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MMA Round Up: WWE Stars Brock Lesnar & Batista in the Cage

By Scott Heritage

Probably the biggest story doing the rounds this week in the MMA world was an interview with consensus number one heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko, who said that he thinks about retirement more and more these days. At the age of 34, Fedor is probably still at or near his peak, and he will likely fight at least for another year or two. Enough time to take on both Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem, and any other opponents that might rise to prominence between now and then.

Those hoping Fedor would eventually join the UFC and take on Brock Lesnar though are going to be disappointed, although to be honest this has never really looked like happening. Fedor and M-1 global come as a package it seems, and the UFC is certainly never going to agree to either co-promote or sign any other M-1 fighters. Even without the likes of Lesnar, Carwin or Mir on his record though, Emelianenko will retire with arguably the best resume of any fighter in the sport. The only two heavyweights who even come close would be Mirko Crocop and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, both of whom he has beaten.

The fighter once known as Jon Koppenhaver is going to jail for around a year after starting a fight at a bar. This isn’t the first time the former UFC fighter, now legally known as War Machine, has gotten himself into trouble with the law. Only a few weeks ago he got into an altercation with several of his co-stars from the adult entertainment industry at a birthday party. All too frequently War Machine seems to find himself in some sort of bother these days, veering from one calamity to the next with the odd MMA bout in between.

His latest transgression and subsequent incarceration was more a case of when rather than if it would happen. Mr. Machine also mentioned that a year in prison was just time away from his life and that it wouldn’t teach him anything. And sadly, this is probably the case, but what else are the authorities supposed to do with a professional fighter who appears to have an alcohol problem and a propensity for out of the cage violence? Something tells me that this won’t be the last time we hear about War Machine in conjunction with the court system. Incidentally, having to take the stand with a name like War Machine probably isn’t that great an idea either.

The negotiations between Jake Shields and the UFC don’t appear to have gone as well as either party was hoping. After beating Dan Henderson and shortly after being pictured with Dana White at a UFC event, it looked certain that the StrikeForce middleweight champion would be jumping ship and leaving Scott Coker and company in the near future. Coker now reports though that he is in talks with Shields, and that there is a discrepancy between what the fighter believes he is worth and how much StrikeForce are willing to pay for him. Unless this is just some kind of ploy to force a bidding war on the part of Shields, he might be on his way back into the fold after all.

Here is the difficulty in putting a price tag on Shields, he is no doubt a talented fighter, and his resume speaks for itself. However, aside from talent both the UFC and StrikeForce weigh up what a fighter is paid based largely on how popular they are and how many tickets they can sell. Shields is not typically an exciting fighter, and as such StrikeForce aren’t going to want to pay a fortune to keep him and in effect lose money on him being the champion.

The UFC could market Shields as a challenger to either Georges St. Pierre or Anderson Silva and no doubt the event would sell well. The problem there though is that if Shields wins they are left with a less popular champion and if he loses then they will be paying over the odds for a contender who isn’t going to draw in huge numbers of fans and justify his high price. So although both the UFC and StrikeForce both want talented fighters like Shields, its difficult to justify paying them a lot when they aren’t bringing in much income to the company.

David Bautista, JR., better known as Batista of professional wrestling fame this week confirmed that he is taking up MMA full time and claimed to have a deal in place with StrikeForce. No word as of yet from StrikeForce on whether this is true or not, but it would appear he will be fighting somewhere in the near future. While he will no doubt be a big draw for any company he is associated with, I have my doubts about how well he will do in MMA.

To begin with, Batista is already 41 years old, not to mention he has the kind of physique that suggests a lifetime of taking questionable pharmaceutical products. And in fact he was accused but never caught using steroids back in his WWE days, after his name was linked to a pharmacy in Florida giving out illegal prescription drugs. Depending on who you talk to about the incident, he was also apparently getting the worst of it from fellow wrestler Booker T when the pair got into a fist fight backstage a few years ago. Standing somewhere between 6’2” and 6’6” (again depending on who you ask), and around 290 pounds, cardio will also be an issue in a prolonged real fight.

That aside he apparently has training in several aspects of MMA already, and at the very least will sell a lot of tickets. If he is brought along the right way he may even become a decent fighter, but at his age he will need to progress a lot faster than most if he ever wants to become a real star. It seems the public is less sold on the hulking Brock Lesnar-like monsters entering MMA these days than they used to be, and fellow walking sides of beef Maruisz Pudzianowski and Bobby Lashley have yet to really make a mark at the top of any rankings lists.

UFC news now, and ahead of his July 3rd fight against Brock Lesnar, challenger Shane Carwin has in a rather odd move revealed what he will be making for the bout. In one of his customary lighthearted blog entries, he revealed that he will be making $40k to show and $40k to win from the UFC. Now obviously there are other factors such as sponsors and merchandising deals to think of there, and for the time being Carwin isn’t a household name attracting the casual fans. Champion Brock Lesnar on the other hand makes in the millions for each of his fights, thanks largely due to a percentage of the pay per view money.

Not long ago though Dana white was urging Carwin to give up the full time engineering job he maintains alongside his MMA career, which Shane rightly refused to do. Even supposing Carwin fights three times per year without injury it’s clear why he has to stay working full time as well. At his age (36) there isn’t any guarantee that he will get much higher up the MMA food chain than he is now, and other than being a champion, being an undefeated heavyweight prospect in a sport always short on them is about as good as it gets.

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