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Editorial: The Post-Election MMA Landscape

Barack Obama is our new President-elect, but what’s really got everyone buzzing today is Paulo Filho’s inability to make weight for tonight’s WEC fight with Chael Sonnen. A pound or two is understandable. Three or four is embarrassing. Seven is unprofessional and indicates a pressing need to reevaluate which weight class he belongs in. Not making weight and downgrading the bout to a non-title fight is a slight to Sonnen, who won’t be able to call himself the last WEC middleweight champion after he wins since the belt is no longer on the line. Does Filho not take Sonnen seriously or does he lack the requisite self control to eat properly before a fight? Either way, he should be like John McCain and prepare a good concession speech that will ease the suffering of his bandwagon. Since it is election time, Mark and I will not dwell on the past, but look boldly into the future and hold out hope that some real change is on the horizon.

Is the WEC’s move to pay-per-view smart?

Kelly-No. This is America. We like things free and get pissed off when the price spikes anywhere above that. In these troubling economic times, Zuffa makes enough money that they can afford to give back to the MMA community. Wait…I sound like a democrat trying to redistribute wealth. Fuck that. If Zuffa wants to take the WEC to pay-per-view and make money, then that’s their right in a free market economy. The timing is bad since the average MMA fan has less disposable income to spend on pay-per-views, but the jump will also force them to make a better product in order to keep the fans with dough tuning in. It’s risky for Zuffa to take away something everyone has grown accustomed to seeing for free, but if they’ve got the cajones to take a leap of faith, then best of luck to them. I’ll be surfing the internet for hacked copies of WEC fights and saving my pay-per-view budget for the more intriguing UFC events.

Mark- Hey, I like redistributing the wealth…I’m not rich, so I’ll gladly take some money off anyone’s hands. But, the WEC needs a program to redistribute the attention. What’s the WEC again? Is that the one with Gina Carano? Or is that the one with Fedor? Hmm…maybe it’s the one that had the fights at the Playboy Mansion? Without an extreme amount of cross promotion by Zuffa, I can’t see WEC PPVs pulling the numbers needed to make it viable. It kind of sucks, because the WEC has a stellar product. The hardcore fans know about it but I don’t think most casual fans do, which is sad. I really do think a move like this could work but now is just not the right time.

Why is CB Dollaway vs. Mike Massenzio on the UFC 92 main card while Dean Lister vs. Yushin Okami is on the undercard?

Kelly-I know this is still a long way off, but the UFC announced a finalized card for UFC 92 that included CB Dollaway vs Mike Massenzio on the main card while proven performers are on the undercard. What gives, Chalifoux? Did you have anything to do with this? Not likely so I’m guessing Joe Silva was high on a Rockstar rush and couldn’t think clearly when he signed this fight. Equally as perplexing are the Matt Hammill vs. Reese Andy and Ryo Chonan vs. Brad Blackburn fights on the undercard. Given my rant in our last debate about Chris Lytle not deserving main card status and then turning in a fight of the night performance, maybe I should shut my cakehole about who fights on what card and go back to huffing glue, but this fight doesn’t deserve to be televised on the UFC’s biggest night of the year. I’m perplexed.

Mark- Kelly, I believe that was a clerical error. There is no universe where CB Dollaway deserves to be fighting on the main card while Matt Hammill and Yushin Okami are on the undercard. Listen, I would be alright with this if it was an attempt to increase PPV buys. A guy like Okami, who fans aren’t as familiar with, is occasionally bumped to the undercard in favor of a more popular fighter. But this is UFC 92…it’s already the biggest PPV of the year (in my opinion, although the Couture-Lesnar will do more buys). No one is buying this PPV because of CB Dollaway so the UFC should be using the rest of the card to showcase the higher-caliber fighters like Hamill and Okami. This is the one card you can get away with showcasing high-caliber fighters with low appeal because of the triple main event.

Is Gegard Mousasi for real or did he just get lucky in the Dream tournament?

Kelly-Gegard Mousasi is not Houston Alexander. A more appropriate comparison is to Ralph Nader because before 2008 he had modest wins and a small contingent of believers. Six fights later he’s got Santos, Kang, Manhoef, and Souza in his win column. He can strike and he can submit guys stronger than himself, as evidenced in the Dream middleweight tournament. Of his 24 wins, only one is by decision, a monumental feat in today’s MMA and has only two losses overall (both by armbar) in his five year career. Mousasi is no fluke and should be considered among the world’s top 10 middleweights. Unfortunately he has no plans to remain there. He’s stated his desire to fight at 205 pounds in MMA and like KJ Noons he wants to pursue a separate boxing career (let’s hope he has better management). You can’t blame the guy for seeking greener pastures since Dream has no one left to challenge him at 185 pounds and precious few prospects at 205. He’d be an exciting addition to the UFC middleweight division if Dana White could lure him over, but that seems unlikely. It remains to be seen where and when he’ll fight next, but the fact remains that Mousasi is definitely legit.

Mark-I really like the Nader comparison because Nader is a legit politician. At the same time, no one really pays attention to anything Nader does, they just pat him on the head, call him cute and move along. That’s the same thing you should be doing to Mousasi right now. Mousasi is legitimate, but he still needs to make the leap to one of the two big parties so we can see just how legitimate he can be. He’s a big fish in a small pond at this point and Dana White needs to bring him to the UFC because I think he is one of the top five middleweights in the world. Of course, moving up a weight class and trying to box are just two more things that will keep him in Ralph Nader’s scope. He’s in the discussion but only as a sidebar at this point, whereas he should be in the mix with the big boys at that weight level.

