Mailbag: Readers react to March rankings, Fitch-Penn stalemate
Ah, that's better.
When last we opened the mailbag, a few weeks ago, out poured a whole lot of angry. Most of it was a commentary on my against-the-grain approach to assessing fighters, as first seen in the February SI.com MMA rankings. As I explained in the column that accompanied those top-three lists from six weight divisions, I rank fighters based purely on where I see them fitting into the pecking order right now, not necessarily on who has the most stellar resume. So I had relatively untested Jon Jones ahead of several light heavyweights who'd beaten more impressive names, and non-UFC guys like Alistair Overeem and Nick Diaz got more love than they do in many other rankings. And for giving that love, I got hate mail.
Undaunted, or perhaps daunted just a little, I pumped out
OK, so everybody doesn't agree with every word I wrote. I can live with that. But I trust that Bo was being sarcastic with his Fedor comment, since I highly doubt that Emelianenko could cut enough weight to challenge Joe Aldo for No. 1 at bantamweight. Then again, if M-1 Global gets its hands on some of that forbidden psychological technology that "Bigfoot" Silva apparently used to beat the Russian legend, you never know.
As for David's comment about the pound-for-pound rankings, remember, it's an assessment of where Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva are now, not where they might rank if they should meet someday in Silva's weight class. The P4P rankings ask this question: How does the welterweight GSP stack up against the middleweight Silva? If at some point St-Pierre packs on a
Now on to some missives from more readers who had some issues with my rankings ...
I like how, before ripping into my rankings, Juri throws me a compliment for my Overeem ranking. Then Jesse ridicules that very ranking. I must say, though, that both readers argued their points very well. It goes to show how subjective these rankings are. I wouldn't want it any other way. As I wrote in my March rankings column, look at all the problems the "definitive" BCS rankings have wrought on college football. MMA deserves better.
Another thing MMA deserves to see get better: judging. A couple of my recent fight stories have called into question judges' decisions, and readers have been pretty opinionated as well. Here are some dissenting opinions on my suggestion that Jon Fitch left BJ Penn a beaten man, despite the judges calling their UFC 127 main event a draw:
Emory: It wasn't simply that Penn was tired; he was a beaten man. And I gave Fitch the second round. Yes, he had his back taken, but he reversed position in a matter of seconds and began the smothering beatdown that continued through the round that followed. Speaking of which, do you really define Fitch's 134-0 striking advantage in the third as "lay-and-praying"? I wouldn't want to live in your monastery.
Ga'ash: You make fair points, although I think that escaping from dominant position and seizing control of the fight takes more than just cardio. There's strength involved, of course, and also a good bit of what you said was lacking: skill.
Danny: The power strikes and other numbers I reported were CompuStrike stats. I started counting up the punches myself, but ran out of fingers and toes. I understand where you're coming from, though, questioning the "power" of short punches on the ground. I think the best way to assess it is to simply take a look at the recipient of those punches. BJ didn't end the fight utterly defenseless, but the beating did take its toll.
OK, let's now go to one of the notes I received after questioning the judges who handed Diego Sanchez a decision victory over Martin Kampmann at UFC on Versus 3:
I understand your point, Mike, about what would have happened if the fight had been a five-rounder. Sanchez was a mess but wasn't fading, while Kampmann appeared to just make it to the finish line. But sticking with that analogy for a moment, if you ever watch NASCAR you'll occasionally see a driver eschew a late pit stop in the belief that he has just enough fuel to get him to the checkered flag. Would it be fair to him if suddenly the track officials changed the race to the Daytona 505? No. Likewise, it's not fair to judge Kampmann on anything other than the three-rounder he signed on to fight. Besides, it wasn't a matter of him running out of gas. Kampmann backpedaled to the finish because he broke his hand and couldn't throw his right anymore.
Overall, I just think Kampmann was the more efficient, if not more powerful striker. Sanchez threw a lot of punches, and missed an awful lot. And even though Kampmann was staggered once, I think he inflicted more damage. Obviously Mike saw things differently, as did the judges, but I was not alone in my assessment of the fight. Right, Shane?
I should probably leave it at that. There may be no sweeter way to end a column than with a reader -- a very astute reader, I might add -- saying, "Well done!" But I'd like to wrap things up instead with a couple of random e-mails commenting on other things I wrote: my suggestion that perhaps a 55,000-seat venue is too big for the UFC, and my comment that the oddly mixed bag of compassion and childishness is what we should expect from Dana White. No need for any remarks from me following these e-mails. The writers nail it, as you'll see.