Three for Three: Evaluating the UFC/Strikeforce Talent Gap

By Jake Rossen Aug 4, 2009
I’m sure you’ve heard the news by now: according to researchers, fat babies have a 40% greater chance of becoming fat toddlers.

Of significantly less consequence is the report that Fedor Emelianenko has signed a three-fight deal with Strikeforce that’s likely to begin in the fall. The common reaction from both fans and UFC honchos has been the idea that Emelianenko simply isn’t interested in testing himself against top competition.

For the sake of argument: while the UFC holds a majority share of quality heavyweights, the idea that Emelianenko’s legacy will be tainted by never making eye contact with them is a stretch.

Consider:

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: A non-entity where Emelianenko is concerned. He loses a fourth fight only if he fractures both his hands against Nogueira’s skull.

Randy Couture: Legendary, but well into middle age.

Frank Mir: Smashed to pieces by Brock Lesnar, and traditionally weakest where Emelianenko is strongest: dropping nuclear bombs on grounded opponents.

Ben Rothwell, Junior dos Santos, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Cheick Kongo: I could think of better ways to spend a Saturday.

Putting aside inter-divisional fights with Anderson Silva or Lyoto Machida -- which would be lots of fun for spectators -- the UFC really has three upper-tier heavyweights with skills that could potentially give Emelianenko a very hard time: Brock Lesnar, Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez. Three.

Strikeforce can match the ante with Alistair Overeem, Brett Rogers and some kind of wild card entrant: Bobby Lashley, Blagoi Ivanov, perhaps even Josh Barnett.

The proposition that Strikeforce employs air conditioning repairmen and the UFC enlists only Olympic athletes is pushing the envelope; I’d almost sooner see Emelianenko go on a free-agent tear for a year or two before settling in with the UFC, considering that their asphyxiating contracts invite retirement at their conclusions.

Emelianenko will be just fine. So will his career. And so will his fans.

Those damn fat babies are the ones worth worrying about.
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