Is Anderson Silva trying to fight his way out of his contract?

Mark- Anderson Silva has been telling Dana White he wants to fight every three months. After his lackluster (depending on how you view it) performance at UFC 90, he told White he wants to fight again only a month later. White likes to say this is because Silva loves to compete and loves to fight, yet at the same time all Silva wants to talk about is retirement. I don’t want to believe it but it sure looks fishy and it wouldn’t shock me if Silva was just trying to get done with his six-fight contract sooner. I can’t imagine him leaving the sport, especially if he beats some big-name light heavyweights, but he also wants to box Roy Jones Jr. and was bummed when he couldn’t put that together. Maybe he wants to get out of his contract when he’s still young enough to make that happen (I don’t think we will ever see it) and maybe he’s just trying to finish up this contract so he can get more money the next time around, but I’m not buying that he wants to fight every month because “he loves it so much,” especially while he talks about having nothing left to prove and discussing his retirement.

Kelly- Although I had the good fortune of meeting him once, you are much more in tune with The Spider than I am. He’s a gracious guy who will honor his contract with the UFC without complaint (unlike someone whose name rhymes with Shmotoure), but he’s also bored. Whether he admits it or not, he was toying with Patrick Cote the same way BJ Penn toyed with Jens Pulver. Silva is like Alexander the Great, who stood on the edge of his empire and wept because there were no more worlds to conquer. It will be a year or longer before any of the promising 185 pounders are ready to challenge him and he doesn’t want to sit around waiting for that day as his thirties pass him by. I think he keeps throwing these bones out there-move to heavyweight, box Roy Jones, retire-because he’s dissatisfied with where he is now-on top of the world.

Women’s MMA deserves the support of a major promotion

Mark- A lot has been said lately, with the demise of EliteXC, about the possibility of Affliction or the UFC promoting women’s MMA fights. This is a terrible idea because if you give women an inch, they want a mile. We teach them how to read, they demand the right to vote. We let them drive cars, they demand equal pay. We give credibility to women’s MMA, then…? Seriously though, I really don’t think we’re at the point where either promotion could sustain a division of women’s MMA. Gina Carano is a big star but there aren’t enough Gina Caranos to make it feasible and while there are many gifted female fighters, I don’t think the talent pool is deep enough to consistently produce high-level fights. For now, as sexist as it sounds, it makes more sense for the UFC to have girls walking around the octagon with a number rather than fighting inside of it.

Kelly- You must have read my post last week where I said Affliction should pick up women’s MMA and run with it. Women’s MMA wouldn’t work in the UFC, but it would certainly be a good idea for Affliction monetarily. EliteXC pumped a lot of money into promoting those chicks and Affliction could continue the strategy and use women’s MMA to bolster their vaunted heavyweights. Carano is the face of women’s MMA, but she’s not the only one. Julie Kedzie, Amanda Bucker, Tara LaRosa, Cristiane Santos, and Shayna Baszler are all talented fighters. At the rate Affliction produces a show (once every six months seems to be their pace) they don’t need a deep talent pool. Those six women already named plus two more (say Kelly Kobald and Debi Purcell) could fight in a grand prix style and keep them afloat for eighteen months. Like the average red-blooded American male, I enjoy checking out the ring girls, but it’s also pretty damn entertaining when they smack each other around.

Chuck Liddell will reclaim the UFC light heavyweight championship before he retires

Mark- Yep. Most people will say no these days, especially because the sport of mixed martial arts is evolving and Liddell isn’t. He also fights in the most stacked weight class in the sport and the ranks of talented, versatile, young light heavyweights grows daily. Still, Chuck Liddell is a huge draw. I could forsee him being thrust into a situation like Brock Lesnar where he gets a title shot handed to him for the PPV numbers rather than earning it with wins. He has enough power to take out any other light heavyweight, so he would at least have a shot against most fighters. Still, he’s passed his prime and I don’t see him ever reclaiming his spot at the top of the food chain in the division, even if he manages to win the title again.

Kelly- Nope. Chuck is awesome and will go down in history as a legend, but his days on top of the LHW division are like a Marine’s days of finger-banging Mary Jane Rotten Crotch in her pretty pink panties…they’re OVER (that’s a Full Metal Jacket quote). Liddell is doomed by his own loyalty, like the band that continued to play as the Titanic sunk. He’s super-loyal to his trainer John Hackelman and his gym, The Pit in San Luis Obispo which he’ll never leave and is why he’ll continue to lose. Hackelman has taken Liddell as far as he can as a trainer so Chuck has become stagnant and predictable. His game hasn’t evolved in years because it hasn’t had to. He knocked everyone out so successfully that he never had to change gameplans. But now he’s lost three of his last four fights and Rashad Evans’ knockout proved that he can be deciphered and defeated. Unless he changes training camps or severely alters his tactics, I think we’ll continue to be depressed by the sight of The Iceman laying face down in the middle of the octagon.

Kelly Crigger is a freelance MMA writer and author of the book “Title Shot: Into the Shark Tank of Mixed Martial Arts” which you can purchase by clicking here. Contact him through his website at

Mark Chalifoux is the man behind the curtain at MMA Stomping Grounds and the Baltimore Sun. Check him out at