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Grappling with Issues – 2/18/11

Do you think Fedor Emelianenko could have made a comeback if his fight against Antonio Silva hadn’t been stopped by officials? Is it time for Andre Arlovski to hang up his fangs? Will the UFC put on a stadium show in the United States before making it to Madison Square Garden? Can “Bigfoot” Silva pull off an upset against his next Strikeforce World Grand Prix opponent?

Keyboard warrrrriors….come out to plaaaay-yay!

Welcome to Grappling with Issues, our site’s regular feature highlight insight and opinion from myself and, as it turns out this week, special guest contributor and Five Ounces’ workhorse Jeremy Lambert. My regular partner in crime, Adam Tool, had a personal situation arise and will be back in place next Friday. As always, just because we staffers get the fancy set-up, please don’t hesitate to offer your own feedback on the topics in the “Comments” section below.

If the Fedor Emelianenko/Antonio Silva fight had continued on to a third round do you think the outcome would have been any different?

Conlan: Absolutely – Emelianenko would have gotten pounded into an even finer pulp resulting in a referee stopping the fight rather than a ringside physician. “Bigfoot” was unquestionably the better, bigger fighter last Saturday night and the odds of Emelianenko pulling a rabbit out of his hat after sustaining so much damage seems unlikely regardless of how many times he’s weathered the storm before.

It’s also worth noting the Fedor fans remember from PRIDE, even Affliction, is different than the one who contemplated retiring to the chagrin of nameless accountants in Russia. Without even speculating on how his psychology might have been affected by the submission loss to Fabricio Werdum after a period of perceived invincibility, Emelianenko looks physically different these days. His body has gone from being doughy to dough-boy over the past few years, and when you’re fighting at his level you can’t afford to let your blade dull or rust. Ask yourself this question and then I’ll let you all move on to Jeremy’s response – in what area, not even areas, has “The Last Emperor” actually improved in since 2005? I’m waiting…

Lambert The outcome wouldn’t have been different but it would have been more disappointing as fans would have seen Fedor dominated for another five minutes with the outcome not in doubt and no “What if’s?” from M-1 Global and fans who can’t accept that Fedor’s best days are behind him. It would have been like reading this and expecting the greatness of Adam Tool but unfortunately being stuck with me for the week. I know Fedor has this reputation for coming back and winning when it doesn’t seem possible but in all those instances, they were brief moments of weakness. Kevin Randleman slamming him on his head, Kazuyuki Fujiti wobbling him, Brett Rogers‘ burst of ground and pound, etc… Those were all short moments in the fight. He was being absolutely destroyed on the ground against Silva for five long minutes and Silva showed no real signs of slowing down.

To answer Bren’s question though, the one area that Fedor has improved since 2005 is his wallet.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Touche!)

Where do you think the UFC will hold an event first: Cowboys Stadium in Dallas or Madison Square Garden in New York City?

Conlan: Madison Square Garden. While licensing is still an issue in New York, Dallas has hosted a UFC event before in the past, and the ticket sales in Toronto for UFC 129 have been insane, it’s important to keep perspective as I’m certain Dana White will given his past apprehension to promoting stadium shows.

Toronto was very much in NYC’s situation prior to recent legislation being passed allowing MMA into the region. Fans were starved for the sport, especially in regards to the UFC, and March’s event is being headlined by an extremely popular champion who happens to also be Canadian, Georges St. Pierre. The interest created for that particular recipe is phenomenal but also fairly unique. Cowboys Stadium is an amazing venue but would be extremely difficult to fill unless hosting a ridiculous line-up and even then it might be tough. White won’t risk watering down his product with a half-empty arena, while New York will become more and more realistic as the year unfolds. There’s no question MSG is #1 on the UFC’s list as soon as it becomes an option and, as such, I’m fairly certain fans will see a show take place there before “Jerryworld”.

Lambert I’m going to go with Cowboys Stadium just because I don’t know when MMA will be legal in New York. I think it will happen by the end of the year but you just never know. I figured Carmelo Anthony would be in New York by now as well and look how long that’s taking.

