With a break in the major MMA action, it's time we dip into the mailbag.
St. Pierre, the current UFC welterweight champion and 2008 Canadian Athlete Of The Year, according to SportsNet, is the first mixed martial artist to land a spot in support of the sports drink giant, which is in the midst of trying to freshen up its brand.
You can take the news as one more sign of MMA's growth, especially in fight-crazy Canada. While Gatorade owns North American rights to run the spots, for now the company is scheduled to air them only north of the border. If the ads, which include some of the biggest icons in sport, get shown in the U.S., it'll certainly be a boost to the 27-year-old St. Pierre, the UFC and to MMA, in general.
Looking at the big picture, I take this to mean elite fighters can -- and are beginning to -- transcend the sport (including the UFC) to a place where they'll be recognizable to mainstream audiences. For purposes of negotiation, this can be incredibly powerful, and it will be interesting to see how, and if, sponsorships like this can propel fighter popularity and purses.
That said, St. Pierre won't capitalize any time soon. He signed an eight-fight extension with the UFC prior to stopping
He's not Lesnar. At least, not yet. But really, no one with two fights should be expected to be one of MMA's best. It's unrealistic and unfair. With time and experience, who's to say how good Lashley will be? He deserves a chance to grow as a fighter, and he can do that right now
I'm as over it as you are. Penn and his camp are claiming "reform" as the reason for continuing down the path they've marched since St. Pierre smashed him at the end of January. During Tuesday's meeting in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Penn continued to allege use of not only Vaseline by G.S.P., but also other products that would, in theory, make the UFC welterweight champion slippery and difficult to corral.
Penn asked the NSAC to institute new measures of prevention and detection, such as pre-fight showers and testing fighters' sweat. Inspectors already shadow fighters competing in Nevada. They're patted and wiped down prior to heading into the cage. And their corner is watched during the fight.
It's clear the NSAC doesn't have anything definitive to use against G.S.P., otherwise it would have come down hard on him. Despite what some of the UFC welterweight champion's vanquished foes are saying well after the fact, the NSAC has never had an issue with St. Pierre prior to the Jan. 31 fight. Try as Penn might to pin a history of greasing on St. Pierre, the evidence supporting that claim doesn't seem to exist -- unless the NSAC is just inept and missed it each time he fought in Vegas.
Considering Penn is willing to allow an NSAC-appointed official to apply Vaseline to his face between rounds, the Hawaiian clearly doesn't believe the commission is incompetent or out of touch. (And for the record, I'm not crazy about the idea. This would be like NASCAR hiring and managing pit crews instead of the drivers and their teams.)
From my perspective, Evans can beat Rampage, and do so easier than most imagine possible.
I've heard some people suggest the May title fight could be boring. Boy, I don't see it. It'll be tactically brilliant, and in my book, that's often more compelling than two guys standing in front of one another playing rock 'em, sock 'em.
Evans is the best fighter Machida will have faced. Likewise, Machida is the best defensive fighter Evans will have faced. This is my most anticipated fight of the first half of 2009. And if given the choice to watch Evans-Machida or Mir-Lesnar, I'd take the light heavyweight contest every time.
He's only fought professionally seven times, but with each fight, Maynard gets better and better. He's quiet, goes about his business and, above all, he wins. He reminds me a lot of WEC featherweight champ
I'd take someone that can match-up physically with Maynard and wrestle him. While there are fighters in the UFC that fit this bill --
I'd like to see the Xtreme Couture-trained Maynard fight from his back, or at least be forced into a contest where he can't entirely dictate what happens. It'll happen soon enough, I'm sure. But for now, yes, I think pretty highly of his prospects.