fight, where as with the UFC recently they have shown that they will drop a fighter after one fight that results in a loss (or other varied reasons as seen by Matt Lindland). Pride has definitely shown a loyalty to their fighters that the UFC has shown to very few of their top stars. With the release of Frank Trigg, Ivan Salaverry and Matt Lindland, the UFC has let go of three top contenders that any organization out there would be proud to display in a main event.

If “Rampage” came to the UFC, I’m sure it would be the standard 3 fight deal, and if he comes in and loses to Liddell convincingly, he’d be gone the next day. The UFC has just shown too much of a propensity to be very fickle with the way they treat fighters who lose and if Quinton is still being offered fights through Pride, I think he needs to stay overseas with the thought of job security well in mind.

2. Joey Villasenor vs. Robbie Lawler: This Fight Needs To Happen

King of the Cage is in the unique position to put on a fight between two fighters that a great many people would definitely tune in to watch. Robbie Lawler made his debut in KOTC on Saturday night and got a win under his belt. Joey Villasenor is arguably the best pound for pound fighter in the world right now who is not in one of the major organizations.

Although, I’ve never reserved my feelings when it came to the fact that I thought Robbie Lawler was too much hype, not enough talent, he has re-dedicated himself to the sport and working his way back to the top. At 185lbs he seems to be more at home and can now pack on the weight in muscle that I’m sure he lost when he drained himself to get down to 170lbs when he debuted in the UFC. Villasenor is a fighter that was rumored to be in Pride’s 183lb Grand Prix, but unfortunately it didn’t materialize, and now we have to wait to see what his next move will be.

I’m sure he will end up in Pride or another show soon enough, but he has the chance to prove why he is one of the best middleweights in the world and a main event fight against Lawler would go a long way to prove that fact. Villasenor is working with an injured shoulder right now, but when he’s back to 100% this is a fight that I would love to see and the fans would get a fight that could end up being a classic.

3. Pride Bushido: The Lightweight Tournament

Everyone always like to talk about “what if fighter A. finally fought fighter B?”…this tournament could prove to be the culmination of what happens when the very best lightweight fighters in the world match up in a tournament. The only really big names I see missing from this tournament are Vitor Ribeiro and possibly Josh Thompson, but otherwise pretty much everyone in this tourney is a top 10 guy with a real chance to win it all.

Yves Edwards, who is the uncrowned UFC lightweight champion, will make his second appearance in a Pride ring along with fellow American, Jens Pulver, who is looking to win the tournament and become the first fighter to win both the Pride and UFC lightweight titles. Takanori Gomi is widely seen as the top lightweight fighter in the world will have an unbelievably tough fight in his first round match-up with Tatsuya Kawajiri, who is another favorite to win the entire tournament.

Joachim Hansen, Hayato “Mach” Sakurai, Luis Azeredo, and Naoyuki Kotani round out the list of fighters competing in the tournament and honestly anyone could walk out champion when it’s all said and done. This could possibly end up being a truly legendary tournament and it’s only a week away.

4. Gannon In The UFC Is Absolutely A Joke

I don’t care how much potential this guy has or what the official press release says from the UFC about how he is a multi-time boxing champion, Gannon was signed for one reason and one reason only and that was his fight with street fighter, Kimbo Slice, which has become something of internet legend. My colleague, Ivan Trembow has reported the type of impact that could be felt from this signing, but the sad thing is that I don’t think the UFC cares what people think about it.

The truth is that Sean Gannon was signed because of the hype surrounding his fight with Kimbo and would have been brought in even sooner to cash in on the hoopla, but Gannon was so messed up after that fight that he needed many, many months to recover. There’s a good chance that his fight will end up on the main card of UFC 55 and I can’t wait to hear how Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan spin how Gannon landed in the UFC.

His official record reads 1-0 and he’s getting a shot in the UFC before guys who have spent the last few years battling it out on smaller shows, working 2 or 3 jobs to support themselves just hoping to get a shot at the big time and this guy slugs it out in some basement for “the honor of mixed martial arts”, getting pounded on bare knuckles for the better part of 10 minutes and he gets a contract with the UFC. I mean, honestly, what kind of a message does this send?

5. The Mid-Major Organizations In The U.S. Are Really Starting To Show Up

I know I already talked about putting Villasenor and Lawler in the cage together, but there is so much potential running around out there right now that some of the smaller shows are putting on cards that I can’t wait to see. The WEC has a card lined up for their Halloween show that could end up being really unbelievable. Tim McKenzie, who was most recently seen knocking out Bill Mahood in vicious fashion in Canada, will enter a four man tournament and has a chance to jump up in the rankings with a successful run. Ricco Rodriguez will return to try and get back to his winning ways after losing a tough decision to Ron Waterman, when he takes on Jimmy Ambriz.

John Lober makes his return to fighting after a long layoff when he takes on Marvin Eastman. I mean, top to bottom, this card is stacked. King of the Cage has put on some great shows lately and has the potential to put on some even better cards with their up and coming talent.

Meanwhile, out in Oregon, the Sportfight shows are getting better each time out. Matt Horwich, who has to be seen as one of the most resilient fighters to ever fight in MMA, won over the weekend beating Vernon “Tiger” White and despite his record, White is always a tough opponent, just ask Chuck Liddell. Jeff Monson, a grappling master, tacked another win onto his record when he beat Jay White and more and more fighters keep debuting in Sportfight that could have very long and successful careers in MMA.

MMA is getting bigger and bigger by the day and some of the lesser known organizations throughout the country are proving that they can hang with the “big boys” on any show card.