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Questions on UFC 117, Werdum-Fedor II top MMA mailbag

@JosPear Keep hearing Chael Sonnen has a tough chin. Isn't Chris Leben's chin tougher and Anderson Silva put him down? Are we sold on this bout being for real?

If Anderson Silva lands a proper punch -- or kick, or knee, or elbow -- forget it. That goes for anyone, though. Sonnen can win. He just has to do very specific things as well as he can do them. He must put Silva on his back, and early. He must ground-and-pound as effectively as he did against Nate Marquardt. And he must get Silva thinking and pressing. Still, even if he does all that, I wouldn't be shocked if Silva submitted Sonnen from the bottom. Over 25 minutes, I figure Silva will have enough chances on the feet to win. But I don't expect the sturdiness of Sonnen's chin, which isn't really an issue, to matter one way or the other.

@vk_valetudoru How serious was Scott Coker about a [Fabricio Werdum-Fedor Emelianenko] rematch in Russia? That sounds completely insane for such an expensive fight.

Two things will matter in the end: 1) whether or not M-1 can pull it off (they'd be relied upon to produce most of the live event) and 2) will it be cost prohibitive for Showtime (bringing in their entire production crew would likely make it too expensive, but they could ship over three cameras and rely on a local production crew to bring down the price).

Here's what Coker said, so judge for yourself:

"There is possibility of that. I know they have a big event they'd like to throw in Russia. They'd like to feature Fedor. It's a big political summit [in the fall] and they want to showcase Fedor as the athlete in Russia. There's ongoing dialogue about that.

"Being good partners, if [M-1] wanted to do it, we'd do it."

@RJ8842 Ken Shamrock was overrated because he never won a UFC tourney? Surely you jest.

Well, it's true. In the era of tournaments, he never won. His biggest accomplishment was capturing the first "super-fight" belt against Dan Severn at UFC 6, which eventually became the UFC heavyweight title. Look Ken was marketable, which where much of his worth resides as an MMA legend. In terms of achievement, I doubt he makes my Top 25 of all time.

@kountermove Am I the only one that thinks Vladimir Matyushenko is going to beat Jon "Bones" Jones?

One of the few. I'm not with you. I've got Jones swamping Vlad.

@SidRival So what do u think about CAMO's announcement for the CA state champ MMA tourney? Good motion?

Sure. Mixed martial artists on the amateur level has thus far served as an end-around for promoters to make some cash without having to pay the fighters. Organizations such as CAMO (California Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Organization), which was created in 2009 when the California State Athletic Commission delegated it exclusive authority to regulate MMA on the amateur level throughout the state, will provide structure to the amateur ranks, and, eventually, lead to a national amateur system like USA boxing.

Thus far reviews on CAMO are largely positive, and the organization, which is run by former WFA and EliteXC executive Jeremy Lappen, appears to be delivering on its mandate. The first California State Championship tournament, which features eight-man fields in eight weight divisions (including a cruiserweight class between 230-205 pounds) begins in September and will culminate in December.

One real early benefit: It's also serving as a proving ground for competent referees and judges, which everyone knows are in short supply on the pro level.

@Fjunaid Whenever you meet scott coker plz tell him to add elbows in Strikeforce. Thanks.

I have. I will.

@broncosandtwins How many times will the UFC light heavyweight belt swap hands in the next year? I say twice.

How many times will it be contested? Mauricio Rua is recovering from yet another knee reconstruction and isn't expected to be in fighting shape until March 2011. He did so well to find the form that made him great five years ago. I don't doubt he can do it again, but there's sure to be some early rust. When he's at his best, there isn't a better light heavyweight on the planet than Rua. So long as Rua's body doesn't fail him, I'm going to say zero. (Lame interim titles don't count.)

@archiedaughety Do you think Jason "Mayhem" Miller stands a chance against Nick Diaz. I like both but Mayhem has a great attitude so I'm pulling for him if it happens.

I can't see Miller making 170 pounds, so if this goes down -- and Strikeforce is working on it, possibly for CBS in October -- it would be at a catchweight, somewhere between 180-185, I'd guess. Do I think Miller has a chance? Absolutely. Would I pick him to win? Nah. He's strong enough defensively to go the distance with anyone, but I can't see him hurting or submitting Diaz.

@timhenningsen Would love to see your full top 5 list of fights [you've seen in person].

This question comes after a comment I made on Twitter that Ken Shamrock's fight with Don Frye at Pride 19 was one of the five best fights I've ever seen live. It's an unquantifiable thing to determine, and pretty stupid of me say. I'm one of these people who believes it's impossible to name a favorite movie or song. Anyhow, I stepped into something and need to find my way out. Here are five that come to mind right away (two of which took place on the same day five years apart).

