In this edition of Around The Cage, we look at the downright laughable Sherdog heavyweight rankings, Bobby Lashley returns to the cage on a Titan Fighting Championship show loaded with big names, Barnett gets Spartan with Dana, Bellator continues to build up their impressive roster, Brandon Vera comes back from the dead, and much more.
Let’s go Around The Cage, 2/23/11
Sherdog’s Laughable Heavyweight Rankings
Sherdog has long been accused of showing a UFC/Zuffa bias when it comes to their rankings, and the latest heavyweight listings do the website no favors when it comes to shaking these accusations.
While rankings are really nothing more than arbitrary opinions based on conjecture and speculative supposition, when an influential website like Sherdog talks, people tend to listen. Like it or not (and many hardcore fans most certainly do not like Sherdog), much like the influential Ring Magazine rankings for boxing, the Sherdog rankings are taken seriously in the MMA community (or as seriously as you can take such endeavors). With that in mind, it’s hard to understand how Sherdog can release such blatantly biased rankings.
Check out this list:
1. Cain Velasquez
2. Brock Lesnar
3. Fabricio Werdum
4. Junior dos Santos
5. Shane Carwin
6. Frank Mir
7. Antonio Silva
9. Alistair Overeem
10. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Honorable Mention: Josh Barnett, Cole Konrad, Roy Nelson, Ben Rothwell, Brendan Schaub.
I won’t gripe with the undefeated Cain Velasquez at No. 1. No issue there.
Brock Lesnar at No. 2? Really? This is the first example of a UFC bias.
Lesnar is a 5-2 fighter, coming off an ugly loss where he was uncompetitive. His previous fight looked a lot like his last fight, which to his credit, he managed to survive and pull off an impressive come from behind win, but he hardly has looked like the world’s second best heavyweight as of late.
Fabricio Werdum, on the other hand, has won three straight fights and five out of his last six. Rankings are a “what have you done for me lately”-type endeavor, so what is more impressive to you? Werdum beating Mike Kyle, Bigfoot Silva and Fedor? Or Brock Lesnar surviving a beating to come back and beat Shane Carwin, and then getting destroyed by Cain Velasquez? Who has looked better in recent outings?
The second example of blatant UFC bias is Shane Carwin and Frank Mir being ranked ahead of Bigfoot Silva.
Carwin is coming off a loss where he showed no gas tank, and his best career win was over Frank Mir.
Speaking of Mir, he’s 2-2 in his last four fights. One of those wins was over a listless Mirko Cro Cop, in a fight so bad that neither man deserved to win.
Bigfoot Silva, on the other hand, has won nine of his last 10 fights and is coming off perhaps the most impressive performance by a heavyweight in many years with his dismantling of Fedor. Not only should Bigfoot easily rank ahead of Carwin and Mir, you could make a strong case he belongs ahead of Lesnar.
Example No. 3 of the UFC bias comes with the ranking of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at No. 10.
Big Nog has lost two of his last three fights and has the look of a fighter who is quickly approaching washed up territory.
Meanwhile, unranked Josh Barnett hasn’t lost a fight since 2006.
Cole Konrad, the undefeated Bellator champion, has not faced top competition yet, but is at least a young fighter on the come, as opposed to a washed up vet who looks like he’s lost it.
What about two other young fighters, Daniel Cormier and Shane Del Rosario—two Strikeforce prospects with one loss between them?
Not impressed by youth? Then how about veteran Sergei Kharitonov, winner of five out of his last six—the last two by devastating knockout?
Cormier, Del Rosario and Kharitonov apparently haven’t impressed Sherdog enough to even crack the honorable mention list. But you know who has? UFC fighters Ben Rothwell (2-2 in his last four), Roy Nelson (2-3 in his last five) and Brendan Schaub (with a resume no more impressive than Cormier or Del Rosario—two comparable prospects).
Here is how Around The Cage ranks the heavyweights. Fair and balanced.
1. Cain Velasquez
2. Junior dos Santos
3. Fabricio Werdum
4. Bigfoot Silva
5. Brock Lesnar
6. Shane Carwin
7. Alistair Overeem
8. Sergei Kharitonov
9. Josh Barnett
10. Fedor Emelianenko
Honorable mention: Frank Mir, Cole Konrad, Shane Del Rosario, Daniel Cormier, Brendan Schaub, Mike Russow, Jeff Monson
Two UFC fighters move down (Lesnar, Carwin), and two others are bumped out completely (Mir, Big Nog). Big Nog doesn’t even make the honorable mention list. And I’m actually being generous with Carwin, a fighter coming off a loss, while the fighter ranked directly behind him, Overeem, hasn’t lost a fight in years.
