Grappling with Issues – 1/6/12

What was your reaction to Brock Lesnar‘s retirement? Should any hope remain where Fedor Emelianenko signing with the UFC is concerned? Will “King Mo” fight in Strikeforce again after tomorrow night’s bout against Lorenz Larkin? Is Jake Ellenberger more likely to earn a title-shot in 2012 than Johny Hendricks?

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.

Who will Tyron Woodley face for the Strikeforce welterweight belt if he beats Jordan Mein tomorrow night?

Lambert: Logic says he’ll face the winner of the other welterweight fight on the card; Tarec Saffiedine vs. Tyler Stinson, especially since Stinson has already come out and said he’s going to ask for a title shot if he wins. Then again, you can never count on Strikeforce to be logical, and honestly, does it matter? No offense to any of the 170 pounders in Strikeforce, some of whom could make it in the UFC, but we all know the welterweight title is completely secondary when all the best welterweights are in the UFC.

Conlan: Jon Fitch. Okay, I know it’s a relatively insane prediction but bear with me for a second while I attempt to explain the source of my delusion. For starters, there is zero public interest in seeing Woodley face Saffiedine (again) or Stinson and in fact I’d wager good money that most fans have no idea who either man is. However, as is the case with Keith Jardine, average MMA enthusiasts know who Fitch is and (unlike Jardine) understand he has been a top contender for the past few years. The UFC could easily transfer Fitch’s deal over to Strikeforce as they have in reverse with Nick Diaz, Alistair Overeem, etc. and book him to face Woodley for the belt. Plus, it’s not like Fitch would have to go to Strikeforce for more than a year since the company only has seven events left on its 2012 deal (not counting tomorrow night’s show).

He’s coming off a loss, sure, but quick KOs happen – just ask Georges St. Pierre – and I suspect most of you would agree Fitch is still better than 95% of the Strikeforce welterweight division. Why let the defeat set him back two years in the UFC when he could come in to Strikeforce for a year, possibly pick up a belt along with a few wins, and then return in a year with more momentum? It’s not as though he’s a money-making draw in comparison to some of his peers so harness his dwindling spotlight and direct it at a promotion in desperate need of a respectable, well-known contender.

True/False – Saturday night will mark Muhammed Lawal’s last fight in Strikeforce.

Lambert: I hope so. Once again, Strikeforce is filled with guys who could likely be competitive in the UFC, but we don’t know until we actually see it. There’s no one else for The King of Mo to fight in Strikeforce, and while I think he’d do fine in the UFC, I want to see it before I believe it. No knock on the guy, who I’m a particular fan of, but while he has all the talent in the world, it’s not like he’s beaten a ton of great competition. He out-wrestled Gegard Mousasi, lost to Rafael Cavalcante, and then beat a bunch of mediocre guys. There’s no one else for him to fight in Strikeforce, so let’s see how good he really is in the Octagon.

Conlan: I hope not. Lawal would be lost in the UFC’s light heavyweight division and wouldn’t have nearly the impact on the organization that he could in regards to Strikeforce. The promotion needs to hold on to a few fighters, like Gilbert Melendez, with a solid profile and skills to boot while things unfold over the next year. By staying in Strikeforce and potentially picking up 2-3 more wins in 2012 Lawal could enter the UFC as an immediate contender instead of a guy who was 2-1 in his last three. Again, Strikeforce is almost certainly going to be folded into the UFC after their current contract runs out so Lawal is destined for a date there at some point anyways. It’s all a matter of how he’s used beforehand that matters. A rematch with “Feijao” could be done to erase the lone loss of his career, then maybe a fall date with a well-known UFC castoff, and he could truly debut in the Octagon as more than a paper king.

Fill in the Blank: Brock Lesnar deciding to retire was ______.

Lambert: Unfortunate. Although he’s been through a lot with his illness and he never reacted well to pain or punishment, possibly proving that he wasn’t long for the MMA world, no one can deny that when Lesnar fought, you got excited. I won’t say that the heavyweight division is now boring because Brock is gone, but it definitely loses some “big fight feel” luster without him. It’s also unfortunate for the UFC, because Brock was guaranteed to pop a buyrate, and now they don’t have that.

Conlan: A welcome sight. I respect Lesnar’s accomplishments but I also think they’re overrated by most. To say the division loses some “big fight feel” by watching a 34-year old with a 5-3 record walk is beyond revealing in how successful the UFC’s marketing machine is. As such, the only people who should genuinely be missing Lesnar’s presence are the higher-ups at Zuffa who no longer have his PPV appeal to promote with.

