Morning Report: Fedor Emelianenko Denies Retirement, Brock Lesnar Rumored for UFC Return

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Let's tackle this first, because it's just screaming to be mentioned. Yesterday Brian Stann glumly announced he had separated his shoulder and would be forced to withdraw from his UFC on FOX 4 headlining barnburner against Hector Lombard. If you're keeping count, that's about the 203rd major injury for the UFC in the last few months.

So after careful consideration, Brandon Vera was given the headlining gig. Yes, you read that right. The guy who hasn't had a mildly significant win since 2009 was just handed the keys to the Maserati. I get he's facing Shogun Rua, and I get Shogun is the main draw here, but let's repeat this one more time -- Shogun, the No. 4 ranked light heavyweight in the world, is fighting Vera, the No. 21 ranked light heavyweight in the world, on the biggest stage the UFC owns. That's happening. I'll leave it at that and let you form your own judgments.

Anyway, how about we talk about something a little less negative, like the fact that two of the most looming figures in the heavyweight division, guys who we all thought were on their way out, may not actually be on their way out. Through some fluky stroke of luck, yesterday saw rumors regarding both Fedor Emelianenko and Brock Lesnar pop up, with both men seemingly flipping the bird at retirement.

Of course, it's good to keep in mind that both of these stories are just that -- stories. At least for right now. But if either of them, or preferably both of them, were true, it would certainly be a happy respite from the bizarre injury carousel we've been riding lately.

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5 MUST-READ STORIES

Fedor Emelianenko denies retirement. Legendary Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko denied rumors that his upcoming June 21 fight against Pedro Rizzo would be his last.

Brock Lesnar rumored for UFC fight in 2012. Whispers continue to swirl regarding the status of former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, as the mammoth wrestler is said to be in nuclear heat with his WWE bosses and may be considering a UFC return in 2012.

Brian Stann out, Tim Boetsch in. Bruising UFC middleweight contender Brian Stann withdrew from the original UFC on FOX 4 main event opposite Hector Lombard due to a shoulder injury. Stann expects to be out 6-to-8 weeks, but will not require surgery. Fellow bruiser Tim Boetsch stepped in to fight Lombard at UFC 149.

Shogun vs. Vera. Due to Stann's injury, a light heavyweight match-up pitting former champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua against Brandon Vera was booked as a replacement main event for UFC on FOX 4.

Randy Couture talks testosterone. UFC Hall of Fame Randy Couture admitted he never underwent TRT throughout his lengthy fighting career, but instead boosted his testosterone levels with natural methods.

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MEDIA STEW

It's probably a good thing B.J. Penn is coming out of retirement, if only because it would be a disservice if this was our lasting image of him.

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Sometimes the internet really is amazing. (HT: Reddit)

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As we continue our fond reminiscing of DREAM, it feels like the right time for a good ol' freak show fight. After all, what Japanese event would be complete without a 7-foot-1 giant smashing a disgraced former baseball player?

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Let's play a game. See how tough you are and try to make it through Kenny Florian's UFC farewell without feeling that warning tug on the back of your eyeballs.

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DISAPPOINTMENT

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WATCH OUT FRANKLIN

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GOOD QUESTION

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WELL, THAT DIDN'T WORK

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Announced yesterday (Wednesday, June 6, 2012):

UFC on FOX 4: Brian Stann (12-4) out, Tim Boetsch in (15-4) against Hector Lombard (31-2-1)

UFC on FOX 4: Shogun Rua (20-6) vs. Brandon Vera (12-5) announced as main event

UFC on FOX 4: Pablo Garza (11-3) out, Rani Yahya (16-7) in against Josh Grispi (14-3)

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FANPOST OF THE DAY

Today's Fanpost of the Day sees PistonHyundai look through a sabermetric microscope at: The Career of Kenny Florian

The best fighter to never hold a belt.

This has been a popular sentiment around the recent retirement of fan-favorite Kenny Florian, and one that I have no interest in disputing. Despite his lazy, terrible nickname, I have always been a Florian fan. From his role on season one of the The Ultimate Fighter, throughout his tutelage under Mark Dellagrotte and Peter Welch, Florian always impressed me as a fighter, and acquitted himself well as a true student of martial arts.

Learning of his retirement saddened me, as it meant not only the loss of a welcome presence in the cage, but also that a man who I've always thought of as young and in his prime is no longer so, which strongly suggests that neither am I. Fortunately we'll be the beneficiaries of Florian's experience and expertise for as long as he remains part of the UFC's live broadcast team. Less fortunately, I've taken Kenny's retirement as an opportunity to revisit an old project of mine, namely the examination of a fighter based on his records and the records of his recent opponents: Adjusted Strength of Record.

In a nutshell, ASR looks at a fighter's career in pieces of equal length (in this case, three years). When comparing two fighters, say as part of the lead-up to the two of them clashing, an optimal time frame would probably be three years before the date of their upcoming match. However, as in this piece I will be comparing several "Kenny Florians", by observing his scores throughout his career, I'll generate numbers for every year of his career, looking back three years from New Year's Eve of the year in question.

Adjusted Strength of Record is itself derived from another, simpler statistic of my design, Raw Strength of Record. RSR is merely my attempt to measure the value of a fighter's recent accomplishments by taking his win percentage over a period of time (three years) and adjusting it by way of how many bouts he participated in during that span. Essentially, the aim is to recognize that, all other things equal, a fighter with a 8-0 record from 2009-2011 has accomplished more than a fighter with a 2-0 record in the same frame, despite both of them owning a 100% win rate.

Found something perfect for the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's post.

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