Lesnar and Couture, the Fitch fiasco and more MMA musings
Fitch's release/comeback is still driving much of the discussion behind the scenes. And it's doing the same in my e-mail inbox. From the Fitch-White-Fertitta-UFC experience, to
To this point, we've seen skirmishes between fighters and promoters equivalent to border clashes. Each side prods and pushes, seeing how far they can go, what they can take, what they can dictate. With the way Fitch was almost immediately brought back into the UFC fold, I don't think the recent firing and re-hiring is going to qualify as anything more than another bump in the road when fighters and promoters do business.
The question is, will there come a point when enough is enough? Randy Couture cited "respect" as a major reason he made trouble last year by leaving the UFC. Fitch, too, said hesitancy to sign a deal he didn't really feel comfortable with was based largely on the UFC's approach to negotiating.
Insofar as Fertitta goes, it's my understanding the UFC co-owner got to know Fitch in the hours after the American's failed attempt at capturing
Here's the bottom line: the UFC got what it wanted. Fitch signed, and now other fighters are keenly aware of what could happen if they don't do the same.
Effective? Apparently. Pretty? Not exactly, especially with White going after Fitch and his teammates at AKA the way he did. Can you imagine the backlash
Near horizon? No. There have been whispers and hopes, but little has been accomplished -- or tried -- in bringing together a group that would speak collectively for mixed martial artists.
Instead, fighters are reliant upon their managers and agents, and with a sense that few real options are available outside the UFC at the moment, they possess little leverage in negotiations. If the UFC rids itself of competition and becomes the home for professional MMA, fighters will have to seek some sort of collective protections.
That feels a long ways off. One manager told me in the wake of this Fitch debacle that he's not sure what it'll take for fighters to push back, but whatever it is, it hasn't happened yet.
Well, it's way too soon to know or speculate. He has some things working in his favor, but I haven't seen nearly enough of him to make those kinds of comparisons just yet. Let him defend the belt first. Then do it again and again. Moreover, this seems to be a guy that gets bored easily. Reaching the pinnacle this fast does one of two things: it makes Lesnar feel like MMA is easy, or it motivates him to find another level. I hope he's motivated, because the sport needs dominant fighters that capture fans' imaginations. And he's certainly capable of doing that.
Finally, the "best heavyweight of all time" label would be an elusive recognition for Lesnar if he never crosses paths with the best heavyweights outside the UFC. And currently there are several.
There are fights we haven't seen yet. Whether that's enough of a reason for Couture to stick around, I'm not sure. I don't think he looked all that bad against Lesnar, and he had virtually all of the physical categories working against him.
Couture should keep fighting and finding paydays, which is fine.
Arlovski is a very good heavyweight. His power and athleticism alone makes for a dangerous fighter; experience seasons the package. I haven't seen much to make me think he's seriously deficient on the ground. The guy understands leg locks and poses some threat on top, but I'll give you that his guard leaves something to be desired. And you're on the money thinking Fedor would be smart to put Arlovski on his back -- though I'm not as convinced as you that he'll plan it that way.
As far as marginalizing Fedor, I don't think anyone that takes time to know MMA could do that. The words of promoters mean little here. And I expect Affliction's heavyweight pay-per-view contest (Jan 24) to receive its fair share of press. Fedor is the lone fighter of a major division to be ranked No. 1 outside the UFC. I don't think it's any coincidence that other top heavyweights decided to go off on their own and pursue him. In the end, for most fighters, it's about challenging the best.
Alves deserves next crack after St. Pierre fights B.J. Penn, though I think Alves-Fitch would be tremendous. A lot will depend on what happens with Fitch and his contract. He'll have one remaining fight after meeting