Two days, two packed cards, many MMA memories

Wednesday May 28th, 2008

As we head into a packed mixed-martial-arts weekend, fight fans are being asked to spend their Saturday and Sunday nights at home for two of, arguably, the most important cards in the sport's history. Below is a taste of how readers view the upcoming EliteXC card, which will be aired on CBS' prime-time slot on May 31, and WEC, which pits two of the top fighters in the world, let alone their division.

How can anyone think that this embarrassing card on CBS is good for MMA? Kimbo isn't a real fighter, he's a sideshow. And Gary Shaw is putting him up against a guy [who's] tailor made to fall against him. It's a farce!-- Phil, Omaha, Neb.

Look, Kimbo says he's not anywhere near world class, and his trainers agree. I don't think even Shaw and EliteXC are trying to pass the guy off as some world champion. But the bottom line is more casual MMA fans know Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson than just about anyone outside of Chuck Liddell. And there's no arguing that, among fighters competing outside the Octagon, Slice is far and away the biggest name in the sport. Kimbo Slice versus Fedor Emelianenko -- in a ring or a cage -- it'd be no contest. The Russian would trounce him. In terms of p.r. and hype, an equally one-sided pounding is in Slice's favor. So, is it good for MMA? Sure it is. The guy is a major reason millions of fans will see a night of free fights on prime-time TV. How is that bad?

Going over EliteXC's card, it's obvious the fights were put together to create stand-up brawls. Notwithstanding questions over the quality of the fighters (and I'll admit there are some good competitors on the card) what do you think of a promoter that matches fights in an obvious attempt to keep bouts on the feet?-- Alex S., San Mateo, Calif.

Valid criticism. Just look at the WEC card on Sunday as a counterpoint. There are plenty of exciting fighters on the bill -- Urijah Faber and Miguel Torres to name a couple -- who prefer fighting on the ground. Few could argue that these guys aren't compelling to watch. Without ground fighting, MMA devolves into sloppy kickboxing with four-ounce gloves. And we know Americans don't care about kickboxing. I agree with you about EliteXC's obvious effort to make stand-up wars. The move wasn't necessary, but if you need your ground-game fix, tune in to Versus on Sunday.

Josh, I can't wait for the WEC on Sunday. I'm heading up to Sacramento for the fights, especially to see Urijah Faber against Jens Pulver. Right now, who is ranked higher on your pound-for-pound list: Miguel Torres or "The California Kid?"-- Steve, Visalia, Calif.

Faber. Torres has been incredible and owns a record that reflects his brilliance, but Urijah competes in a deeper weight division and has defeated a higher caliber of opponents, notably Jeff Curran in his last bout. I'm not sure Torres can bulk up to fight Faber, and Faber surely can't drop down to meet Torres. But I'd love to see a fight between the two. That is, assuming they continue to handle business in their respective divisions.

OK, so help me out here: if you could only watch the WEC or EliteXC this weekend, which would it be?-- Ryan

Since they're both free, I'm curious why you can't watch both. But if I could watch just one, I'd go with the WEC. Kimbo is going to beat James Thompson, and replays of the fight are sure to be aired over and over again. Gina Carano's fight against Kaitlin Young is intriguing, and I really believe that this will be the fight people will talk about in the end. I also like the Robbie Lawler-Scott Smith clash. And the Phil Baroni-Joey Villasenor brawl is sure to have its moments. But none of the EliteXC bouts have much weight, not even Lawler's title defense.

Faber-Pulver, however, will be a very good fight. Though the hyperbolism is strong here as well (it's always been that way with the WEC), I would still watch Faber or Torres fight any day of the week. And those two are the reasons to watch on Sunday.

But my best advice: watch and enjoy both. I know I will.

You say no arguments: B.J. Penn is tops at 155. Why not go further and say he's the best fighter in the world? You know he is. Aloha.-- Jesse, Honolulu, Hawaii

From a skills perspective, Penn can make a claim at P4P Kingship. But on paper, I'm not so sure. There are still plenty of good fighters out there at lightweight (though most aren't in the UFC and Penn probably won't fight them). A win against Georges St. Pierre would erase any doubts and, in my eyes, would catapult him to the top. (I don't see Penn having a problem with Kenny Florian or Roger Huerta.) So a lot would depend on how Emelianenko looks against Tim Sylvia, and what G.S.P does with Jon Fitch.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide — from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Grant Wahl, Andy Staples and more — delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.