Josh Gross
Monday April 27th, 2009

To football, wrestling and weightlifting, Kyle Maynard can add mixed martial arts to his arsenal of feats.

However, if in addition to fulfilling personal dreams Saturday in Auburn, Ala., the 23-year-old congenital amputee hoped to prove he should be licensed to fight by a reputable regulatory body, namely his home state of Georgia, Maynard did little to help himself.

Without such an incredible, well-polished story, the circumstances of a man missing forearms, hands, thighs, knees and shins fighting an able-bodied opponent would have demanded comparisons to some of the most tasteless promotional ventures of all time.

While Maynard's involvement -- and that alone -- tempered much of the "carnival" talk, I doubt his efforts will be well received a second or third time.

Judging by e-mails I received in the wake of Maynard's three-round decision loss to Brian Fry, respect for Kyle is far reaching. So too is the sentiment that, unlike amateur wrestling, for which Maynard initially found acclaim, MMA is not a sport he should pursue. However, in speaking with Randy Couture last week, "The Natural" seemed confident Maynard "may not figure it out this time or even the next. But he will figure it out."

I fear Couture may be correct: Maynard will press forward, as he did early in his wrestling career, and fight in unsanctioned bouts in front of onlookers hoping to see a wreck. He wouldn't do this to draw attention to himself, I don't think. It would simply be a continuation of the long windy path he and his father took when he first began wrestling at age 11, when the lesson was hammered home that circumstances don't determine effort.

Why is Jason "Mayhem" Miller not on your top 10 middleweight list? You have Rich Franklin, who was considered, even though he is 205 now. Mayhem is 15-3 in his last 18 fights. I'm pretty sure I get it, he isn't in the UFC. -- Bryan Ebeling, Lafayette, La.

Credit to Mayhem for submitting Robbie Lawler in 2006, but that would be the only reason he'd gain consideration at the moment. Losses to Frank Trigg (also in '06) and, recently Ronaldo Souza, mean Miller isn't at a top-10 level. He's talented and nuts, and fun to watch. But one of the 10 best middleweights in the world? I don't think so. (By the way, Franklin has a pretty solid career at 185, and he's not ranked, only mentioned.)

What is going on with Anderson Silva? I realize he likes to counter, but come on. He should have known his chances to counter would be few and far between with Thales Leites. Seriously, what is he afraid of? The fact of the matter is he is the champ. He needs to act like one. You think Georges St. Pierre, who supposedly is in the talks for a mega-fight with Silva, would be scared to go to the ground with Leites? Please. -- Hilario Gonzalez, San Benito, Texas

I don't agree with you on the "scared" assessment. More like "not interested." I can't say I blame Silva. This is, after all, a sport. Or it's supposed to be a sport. Who cares how you get to a destination, so long as you get there first, right?

Some fighters risk everything to avoid carrying a reputation as a boring fighter. Others couldn't care less. Silva seems to be in the camp that doesn't mind criticism, as long as he continues to win and retain the belt.

The fact is, Silva broke a record for consecutive victories in the UFC against Leites. During Silva's stretch of nine wins in a row, how many were unacceptable performances? Maybe one, against Patrick Cote. Though neither challenger came forward, Cote was there to be picked apart if Silva decided that's what he wanted to do. Leites wasn't going to let himself get hurt, so he flopped to his back. And with Silva uninterested in engaging in Leites' world, the fight was a snoozer.

Extra credit should go to great fighters willing to beat opponents at their strengths. Fedor Emelianenko mauled Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in the guard at the height of the Brazilian's career, and kickboxed Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic when most people considered that suicide. Miguel Torres seems intent on putting on a show every time he steps in the cage, and St. Pierre pretty much does what he wants to whomever he wants.

If Silva doesn't meet the challenge of his contemporaries, his spotty timidity will be remembered just as strongly as his pinpoint violence. Of course, it's quite possible he doesn't care either way.

Don't you see value in having Silva fight at light heavyweight against someone like Keith Jardine? Jardine has nothing to lose and everything to gain. He is a tough, gritty fighter who is ever improving and does not back down from a fight. He would take the fight to Silva, which we all want to see. --"Fistcruncher," Omaha, Neb.

There are problems with Silva at 205. First and foremost, he's close friends with Lyoto Machida. They share the same management, work out together from time to time and probably won't go head to head in the cage.

In the crowded light heavyweight mix, you're right, Silva would find plenty of challenges, and he may very well excel at all of them. But I'm a fan of him at middleweight, even if it doesn't seem like there are many challengers right now. It's incumbent on the UFC to deliver credible title contenders. Leites appeared to make the grade, yet, stylistically, it was an awful fight. Against Demian Maia, it's hard to imagine anything all that different. Once the Brazilian jiu-jitsu guys clear the stage, there appear to be some potentially stiff opponents for Silva that should make a move to 205 unnecessary.

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