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Grappling with Issues – 11/25/11

Who should Wanderlei Silva scrap with in his next bout? Does Urijah Faber have a better chance against Dominick Cruz in their third go-round than he did last time? Do you want to see Mauricio Rua vs. Dan Henderson Part Deux? How well would Michael Chandler do if he was part of the UFC roster?

Keyboard warrrrriors….come out to plaaaay-yay!

Welcome to Grappling with Issues, our site’s regular weekly feature highlighting insight and opinion from myself and resident workhorse Jeremy Lambert whose general contributions and “Scorecard” event-breakdowns can be regularly found on Five Ounces. As always, just because we staffers get the fancy set-up, please don’t hesitate to offer your own take on the topics in the “Comments” section below.

Are you hoping to eventually see a rematch between Mauricio Rua and Dan Henderson or would you prefer to not risk tainting their excellent encounter at UFC 139?

Lambert: I wouldn’t mind a rematch as long as it makes sense. Right now, it seems that Henderson is going to get a title-fight in his next bout, so an immediate rematch is out the window. But, if Henderson loses in that match-up and wins his next bout, plus Rua rattles off a win or two, or if Henderson captures the title and Rua earns a title shot, I’m not against it or anything. I just don’t want to see them do a rematch for the sake of doing a rematch though, something I don’t think will happen since there are plenty of fights at 205 for each man. All of that said, I don’t think we’ll see these two clashes in the Octagon again.

Conlan: I’m torn. On one hand, Rua vs. Henderson was unquestionably excellent – a “Fight of the Decade” type affair. On the other, it would be nearly impossible to top from an entertainment standpoint. To expect a repeat performance would akin to telling Leonardo Da Vinci to paint another Mona Lisa rather than enjoying the masterpiece he’d already put on canvas. Like Lambert I suppose I’ll say I’m open to the idea if divisional contendership dictates it but otherwise I’m content with having seen one of the greatest fights in MMA history, letting each man move on to new challenges (especially with Henderson likely only having a few more years in the sport).

Who would you put Wanderlei Silva against in his next fight?

Lambert: I talked about this with Samer on the podcast and my feeling is that Wanderlei is more or less a money weight right now. He won’t be fighting for the title any time soon so UFC is just best off giving him fights against top name guys in order to draw some money. So going by that, I really want to see Silva vs. Forrest Griffin. Both guys are fan-favorites, they put on good fights, and it’s a bout that could go either way. It’s a fight, much like Shogun vs. “Hendo”, that fans probably aren’t thinking about but when announced it would definitely create a buzz.

Conlan: For the record I have zero interest in seeing Silva vs. Griffin, a guy who outweighs Silva by at least thirty pounds on any given day. I’m also not sure how Jeremy can view “The Axe Murderer as a “money-weight” when he’s shown no interest in returning to 205 pounds where he was always undersized to begin with.

Moving on, I think a logical opponent would be the winner of Anthony Johnson vs. Vitor Belfort. Silva/Belfort have spoken before about re-visiting their 1998 meeting where “The Phenom” laid Wanderlei out in less than a minute, plus stylistically it would be something earning fans’ attention. Silva/Johnson would give “Rumble” a second opponent with the potential to further establish him as a middleweight, as well as a flawed adversary “Wand” could potentially take out. I’d also love to see the UFC rip Robbie Lawler out of Strikeforce limbo as they’ve did with Cung Le and put him in the Octagon against Silva. Talk about a buzz-inducing bout!

Name something relating to MMA in 2011 that you are thankful for…

Lambert: I feel like I should be creamed-corny here and say something like, “All the great fighters and fights they put on” or “Bren, podcast-partner Samer Kadi, and the 5OZ readers for being awesome” or even “Brittney Palmer and Jade Bryce” but I’m going to avoid going in that direction.

