When UFC President Dana White criticizes Fedor Emelianenko's decision to fight on M-1 Global and Strikeforce co-promoted cards instead of fighting in the UFC, he likes to say it's proof that Fedor doesn't want to fight the best on a consistent basis.
Specifically, White says:
-- "But don't call yourself the best heavyweight in the world unless you're willing to come in and fight three times a year against the best."
-- "My only beef with Fedor is that he's not fighting consistently right now, against top competition. I can't call someone the best in the world unless he's fighting against the best, and he's fighting three times a year, minimum."
-- "The best in the world, to me, are the guys who compete three times a year against the very best in the world!"
White is right: Fedor doesn't fight three times a year. He's fought twice this year, beating Andrei Arlovski in January and Brett Rogers in November.
But for White to suggest that the UFC's heavyweights fight more often than Fedor is incorrect. In my list of the Top 10 heavyweights in MMA, I have six fighters in the UFC. Here's a look at how many times the top UFC heavyweights have fought this year:
Brock Lesnar: 1 (beat Frank Mir in July)
Frank Mir: 1 (lost to Brock Lesnar in July, also has a fight scheduled for December vs. Cheick Kongo)
Shane Carwin: 1 (beat Gabriel Gonzaga in March)
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: 1 (beat Randy Couture in August)
Cain Velasquez: 3 (beat Denis Stojnic in February, beat Cheick Kongo in June, beat Ben Rothwell in October)
Junior dos Santos: 2 (beat Stefan Struve in February, beat Mirko Cro Cop in September)
So if White can't call someone the best in the world unless he's fighting the best and fighting three times a year, minimum, who does White think is the best? Velasquez is the only one of the top UFC heavyweights who has fought three times this year, and I hardly think you can call Stojnic, Kongo and Rothwell "fighting against the best." I don't know too many MMA observers who would consider beating those three more impressive than beating Arlovski and Rogers.
The bottom line, as my colleague Mike Chiappetta noted, is that it's really, really hard for professional MMA heavyweights to fight three times a year. Some get sick, some get injured, some have to cancel fights because their opponents drop out. It's silly for White to suggest that the UFC's top heavyweights fight more often than Fedor.