Did he cut a great promo? Yes. Was he a great fighter? No. His decision to retire before the Overeem bout showed at UFC 141 and indicated to me the world had been duped by guy who thought he wanted to be a Mixed Martial Artist just like he thought he wanted to play football or be a professional wrestler. Shane Carwin snapped him into reality, Cain Velasquez sealed the notion, and Overeem put a stamp on it. Lesnar’s retirement was a GOOD thing for him, his family, and the sport of MMA as a whole. There’s no need for a mediocre guy making $400,000 win/lose when some of the sport’s best don’t make 1/10 of that.

BUY/SELL: Fedor Emelianenko will compete in the UFC in 2012.

Conlan: SELL. Dana White wants nothing to do with M-1 or Emelianenko and let’s face it, does anyone actually believe Fedor can contend against the UFC’s brightest based on victories over Jeff Monson and Satoshi Ishii? The Emelianenko Express has departed the station where hopes of seeing him in the Octagon are concerned, and in fact I’m not even sure he’ll ever fight in North America again.

Lambert: BUY. Call me crazy or laugh at me (both would be acceptable responses to what I’m about to write), but I believe that we’re going to see Fedor in the UFC on July 4th weekend fighting Lesnar. Why do I believe this? Well, I have a gut feeling, and we all know how well those usually turn out. Honestly, I realize it’s an outlandish prediction and extremely wishful thinking that Fedor will even fight in the UFC, but if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen in 2012 because this will probably be the last year of his career.

Which former Strikeforce champion had the most impressive debut/re-debut in the UFC this past year?

Conlan: Nick Diaz. Overeem’s win over Lesnar was solid, and Dan Henderson’s dance with Mauricio Rua was a classic, but Diaz came in and beat B.J. Penn soundly (and who has ever done that before other than maybe GSP or Matt Hughes via Crucifix). Lesnar was a bit shaky coming into last weekend’s loss after having been out with illness for a year, while Henderson-Rua was as much a draw as it was a victory for “Hendo”.

Lambert: I’m actually going to go with Overeem, since he actually finished his opponent and did so in very impressive fashion. Say what you will about Lesnar being out for a year and being affected by the illness, and while it’s true, it’s also a bit of revisionist history since all the talk leading up to the fight was that Lesnar was now 100% and the best he’s ever been in his fighting career. Plus, it’s not like Lesnar was a cakewalk opponent for “The Reem” given their styles. Overeem showed an aggressiveness, put Brock on his heels, made him pay for closing the distance with knees, and then finished him quickly.

More likely to get a title shot in 2012: Johny Hendricks, Jake Ellenberger or Mike Pierce?

Conlan: Jake Ellenberger. He’s got a devastating knockout win over Jake Shields, a former top contender and decorated champ in his own right, and a winnable opponent in the form of Diego Sanchez. If he comes away with his hand raised against Sanchez he’ll be a single victory away from a title-shot while Hendricks/Pierce aren’t quite as close (especially Pierce).

Lambert: If Ellenberger gets by Sanchez, I think we’re going to see Ellenberger vs. Hendricks in a #1 contenders bout down the line. There’s no way Ellenberger will sit out most of 2012 after he theoretically beats Sanchez, and that’s what he’ll likely have to do if he waits to challenge the winner of St. Pierre vs. Diaz/Condit. I’ll go with Ellenberger as well since I think he beats Hendricks, but I wouldn’t sleep on Sanchez beating him, setting up Sanchez vs. Hendricks and knowing Jake out of contention for the time being.

PHOTO CREDIT – UFC/STRIKEFORCE

15 COMMENTS
  • MCM says:

    Who will Tyron Woodley face for the Strikeforce welterweight belt if he beats Jordan Mein tomorrow night?
    – I can see the Fitch argument, but I can’t see Dana giving Fitch that kind of boost. I think they’re gonna bring in some one Dana likes, but can’t have in the UFC. Enter Karo.

    True/False – Saturday night will mark Muhammed Lawal’s last fight in Strikeforce.
    – False. They need him in SF and don’t in the UFC. Unless they really wanna do Rampage/King Mo, I think he finishes his contract with SF before they bring him in.