Shamrock vs. Frye, Pride 19 (Feb. 24, 2002)

They hated each other. At a Los Angeles press conference less than three weeks before the fight, the longtime rivals -- who never managed to fight in the UFC -- nearly came to blows. I remember snapping off a photo of Frye dousing Shamrock with water before the two locked up in a clinch and knocked around Japanese pro wrestling giant Antonio Inoki, who was standing nearby.

Brutal fight. Shamrock was knocked senseless but awoke when he hit the canvas to twist Frye's legs with inside and outside heel hooks. It was all out war, which judges awarded by split decision to Frye. I've taken the time to thank fighters for their efforts maybe three times. This was the first. The next day, as each man struggled to get on a bus in Tokyo that would take us back to Narita airport, I was stunned -- and admittedly upset -- by how beat up they were. Regular folk would be in an ICU. These guys were hardly normal.

Ian Freeman vs. Frank Mir, UFC 38 (July 13, 2002)

Taking place on the UFC's first foray into the U.K. at London's classic Royal Albert Hall (to this day, the most memorable venue I've watched a fight), Freeman fought possessed with the spirit of his father, who, unbeknownst to everyone in the building, including Freeman, lost his battle with cancer the day before the fight. Mir, who was unbeaten in four fights at the time, took an obscene amount of punishment before the referee saved him late in the opening round. Probably the most emotional outpouring from a fighter I've covered in person.

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Fedor Emelianenko I, Pride 25 (March 16, 2003)

The fight that started Emelianenko's seven-year run at the top of the heavyweight division wasn't especially competitive; the Russian challenger basically manhandled the Brazilian champion for 20 minutes. But there's one moment I'll never forget. Right at the seven-minute mark, from my seat 25 rows up in the Yokohama Arena, Emelianenko landed a punch from his knees, through Nogueira's guard, that sounded like a 12-gauge had gone off. I've shared this story many times, and it conjures up vivid memories. For just a moment, the Japanese crowd was stunned silent, unable to breathe really for a lack of oxygen in the building.

Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg II, UFC 52 (April 16, 2005)

The loudest crescendo I've heard at a fight. When Hughes, recovering from a knee to the groin and punches to his face, turned to his knees, grabbed Trigg, stood, carried the veteran welterweight across the cage and slammed him, I'd never heard a crowd so electric. The volume at the MGM Grand Garden Arena was something I'll never forget. As he did at UFC 45, Hughes took Trigg's back and finished with a rear-naked choke. UFC president Dana White says this is his favorite fight of all time. You can't disagree.

Nick Diaz vs. Takanori Gomi, Pride 33 (Feb. 24, 2007)

The action was wild and varied on the second-to-last Pride card before the company collapsed a couple months later. Gomi blasted Diaz with punches. Diaz came back and peppered the Pride lightweight champion with shots to the head. At one point, Gomi appeared to be stuck in cement he was so worn out. The finish by Diaz, a beautiful gogoplata submission -- one of the first times a fighter had pulled off such a dynamic choke in a bout of this magnitude -- was ruined when the Nevada State Athletic Commission changed the result to a no-decision after it was revealed Diaz had enough THC in his system to get all of San Francisco high.

@naj42181 How much training have you done and how does it influence your writing?

I trained a ton from 1997-2002. After getting injured because of a heel hook, which ripped up my right ankle and sprained the MCL in my knee, I basically stopped training Brazilian jiu-jitsu. A cost-benefit analysis suggested I was better off becoming a fat, lazy reporter, which is much easier, really.

Without question training helped my perspective covering MMA. Every reporter -- and fan -- should find a way to make it to a Brazilian jiu-jitsu class or two. You'll appreciate the ground game in a much different way if you do.

@jordanlong20 If you had to answer today, what are the three biggest fights that we see next year?

I'll avoid using the same fighter twice, which makes this a bit more difficult. Also, I'm not sure what you mean by "biggest," so I'll use the "fights that would make Joe Rogan lose his mind" scale:

Georges St. Pierre vs. Anderson Silva; Brock Lesnar vs. Fedor Emelianenko (only if Emelianenko beats Fabricio Werdum in a rematch and gets past Alistair Overeem, and, obviously, Lesnar defends his UFC title against Cain Velasquez); Jose Aldo vs. B.J. Penn (this isn't fair to Frankie Edgar, the current UFC lightweight champion, but many people would be curious to see Aldo fight the Hawaiian).

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