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Grappling with Issues – 2/18/11

Do you think Fedor Emelianenko could have made a comeback if his fight against Antonio Silva hadn’t been stopped by officials? Is it time for Andre Arlovski to hang up his fangs? Will the UFC put on a stadium show in the United States before making it to Madison Square Garden? Can “Bigfoot” Silva pull off an upset against his next Strikeforce World Grand Prix opponent?

Keyboard warrrrriors….come out to plaaaay-yay!

Welcome to Grappling with Issues, our site’s regular feature highlight insight and opinion from myself and, as it turns out this week, special guest contributor and Five Ounces’ workhorse Jeremy Lambert. My regular partner in crime, Adam Tool, had a personal situation arise and will be back in place next Friday. As always, just because we staffers get the fancy set-up, please don’t hesitate to offer your own feedback on the topics in the “Comments” section below.

If the Fedor Emelianenko/Antonio Silva fight had continued on to a third round do you think the outcome would have been any different?

Conlan: Absolutely – Emelianenko would have gotten pounded into an even finer pulp resulting in a referee stopping the fight rather than a ringside physician. “Bigfoot” was unquestionably the better, bigger fighter last Saturday night and the odds of Emelianenko pulling a rabbit out of his hat after sustaining so much damage seems unlikely regardless of how many times he’s weathered the storm before.

It’s also worth noting the Fedor fans remember from PRIDE, even Affliction, is different than the one who contemplated retiring to the chagrin of nameless accountants in Russia. Without even speculating on how his psychology might have been affected by the submission loss to Fabricio Werdum after a period of perceived invincibility, Emelianenko looks physically different these days. His body has gone from being doughy to dough-boy over the past few years, and when you’re fighting at his level you can’t afford to let your blade dull or rust. Ask yourself this question and then I’ll let you all move on to Jeremy’s response – in what area, not even areas, has “The Last Emperor” actually improved in since 2005? I’m waiting…

Lambert The outcome wouldn’t have been different but it would have been more disappointing as fans would have seen Fedor dominated for another five minutes with the outcome not in doubt and no “What if’s?” from M-1 Global and fans who can’t accept that Fedor’s best days are behind him. It would have been like reading this and expecting the greatness of Adam Tool but unfortunately being stuck with me for the week. I know Fedor has this reputation for coming back and winning when it doesn’t seem possible but in all those instances, they were brief moments of weakness. Kevin Randleman slamming him on his head, Kazuyuki Fujiti wobbling him, Brett Rogers‘ burst of ground and pound, etc… Those were all short moments in the fight. He was being absolutely destroyed on the ground against Silva for five long minutes and Silva showed no real signs of slowing down.

To answer Bren’s question though, the one area that Fedor has improved since 2005 is his wallet.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Touche!)

Where do you think the UFC will hold an event first: Cowboys Stadium in Dallas or Madison Square Garden in New York City?

Conlan: Madison Square Garden. While licensing is still an issue in New York, Dallas has hosted a UFC event before in the past, and the ticket sales in Toronto for UFC 129 have been insane, it’s important to keep perspective as I’m certain Dana White will given his past apprehension to promoting stadium shows.

Toronto was very much in NYC’s situation prior to recent legislation being passed allowing MMA into the region. Fans were starved for the sport, especially in regards to the UFC, and March’s event is being headlined by an extremely popular champion who happens to also be Canadian, Georges St. Pierre. The interest created for that particular recipe is phenomenal but also fairly unique. Cowboys Stadium is an amazing venue but would be extremely difficult to fill unless hosting a ridiculous line-up and even then it might be tough. White won’t risk watering down his product with a half-empty arena, while New York will become more and more realistic as the year unfolds. There’s no question MSG is #1 on the UFC’s list as soon as it becomes an option and, as such, I’m fairly certain fans will see a show take place there before “Jerryworld”.

Lambert I’m going to go with Cowboys Stadium just because I don’t know when MMA will be legal in New York. I think it will happen by the end of the year but you just never know. I figured Carmelo Anthony would be in New York by now as well and look how long that’s taking.

From everything I’ve heard about Cowboys Stadium, it seems to be the nicest and most impressive stadium in the US today and the perfect stadium for big time events. Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito did around 41,000 people for their fight, which was below expectations but still a huge number. I think UFC could easily top that number if they put together the right card, which they obviously would. You’re telling me that the super fight between Anderson Silva and St. Pierre coupled with another big fight or two wouldn’t out draw UFC 129? Now don’t get me wrong, if NY legalizes MMA on Saturday, UFC will run Madison Square Garden on Sunday, but right now Cowboys Stadium is there for the taking while there are still some hoops to get through for them to run MSG.

Based on their performances from this past weekend, which of the three alternates would you like to see get a shot in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament if another fighter cannot continue?

