The news of personal sponsorships for Chuck Liddell and Anderson Silva from Bud-Light should really come as no surprise. We have reached a stage in MMA where the cream of the corporate crop wants to have their names associated with the industry, or should I say, with the UFC. It was only a matter of time before the UFC nailed a high profile sponsorship deal. The fact that Bud have taken their sponsorship to another level, including UFC fighters in their advertising campaign, tells you everything you need to know about just how hot the promotion is right now. Expect several other companies to come on board within the next six to eight months to have their company logo and cultural identities flashing across our television sets during UFC telecasts.
News that the EliteXC heavyweight champion Antonio Silva has tested positive for Boldenone, the same substance which Josh Barnett and more recently Stephan Bonnar have returned positive results on, comes as an incredible shock to me. It’s a disappointing setback from a fan’s point of view. I’m very much of the opinion that current doping policies being employed by the athletic commissions are of a standard which are indeed acceptable and knowingly or not, if something is in the blood stream that shouldn’t be, the buck stops with the athletes themselves.
Now this particular issue really frustrates me as a fan; why has Kenny Florian been matched up with Joe Stevenson? It was made perfectly clear that the Florian versus Huerta fight was for the spot of number one contender to BJ Penn’s UFC lightweight title. I’m not saying that I don’t want to see BJ take on Georges St. Pierre for the second time, not at all, but I just don’t think the situation is fair to Florian. Stevenson should be nowhere near the title picture after being the victim of one of the most one sided beatings I have ever seen; BJ completely blew Stevenson away and we don’t need to see that match up again anytime soon – no one does. This begs the question of why Florian has been penciled in to take on Stevenson. I like Stevenson and I think he’s a great fighter, but I fully expect Florian to take this one. However, let’s say he doesn’t. Florian would be knocked right out the title picture, just like that – and after all that hard work to get his shot, we could end up seeing BJ versus Stevenson for the second time in just over a year. UFC matchmaker Joe Silva should really be looking at these instances when coming up with the matches. It was publicly acknowledged that Huerta/Florian was for the number one spot, now it appears that it wasn’t. For the record, I expect Florian to take this one. BJ versus “KenFlo” excites me just as much as BJ taking on “GSP”.
Now it looks as close to official as we’re going to get – BJ Penn versus Georges St. Pierre 2; on the SuperBowl card in Las Vegas, Nevada. This fight will be incredibly electric. Two superb talents squaring off for the second time on the on one of the biggest nights on the MMA calender. And I think Penn will take it. GSP beat BJ the first time when, in my opinion, Penn was flat out gassed and wasn’t looking after himself to the extent that he is now. I expect it to be every inch as exciting as we all think it can be and will definitely reach the fourth, maybe even a match of the year, five round classic. It’s exciting thinking about it isn’t it? I can’t wait for this one.
Moving onto the 205 pounders, it got me down a little when Dana White made the apparent revelation that Wanderlei Silva would likely not fight in December, I really wanted the big guy to showcase his talents on the biggest stage of them all. Coming after three losses; Silva simply had to beat Kieth Jardine in his last outing and he did so convincingly. I’d love to see him take on Rampage in either November or January; I see that as their path, with the winner in contention.
I see the winner of Chuck and Rashad taking on Machida for the status of number one contender. Simply put, no one should go anywhere near Forrest and that belt until they have defeated Lyoto. Sets up an interesting 2009 for the light heavyweight division, that’s for sure.
I still can’t believe EliteXC’s reluctance to give Kimbo Slice some legitimate competition. As if the news that Sean Gannon was lined up wasn’t bad enough, now we look forward to Ken Shamrock stepping up as his replacement. Let’s be honest here, Shamrock is finished. He may be a legend, but his pride won’t let him do anything other than stand and trade with Kimbo, and be knocked out. I hope I’m wrong but I can’t see him fighting Slice any other way.