Fightweets: UFC fighters fine with Bellator competition

Thearon W. Henderson

Urijah Faber is a good Zuffa company man. The former WEC featherweight champion has done everything asked of him over the years, from accepting the fights they've wanted him to take to undergoing all the media obligations and publicity appearances that go with the job of a headline fighter.

But if you were expecting him to react to the news that people like UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture and famed trainer Greg Jackson are going to work for Bellator and Viacom the same way Dana White did, well, that's not the case. At a recent UFC 157 media event in Burbank, Calif., Faber said that as far as the MMA business is concerned, the more involved, the merrier.

"In all reality, it's great to have competition," Faber said.

The more deep-pocketed promotions go into business, the more opportunities there are for fighters to make a living. And, for a chosen few, there's the ability to make more money than they might have ever dreamed.

Veteran welterweight Josh Koscheck, who meets Robbie Lawler at UFC 157, used the recent case of Eddie Alvarez as an example.

"How about Alvarez?" Koscheck asked. "He's making pretty good money for someone who hasn't fought in the UFC, 200K per fight or something, and per-per-view, and coaching ‘The Ultimate Fighter.' So it gives the fighters a little bit of leverage to be able to negotiate and make a better living. I think it's good for the business."

Dan Henderson, who as someone who has been in MMA since 1997 has seen his share of promotions come and go, laid it out simply: "It's good for the fighters, it's good for the sport."

With that, on to the latest edition of Fightweets. If you'd like to be considered in an upcoming edition, go to my Twitter page and leave me a question.

Feather dustups

@torontoufcfan: What do you think of the Aldo v Pettis booking? You think Lamas is getting unnecessarily screwed?

I don't think Ricardo Lamas is getting screwed for the reason that he's not the clear-cut No. 1 contender. Chad Mendes still only has one career loss; Chan Sung Jung, though he's been out and injured, has been on quite a tear; and what do you make of the fact Frankie Edgar came closest to beating champion Jose Aldo, should he decide to stick in the division? Semi-spoiler: When the new SB Nation featherweight rankings comes out this weekend, the top contenders underneath Aldo are all pretty well bunched together, which is further proof it's tough to make heads and tails out of the 145-pound picture.

I can't lie, part of me would love to see the upcoming lightweight and featherweight titles turn into a sort of superfight mini-tournament. Take the winners of Benson Henderson-Gilbert Melendez and Aldo-Anthony Pettis and have them meet sometime around the end of the year. In the interim, that's plenty of time for the rest of the featherweight division to sort itself out.

The "MMA media"

@Cwmwrites: What do you make of MMA media? Is it only to improve as more mainstream publications pick it up?

All the major sports news sites from ESPN to Yahoo! Sports to USA Today have been covering mixed martial arts for years, so it's not like the sport isn't being covered.

As for the rest of your question, I'm always puzzled when someone tries to lump "MMA media" together as one amorphous group. In today's media landscape, "MMA media" means everything from people who work at traditional media (like Carlos Arias, a solid reporter for the Orange County Register who's been around the fight game a long time), to the major web sites (where Kevin Iole covers boxing and MMA for Yahoo! Sports) to MMA-specific news sites (like the website which enables me to pay my bills) to blogs of all stripes (some of which, like MMA Payout, are must-reads for their astute business analysis). Carlos, Kevin, and MMA Payout target three entirely different audience without much overlap, yet somehow, when someone who hides behind a fake name starts a rumor online, we all get lumped in with that person as "MMA media," as if everyone is responsible for one person's irresponsible actions.

Within this landscape, many consumers of MMA media, such as it goes, tend to fall into the same "Fox News vs. MSNBC" trap as political coverage. People find the media which represent their worldview and decry the rest as being biased. Don't believe me? Wait until the next time a White controversy erupts, then sit back and watch as both White's supporters and detractors claim that everyone whose story doesn't jibe with their worldview is on the take, facts of that particular story be damned.

It's up to the reader to decide which sources they trust. But what you read is not all the same.

UFC rankings

@janwhite902: How about the UFC implementing a legit ranking system?

I'm not participating in the UFC/FightMetric rankings for a few reasons, but here's the biggie: They're allowing fighters to be ranked while under suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

We just had Exhibit A in why this line of thinking is wrong unfold last weekend at UFC 156, when Antonio Silva knocked Alistair Overeem halfway into next month. Media rankings which don't allow suspended fighters to be considered include those here at SBNation, Yahoo! Sports' pound-for-pound poll, and MMAWeekly. Some others don't ban suspended fighters, and they had Overeem ranked in the top three at heavyweight heading into UFC 156. Look at Overeem's physique before and after the suspension. Look at his results before and after. Do I really even need to explain any further why it was wrong to allow Overeem to be ranked in the interim?

I'm not under any delusion that the fighters who are caught are the only ones who are using. Not by a longshot. But, if we're going through the exercise of ranking fighters, for the sake of the Ben Askrens of the sport who have pledged to do the right thing, what type of message are we sending out if we just ignore those who failed tests and continue to rank them along with everyone else, as though nothing ever happened? I'm going to draw the line at participating in rankings which reward Overeem for cheating at the same time another Top 10 heavyweight fighter in Roy Nelson is going out of his way to try to get pre-fight testing into all his fights and prove himself clean.

Weighty matters

@kris81to: Any chance the UFC goes 155, 165, 175, 185 instead of 155, 170, 185? Dana did mention more weight classes.

Weight classes are set by the Association of Boxing Commissions, which oversees the Unified Rules. UFC isn't about to go creating weight classes on their own. That said, the weight classes go down past flyweight to strawweight (115 pounds) and atomweight (105). Given the UFC is looking to further expand in places like Asia where there is an abundance of smaller fighters, I'm guessing a 115-pound title with Asia in mind is next.

Big bucks

@elcujorino: based of performance and performance alone (popularity doesn't count) who would you say deserves the biggest contract in MMA?

Anderson Silva. When you're the greatest of all-time, you deserve the greatest contract of all-time.

London Calling

@rznhdad: is the UFC London card made up of mainly strikers because us Brits don't like wrestlers??

Maybe. Maybe not. But given the fireworks the lineup promises, if you bought tickets, I'd say forget the analysis. Just grab yourself a nice, cold beer and enjoy the show.

Strikeforce Never ____

@samsonmma: What comes next in this series: Pride Never Die, WEC Never Forget, Strikeforce Never __________?

In 2012, it was "Strikeforce Never Fight." But, you know what, I'm actually stumped on this one. I turn this over to you, dear reader. What's the official Strikeforce memorial motto going forward?

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