Point to Overeem’s lack of big-time opponents, and I won’t argue, but be careful, because Carwin has a similar collection of stiffs on his resume. Are Frank Mir and Gabe Gonzaga, Carwin’s two best wins, significantly better opposition than Todd Duffee and Brett Rogers (the two most recent Overeem victims)?
Welterweight is equally as embarrassing in its bias.
Nick Diaz has won nine straight fights, has not lost since 2007 and displays perhaps the best boxing in all of MMA. He ranks No. 8.
Welterweight happens to be a loaded weight class, so perhaps Diaz’s ranking isn’t as egregious as it looks. But there is no excuse for Dan Hardy (No. 9, loser of his last two fights) to be ranked ahead of Paul Daley (No. 10, winner of three straight and eight of his last 10), Ben Askren (unranked, undefeated Bellator champion who might be the best wrestler in the sport) and Jay Heiron (unranked, winner of seven in a row, nine out of 10, and his last loss was in 2007).
We can debate the nuances of these rankings all day, but I find it impossible to accept that people who supposedly know so much about the sport can be so off base on some of these rankings. If not bias, perhaps Sherdog’s “experts” are no better than the irrational goofs who make up the majority of their message boards.
Bobby Lashley Returns
Bobby Lashley seemingly fell off the earth after his loss to Chad Griggs at Strikeforce Houston last August. Despite being able to take down Griggs at will, Lashley was unable to do damage from the top, ended up gassing and lost a fight he was dominating when the free-swinging Griggs caught him on a shot attempt.
Lashley is a hard worker who has always admitted that he has a long way to go in terms of becoming a top fighter. He repeatedly turned down big fights in Strikeforce (most notably Shane Del Rosario) and has always been adamant about wanting to take the slow road up the ladder, as opposed to the quick road to the top taken by the man he is most often compared to, Brock Lesnar (both are former pro wrestlers, and both are former collegiate wrestling champions).
Along with his regular work with American Top Team, he has also recently hooked up with Josh Barnett while the two crossed paths on a pro wrestling show in Japan.
Lashley’s deal with Strikeforce expired following the Griggs fight, and he recently signed with Titan Fighting Championships. His first fight with the promotion will be on March 25 against James Jack (6-2-1), on a card headlined by Phil Baroni taking on (not that) Nick Nolte. The undercard also features Abe Wagner, coming off his impressive KO of Tim Sylvia, against veteran Aaron Rosa. The card will air live on HDNet.
Brandon Vera Is Back From The Dead
For all of the nonsense he stirs up, sometimes Dana White does the right thing.
Brandon Vera, perhaps the most underachieving fighter in MMA today, was cut by the UFC following his recent loss to Thiago Silva, his third straight defeat, which is usually the “magic number” for earning a cut in the UFC.
But with Silva apparently on the verge of being popped for some sort of illegal substance by the NSAC, the fight will likely end up being ruled a no contest. Thus, the third consecutive loss would be wiped out, and Vera will get his job back.
Vera is 7-6 in the UFC and doesn’t hold a significant victory since a 2006 win over Frank Mir. Bringing him back is the right thing to do, but ultimately, the chances are good he’ll be back on the unemployment line after his next fight anyway.
Josh Barnett Wants To Pee In Dana White’s Mouth
Actual quotes from Barnett, when informed of Dana’s opinion that he doubts Barnett will be cleared by any state athletic commission due to his suspended license in California for a positive steroid failure (his third):
"I'll definitely pass the test. Dana White's stature has changed quite a bit from a boxercise instructor. I don’t think it’s been Doritos eating, beer drinking and pretending to be a fighter that’s put so much weight on him. I'd be interested to see Dana White pass some drug tests."
Barnett wasn’t finished.
"If he [White] wants, I can come pee in his mouth and he can tell me if he tastes any Dianabol or anything like that. He might swing that way, you never know. He's so manly and hetero, maybe he wants to get real Spartan about things."
Coming & Going
Bellator continues to stockpile talent, signing highly-touted 145-pound Sengoku veteran Marlon Sandro (17-2).
Bellator also inked Rage In The Cage 205-pound champion Richard Hale, who will compete in this season’s light heavyweight tournament. Hale has held titles in three weight classes for RITC.
UFC has cut Paul Kelly and Gabe Ruediger following losses in their last respective fights.
Check out my previous installment of Around The Cage, Vol.3 http://bleacherreport.com/articles/612230-mmaaround-the-cage-vol3-fedors-camp-goes-nuts-ufc-bellator-notes-ratings
Check out the first two installments of my lineal title series here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/593826-the-lineal-mma-world-heavyweight-title-runs-through-the-strikeforce-grand-prix and here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/616261-shogun-rua-lineal-light-heavyweight-champion-part-2-of-the-lineal-title-series
Follow me on twitter @JoeMLanza to get updated on my latest articles.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!