From everything I’ve heard about Cowboys Stadium, it seems to be the nicest and most impressive stadium in the US today and the perfect stadium for big time events. Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito did around 41,000 people for their fight, which was below expectations but still a huge number. I think UFC could easily top that number if they put together the right card, which they obviously would. You’re telling me that the super fight between Anderson Silva and St. Pierre coupled with another big fight or two wouldn’t out draw UFC 129? Now don’t get me wrong, if NY legalizes MMA on Saturday, UFC will run Madison Square Garden on Sunday, but right now Cowboys Stadium is there for the taking while there are still some hoops to get through for them to run MSG.

Based on their performances from this past weekend, which of the three alternates would you like to see get a shot in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament if another fighter cannot continue?

Conlan: Shane Del Rosario. He’s undefeated with finishes in all eleven of his fights including ten in the first round. Del Rosario also happens to be in his mid-twenties, be a legitimate “big boy” (6’3, 250 lbs), and appears to have a great head on his shoulders to match the ability and athleticism he offers inside the cage. He seems to be a star in the making and the type of exposure a win in the Grand Prix’s latter stages, let alone a victory in the tournament’s final, could give Strikeforce the type of fresh draw their heavyweight division would be able to promote strongly for years to come.

Lambert I have to agree with Bren on this but also state that of all the available options, Daniel Cormier would be my first choice as a replacement. Of Del Rosario, Chad Griggs, and Valentijn Overeem though, I’d have to go with Del Rosario because he has the best chance of actually winning should he somehow get into the tournament. Griggs will put on an exciting fight but he doesn’t have the ground game or wrestling to compete with guys like Fabricio Werdum or Josh Barnett and Overeem will do well for two minutes before his gasses out but Del Rosario is young, hungry, and well-rounded enough to really make an impact in the tournament. Plus he had the best win of the weekend as Lavar Johnson was much stiffer competition than natural light heavyweight Gian Villante and K-1 striker Ray Sefo.

Should Andrei Arlovski consider retirement after suffering yet another devastating knockout?

Lambert He should consider it but it won’t happen. I really like Arlovski. He’s a very nice guy and I’ve enjoyed watching him fight over the years but he’s never been able to take a punch and when you’re fighting heavyweights, that’s a recipe for disaster. Not even his beard can pad the punches of the hard hitters in the division. If Arlovski is going to continue his MMA career, he needs to strictly fight grapplers or completely re-invent his game. Take a year or so off, work on his Jiu-Jitsu, and come back with a whole different style because if he continues to box with the big boys, even if he out lands them 10 to 1, that one could be all his opponent needs.

Conlan: I’m not one to call for fighters to retire because it’s not my place to tell another person how to live their life. However, Arlovski’s inability to remain conscious is concerning and has hopefully merited passionate discussion on his long-term health amongst friends/family. There is no debate on the severe damage repeated concussions can cause to an individual’s brain and health in general. Arlovski is not a fighter who has been knocked out cold once or twice – seven of his nine losses have been come by way of strikes including three over his last four fights with particularly devastating results.

Do you see Antonio Silva getting by the winner of Fabricio Werdum vs. Alistair Overeem?

Lambert Well I have Overeem winning the whole tournament so should he advance, I’d have to say no. If Werdum beats Overeem though and we get the Silva vs. Werdum match up, I’d actually favor Silva in that fight despite having a loss to Werdum. Silva showed this past weekend that he’s going to be a tough out in this tournament and I was shocked at how many people were writing him off prior to the Fedor fight. He’s a well-rounded fighter, he trains at a very good camp, and his size gives him a big advantage. Overeem is a bad match up for him though as he’s just as big and is a better striker than Silva but Werdum is a good match up, as long as Silva can keep it on the feet and does get caught playing Werdum’s game, which is what he did in their first fight.