    Fill in the Blank: Brock Lesnar deciding to retire was ______.
    – Predictable. I know people were high on Brock, but he was never the fighter he was supposed to be. The guy wanted to win the UFC belt cause he saw guys like Timmmay and Couture holding it and thought it would be a cake walk. After two years of training, by the time he finally got to the UFC, there were already a bunch of new monsters ready to take him out. If it weren’t for the illness, he would have retired a year ago.

    BUY/SELL: Fedor Emelianenko will compete in the UFC in 2012?
    – Sell. Unless he goes to LHW, and beats King Mo and Mousasi and Cavalcante in SF and drops M-1, then he’ll get a UFC contract.

    Which former Strikeforce champion had the most impressive debut/re-debut in the UFC this past year?
    – Fuck Nick Diaz! In case you didn’t hear….Fuck Nick Diaz. To answer your question…Nick Diaz hands down. But fuck Nick Diaz.

    More likely to get a title shot in 2012: Johny Hendricks, Jake Ellenberger or Mike Pierce?
    – winner of the Ellenberger/Hendricks fight.

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  • edub says:

    New question: How long was Cris “Cyborg” Santos on steroids for?

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  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    If the UFC was able to secure Fedor tomorrow they would. All those mentioning his last wins, losses, a drop to LHW etc need a reality check. It has very little to do with performance if your name is Crocop, Wanderlei, Lesnar, Kimbo or Toney. Give me a break, as if the UFC would not jump at the oportunity to sign him if the terms were right. Fedor =$$, get it?

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  • Lord Faust says:

    Fedor is never coming to the UFC. He doesn’t need them. If he cared about “fighting the best” he wouldn’t have spent the remainder of 2011 acting like a recycling truck and smashing cans.

    Regardless of that, Fedor has less charisma than the shirts he wears, and appears in less interviews. The UFC, aside from doing an about-face on their public comments about Fedor, would have to invest huge amounts of time / money into promoting Fedor. If anyone in North America knows who he is, you’ve got to erase the 3 fight losing skid in Strikeforce and the fact he got KO’ed by a natural light heavyweight. I could see Strikeforce doing that (ask Jardine about his title shot), but not the UFC.

    As much as it may pain you to consider, they don’t need Fedor. They’ve done just fine without him thus far, and he’s not getting any better with age.

    All of those guys you mentioned played the game Dana’s way. Fedor and company don’t have to, since they have quite a lot of money, and won’t — due to pride and / or arrogance, probably a mix of both. The same argument can be made for Dana.

    I know Dana has gone back on his word before, but I think it’s more likely we’ll see Frank Shamrock and Paul Daley as coaches on TUF before Fedor steps into a UFC cage — unless he wants to work with the road crew.

    TL;DR version is Fedor is beyond his Best Before date, and would only bring the UFC money if they spent more money hyping him. Seriously, look at how good the UFC’s marketing it; they can make the next Fedor as far as the average fan is concerned and spend far less, and deal with less BS with the whole M-A affiliation.

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  • edub says:

    ” If he cared about “fighting the best” he wouldn’t have spent the remainder of 2011 acting like a recycling truck and smashing cans.”

    Bravo sir.

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  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    Um edub, who is he going to fight out of the UFC and SF? He called out Valasquez. If he cares about fighting the best, he would prolly…umm I dont know, want to fight Valasquez?
    Lord Fraust, Fedor sells. He sells in North America cuz last I checked SF was North American and he sold there. He sells internationaly and the UFC is going to Aust, UK, Ireland, Sweeden, Brazil, Japan and Canada. So your argument doesnt stand at all. The UFC would NOT have to market him as much as you make out. ALL MMA fans know him and EVERY SINGLE ONE would be glued to the sreen to either see him loose to confirm their belief or just want to see a legend do battle. Fedor would be a main event or co main event in his first UFC fight, no doubt. Fedor lost 3 in a row, yes this is true but he is only 35 and could produce great match ups with Mir, Franklin, Nelson and others.

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  • edub says:

    He was in SF (a place with at least decent competition). He got beat twice, and didn’t re-sign with them. He never called out Velasquez, his managment did (and it’s a lot easier to call somebody out when the fight has no chance of happening).

    Each one of his fights in SF declined in viewership. His PPV bombed against Jeff Monson. He can draw in two places (Russia and Japan). They may be able to use him in Japan in the long run, but it’ll never happen.

