Just My Thoughts: Couture, HBO and Awards

Just my Thoughts

By Mike Sloan Jan 11, 2007
What is it with the UFC these days? It seems like when absolutely nothing worthwhile happens inside a cage or mixed martial arts ring, Zuffa unfurls some sort of tasty news bit for the fight world to chew on.

This week, however, Zuffa surprised and delighted many a fan with not one but two juicy revelations, though I am not sure what to make of either just yet and I am pondering whether they’ll wind up being a bullet in Zuffa’s clapper shoe.

Don’t confuse my casual confliction between right/wrong/good/evil as some sort of negative diatribe. My immediate speculation about what has happened this week is just that: mere speculation coupled with an opinion based solely on what has been reported.

My opinions and viewpoints stem directly from keen knowledge of the fight game as well as a staunch and studious mind of the history of the goings on within fightsports in general.

When any announcement is made, I generally can predict the outcome of the situation well before it actually occurs. To just ramble senseless and insipid vernacular would be ludicrous and insulting to the intelligent readers of this column. As for the morons, though, please affix a thesaurus onto your hand.

Couture to return? Say it ain’t so!

Well, I guess those rumors about Randy Couture (Pictures) rearing his head again inside the Octagon wound up materializing into fact this week. The former two-division UFC champion has decided to once again strap on the fingertip-less gloves at least once more in attempt to regain past glory.

According to various reports, Couture has come out of retirement and plans on immediately attacking UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia (Pictures) in hopes of snatching away his title. Sylvia was tentatively scheduled to defend his belt against heavyweight contender Gabriel Gonzaga (Pictures), but apparently that bout has fallen through (and seeing as though it was never made official, we didn’t lose anything).

My question, though, is why? And when I ask why, I am not asking only Couture; I am asking Dana White, Joe Silva, and anybody else who has some power within Zuffa. Why would a fight between Couture and Sylvia be made (if not only for the tons of money such an attraction will command)?

Obviously a Sylvia-Couture fight has yet to be formally announced let alone materialize, but for the sake of debate and speculation, it would be in the best interest of all parties involved to make this fight just a “what-if” dream instead of a catastrophic nightmare. And when anybody with a brain actually looks a bit closer at such a fight, they’ll quickly realize how right I am.

For starters, Couture, an absolute legend in North American MMA, has literally nothing to prove. Even after being twice iced against Chuck Liddell (Pictures), his legacy remains virtually untarnished and fully intact. Why risk chancing even a remote dent into said legacy?

If Liddell can knockout Couture with one shot, just imagine what the hulking Sylvia, who assuredly hits harder than Liddell, would do to Couture.

The last time Couture was a heavyweight, “The Natural” lost to Josh Barnett (Pictures) via technical knockout and then Ricco Rodriguez (Pictures) stopped him. Love him or hate him, Tim Sylvia (Pictures) is a terrific fighter who is one of the hardest men to take down. If Couture can’t score a takedown, he stands absolutely no chance of beating Sylvia, and it’ll wind up being an embarrassing loss for Couture.

Another factor is that Couture is now 43, and showed signs of aging in his second fight with Liddell as well as his victorious battle with Mike Van Arsdale (Pictures). Sylvia, even though he’s won two abysmally dull decisions lately, is clearly one of the best heavyweights on the planet.

The way I see this fight unfolding is simple: Sylvia lands a right hand; Couture goes to sleep; everybody makes money; everybody is happy — except Couture, of course, who’d have a splitting headache.

Dana White should do the right thing and nix any idea of a comeback for Couture. Unless Couture is dead broke and robbing drug stores for Sudafed and Jose Cuervo, there is no point in him returning. Couture even said on the Sherdog Radio Network that he’d come back if Tito Ortiz (Pictures) beat Chuck, meaning that he can’t beat Liddell. If he couldn’t beat Liddell in his last two tries, does he think he stands a chance at beating the much larger and harder hitting Tim Sylvia (Pictures)?

But then again, this is just my opinion and speculation on an event that has yet to become a reality. Maybe it’s just a reported rumor that has gotten out of control. Maybe it is marketing propaganda on Zuffa’s part to see if the old man can still spark interest. Apparently he can — just not from me.

Randy Couture (Pictures) is an all-time great and I stand firm in my belief that he shouldn’t fight again in legitimate mixed martial arts against a premiere fighter like Tim Sylvia (Pictures).

HBO hops in bed with Zuffa

At first glance this announcement seemed like a huge deal but in reality, it might wind up backfiring in Zuffa’s face. According to a report on SecondsOut.com, HBO’s Ross Greenburg isn’t exactly a happy camper. He clearly despises the UFC and MMA in general and would rather ignore the sport altogether.

Here’s what I say: Screw ‘em! Tell HBO to scram and close the door behind them on their way out!

The UFC is powerful enough to the point where it actually doesn’t even need HBO. It seems to me — and again this is just my opinion — that Dana White has had his mind set on HBO for years because, well, it’s HBO and the cable network has been the premiere boxing giant for two decades.

The UFC has done just fine without HBO thus far and yet White still sought out HBO. I can see having the newly-acquired WEC added to the network, but after realizing that HBO will broadcast three UFC events at midnight made me chuckle quite a few times. Midnight? What good will that do?

It’ll do virtually nothing to boost viewership, that’s for sure. If the UFC landed a killer timeslot that immediately followed Oscar de la Hoya-Floyd Mayweather this May, then it would matter. But scattered events at midnight coupled with Greenburg and Seth Abraham’s dissatisfaction with the entire deal is a catalyst for disaster.

I clearly cannot speak for everybody involved in MMA, but after reading Greenburg and Abraham’s displeasure and how they spewed utter nonsense about how HBO is the boxing network and boxing is history, glory, Joe Louis, blah, blah, blah … I chuckled yet again.

Come on. Spare me the Tuesday afternoon off-Broadway theatrics in Lynbrook. Everybody knows how much I cherish the sport of boxing, but when I think of that sport and HBO, I immediately think of how many absurd match-ups that network has made over the years (De la Hoya-Charpentier, Bernard Hopkins-Morrade Hakkar, Shane Mosley-Adrian Stone … how many more should I deliver?). I think of how the HBO broadcast team still recognize the fraudulent and literally criminal sanctioning bodies, and how the network blatantly favors certain fighters over others. When I think of boxing and HBO these days, I don’t think of glory or the late great Joe Louis; I think of a drunken Larry Merchant sputtering absolute nonsense before, during and after fights, the vastly over-priced pay-per-views for bogus fights and how much Showtime is kicking their butt.
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