Elevated Levels of Letters

Elevated Levels

By Jake Rossen Aug 13, 2007
Sequestered in their air-conditioned cubicles and home offices, Sherdog.com readers have nonetheless spent the summer getting hot and bothered over the steroid debate, a topic that isn't likely to be exhausted anytime soon.

More on that, plus thoughts on Fedor Emelianenko (Pictures) and Title IX, in your monthly dose of reader feedback.

Fedor's Options

I think that as far as Fedor's negotiations -- or ANY fighter's negotiations -- the number one thing any fighter should be concerned about is fighting the very best fighters in the world.

Any consideration beyond that, and I really feel like a fighter has entered his ‘Frank Shamrock (Pictures) years' where he is hand picking fights that have the least chance of tarnishing his legend. In other words, glorified exhibition bouts that mean nothing.

The fact that Fedor is even contemplating whether or not to go to the UFC tells me that he does not care about being the best heavyweight fighter in the world anymore.

The UFC has become the biggest MMA organization in the world, and Fedor has never fought for them once. I truly believe that Fedor will be the one most hurt if he doesn't go to the UFC. The UFC quite frankly doesn't need him.

If he goes to K-1 or some other whack promotion where he's fighting scrubs that couldn't make it in the UFC or old farts that used to be contenders, this sport will pass him by and people will eventually forget about him, or at least not care as much. And we'll have to watch him call himself the greatest after fights with the Tank Abbotts and Kimos of the world. - Brandon Kavulla, New York, NY

I don't think Fedor has ever regarded himself in a public forum as the best -- that's a trait usually reserved for mid-tier athletes who need to hear themselves say it in order to believe it.

It's an incredibly jingoistic attitude to have, but I really don't think Fedor's imprint on the sport will be as substantial if he decides to pass on the UFC. He might be able to involve himself in some compelling fights overseas (with Josh Barnett (Pictures) and perhaps a future free agent heavyweight), but the real gauntlet is in the United States.

I've read in your column and others that Fedor's bargaining power is diminished because his legacy would be tainted if he were to spend the rest of his prime years outside the UFC.

I can't agree with that position. If Fedor retired *right now*, he would still be the greatest fighter in any division in the history of the sport (to this point). What more does Fedor have to do? He's beaten the best heavyweight strikers in the game (Cro Cop and Hunt) and beaten the best heavyweight submission masters in the game (Nogueira x2).

As far as I'm concerned, Fedor holds all the cards. The UFC's heavyweight title holds no legitimacy without him. Regardless of whoever dominates the UFC heavyweight division for the next few years, he will have to deal with the constant whispers that he is only champion because they couldn't sign Fedor. - Terrence Chan, Vancouver, BC

What more does he have to do? How about get in the ring with more than two or three ranked heavyweights?

I'm as impressed with Fedor as anyone, but his last meaningful fight was against Mirko Filipovic (Pictures) two years ago. Mark Hunt (Pictures) is undoubtedly a dangerous striker, but his ground game is keeping him from being regarded as a serious contender.

I would argue we've seen fighters in other weight classes take on more frequent challenges relative to their size than Fedor has. Matt Hughes (Pictures)' UFC career has involved a who's-who of elite welterweights.

Of the eight fighters on Sherdog.com's heavyweight rankings (not including the man or his brother), Fedor has fought two of them.

He's got some work to do.


Can you please explain to me why you and a few others feel that Matt Lindland (Pictures) is the No. 1 middleweight in the world? I just don't see it. Please give me a plausible explanation for this phenomenon. - Ryan, Tempe, AZ

At 20-5, Lindland's winning percentage against credible middleweight opposition is unmatched. (Two of those losses came against Fedor Emelianenko (Pictures) and Quinton Jackson (Pictures), and he avenged another against Falaniko Vitale (Pictures).)

Not only is Lindland's arithmetic impressive, his performances are studies in true mixed-style versatility. He choked out BJJ black belt Travis Lutter (Pictures); he knocked out Jeremy Horn (Pictures); he handed Carlos Newton (Pictures) his only submission loss aside from Kazushi Sakuraba (Pictures); against current UFC light heavyweight monster Jackson, he more than held his own.

It disappoints me to see people discount Lindland simply because he's not passing out drunk in front of reality TV cameras or chugging Xyience. Perhaps Frank Shamrock (Pictures) was right when he said that people only see what's shiny and pretty on TV.

With Dan Henderson (Pictures) apparently a 205-pound entrant, it's a three-way dance between Lindland, Anderson Silva, and Paulo Filho (Pictures). I say Lindland could take them both. And until we find out, Silva's title doesn't mean a whole lot to me.

Title IX Woes

Your article was very informative and hit some of the reasons that wrestling programs are disappearing. However, the main reason is lack of interest by young people. The fact is that wrestling is a very tough sport, and it is totally individual. Most youths today just don't want to sacrifice the sweat and pain required to succeed in wrestling. It is much easier to play soccer and be just one person of many on the field. I teach at a high school with over 600 students, and the wrestling program struggles every year, with maybe a dozen participants in grades 9-12. And this is in the Midwest. Meanwhile, soccer continually expands. That's just the way it is. Supply and demand.

Wrestling and boxing challenge the individual and teach youths how to lose, how to be totally responsible for their actions, and how to persevere. It's unfortunate that the former is declining and that the latter is virtually extinct. - Scott Howard, South Dakota

Statistics don't agree with that assessment: wrestling is exploding at the high school level, with more than a quarter-million participants around the country.

Unfortunately, it lacks the political power to prevent its routine destruction at the hands of ill-advised school officials and selfish advocacy groups.

If BJJ schools were getting shuttered due to Title IX, you'd hear plenty about it. Wrestling is just as valuable a martial art, and we should be angrier about the damage being done to it in the collegiate arena.
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