    I don’t even understand why this was a valid question, honestly. Fedor will never be a UFC fighter, and there is no evidence to point to it even being an option. He’s fine making big money fighting lower class competition in smaller promotions everywhere else. I don’t begrudge him for that at all.

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  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    Are you seriously trying to tell me Fedor fighting in the UFC would not sell ppvs? Dont be stupid. Sure the Monson PPV mau have bombed but that was not the UFC or SF. Do you think James Toney would have sold PPVs fighting James Thompson in Bulgaria for Profighting Cage destroyers 55? Come on EDUB stop being a little silly. You can make better arguments.

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  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    So tell me, out of ZUFFA. Whos he supposed to fight?
    His managment called out Valasquez but Im not stupid enough to assume that they would not have backed it up if the UFC had agreed. I would bet they would have followed through though. I guess it was easy for Dana to call out Fedor in the past but never follow through when the invitation was accepted, cuz Dana always had that exclusive contract thing to prevent it. Just like when they stopped the UFC champ from fighting him even though both parties were keen. So it is easy to call a fighter out if youre not willing to back it up, Dana has done it for years. Im pretty sure Fedor would gladly accept the fight with Cain though.

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  • edub says:

    Alright guys, I came back because I missed a lot of the people here, but MMALOGIC has single handedly made me realize why I left this site in the first place.

    I’ll be on my way again, as I’ve just outgrown this type of stupidity (and don’t have the will power to just ignore the garbage that gets spewed on a post by post basis).

    This guys gonna kill your forum if you let him.

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  • I would love to see Woodley fight Fitch…I like that theory and cant think of who else he would fight other san Saffedine….however I wouldnt mind seein that again as Tarec has made some good improvements in his game since.

    If King Mo continues to fight in SF, he’ll be either can smashing or rematching with Feijao. Otherwise I hope both come to the ufc.

    underwhelming. I dont believe Brock duped anyone, I think he was thrown in with the best of the best instantly and THEN battled and illness that would’ve taken a weaker man with the severity of it. He was doomed from the start. had Brock worked his way to a title shot like Cain or Junior did, we may have seen the best and the worst of him and maybe got to see him improve like those two did, but instead we got to see a freak wrestler go thrown in with the best and do fairly well while he was at it. If he cant live away from his family anymore i understand and wish him the best of luck.

    No, never, not gonna happen and I stand with those who make some sense when they say why should he? Would Fedor put up decent PPV numbers? Sure. Would he put up Brock Lesnar or Randy Couture numbers, not a chance. He hadnt sold a ppv since the death of pride and since then he has been getting bettered by a good but not great HW in werdum, the same in Bigfoot and he was KO’d in what started to be an awesome fight with Hendo. I disagree Logic, that on any substantial card, he would be the big draw. At best he deserves to headline a tv card and earn his way back into the hearts and minds of MMA’s faithful. Plus his management team still wants co promotion and lets just face it, seeing the last emperor in the octagon would be fantastic, but not worth the money or headache that M1 wants.

    Nick Diaz!

    Ellenberger. Hendricks is a great fighter and he did what was rumored to be impossible but that’s one impressive win over one impressive guy. Ellenberger has been knocking people out left and right and should he get past the dream, nightmare or whatever the fuck Diego is calling himself these days he has certainly earned his right to ask for his shot….or the loser of Diaz vs. Condit.

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  • MCM says:

    edub- don’t go.

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  • MickeyC says:

    I have one for you . Which was the most over rated fighter in the last 5 years? Brock or Fedor? It makes me sick to think that even after Fedor was exposed for being less of a fighter than he was hyped up to be. And then after a couple of victories over wash outs, that there is even talk of fighting UFC HW contenders. What a joke. Dude could not carry JRs jock. He’d be sniffin canves inside the 1st rd if they fought. I wish SF had fed fedor to the REEM when they had the chance. & you know what I like him more than Brock. At least fedor was once for real. Brock was a joke. He should go back to tossin dudes around in their undies(wwe) it where his true talents ly

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  • Lord Faust says:

    SF tried to feed him to Overeem, I think. IIRC, the fight was scrapped due to injury.

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  • Rece Rock says:

    Logic… Fedor is an afterthought. It’s not early 2000s, Pride is gone & Fedor & M-1 will always be a package deal for the rest of his career… So as much as Fedor WAS the best at a time, it’s a much different time now and Fedor is middle of the pack & willsteadily growing less relevant as time goes on…

    Edub- as long as your adding quality content to the conversation it’s all that matters…

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