The UFC's 2012 injury bug has proven devastating to the promotion's summer schedule, and MMAjunkie.com readers focused heavily on potential fixes in this week's edition of The Sunday Junkie.
However, in the latest installment of our weekly reader-feedback feature, this week's winner looked in an entirely different direction.
Maryland's Clint Woo believes Hector Lombard could very well be the man to beat UFC great Anderson Silva, but he suggests there are a few men who should not be disrespected along the way.
For his winning entry, Clint wins a free one-year subscription to "Fighters Only" magazine, the world's leading MMA and lifestyle magazine.
Want to submit to next week's edition of The Sunday Junkie? Scroll to the bottom of the page for instructions.
Also, as a reminder, please be sure to include your hometown and stick within the 150-word limit (and include your submission in the body of an email, not in an attachment). Many quality submissions this week didn't meet those minimum guidelines and couldn't be considered for publication.
(Pictured: Hector Lombard)
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LOMBARD COULD CHALLENGE SILVA, BUT IT SHOULDN'T BE RIGHT AWAY
The UFC's middleweight division was previously a no-man's land with Anderson Silva running the show, but it now seems that may change due to a certain ex-Bellator fighter. The talk of Hector Lombard entering the UFC and potentially shooting straight to the top has understandably irked a lot of already established middleweights. Top-ranked fighters like Brian Stann, Michael Bisping and Mark Munoz have all made it public how they feel they've been shoved to the side after they have taken their time to build up the ranks in the best organization. If those three notable middleweights can be looked over so quickly, then the middleweight division sounds less and less appealing. At the very least, Joe Silva should make Lombard fight one of these guys before jumping straight to the top.
UFC INJURY REPORTS DESERVE FURTHER SCRUTINY
As the true cause of the rise in recent high-profile injuries remains debatable, I think the UFC could benefit from implementing additional measures to promote fighter health and safety, as well as ensuring the integrity of the sport. All in all, a contracted fighter is not just paid to show up on fight night and perform competitively. They are also expected to train appropriately and monitor the substances that they put in their body. Certain injuries are naturally going to happen in combat sports. However, occasionally these reported injuries are accompanied with accusations of drug abuse. A simple report of injury does not suffice. I believe implementing a complete physical with a drug screening after the immediate withdrawal from an event would allow the UFC and fighters to easily prove that the withdrawal was strictly physically related and not the result of a potential unavoidable failed drug test.
UFC'S STRENGTH PROVEN DURING INJURY EPIDEMIC
The UFC's recent string of bad luck is annoying – really annoying – but it demonstrates the true strength of the MMA juggernaut. It is a true force of nature, an organization hinged not on one or two stars but on associating itself with particular elements of combat sports that enjoy wide and consistent appeal. Well-versed MMA fans, irritated as they may be, are too invested in the sport to simply turn their collective backs on shows. Unless the name on the marquee is Silva, Jones, or St-Pierre, more casual fans that buy or hit their local pub for shows do so as social events, interested more in the brand and the entertainment it provides rather than the lineup. Could the same be said for boxing? Throw in some corporate branding, a masterful hype machine and a deep pool of fighters, and it's plain to see that while fighters may fall, the UFC keeps moving.
Salt Lake City, Utah
LESS NOTICE FOR FIGHTERS THE KEY TO STOPPING INJURY BUG
Stop announcing fight cards three or four months in advance. It's no secret that fighters turn the heat up in training once they have a scheduled opponent. I think all main event and co-main event headliners should be notified no more than eight weeks out from the fight. This gives the UFC ample time to promote, sell tickets and do their pre-fight obligations. All undercard fighters should be notified no more than a month beforehand. You can't stop fighters from training on a regular basis, but you can prevent mindsets falling into "fight mode" prematurely.
UFC ON FOX: TOO MUCH TOO SOON?
The first six months of 2012 have been very hard on the UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts in general. Injuries and drug tests are just two of the reasons why many of the fights that fans wanted to happen this year were either canceled or postponed. Six months is also the amount of time that the UFC has spent under their network deal with FOX. This partnership has given the UFC more exposure and allowed them to increase the number of televised events. Unfortunately, the high frequency of fight cards means that fans don't get the same excitement and anticipation as they once did. The UFC plans on hosting an astounding 34 events by the end of this year. If the UFC were to host one pay-per-view and one free card a month, the cards would be more stacked and garner consistent viewership. Is more really better?
Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
MMA OVER-SATURATION HARDLY AN ISSUE
I'm not a fighter. I'm a fan. While I watch MMA (without ever competing), I find myself at a crossroad I never expected to reach. Are we really asking the question of whether or not the UFC has "over-saturated" the market? As a fan, I relish in the idea that having my fights this accessible is a privilege. Yet in the world of "UFC on FOX," it seems that fans are turning their back on that privilege. Maybe I'm older, or maybe I've become too complacent in my world of having more than six fights a year, but honestly, how does a realm that seems hungry for combat entertainment somehow come across as ungrateful because we have more availability to watch our favorite sport?
Milton, Ontario, Canada
"TUF" CHANGES LIKELY TO PROVE ANOTHER MISTAKE
After a storybook ending to a phenomenal season of "The Ultimate Fighter Live," we receive a plethora of disappointing news from the UFC. First, they are abandoning the live format. After 14 successful seasons in the can with a fairly consistent layout, this season introduced a twist which not only eliminated spoilers but gave a "main card" feel to the reality show. The live fight is guaranteed to be missed when they return to the "feels like watching a re-run" tape-delay fight. Additionally, the UFC announced they are keeping the Friday night time slot. The ratings were weak sauce, and the brass knows it. Viewers were down this season because the majority of fight fans in this country are only going to abandon their Friday night plans for a stellar UFC card and certainly not for one they can read about ahead of time on the internet.
Cory James Newmann
MOVING BACK TO TAPED "TUF" A SMART IDEA
As much as fans (including Dana White) enjoyed the live version of "The Ultimate Fighter," it didn’t produce the desired ratings of previous seasons. The "TUF" show was created to groom marketable future superstars for the UFC, and reverting back to its original tape-delay format is better suited to fit this need. By pre-taping the episodes, the competitors are given more time to heal, train and improve their skillsets, which in turn should result in more entertaining and compelling fights. Competitors will also be able to blog about the show, which helps market both the show and the fighters. The editors of the show can also use this time to emphasize the competitors’ storylines to help attract the casual fans. These things were missing from last season’s format, which is why pre-taped episodes lend better in convincing both casual and hardcore fans to watch while creating marketable future UFC superstars.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
WITH JOSE ALDO OUT, ERIK KOCH SHOULD HAVE TO EARN HIS TITLE SHOT
With Jose Aldo out of the main event at UFC 149, Eric Koch should now have to earn his title shot for the featherweight championship. Instead, he told a reporter that he is going to wait for his title shot. Koch is a good fighter but has not earned the No. 1 contender spot. He hasn't had a fight since beating Jonathan Brookins by unanimous decision back in September 2011. He is on a four-fight winning streak after losing a unanimous decision to Chad Mendes back in the WEC. He has beat Raphael Assuncao and Brookins in the UFC, but that doesn't deserve a title shot just yet. I don't think he should just be able to wait for a title shot that he didn't even earn when there are guys like Chan Sung Jung, Hatsu Hioki, Mendes and Dustin Poirier still out there. Title shots should be earned, not given.
Prescott Valley, Ariz.
ERIK KOCH VS. CHAN SUNG JUNG
Honestly, UFC 148 and UFC 149 have fallen off tremendously with many injury losses now hurting the two cards. Let's save one of those cards by making
Erik Koch vs. Chan Sung Jung for the title shot with Jose Aldo. In my opinion, Koch didn't beat anyone in the top 10, so why would he get a shot over "The Korean Zombie," who has beaten two top-10 featherweights? I'm sorry, but Raphael Assuncao and Jonathan Brookins aren't even close in level to Mark Hominick and Dustin Poirier, and it would be an amazing co-main event for either card and would also gain both guys much-needed exposure if it's put on 148.
UFC NEEDS MORE FIGHTERS LIKE NICK DIAZ
Constantly getting overlooked and given a bad reputation, Nick Diaz is one of the realest fighters in MMA today. Although there are still great fights and finishes, too many fighters are beginning to use the "Greg Jackson strategy" and are fighting to win by points with no risk taking. Diaz is one of the few people that only comes to fight and do his job. He constantly looks to finish fights and does not back down from anyone or anything. If more fighters had the mentality and heart that Diaz brings every time he steps into the cage, the sport would grow phenomenally. While fighters are gradually beginning to look to win on points, I fear that eventually MMA may take the same road as boxing. Introduce stalling warnings and bring back PRIDE rules (minus stomping) and fighters will begin to actually fight again – the way Diaz does every time.
TITO ORTIZ ABSOLUTELY A UFC HALL OF FAMER
This past week, it was announced that Tito Ortiz would join the UFC Hall of Fame. This didn't shock me. What shocked me was the number of comments on how he doesn't deserve "HOF" status, citing quality of opponents and his recent record. I think we are forgetting what Ortiz did before and after each fight – and how important that was. Whenever he fought, we knew Ortiz by the clothes lined with flames. We knew he was going to carry a flag out to the cage. We knew he had an elaborate victory scene he was going to do if he won, and we knew that he was going to stir the pot and promote whatever fight was coming up. Love him or hate him, you knew him, and you knew these things because he was truly famous. And last I checked, "famous" comes from the word "fame." Congrats, Tito.
