Welcome back to another edition of the Duel. Our leaders are away overseas and my head has been buried in a deep dark place. No, not there, I meant in the sand. I’m like the myth about the ostrich when I get frightened. Enough, being kind enough to join me this week — well actually it was last week — is Nokaut.com editor Mr. Randy Harrison. I thank him greatly for his patience.
Off to Duel:
1. Ken Shamrock’s failed steroid test will put a black mark on an already down turned career.
Harrison: TRUE. Of course it will. It won’t be a bigger mark than what’s already happened between the Kimbo nonsense and his seemingly neverending string of losses in the past four years, but it will be a black mark none the less. I was asked this question in another form and I said that it was likely for the best if Shamrock retired before damaging his legacy further, but I honestly think that it’s too late for that as well. Shamrock was a legend of the sport and someone that was thought to be one of the premier trainers in the game back in the day as his Lion’s Den camp produced quality fighters. After making his return from professional wrestling, he’s done nothing except lose and add layer after layer of tarnish to his name and his past accomplishments. This steroid test isn’t going to take anything away from what he’s already accomplished, but those are so far in the past you have to wonder if anyone would even remember them regardless of his breaking of the rules now.
Huckaby: FALSE. You actually convinced me to go the other way. How can you put a black mark on a career that is arguably blacker than any color Crayola could make? I think the steroids can and did hurt the legacy of someone like Royce Gracie that was still considered a founder of the modern sport despite the Matt Hughes fight. At this point he could get pulled over for drunk driving and spousal abuse and I don’t think it would be the top story of the week. I’m 100% open to guys fighting or performing in any way until they’re ready to hang it up. But this is no Joe Montana on the Chiefs at this point.
2. You favor Rich Franklin over Wanderlei Silva at UFC 99.
Harrison: TRUE. Silva may have caught lightning in a bottle against Keith Jardine, but I firmly believe that the time of the truly dominant Wanderlei is gone. Franklin may have been destroyed in the clinch by Anderson Silva on two separate occasions, but I would hope that he would have learned that lesson before this upcoming bout. Franklin may be a little far away from his eight-fight winning streak from years past, but outside of the Silva bouts he’s been able to put on strong showings and solid performances. That even takes into account the split decision loss to Dan Henderson earlier this year. Silva’s long winning streak may have been more impressive (16 wins, 1 draw, 1 No Contest), but that is even further in his rear view mirror. Franklin has looked good recently for long stretches in fights, while Silva has only had flashes in his bout against Chuck Liddell and the short burst of violence in the Jardine fight. Since 2005, Silva’s been 5-5, but that number is a bit misleading as he’s lost four fights out of his last five. As much as I love Wanderlei as a person and as a fighter, it’s very likely that his time has come and gone while Franklin still has plenty left in the tank. It won’t be easy and I don’t favor him by very much, but I think that Franklin should be able to stick and move enough to get a decision win.
Huckaby: TRUE. This was the first time I’d really considered both sides of this fight after going back and forth multiple times I’m going with an early Franklin advantage. On the Silva side I will say Franklin’s chin was questioned against Anderson Silva but you can’t compare him and Wanderlei just because they’re Brazilians with similar styles. Really they’re not. Well, fine, they are Brazilians but Silva is more accurate and smells blood in a much different, but deadly, way. On the Franklin side I will say the final nail in this coffin is how far Silva is from his dominating days. Franklin should hold the advantage on the grappling side and as long as he doesn’t get overwhelmed he should be fine and send Wandy one more notch down. I’m just afraid if he eats one big shot and stumbles backward that won’t end well.
3. Kimbo Slice, expressing interest in a boxing career, would not do well at all in the sport.
Harrison: TRUE. He could do well in the sense that Butterbean does well, but I think that even that is giving Kimbo too much credit. He’s got some power in his hands as we’ve seen in his EliteXC fights and his streetfights, but his chin is questionable after the Petruzelli KO and that’s not good when you’re looking at a start in boxing. I could see Kimbo doing well against very, VERY low-level fighters and some glorified Toughmen, but if he was ever to get into the ring with a well-trained, experienced and hungry professional fighter, he’d be eaten alive. There is no way that Kimbo would be able to stick with someone who had serious boxing training and it’s very unlikely that he’d be able to land a lucky punch or two even if he didn’t get hammered right out of the gate. That’s not even getting into Kimbo’s lack of cardio, which reared its ugly head in the bout against James Thompson. If Kimbo can’t keep his wind for thirteen minutes of an MMA bout, how would he be able to have the gas to go for thirty minutes in a ten-round fight? This is all not even taking into account that Kimbo is in his late-thirties and would be hard-pressed to gain the skill necessary to make a boxing career successful at that advanced an age. Kimbo could be a boxing sideshow or possibly a feature freakshow attraction in Japan, but to suggest that he could have a successful boxing career is laughable.