I’m thankful for my DVR and the internet. There has been more MMA than ever in 2011 thanks to the abundance of promotions/outlets, and without a DVR or the internet there’s no way I’d be able to watch it all. I try to watch damn near every single MMA event that I can, even ones that aren’t really on the radar of many fans, and it’d be impossible if I didn’t have over 300 hours of space on my DVR or the internet to hunt down all the fights and events. Plus, thanks to my DVR and internet, I’m able to re-watch all the great fights over and over again.

Conlan: Napoleon Dynamite’s brother approves of Jeremy’s affinity for technology. I, on the other hand, approve of the man himself. I definitely don’t say it enough but I’m absolutely thankful for Lambert’s contributions to 5 OZ. Without his hard work this site would not be half of what it is and that’s not hyperbole. Truly, his presence here has been crucial to our success over the past year and it should be noted.

I’m thankful for countless other things combining MMA/2011 too such as the expansion of the UFC back into Brazil/Japan, the FOX deal, the numerous men/women who are not just Mixed Martial Artists but true role models, the people who have allowed me to write about something I love including you folks reading these lines, the passion of guys like Dana White, Bellator’s presence on the scene…honestly, the list could go on and on and on and…well, you get the point.

What percentage would you give Urijah Faber to win his rubber match against Dominick Cruz?

Conlan: 50%. I don’t think it’s physically possible for Cruz or Faber to improve much in the amount of time between their bout at UFC 132 and early 2012 when the bantamweight rivals face off for a third time. It’s not as though either is going to depart from their regular training home to add a new layer to their attack. They’ll enter the fight highly conditioned, quick, and ready to mix up strikes with grappling as was the case in July. Since that match-up could have gone either way I expect the same to be true with what will hopefully be the conclusion to a trilogy.

Lambert: I’ll go with 55% just because I think Faber will win the third fight thanks in large part to how the second fight went and how Demetrious Johnson fared against Cruz. I’m not really sure Cruz can do many things different against Urijah than he did at UFC 132, while I know Faber can do a couple of things different against Dominick. I think we’ll see a much more aggressive “California Kid” in the rubber match and when he has Cruz hurt, he’ll be more likely to go in for the kill.

How would Bellator lightweight champ Mike Chandler fare in the UFC?

Conlan: Extremely well. He is young, powerful, comes from a great camp (Xtreme Couture), has been labeled as having a terrific attitude in the gym when it comes to learning/improving, and is an accomplished amateur wrestler with ever-improving stand-up. Beyond that, as evident in his incredible performance against Eddie Alvarez at Bellator 58, Chandler has a tremendous amount of heart and enough gas to weather any storm. He reminds me of a stronger Frankie Edgar.

Lambert: I say this all the time but I truly believe that if you took the 32 best lightweights in the world and held a March Madness style tournament, you’d get a different result every single time. That’s just how even and deep the pool at 155 is.

So because of that, I’d have to say that Chandler would fare just as well as any other top lightweight. He’d win a good amount of fights and he’ll undoubtedly have a bad night or two and lose a couple of fights. And he won’t lose because the talent isn’t there, he’ll lose because every other lightweight is so talented that they’ll just have his number on that night.

Will Fedor Emelianenko fight in the Octagon before he retires?

Conlan: No. Emelianenko is burdened with M-1 Global’s requirement of cross-promotion and if the UFC wasn’t ready to give on that front when the iconic Russian was seemingly invincible they most certainly won’t now. Beyond that, M-1’s management have already left the bitter taste of week-old borscht in White’s mouth after their previous negotiations making it even more unlikely the divide between both sides will be bridged anytime soon.

Lambert: I really want to say yes, but I have to go with no as well. I’d like to believe that Fedor’s management realize that he’s not the cash cow that he once was but he could still make a good amount of money as long as he’s in the UFC and that they’d relax their stance on “extras” in Fedor’s contract, but that thought was quickly shot down with M-1’s latest co-promotion attempt asking for a Fedor vs. Cain Velasquez fight. As long as M-1 continues to believe that co-promotion benefits them and the UFC – it doesn’t benefit the UFC at all – then they’ll want to co-promote. And as long as they want to co-promote then Dana won’t do business with them.