When the inevitable argument comes up over who is going to win the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament, many MMA fans might resort to calling up past performances between the fighters.
If you are enough of an MMA trivia buff to recall them all, however, you are just as likely to scramble your brains as to come out with a reasonable idea of who ranks above whom.
It can be dizzying to take a look at the twisted web that emerges when you compare the records of the eight fighters in the tournament: Andrei Arlovski, Josh Barnett, Fedor Emelianenko, Sergei Kharitonov, Alistair Overeem, Brett Rogers, Antonio Silva and Fabricio Werdum.
Andrei Arlovski, for example, may seem like he has the deck stacked against him. Arlovski has lost three fights in a row, and all to participants in the Grand Prix.
Fedor Emelianenko knocked him out in the first round, Brett Rogers knocked him out in just 44 seconds, and Antonio Silva won a unanimous decision over him.
But wait! Not so fast! Andrei Arlovski holds a unanimous decision over Fabricio Werdum. This is the same Werdum who holds wins over three tournament participants, including two that beat Arlovski.
Werdum has submitted Alistair Overeem with a kimura and in his last two fights won a unanimous decision over Silva and submitted Fedor just over one minute into the first round.
Is judging past match-ups a good way to determine who will win a fight?
But does anyone hold a win over Rogers, who beat Arlovski but never faced Werdum? Why, yes: Fedor Emelianenko knocked out Rogers just prior to his Werdum fight. But of course we just established that he lost that Werdum bout.
Yet there is another who has a win over Rogers, but never became entangled in the Werdum web; just two fights ago Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem knocked out Brett Rogers in the first round.
But bring Sergei Kharitonov into the mix and things again become muddied. Overeem has knocked out Kharitonov, only to have a rematch and see Kharitonov knock him out in the first round. Oh and remember Werdum? Kharitonov beat him in a split decision.
As for Josh Barnett…breathe a sigh of relief. Somehow Barnett has never faced any of these fighters during his career.
If we added fighters not in the grand prix, but who at least two competitors in the tournament have both faced, and compared these results, this would get even messier.
The point is that you can look back at past match-ups and place your money where you like, but when it comes to MMA, all bets are off.