(Brett Rogers is going to miss this world, and everything in it.)
With Strikeforce on CBS — which we’ll be liveblogging, naturally — just a day away, we put the meager power of our two brains together to see if we can’t figure out a thing or two about what’s going to happen when Fedor Emelianenko and Brett Rogers get their scrap on in Chicago, and what it will all mean once it’s over.
What would Brett Rogers have to do to convince you that he’s the best heayweight in the world? Is simply winning enough? BF: No, sad as it is to admit, beating the world’s best heavyweight would not be enough. If
BF: No, sad as it is to admit, beating the world’s best heavyweight would not be enough. If
But for him to prove that he’s the best,
The upside is, I don’t think it’s going to be an issue. Fedor’s got this. First-round submission.
BG: Devil’s advocate, here: Even if
If Mayhem Miller can’t beat Jake Shields, does that permanently relegate him to the interesting-guy-but-not-great-fighter pile in the MMA junkyard?
BG: If it was a little earlier in his career, I might say something like "Mayhem could come back even stronger from a loss, so let’s not count out the flamboyant hair-dyer just yet." But he’s been at this for over eight years now, and title fights on American network television aren’t easy to come by. A loss on Saturday won’t prevent Miller from getting more work in Strikeforce and Dream, but he may never have an opportunity like this ever again. If he wants to be remembered as a champion — rather than a reality-show host wth a gift for ring-entrances, which is still a far better legacy than most of us will leave behind — he’s going to need to win this fight. Luckily, he’s bigger than Shields, he’s probably a better striker, and he’s very hard to submit, so a shocking-of-the-world is a strong possibility.
BF: So you’re saying that if he wants to be remembered as a champion, he should probably go ahead and win this title fight? Man, it’s like you have a preternatural gift for seeing through all the bullshit. Obviously, becoming champion is a great way to be thought of as a champion. And no, if he loses this one Miller will almost certainly never get another chance to fight for a title on network TV. But I don’t think that a loss against Shields, who’s probably top ten as a middleweight and top two as a welterweight, means that Miller goes down in MMA history as a funny guy who never got it done in the cage.
Miller will probably never be the best in the world at any weight class, but he’s still better than 95% of the fighters out there and he’s still beat some serious ass in his career. And he’s not just an entertainer with a mic in his hand. Win or lose, he always puts on a show. That may not be enough to put him in the GSP or Anderson Silva range, but it definitely keeps him out of the Bob Sapp range.
Gegard Mousasi seems primed to put on a second straight one-sided beatdown for Strikeforce. After we saw him throttle "Babalu," what’s the point of having him fight Sokoudjou?
BF: The point, near as I can figure it, is to have “Sweet Sassy” Mousasi beat some ass on network TV. That’s all. The more severe the ass-beating, the more impressed the American public will be, regardless of whether they know that Sokoudjou is hardly even worth getting sweaty over at this point.
Look, we’ve been over this before. Strikeforce doesn’t have a lot of competition to offer Mousasi right now. Sokoudjou’s available, probably pretty cheap, and he provides an effective way for Mousasi to show off in front of a big audience. The downside is, he has very little to gain in this fight. If he lets Sokoudjou hang around for a while, or even, God forbid, loses to him, the Mousasi hype train turns into a rickshaw by Monday morning. That’s always the danger with a squash match. That, and reconstructive facial surgery for the squashee, which is far more likely here.
BG: Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Mousasi has enough talent to be a superstar, but he still needs to be built up for the casual American light-beer drinker, one beating at a time. What bothers me about this matchup isn’t that Gegard has to fight somebody who’s not on his level — it’s this moronic "non-title" business. I know Sokoudjou hasn’t earned a shot at the belt, but if he’s the best opponent that Strikeforce can find for Mousasi at this point, then he deserves to be the champion if he can somehow pull off an upset. Mousasi may have little to gain in this fight, but Sokoudjou has virtually nothing to gain here. He’s cannon fodder, plain and simple. All he can hope for is that he survives the first round without being choked out, and makes it to the Super Hulk Finals with all his faculties intact.
In all seriousness, why do you think Fedor wears the same sweater every day? How much do you think it bothers his wife and managers?
BG: Fedor wears the same sweater every day because he’s desireless. It’s a concept that’s very hard for us Westerners to wrap our heads around. He has no interest in wealth, or fame, or getting out of the dull mining village he grew up in, even though he can now afford to move somewhere with well-reviewed restaurants and a nice downtown area. He doesn’t have an Internet connection, which would allow him to see what smartasses like us are saying about him, and if he knew, he probably wouldn’t care. It’s possible that he only has sex for procreation. The GSoAV was a gift from his wife or Father Andrey, and since it effectively provides warmth while making him look presentable in a church- or press-conference-setting, Fedor sees absolutely no reason to go out and look for another sweater. Such activities are wastes of time for a man who has children and a strict training schedule. Theoretically, he could hire a personal assistant to do his clothes shopping for him, but having a personal assistant is not something that a humble man does, in his opinion.
Vadim Finkelchtein has known Fedor long enough to understand his humility and lack of desires — how those things are deeply-rooted parts of his character — and it doesn’t bother him anymore. Actually, it makes his job easier because Fedor is very hands-off when it comes to contract negotiations. ("As long as I can afford to give 15% to the church, it’ll be enough," Fedor once told him.) And Fedor’s wife knew he was different ever since their first date, when he presented her with a weed he pulled from his grandmother’s grave, so she gets the no-desires thing too, and she wouldn’t have married him if she wasn’t on board. Jerry Millen, however, is completely freaked out by the sweater situation. He’s the type of person who packs five different Affliction hoodies for a two-day trip. But because he doesn’t want to jeopardize his spot on the M-1 gravy train — a pretty sweet gig, especially for a guy with no discernible talents — he’s decided that keeping his mouth shut is the best policy. Fedor can sense Jerry’s discomfort, and secretly enjoys it.
BF: According to what Fedor told Ariel Helwani, he just likes the sweater and hates changing clothes. I know that’s a boring answer, but honestly, what could he have possibly said that would have justified our fascination with it at this point?
When I was a kid I had a green and white striped sweater that my mom bought me for Christmas. It was hideous, my friends made fun of me for it, but I wore it to school every day, even when it was much too hot for a sweater. Why did I do this? In part because once I started getting made fun of for it, I knew that taking it off would be like surrendering and admitting defeat. So I wore it more or less for a full year. Eventually I began noticing girls, and then I began noticing them not noticing me and my ugly sweater, so things had to change.
But it’s possible that Fedor – being the best heavyweight in the world and married to a woman I can only assume is Stary Oskol’s answer to Helen of Troy – is a little more secure than I was as a kid. He’ll wear his sweater (which is, for the record, far superior to mine in every way) and he simply can’t get himself to care about what anyone thinks. It’s like his career. You might think he’s bullshit because he won’t sign with the UFC and beat up Brock Lesnar, but he can’t even hear you.