Ross "cbusmmafan" Miller
WHY NO "PRIMETIME" FOR UFC 148?
OK, so I understand we have an "epic" rematch two weeks prior to the actual rematch of the decade between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen, but it still boggles my mind how we are not getting a "Primetime" series for UFC 148. There is no other rematch we want to see more than Silva vs. Sonnen II anytime soon. This is one of those rematches that people are not arguing against, and everyone has an opinion on who will win. If history serves me right, Sonnen was caught in an armbar by then WEC middleweight champion Paulo Filho in their first fight. Sonnen then came back to dominate him in the rematch, a win that lost its pizzazz due to Filho missing weight. This rematch promises to be even more epic, yet we are only getting a "Countdown" show. I guess we will have to wait for "Like Water 2" to see what Silva's excuse is this time.
Louie "LouReigns" Reyes
BOXING FANS, IT'S TIME TO MAKE THE SWITCH
With the world still heated over the Timothy Bradley-Manny Pacquiao decision, celebrities and athletes have taken to twitter to denounce the sport of boxing. Many have then said they will start watching UFC (or MMA) instead of boxing. But how many of these people will actually follow through and begin watching? Boxing is a dying sport, and the world knows it. Can anyone recall the last jaw-dropping, unworldly, amazing boxing match? I cannot. What about MMA? In my opinion we have had three examples in the past month: "The Korean Zombie" vs. Dustin Porier, Martin Kampmann vs. Jake Ellenberger, and Demetrious Johnson vs. Ian McCall II. If you put these three matchups against the past three "big fights" boxing has put on, I guarantee you that these "boxing fans" will convert to MMA.
Brian T. Castagna
DANA WHITE, GIVE US OUR DREAM FIGHT
UFC president Dana White has an opportunity to bring renewed interest in MMA at a time when it could use a boost. There remains a strong fan interest in a superfight between Jon Jones and Anderson Silva, both of whom are on a different level than the rest in their respective divisions. Assuming both fighters win their next fights, this is a good time for the dream fight to happen. If this fight were to happen, it would be a win-win-win situation for the fighters, fans and MMA.
THIRD TIME CHARMING FOR SPENCER AND STOUT
With so many UFC events in the past few weeks, some upcoming fights are definitely going under the radar. One fight in particular that I think everyone should be talking about is the co-main event of the UFC on FX 4 card. It's the rubber match between Spencer Fisher and Sam Stout. The fact that the first time they fought was in 2006 and that this fight is still relevant now and is the co-main event is enough there. But, when you add that both Fisher and Stout are coming off of losses from the same guy, Thiago Tavares, we can expect nothing less that fireworks similar to their first two fights. They may not be Jon Jones or Jose Aldos of the UFC now, but watching them go at it again for a third time will remind us that the greats never fade in MMA.
BELLATOR MAKING RIGHT MOVES IN ADVANCE OF SPIKE TV DEBUT
With Bellator making the vertical move from MTV2 to Spike TV in January, it is only right that they go out and add a few big names in the world of MMA to their roster to help add depth to their tournament structure. First they signed former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal to a dual contract with their Spike TV partner, TNA Wrestling. By the time Lawal's suspension is over, he will be able to complete in the next 205-pound tournament. This week, Bellator signed Strikeforce vet Brett Rogers to a heavyweight division that is in dire need of some recognizable names. Also this week, they signed UFC and Strikeforce vet Paul "Semtex" Daley to add a little more depth to their welterweight division, which I feel is Bellator's most stacked division. With Spike TV looming in the future, there will be more to follow.
MICHAEL BISPING, FUTURE UFC CHAMP
To me, Michael Bisping being injured is seriously devastating. He's my role model as a middleweight fighter in the UFC. I'm his No. 1 fan. I'm always playing as him on the "UFC Undisputed" games. He makes watching UFC awesome. He's hilarious. He's a really well-rounded fighter, and he should have beat Chael Sonnen at UFC on FOX 2. The judges' scorecards mean nothing compared to what the fans think. I know that Sonnen will definitely not beat Anderson Silva at UFC 148. Sonnen needs to learn how to control his anger, and even though Silva is the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, I know Bisping can beat him. Bisping is statistically the only person in the UFC that can beat Silva, and I know that "The Count" will be Champion soon.
St. Helens, U.K.