Huckaby: TRUE. I’m not sure how I respond to that with anything anyone would read. You pretty much just covered everything, especially how you’re right that going 12-0 against all winless opponents is completely acceptable in boxing. Heavyweight boxing may look boring now but don’t mistake that for meaning they’re bad boxers compared to those in the past. Any of these top heavyweights would make quick work and would even with 20 prelim bouts to warm him up.
4. Affliction will actually put on a show to counter UFC 100.
Harrison: FALSE. It sounds like a good idea in theory, but I just can’t see them trying to go up against the UFC on what will likely be one of the biggest nights in the history of the company. When you add in that Floyd Mayweather is apparently looking to make his return to boxing on the same night, there’s even less of an available market in combat sports for an event like Affliction. Thinking about it from a logical standpoint, it’s hard to think of where Affliction would even be able to air the show considering that HBO could be tied up with Mayweather while the PPV market will be all over the UFC. Network TV won’t take a chance on an unproven commodity like Affliction, basic cable might, but the show would likely end up on a network with no previous MMA ties that would mean most casual fans would miss it, and Showtime is likely not going to get involved based on their deal with Strikeforce. When you also consider that Affliction would have to restructure contracts that fighters have already signed to make up for their lack of PPV revenue, this seems like it’s fuel for the rumor mill rather than an actual possibility.
Huckaby: FALSE. Would you care to wrap up the Middle East crisis now? Perhaps our economy? You’re right, absolutely no broadcast company makes any sense whatsoever, even less if you factor in Affliction being Affliction and not exactly show past success to impress them into doing it. I think television is different than most companies in that they’ve got a gentlemens agreement not going up against major programming. Super Bowl? NBC shows a Night Rider marathon. American Idol finale? ABC shows some John Stamos show. CBS puts on the Oscars? FOX puts on…. well a great new show that will get crushed and canceled. That’s how FOX rolls. Point being, television doesn’t usually go out of it’s way to compete against major events. There is always the next day. Not to mention a repeat of Law & Order: SVU would cost less and get better ratings.
5. Bobby Lashley will one day follow in Brock Lesnar’s shoes and fight in the UFC.
Harrison: TRUE. If Lashley continues to learn at American Top Team, he’s got all the same tools that Lesnar has and is actually a little less beaten up from his time spent in professional wrestling. The UFC is always looking for the best fighters and the best draws and if Lashley can put together another couple of wins and look impressive while doing so, it’s not unlikely to think that Dana White and Co. would come calling to give him a shot against some of the best in their Heavyweight division. I would say that he’s maybe a year to two years away from even getting a sniff at the Octagon if they want him to have a fair shot at making the same type of impact that Lesnar has, but you’d be a fool to think that the UFC would pass up on someone as huge, as athletic and as talented as Lashley appears to be. They’re not number one because they pass on talent, so if Lashley can prove that he’s got the goods, he’ll be in the Octagon sooner rather than later.
Huckaby: TRUE. I wanted to be nitpicky but again I can’t argue with the logic. Lashley doesn’t have Lesnar’s name value but the UFC would still pay him the most and give him the biggest stage. Though Lashley does have farther to go than Lesnar and will have to avoid an upset or two in the next couple of years before he gets the realistic call. Of course they could sign him now and throw him in there but I don’t see the pressure to do so at this point. Let other people give him the platform to get a frontpage Yahoo story about beating Jason Guida and sign him up when you feel he can handle himself against decent opponents.
6. Give me your projected winner of the NCAA tournament.
Harrison: Harold Howard. My answer to who will win any tournament of any kind (outside of the Stanley Cup playoffs which isn’t technically a tournament but I digress) is always going to be Harold Howard. If you’re comin’ on, then COME ON!!
Huckaby: Kansas. My cutesy original pick was Kansas to repeat and while they’re currently in the Sweet 16 it’s hard to argue with Pitt at this point. They’re worn down and play too many close games but you can’t deny that 1-2 punch of Levance Fields and DeJuan Blair with the bonus of Sam Young. Reminds you of that recent Okafor/Gordon UConn team.
And that is another Duel. Even I’m voting for Harrison this week, he’s too good at this. Join us next week when two more MMA writers will battle it out in The Duel!