I know I alluded to a post that would attempt at solving the mess the UFC has with its titles but there are so many issues that have to be considered and information that I’m not privy to that it’s hard to give a real accurate solution but I’m gonna do my best and it should be taken as such.
With Couture’s decision to turn down the Noguiera fight essentially this leaves us with Big Nog vs. Tim Sylvia for the vacant belt if we disregard the curiousness of the news that came out with Sylvia (see ‘Sylvia to fight at 81’ for details) which I think we can. With this chip in place, the dominoes in the Heavyweight division can now start to fall. And while I don’t believe that Nog or Tim deserve the shot over say Arlovski or Gonzaga (who put up a valiant effort against the real champ and what? these two get a break? If Gonzaga hadn’t fought Couture he’d be about to destroy one of those guys for the belt) that’s the situation we are left with so let’s deal with it. The matches that should follow are: Arlovski (should be quickly extended) vs. Kongo and Brandon Vera vs. Mirko Cro Cop. I think one could be at 81 (preferably Arlovski/Kongo) while the other makes the 82 card.
And now the division seems pretty cleared up, the wheels are definitely in motion again and we can title defenses every fourth UFC event provided our champion doesn’t get hurt *knocks on wood*. To take it a step further: if Gonzaga beats Werdum (which he should) he should take on the loser of Sylvia/Nog at 85 for #1 contender. Winner of Arlovski/Kongo gets an immediate title shot against winner of Sylvia/Nog and the loser of Arlovski/Kongo meets Frank Mir for #3 spot. Fabricio Werdum could meet up with the loser of Vera/Cro Cop while Brock Lesnar could fight a Eddie Sanchez type.
This is perhaps the toughest one to clear up because a) Rampage’s status is somewhat murky and b) there is no clear #1 contender. From what I’ve heard from Rampage’s own mouth is that he needs probably two more weeks to heal before he starts punching again. This shouldn’t be a huge issue, he’s already training light, doing the cardio and ground work I would assume so once his hand is ready to go 8 weeks should suffice to train for an opponent. And you know what? I think this schedule coincides nicely with UFC 79 where Wanderlei Silva (who has two wins over Rampage and someone Rampage wants vengeance against badly) is fighting. I foresee Quinton being in attendance and should Silva beat Liddell (please God let this happen! I hate when the division gets fucked up b.c of some upset *cough* Shogun/Griffin *cough*) I’ll bet my laptop that Dana White brings Quinton into the ring right then and there and announces the fight for UFC 83 in April in Montreal, CA. That would be awesome…now here for some of the under stuff.
Rumor has it that Forrest Griffin will take on Keith Jardine at UFC 81 for a rematch and to decide the #1 contender, I like this idea big time. The other thing that concerns me is the winner of Lyoto Machida/Sokoudjou at 79 should be catapulted right up into #1 contender status as well. Since both fights are relatively close to each other (5 week separation), perhaps the winners should fight at 84 for the real #1 contender (would work perfect if Rampage fights at 83 or 84) and the losers could even fight as well for a #3 or 4 spot.
Some of the other matches I foresee…How about a Thiago Silva/Shogun fight at 83? Tito Ortiz vs. Rashad in the rematch at 84? Chuck Liddell…who knows where he goes from a loss against Wanderlei…retirement perhaps? Houston Alexander against Stephan Bonnar? Maybe Michael Bisping if he and Matt Hammill can’t do that rematch for some time because of Hammill’s injury.
With the best pound for pound fighter in the World, Anderson Silva, reigning supreme and fighting every 4 or 5 UFC events this division isn’t really a mess, just lacks challengers. The only real person you can envision challenging Silva right now is Dan Henderson, the former Pride “middleweight” champion and the two are set to clash at UFC 82 in March in what could be the best fight in the history of the UFC in terms of an epic matchup, we’ll see if it plays out like that. The key will be for the young fighters to rise up the ranks quickly. Watch for Thales Leites, I haven’t seen much of him but he’s fighting well as indicated by his record and word is he’s got a lot of talent.
Was a mess for about 24 hrs but now with Georges St.-Pierre and Matt Hughes fighting their rubber match for the interim title things will definitely be clearing up. What remains to be seen is whether Matt Serra can recover from his back injury in time for an undisputed showdown with the winner in April at UFC 83. If he can’t it sounds like Karo Parisyan will get his long-awaited title shot because according to him, he’d rather wait than fight Jon Fitch and risk losing his chance. Meanwhile, the other top contenders Fitch and training partner Josh Koscheck will be fighting separated opponents at UFC 82 so if everything plays out and Serra can’t recover from his back injury *crosses fingers* we could see GSP fighting Jon Fitch in July.
The decision on champion Sean Sherk has finally been handed down by the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) in which they rendered him essentially guilty of using steriods but shortened his suspension from a year to just six months. This means that Sherk, who fought July 7th, will be done serving his suspension in February.
The question now is whether his pal Dana White will strip him of the title. In my mind, there is no question that Sherk should be stripped. It really sets a bad precedent on two levels if he isn’t. On one hand you’re saying it’s ok for champions — or any other fighter for that matter — to use performance enhancing drugs and on the other you’re basically throwing up a middle finger at the CSAC in telling them that you disagree with their ruling — that you believe Sherk to be innocent and they effectively don’t know what they’re doing.
At UFC 80 BJ Penn and Joe Stevenson are fighting for the “interim” Lightweight title and hopefully soon that will just be changed to the official Lightweight title and Sherk can be given a title shot in April or as soon as he’s ready.
Well there you have it. I’ll be back in the week leading up to “Nemesis” with a breakdown of the main card and some predictions and perhaps even a LH division top 15 ranking as it has a few big fights on the card. As always any big UFC news that breaks in the time between I will post and comment on it. Don’t forget to leave your comments…