Conlan: Agreed, as I think it’s unlikely though of course I also thought Emelianenko would be able to handle Silva’s offerings and we see how that turned out. However, “Bigfoot” won’t have the same size advantage over Werdum/Overeem that he entered the ring against Fedor with, plus Werdum/Overeem both seem to actively train and have improved as a whole over the past few years. Werdum’s striking has definitely gone up a notch or two since he joined the Chute Boxe family while Overeem’s stand-up has been more than impressive as of late. Silva looks great against Emelianenko but I just can’t see him repeating the feat in the semi-final round of the Grand Prix.

TRUE/FALSE – Tonight will mark Lyle Beerbohm’s last appearance on a Strikeforce Challengers card.

Lambert TRUE. Win or lose I’d have to imagine this will be the last time we see Beerbohm on the lower level Strikeforce events. If he wins, one would think that he would graduate to the main card against a top lightweight like Josh Thomson. Should he lose though, it’s very possible that Strikeforce doesn’t bring him back. He’s been a slight headache for Strikeforce management and has voiced his displeasure with the organization not giving him fights. So as long as his fight tonight against Pat Healy doesn’t end in a draw or have a controversial finish, don’t expect to see ‘Fancy Pants’ on Friday nights anymore.

Conlan: Also “TRUE”. Regardless of what happens in Texas tonight Beerbohm deserves an opportunity to fight on Strikeforce’s main-card circuit. He’s beaten a handful of tough opponents, one of which could be Healy depending on how things play out this evening, and has a well-rounded approach to fighting that’s conducive to finishes whether TKO or submission. “Fancy Pants” also has a great backstory Strikeforce could use to promote (overcame addiction and prison to become a success) and a minor rivalry already in place with former lightweight champ Thomson based on a few online exchanges.

As far as the headache Lambert mentioned, my understanding is Beerbohm and Strikeforce’s brass have since resolved their issue and he’s been very open about apologizing for past negative comments about the promotion. And, frankly, with the way some of their fighters are treated, can you really blame him for being frustrated at the time (let alone now)?

  • Lethal Liquid says:

    Have too agree about Fedor. That 2nd round was child abuse. Put it this way if Fedor would’ve come out for the 3rd round he would have retired at the end of it. Arlovski needs to hang up the gloves or get some chin surgery. He’s already in Liddell territory. Where a slight gust of wind touching his chin puts him out. I actually believe that Jerryworld will see an UFC event before Nyc. Its boxing’s last stronghold and I believe their fighting MMA tooth and nail because they know it.

  • LiverPunch says:

    I’m not so sure Fedor would not have come out strong in the 3rd. He finished rd 3 in the more dominant position when he was trying to finish a leg lock. It wasn’t over. Rd 2 was dominated by Silva because he took Fedor down and went from there. It was not because he beat Fedor up everywhere. He tried 2 submissions on Fedor and Fedor defended both and countered the 2nd with a sub of his own. The damage to his eye was done in the 1st rd if you will look in between rds 1 and 2 and the ground and pound of Silva in the 2nd was hit and miss , mostly miss. Fedor looked very good against Sylvia and did well against Rogers whilst TKOing him. I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon and say Fedor is done or put him down because he lost. I think those that are doing that also had the wisdom to say Silva had a 5% or 10% chance of beating Fedor , and Werdum had as little as 1% , now those same guys are acting as if he hasn’t improved since 2005. Hindsight is a beautiful thing and so is music but you guys keep changing tunes.
    I don’t see Silva beating Overeem and I’m fairly positive it will be Overeem who faces Silva but if Werdum manages to get it to the ground and work his BJJ to get the win , I think Silva will be in the finals.

  • Rece Rock says:

    Omg… Liverpunch are you that much in denial?