Conlan: Shane Del Rosario. He’s undefeated with finishes in all eleven of his fights including ten in the first round. Del Rosario also happens to be in his mid-twenties, be a legitimate “big boy” (6’3, 250 lbs), and appears to have a great head on his shoulders to match the ability and athleticism he offers inside the cage. He seems to be a star in the making and the type of exposure a win in the Grand Prix’s latter stages, let alone a victory in the tournament’s final, could give Strikeforce the type of fresh draw their heavyweight division would be able to promote strongly for years to come.

Lambert I have to agree with Bren on this but also state that of all the available options, Daniel Cormier would be my first choice as a replacement. Of Del Rosario, Chad Griggs, and Valentijn Overeem though, I’d have to go with Del Rosario because he has the best chance of actually winning should he somehow get into the tournament. Griggs will put on an exciting fight but he doesn’t have the ground game or wrestling to compete with guys like Fabricio Werdum or Josh Barnett and Overeem will do well for two minutes before his gasses out but Del Rosario is young, hungry, and well-rounded enough to really make an impact in the tournament. Plus he had the best win of the weekend as Lavar Johnson was much stiffer competition than natural light heavyweight Gian Villante and K-1 striker Ray Sefo.

Should Andrei Arlovski consider retirement after suffering yet another devastating knockout?

Lambert He should consider it but it won’t happen. I really like Arlovski. He’s a very nice guy and I’ve enjoyed watching him fight over the years but he’s never been able to take a punch and when you’re fighting heavyweights, that’s a recipe for disaster. Not even his beard can pad the punches of the hard hitters in the division. If Arlovski is going to continue his MMA career, he needs to strictly fight grapplers or completely re-invent his game. Take a year or so off, work on his Jiu-Jitsu, and come back with a whole different style because if he continues to box with the big boys, even if he out lands them 10 to 1, that one could be all his opponent needs.

Conlan: I’m not one to call for fighters to retire because it’s not my place to tell another person how to live their life. However, Arlovski’s inability to remain conscious is concerning and has hopefully merited passionate discussion on his long-term health amongst friends/family. There is no debate on the severe damage repeated concussions can cause to an individual’s brain and health in general. Arlovski is not a fighter who has been knocked out cold once or twice – seven of his nine losses have been come by way of strikes including three over his last four fights with particularly devastating results.

Do you see Antonio Silva getting by the winner of Fabricio Werdum vs. Alistair Overeem?

Lambert Well I have Overeem winning the whole tournament so should he advance, I’d have to say no. If Werdum beats Overeem though and we get the Silva vs. Werdum match up, I’d actually favor Silva in that fight despite having a loss to Werdum. Silva showed this past weekend that he’s going to be a tough out in this tournament and I was shocked at how many people were writing him off prior to the Fedor fight. He’s a well-rounded fighter, he trains at a very good camp, and his size gives him a big advantage. Overeem is a bad match up for him though as he’s just as big and is a better striker than Silva but Werdum is a good match up, as long as Silva can keep it on the feet and does get caught playing Werdum’s game, which is what he did in their first fight.

Conlan: Agreed, as I think it’s unlikely though of course I also thought Emelianenko would be able to handle Silva’s offerings and we see how that turned out. However, “Bigfoot” won’t have the same size advantage over Werdum/Overeem that he entered the ring against Fedor with, plus Werdum/Overeem both seem to actively train and have improved as a whole over the past few years. Werdum’s striking has definitely gone up a notch or two since he joined the Chute Boxe family while Overeem’s stand-up has been more than impressive as of late. Silva looks great against Emelianenko but I just can’t see him repeating the feat in the semi-final round of the Grand Prix.

TRUE/FALSE – Tonight will mark Lyle Beerbohm’s last appearance on a Strikeforce Challengers card.

Lambert TRUE. Win or lose I’d have to imagine this will be the last time we see Beerbohm on the lower level Strikeforce events. If he wins, one would think that he would graduate to the main card against a top lightweight like Josh Thomson. Should he lose though, it’s very possible that Strikeforce doesn’t bring him back. He’s been a slight headache for Strikeforce management and has voiced his displeasure with the organization not giving him fights. So as long as his fight tonight against Pat Healy doesn’t end in a draw or have a controversial finish, don’t expect to see ‘Fancy Pants’ on Friday nights anymore.

Conlan: Also “TRUE”. Regardless of what happens in Texas tonight Beerbohm deserves an opportunity to fight on Strikeforce’s main-card circuit. He’s beaten a handful of tough opponents, one of which could be Healy depending on how things play out this evening, and has a well-rounded approach to fighting that’s conducive to finishes whether TKO or submission. “Fancy Pants” also has a great backstory Strikeforce could use to promote (overcame addiction and prison to become a success) and a minor rivalry already in place with former lightweight champ Thomson based on a few online exchanges.

As far as the headache Lambert mentioned, my understanding is Beerbohm and Strikeforce’s brass have since resolved their issue and he’s been very open about apologizing for past negative comments about the promotion. And, frankly, with the way some of their fighters are treated, can you really blame him for being frustrated at the time (let alone now)?

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