Alistair Overeem and the 10 Biggest Questions in the UFC

Dan Hiergesell@DHiergesellFeatured ColumnistJune 5, 2012

Alistair Overeem and the 10 Biggest Questions in the UFC

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    Over the past few years, the UFC has fulfilled nearly every possible expectation.

    Including high PPV income, signing the most elite fighters in the world to lucrative contracts, vast media exposure and more.

    The world's largest MMA promoter has continued to grow in size, revenue, worthiness and notoriety.

    But as it is with any sports monopoly, you have to take the good with the bad.

    From being ridiculed for not compensating their fighters properly to handing out lengthy suspensions to their biggest cash cows, the UFC has fought an uphill battle.

    Here are the company's 10 biggest questions moving forward.

10. Will the UFC Miss Kenny Florian?

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    Kenny Florian may not light up the public controversy torch that is the UFC's biggest questions, but he has certainly played a major role in the sport.

    His experience inside the cage has made him a perennial top contender, whether as a lightweight or featherweight.

    His accomplishments have been vast and his knowledge infinite.

    Florian has handled himself like the professional he is, making the most out of his time fighting for the biggest MMA promoter in the world.

    Hailing from The Ultimate Fighter, Florian has been one of the most recognizable fighters for the past five years, making him non-expendable moving forward.

    And while Florian's battle with career-threatening back injuries have been somewhat mysterious, the fighter's will to compete should translate into a successful commentary career.

    His presence will surely be missed.

9. Are There Too Many Events?

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    For the UFC, putting their product out there is the No. 1 priority.

    Because what comes from product exposure?

    Money, money and more money.

    The reason why the UFC has decided to flourish on different networks in the past, and present, including Spike TV, FOX, FX, FUEL and of course PPV, is to make their presence known.

    With a variety of fighters making up eight different weight classes, the depth of their talent has been borderline endless.

    Like an MMA black hole, the UFC has sucked every asset out of the fight world and made it their own.

    From buying out other franchises, signing the most prestigious fighters on the planet and striking gold with big TV network deals, the company has created an impenetrable knack for greatness.

    Because when it comes down to it, if you have it, why not flaunt it?

8. Should There Be Interim Titles?

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    There's really no argument when it comes to interim UFC titles.

    Bottom line, they shouldn't exist.

    Whether it's due to injury, suspension or an unknown reason, UFC champions should never feel threatened by the interim tag line.

    The fact of the matter is that interim title holders are unanimously dished aside like stale bread.

    There isn't even as asterisk or worthy mention on for interim champions like Carlos Condit.

    And when Urijah Faber and Renan Barao meet at UFC 148, it's not going to be a bantamweight championship showdown. 

    It's going to be a fight between two guys who both want to keep Dominick Cruz's belt warm until he comes back from injury.

7. Has the FOX Deal Been Worth It?

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    To go along with No. 9 on this list, the UFC's seven-year deal with FOX has thus far been worth it.

    Sure, some events fail to attract new fans to the sport due to a lack of excitement on national television, but for hardcore MMA fans and combat sports fanatics alike, anything and everything involving the UFC and FOX has been a major success.

    Because regardless of any problems that may arise from fighters profusely bleeding in front of millions of people, free of charge nonetheless, the UFC's exposure continues to double every time they reach a FOX audience.

    On a network that showcases the NFL, MLB and NASCAR on a yearly basis, MMA has presumably made it to the big stage.

    The sport that was once banned in nearly every state has transcended its accusers to become more relevant than ever.  It's starting to be taken seriously.

    And the UFC is the main culprit to blame.

    Not blame, praise.

6. Can Brock Lesnar Make a Healthy Comeback to MMA?

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    Who doesn't want this man in the UFC?

    If you consider yourself part of the minority slice of MMA pie that has always discredited Brock Lesnar's relativity in the UFC, also consider yourself a fool.

    Not only has the former heavyweight champion competed against some of the best fighters in the sport in such a short time, but he instantly turned the MMA world head over heels.

    His presence inside the cage was notorious, bolstering PPV buyouts into the millions while becoming one of the highest grossing fighters in UFC history overnight.

    Lesnar may not have possessed the natural abilities such as an Alister Overeem or Junior dos Santos, but you can't argue that he lacked the will the win.

    With that said, following his devastating loss to Overeem at UFC 141, there has been much speculation as to whether or not Lesnar can ever make a comeback to the company he once ran.

    It would be yet another testament to his ability to overcome injury and once again become the top dog in the heavyweight division, but a future return seems too good to be true.

    Lesnar is better left for the WWE at this point in his career, whether he can still F5 John Cena or not.

5. Should Fighters Be Paid More?

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    The UFC has been criticized in the past for not properly compensating their fighters.

    Comparisons to boxing and other sports have formed a foundation of speculation as to whether or not the UFC is a sadistic, money-hungry monopoly.

    Through the grapevine this seems to hold some ground.

    If you were to gander at the various career earnings of current and retired UFC fighters, your opinion would probably resemble that of the mainstream media.

    How can a billion-dollar company not pay their employees?

    Training, press conferences, promos and the aspect of actually fighting another man should all be taken into consideration.

    According to data as recent as the last UFC on FOX event, guys like Clay Guida don't necessarily bank the big bucks.

    With career earnings short of $800,000, it would seem as if Guida's six-year UFC career hasn't been worth it.  As a perennial top contender, how does one of the hardest working guys in the sport not get paid more?

    It seems a little suspect, but you have to remember that these guys are not forced to fight.  They know how much they are going to earn when they sign the dotted line, can easily pocket extra coin through nightly bonuses and have all the power in the world to make as much money as they can through sponsors.

