MMA Twitter Mailbag: Brian Bowles, Fedor Emelianenko

MMA Twitter universe had plenty to say about my interview with new WEC bantamweight champion Brian Bowles, who defeated Miguel Torres on Sunday at WEC 42. Questions and answers included the possibility of a Torres-Bowles rematch and the extent of the hand injury Bowles suffered during his final series of punches.

We then turn our attention to Fedor Emelianenko, and whether he needs to keep fighting top opponents to stay atop the pound-for-pound rankings. Your questions and comments, and my answers, are below.

tshirtmaker Will he seek a rematch with Torres?
Bowles said he'll fight whoever the WEC puts in front of him and doesn't particularly care who that is, although he thinks (and I agree) his first title defense will come against Dominick Cruz. I'd like to see Bowles fight Cruz, Torres to have a rematch with Takeya Mizugaki and then the winners of those fights fight each other. There are a lot of big bantamweight fights ahead of us in the WEC.

dangerdogg93: Congrats Bolwes on your win against Torres, but I have to ask at which point of the fight did you feel like you broke your hand?
I asked Bowles this question, and he said it was on the final series of punches before the referee stopped the fight -- after Torres was already out of it and no longer intelligently defending himself. The ref's late stoppage exposed Torres to more damage, and it also led to Bowles breaking his hand.

PJHarrison: Great interview with Bowles.
Thanks. Bowles is a quiet, plain-spoken guy who doesn't sound like his status as the bantamweight champion of the world has gone to his head. I enjoyed interviewing him.


beewsee: If Fedor were to fight Ricco, and win, would you still drop him in your P4P rankings?
If Fedor Emelianenko's next opponent is Ricco Rodriguez, as has been rumored, I will be extremely disappointed. Both Fedor and Strikeforce have assured fans that they're committed to putting Fedor into the cage against elite competition, and Rodriguez, at this stage of his career, is not among the elite.

If it does happen, would I drop Fedor in my rankings? I certainly would if Fedor struggled at all (or lost, obviously), but I suspect Fedor would destroy Rodriguez within the first minute or two of the first round, and that probably wouldn't lead me to drop Fedor in my rankings.

The bottom line, though, is that for fighters to remain highly ranked, they have to consistently beat opponents who are highly ranked. Fedor looked like he was starting to do that by beating Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovksi (who were widely regarded as Top 10 heavyweights) and then scheduling a fight with Josh Barnett (who was widely regarded as the No. 2 heavyweight). Now Fedor may be starting to turn away from that by declining to sign with the UFC, where he could take on the heavyweight who would give him the greatest test, Brock Lesnar.

Back to Bowles, take a look at my list of the Top 10 bantamweights in MMA. The Top 6 are all in the WEC: Bowles, Torres, Mizugaki, Cruz, Rani Yahya and Joseph Benavidez. With that kind of roster depth and the WEC's matchmaking, it's entirely possible that Bowles will have five straight fights against Top 5 opponents in 2009 and 2010. You can't say that about Fedor.

So no, I wouldn't necessarily drop Fedor for fighting Ricco Rodriguez. But if he regularly fights opponentss of the caliber of Rodriguez -- while guys like Anderson Silva, Georges St Pierre and Brian Bowles regularly beat the best in the world -- then yes, Fedor would drop in my pound-for-pound rankings.

Want to be part of our next MMA Twitter mailbag? Post a question or comment on Twitter.com, and be sure to start it with @MichaelDavSmith.

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