  • JabCrossHook says:

    lethal, you have no idea what you’re talking about, andrei ate a good amount of punches from one of the most hard hitting HWs in MMA before getting hurt. most average fighters would’ve been put down solely on those…

    rece, everyone knows you’re a fedor hater so i can’t really take your opinion seriously at all

    i don’t know how fedor would’ve came out in the 3rd round but he was still in the game at the end of round 2. silva was tired as well, he could’ve made one mistake and get rocked with a soul stealing punch from fedor or continue what he was doing, or gas and mess up……who knows? a fight is dynamic and ever changing at a moments notice, that’s why there’s fighters that fight and you sit behind a computer and comment like its a sure thing…

  • LiverPunch says:

    Rece I’m not in denial. I am aware that Silva won the fight and won it fairly. It was unfortunate that a doctor decided it and I would have liked to see the final rd. I think rd 1 was Fedor’s but others saw it differently , it was close though and I see no reason why rd 3 could not have been the same. Could Fedor have won? absolutely. Would he have won? probably not but we will never know.
    I can recall Maynard absolutely destroying Edgar in the first rd of their fight. I wonder , if that fight had been stopped by a doctor after rd 1 , would such wise men have written off Edgar in the same way?.

  • Sykotick says:

    Ok so I really don’t have an opinion on much I’m just posting cuz I’m getting a back tattoo done and it SUUUUCKS.

    But since I’m here I may as well post something mma related to help get my mind off it.

    I don’t think Fedor is done, I just think his years of dominance are over.

    One thing Bigfoot proved is wrestling is not his best suit, just like Randlemann did, and it has nothing to so with Bigfoot being so much bigger cuz Hong Man Choi is bigger, so is Silva and so on, but if you get him down on his back he is in trouble, defend subs and you’re (semi) good, jusg pound his ass, now while it sounds like a game plan for Fedor, that’s a blueprint for every fighter out there.

    PS, Liver, OF COURSE had they stopped it they would have written Edgar off at lightweight, they wrote him off the second he was set to fight bj, and in the rematch, even still they’re saying if he loses to Maynard he needs to drop weight.

  • MickeyC says:

    Fedor lost 100%. And a miracle aside, The third round would probably rolled out the exact same way. Did you see him after the fight. That was a clear cut case of broken spirit if I have ever seen it. I like fedor, he has the best overhand in the game, but it can not win for him everytime, and with the new breed of well rounded heavy weight monsters, I do not see him making it back to the top of the pack again. Even if he were to somehow work his way back up and even secure the SF title, he will never be see as the best HW in the world again. I suggest he drop down to 205 and murder Hendo, and finish his career there as the SF 205 champ.

  • Rece Rock says:

    I never gave my opinion so go ahead don’t take me serious ?!? I’m not a Fedor hater I hate the hype that surrounds fighters whom fight sub par competition and are hailed the king mean while his first 2 shots at decent competition he starts collecting “L” s. Yeah I was totally wrong for thinking the tremendous praise and admiration for a man fighting cans was a bit too much yeah his last 2 fights didn’t prove any of that… You guys are suckers.

    Fedor got away with no major medical issues so why would you guys want to see a Rd 3 so his orbital bOne would have been fractured and he would have sat on the side lines a few extra months…

  • Spoken says:

    not pointting fingers at anyone here, but people talk like fedor has been some one-dimensional fighter who got exposed. the guy is a dominant sambo champion with a career of both submissions and (t)ko’s.

    i dont know if hes at the end of his career. to me, he is one of the best p4p fighters in the world because he goes into every fight he is in with the intention of fighting and finishing the opponent. he goes to war and comes out on top (almost) every time he is in there using a combination of technique and power that many fighters dont know how to deal with. even the greatest fighters lose. gsp has losses, anderson has losses. hell, gsp lost to serra and anderson lost to ryo chonan, but that doesnt keep them from topping the list of greatest fighters in the world. only time will tell what he will do in the future, so just sit back, enjoy the show, and appreciate talent.

  • BigDave says:

    Ok, I’m going to not make any friends with this one.

    First, If the fight had have gone to a third round Fedor would have been going to sleep and the hospital to get his orbital bone put back in place. Way to jump ship Conlan, first you give Silva a 5% chance at beating your god of mma Fedor, now you come out and say Fedor has become a doughboy the last 5 years completely discrediting every fighter he has faced in that time. You may as well come out and say it, Fedors wins in the last 5 years were to cans and Werdum and Silva beat him cause he is just not a top fighter anymore. I have been saying for a few years now that Fedor can not hang with top the top 5 fighters in the world and now its proven he cant hang with a guy who at best was 10th before the fight.