    The fact of the matter is that the salary that each fighter earns for their work inside the cage is not the be all, end all.  Their eggs aren't all in one basket.

    A fighter's prospect for growth, monetarily and publicly, only manifests when the UFC does.  It's as simple as that.

4. Can Chael Sonnen Redeem His Loss to Anderson Silva?

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    From an outside perspective, Chael Sonnen did enough against middleweight champion Anderson Silva at UFC 117 to leave him victorious.

    People have wondered, in what world does a four-second choke negate 24 minutes of domination?

    But regardless of any reservations fight fans have grown accustomed to since that infamous bout, Silva prevailed nonetheless.

    At this point, any questions surrounding these two fighters and their first showdown should be put to rest at UFC 148 in July, when they finally take center stage again in the long-awaited rematch.

    And one of the biggest mysteries of 2012 is whether or not Sonnen can once again throw Silva around like a rag doll, while maintaining a stronger defense so he doesn't get caught with 30 seconds left in the fight like he did the first time around.

    But based on what each fighter has accomplished since that bout, it's truly impossible to gauge how this rematch is going to pan out.

    Sure, Silva is getting old, bet he's still one of the best fighters in the entire world, one that often makes adjustments in-fight that usually leave his opponents beaten.  One could only think what changes he has made this time around to avenge his most disappointing UFC performance to date.

    For Sonnen, keeping this fight on the ground is he only chance to win, that's no secret.  But considering it has been two years since he last met Silva, Sonnen's familiarity with taking down the champ may be a thing of the past.

    We just don't know, but we'll soon find out.  Don't miss UFC 148.

3. Will Alistair Overeem Ever Be Able to Stick Around?

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    First and foremost, the UFC doesn't need Alistair Overeem.

    Furthermore, the sport of MMA doesn't need him either.

    Cheaters are not welcome to participate in the purest sport in the world, let alone try to tackle the UFC heavyweight championship.

    It becomes a fine line between relevance and fraudulence when fighters put things in their bodies that they aren't supposed to, so Overeem's situation should be handled with extra care.

    Nobody wants to see him fight Junior dos Santos when his testosterone levels are higher than Snoop Dogg, but fans want to see them fight nonetheless.

    Nobody wants to see him kickbox Dos Santos out of the arena only to find out that Overeem's training regiments are not regiments at all.  That his cheating had led to success at the highest level.

    Nobody wants to see that.  But, nearly ever MMA enthusiast in the world wants to tune in and see Overeem do what he does best.  Fight, and in the UFC to boot.

    So it becomes inevitable that Overeem sees the light of day.  He'll make his comeback, and when he does, he'll be subject to more scrutiny about cheating than any other fighter in UFC history.

    Sort of like the Barry Bonds of the UFC.

    Overeem will do what he wants to, whether those decisions abide by UFC regulation or are subject to his disposal.

    Only time will tell.  But if he does stay clean, there's no doubt in my mind he can one day become the UFC heavyweight champion.

2. Is Jon Jones Truly Unbeatable?

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    Jon Jones has literally destroyed every fighter the UFC has thrown in front of him.

    At times, it doesn't even look like he breaks a sweat against the best light heavyweights in the world.

    That sort of dominance, as well as looking untouchable, has translated into Jones acquiring the well-deserved title of the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world.

    Championship victories over Shogun Rua, Rashad Evans, Rampage Jackson and Lyoto Machida have left the light heavyweight division dumbfounded.

    Is this guy that good, at such a young age?

    Is Jones getting better by the round, showcasing Anderson Silva-esque moves in his early 20s?

    Now, while it seems like all of those questions are being answered right before our very own eyes, the possibility of defeat still lurks in Jones' future.

    He is but a man, albeit a scary one at that.

    He has never really been caught by a devastating power punch before, and at times has shown a certain vulnerability to let his opponents feel out the initial ongoing action.

    Is he a pace pusher? 

    Some would say yes, but for the majority of UFC fans, Jones doesn't necessarily fit that bill.

    So to answer the question, can he or can't he be beat, the answer is yes. 

    It may not happen over the next few years and it may not happen at the hands of any current top contender in the division, but every fighter has his day.

1. Should Elbows Be Banned?

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    I normally try to avoid political conflict regarding questions like this because it sometimes becomes pedestrian to argue rules and regulations when they clearly shouldn't be changed.

    But after reading a recent article written by our own Nick Caron, kudos for the hard work and relevant topic, I felt compelled to throw in my two cents.

    Like I said before, I don't think elbows should be banned at all in MMA, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be discussed.

    The fact of the matter is that changing current aspects of the sport to please the public media seems like the UFC would be contradicting the very image it has worked so hard to preserve.

    Will the UFC shrink in the public spotlight and make the sport of MMA less "barbaric?"

    Don't count on it.

    Too many fighters make a living by hurling their elbows at an opponent's face.  In fact, some of the very best fighters around, such as Kenny Florian (although recently retired) and Diego Sanchez, use elbows to earn paychecks.

    Banning a specific offensive attack that has already commanded such relevance within the sport of MMA is like saying you can no longer steal in baseball.

    I realize speedy baserunners don't bleed all over the diamond, but hey, you have to take the bad with the good.

    With that said, for reasons implemented by the most recent display of bloody actions inside the Octagon at UFC 146, people still don't understand that elbows are here to stay.

    Did Antonio Silva nearly bleed out on the canvas this past Saturday at the hands (elbows) of Cain Velasquez?

    Yes, yes he did.  But that's the sport, isn't it?

    He literally only needed three stitches.  That's like bumping your head on a pipe underneath your sink when you're trying to fix the faucet.

    I truly believe that the UFC will undergo an evolution for the better heading into the future, but it doesn't start with this.

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