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MMA Round Up: Brock Lesnar Reigns Supreme at UFC 116 & James Toney comes to the MMA

By Scott Heritage

The biggest story of the week was again related to the heavyweight division, as Brock Lesnar overcame an early storm from Shane Carwin to eventually win by submission. With the win Lesnar becomes the top ranked heavyweight in the sport with only 6 fights to his name. More a result of the way he won than who he actually beat though, and against Carwin he was close to being stopped several times during the first round.

The wider implications of Lesnar’s win though are that the UFC now has not only the top drawing but also top ranked heavyweight in the sport. Something that they can’t honestly say they have had since the late 90’s. The buy rate of UFC 116 has yet to be released, but predictions within the industry were north of a million buys. Meaning with the right mixture of stars around him, Lesnar and the UFC might soon be out selling the biggest fights in boxing. Yet another sure sign of the rapid growth of the sport.

The upcoming fight between boxing convert James Toney and Randy Couture has been receiving a lot of attention recently, not least of which because no one seems certain of what weight the fight is taking place at. Toney and company are under the impression that a catch weight will be in place. Couture believes that the fight will be taking place at heavyweight.

What Toney has to gain from a catch weight isn’t really clear, and Couture isn’t a big heavyweight anyway. Chances are that Toney will be the heavier man when the two eventually meet in the cage, although what kind of shape he will be in is anyone’s guess. Having started out at 160 pounds in boxing, Toney has cut an increasingly flabby figure as he’s moved up the divisions in boxing, and not wanting to take the fight at 205 pounds isn’t a good sign for his commitment to the sport. Of course he insists that he can fight anyone, and that size isn’t an issue, but whether he believes all of what comes out of his mouth or not isn’t clear.

In another brief piece of UFC news, former lightweight champion Sean Sherk has announced that he will be returning to action at UFC 119 against Evan Dunham. Sherk last fought at UFC 108, losing a decision to now champion Frankie Edgar, and a series of injuries has prevented him from competing since.

Troubled middleweight talent Paulo Filho has been banned from fighting on two consecutive Impact FC cards in Australia he was scheduled to appear on. The worry for the Aussie authorities being that he would have been fighting three times in quick succession. Generally speaking athletic commissions don’t restrict fighters from taking on as many fights as they want to s long as they are physically fit to and they keep winning.

A fighter who loses by anything but a submission is usually barred from competition for a couple of months, and any cuts usually require clearance from a plastic surgeon before a fighter can resume competition. Given that Filho is the favorite in all three of his upcoming fights though this is a strange decision. The only reason a fighter would agree to so many fights in a short time is because they feel they are physically capable of doing so. With Filho’s personal problems and history of pulling out of events, at this stage his excellent record is one of the few reasons he continues to get work. Risking a loss against lesser opponents would only hurt Filho himself if he were to take on too much at once. Then again though this should be his look out, not the commission’s.

While we are on the subject of Impact FC, does anyone else see it as perhaps a little risky that they are stacking their initial cards with fighters who all have questionable pasts?

Josh Barnett-multiple steroid transgressions. Paulo Filho and Karo Parisyan- history of pulling out of fights and drug problems. Ken Shamrock- steroids, and finally Paul Daley who was thrown out of the UFC for striking an opponent after the bell. The cards themselves are stacked from top to bottom, and I for one hope they go off without a hitch. But I wouldn’t put money on all the current fights remaining unchanged.

Former WWE wrestler Batista is continuing in his quest to secure a big MMA deal, although talks with StrikeForce have yet to produce anything concrete. The issue with Batista seems to be he believes he is worth a lot more than StrikeForce are offering him currently. As much of a draw as he is, he remains a big risk for any promotion to sign to a multiple fight deal. Supposing he draws big but then loses his first fight, StrikeForce would be accused of putting together so called ‘freak matches’. Not only that but if subsequent fights failed to attract as many viewers as they initially did, then they could be losing out if he was being given a huge pay check.

Trying to predict just how much of a draw individual fighters will be is also an inexact science. Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley were both big names in professional wrestling, and yet only Lesnar and his over the top antics proved to be a huge pay per view seller. Batista has only just left the WWE, so he may prove to be an even bigger attraction that both if he has the skills and acting skills to progress quickly.

Further StrikeForce news, and anyone looking forward to seeing Fedor challenge Alistair Overeem for his heavyweight title could be in for a long wait. StrikeForce CEO Scott Coker said during the week that although a Fedor vs. Werdum rematch was an option, he would prefer for Fedor to try to capture the title first. Fedor’s management though have since stated that the only match up they are interested in right now is an immediate rematch. And as recent history has shown, generally what Fedor’s management wants, they get. The fact that Fedor has a legitimate loss on his record now diminishes his management’s power somewhat, but he remains the biggest name in StrikeForce’s heavyweight division.

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