    UFC will be in Dallas before the end of the year regardless when mma is legalized in new york. where it will go first will depend on the ny issue. if ny legalizez before june then ny will get a show prob october then dallas after that but id not dallas will be there in october im guessing.

    Easy del rasario is the hands down best of those three and will be the first replacement.

    Not only should arlovski retire but the sanctioning bodies need to really look at the possablity of not sanctioning him to fight. He needs to have extensive medical tests done on his brain and then be re asessed six month down the road before they even consider allowing him to get back in the cage. Andre is a super nice dude and I would hate to see him suffer ireperable brain injury because he decides and the doctors and people around him allow him to continue to fight.

    If Silva faces Overeem (which he won’t because Werdum will win that fight just as easy as the first time he submitted the reem) He should be able to beat him. Overeem is good on the feet but once on his back which a bjj blackbelt like silva is likely to be able to make happen it will be all over for the overrated, overhyped, overeem. Werdum wins this tourney with relative ease IMO.

    True it will be Beerbohm’s last fight on a small show. He lost so of course by strikefarce standards he will get a title shot in his next fight, just like brett rogers got. Isn’t that the way strikefarce works?

  • Lethal Liquid says:

    Jab you have no perspective. If you’re truly a fan of Arlovski’s you would rather he hang them up now. The brain isn’t meant to be turned off that many times and that consecutively. Sure its exciting to watch but this isn’t the gladiatorial days this is a guys health.

  • Dufresne says:

    – Fedor could have come out and won that fight in the 3rd, but I don’t really think that he would have. Silva was dropped by Mike Kyle in his last fight, and I have no doubt that if Fedor had connected he could have dropped and probably finished Silva. But, with Fedor’s eye swollen like it was I highly doubt that he would have been able to avoid Silva’s standup well enough to slip a shot and land a successful overhand right and I think he would have eventually been finished by ref stoppage in the 3rd. Basically, yes Fedor could have won it, but no I don’t think he would have.

    – I honestly don’t know on this one, I guess it depends on how much more convincing it’ll take before NYC’s legislators realize that their opinion of MMA is about 15 years out of date. If they finally legalize it there’s no doubt in my mind that the UFC would be booking MSG as quickly as possible. After all, MSG is considered one of the sports world’s great cathedrals and you know any event there would sell out in literally minutes.

    – Del Rosiaro. Period. 11-0 with 11 finishes? He absolutely deserves the spot.

    – Yes. He’s lost his last 4 fights with 3 of those losses due to him not being awake when the bell sounded. No human is supposed to take that kind of damage, and as research has shown, once you suffer a concussion you’re significantly more likely to suffer another. If I’m an athletic commission I would be requesting a head CT and/or a MRI that has been analyzed by at least 3 different neurologist before sanctioning him to fight in my state. The last thing they want is a big name fighter being KO’d and having either permanent brain damage because of it, or even worse, dying from it. Look at how much bad publicity and legal issues the NFL has to deal with from concussions. And they have both helmets and significantly more approval from the general public and sports analyst such as ESPN.

    – Who knows. It seems that every fight I’ve predicted in the last year has gone 100% the opposite direction. I’m gonna go 50:50 and say “no” because it’s the shorter answer and I’m feeling lazy.

    – True. At least it better be. Yeah he lost, but he looked pretty good doing it. And let’s face it, the kid has some drawing power and charisma to go with his talent. Not to mention a badass nickname. You know a guy’s gotta be a decent fighter with a name like “Fancy Pants.” It’s like the Johnny Cash song “A Boy Named Sue.”

    P.S. If you’ve never listened to that song, do yourself a favor and go grab a 12 pack of cheap beer, drink ~9 of them, and then click on this link

  • Brendhan Conlan says:

    Always thought the story in “A Boy Named Sue” would be perfect for making into a Coen Brothers movie.


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