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The Friday Mailbag

I got a few good questions from you knowledgeable readers this week, pondered a few of my own, and got some big news from a fellow MMA pundit. Let’s get to it.

Issue 1-Jorge Gurgel has to be the luckiest guy in the UFC, Why is it that he does not have to face better competition? A lot of guys only get one or two chances to prove themselves in the UFC and this guy has had over 6 times. His wins are over guys who are no longer fighting in the UFC and his losses are to guys who no longer fight in the UFC. Why does the UFC let guys like Arlovski , Lawler, and many others go and not renew their contracts but still let this guy hang around and fight guys with the least amount of talent? Its not cause he is exciting cause the guy is horrible.
-Matt Blount

I have never been impressed with Gurgel and have always wondered what he did to sell under such a lucky star. He was whipped on TUF and lost in the Octagon too many times to be still be there as you pointed out. My theory is he’s just super-connected. He’s best friends with Rich Franklin and knows everyone in the BJJ community. He seems pretty well spoken too, so I’m guessing Dana likes him as a friend more than a fighter, which is the real criteria for being in the UFC. You have to be a FOD (Friend of Dana) to be in the Octagon. Great question and I wish I had a better answer for it, but unfortunately I don’t know Gurgel or anyone in his camp, or I’d ask.

Issue 2-With the demise of Pro Elite, I would rather see a lot of the fighters migrate over to Strikeforce then Affliction. While the shows may be on smaller scale, I think Strikeforce shows more stability. Affliction hasn’t shown me they will stick with MMA event promotions. Stirkeforce seems to be following a smarter game plan. They have earned a faithful following in Northern California and the Northwest. By all reports the Denver show they just held went off well. Even Dana White shows them some respect. What do you think?

Right now the path to longevity in MMA promotions is to know your place. And while Dana White is in power that place is to stay small and regional. I think everyone respects Strikeforce because they’ve kept their ambitions in check and taken a long-term, incremental approach to success. They never tried to be bigger than they are and never tried to take on the UFC, which is pure suicide at this point. Sportfight is also a respected promotion and I’m sure they’re going to get better and better with all the talent up in the Northwest. The Ultimate Warrior Challenge is a young promotion in the DC area that shows a lot of promise as well. I was bummed to see King of the Cage go down with ProElite and I hope Terry Trebilcock will bring it back to life. Before they bellied up, they boasted a roster of who’s-who in MMA that have come up through their ranks including Anderson Silva, Rampage, and Urijah Faber.

Issue 3-Women’s MMA is definitely the most intriguing niche, but I don’t know that it has a great deal of longevity… unless they do something NOW. Carano and Santos is a fight I want to see about as much as any men’s fight left for the year but other than that I don’t have a whole lot else. What will Affliction do after those two fight? Sure you can put some of the other girls in front of them but there isn’t enough depth right now to keep the interest. If Santos gives Carano the fight of her life and then destroys the next couple chicks because they aren’t near her level, Affliction won’t be able to keep that on a main card for long. Golden Egg? Nah, if it is a golden anything, women’s MMA could be a Golden (gate) bridge. They do need something other than the senior’s tour version of the heavyweight division. If they can start getting some focus on new fighters that they can grow into big names then they might have something.
-Michael Moore in response to my “Golden Egg” OpEd piece.

As I said last week, 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.

Issue 4-Whether or not Gegard Mousasi is the real deal will only be determined if he joins the UFC. With the exception of Fedor, all MMA arguments need to be settled in the Octagon. There’s too much corruption in the Japanese promotions to consider their champions legit until they’ve fought under the state sanctioned restrictions of the various athletic commissions. While I agree that he’s definitely no Houston Alexander, he could be a Dan Henderson – a great fighter, but not the best.
-Kevin Liebertz

Great point. Dangerous Dan and a lot of others who came over from Japan disappointed in the Octagon. Mousasi is a legitimate middleweight contender, but until he swims in Dana’s pool of sharks, he can only be regarded as a snorkeler instead of a Great White Hunter. You have to give the guy credit for accomplishing what he did-Kang, Manhoef, and Jacare-and he’s only 23, but he needs a serious test to solidify his place under Anderson Silva’s boot heel. I would love to see the UFC snatch him up and give him a baptism by fire against Nate Marquardt or even Jason MacDonald.

Okay, I have to gloat a little bit over the WEC card last Wednesday. I picked the Donald Cerrone -Rob McCullough fight to be every bit as entertaining as any fight in October, be it Alves versus Koscheck or Lytle versus Taylor. Those two delivered and it’s an absolute shame it wasn’t televised. Go check out a hacked version somewhere on the internet and see for yourself. And none of you will believe me, but I picked Mike Brown to beat Urijah Faber. I can hear all of you saying, “Sure you did smart guy!” right now. I didn’t post it online or even discuss it with my closest fellow MMA writers, but I had a gut feeling Brown’s heavy hands and rapidly improving skills were going to be more than Urijah could handle. Sure Faber made a mistake, but I think Brown would have still beaten him anyway. Stop reaching for your bullshit flags and give me a moment in the sun. It’s only the fourth time I picked an upset (the others were Henderson over Silva, Griffin over Rampage, and Evans over Liddell).

Before any of you ask what the fuck happened to Paulo Filho, I’ll say now that I’m just as perplexed. It seems he was more interested in watching reruns of Friends with a tub of Nutter Butters than training for a fight. What a shame. I feel for the fans that bought tickets. I emailed Matt Lindland to see if he took the belt from Filho’s dressing room (they supposedly had a gentleman’s agreement to give up the belt if Sonnen won), but didn’t get a response.

Earlier this week I got an email from the man who launched my MMA career. Mike Carlson resigned as the editor of Real Fighter magazine to take a job at Muscle and Fitness magazine. It’s a step up, especially since M&F is increasing their MMA presence, but it’s still gut-wrenching to see such a classy guy leave the publication he started. With all the choices you astute readers have in MMA journalism, Real Fighter is a beacon of creative and profound content because Carlson had very high standards. Mike taught me that no editor ever emails to say “great job” the first go around and I spent many nights rewriting pieces until they were the best they could be. I know Muscle and Fitness will benefit greatly from having him.

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