PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Sports

December 22, 2012

David Estrada column: Best fights we've never been able to see

PORT ARTHUR — Could've, would've, should've. That's the basis of this week's column. One

allure to the combat sports is the anticipation of a head-to-head matchup. With

two fighters excelling in parallel sooner or later they'll have to converge.

These are the fights fans dream of and live for.

    Unfortunately, due to a a myriad of reasons these dream matchups sometimes never

come to fruition. History books are left with a blank chapter that could have

been its most captivating.

    This week will look back at the three biggest, greatest fights that should have

happened, but never did.

    3. Randy Couture vs. Fedor Emelianenko — Starting in 2000, Fedor Emelianenko was

an undefeatable MMA fighter. The Russian owned the PRIDE Fighting Championships

heavyweight belt and was the consensus number one fighter the planet. Stoic and

inhuman, he was the living embodiment of Dolph Lundgren's "I will break you"

character.

    During the early 2000's, Randy Couture was the quintessential

American hero. Against all odds he won the UFC light heavyweight title by

defeating Tito Ortiz in 2003 and later earned the UFC heavyweight title by

upsetting Tim Sylvia in 2007. Rocky Balboa was his unmistakable parallel.

    When the UFC brought PRIDE in 2007, Emelianenko versus Couture was the fight

fans clamored for. The stage was set for the Russian Red Devil fighter to take

on Captain America Randy Couture.

    Surprisingly, Fedor Emelianenko didn't transfer over to the UFC from PRIDE after

the buyout. He opted to fight for rival promotion Affliction. The UFC refused

to cross-promote a bout with Affliction because it would give them public

credibility which wouldn't have been a smart business move. Couture held out on

his contract with the UFC for more money and the shot to fight Fedor.

    There were several teasers that tantalized fight fans even such as Couture meeting

Fedor face-to-face in the ring after one of Fedor's victories. The two were

even highlighted in EA Sport's MMA video game fighting each other.

    Sadly, that's as close as the two ever got to fighting each other. Couture

eventually re-signed with the UFC, Fedor did not, and the real life version of

Rocky IV never occurred.

    2. Brock Lesnar vs. Fedor Emelianenko — After Brock Lesnar defeated Randy

Couture in 2008 and put together a string of convincing UFC heavyweight title

defenses, he became the man to beat. Fedor with his continued winning streak

was inhuman. Lesnar, with his once in a lifetime size and athleticism, was

superhuman.

    The UFC continued to try to lure Fedor into the UFC. Again, one of the sticking

points was cross-promoting. A demand that Fedor's management had was that in order

for Fedor to fight in the UFC the bout had to be billed as a Russian M-1 and UFC

event.

    M-1 was a Russian promotion co-owned by Emelianenko and his management.

Again, this would give a rival promotion some credibility so the UFC balked on

this fight as well.

    1. Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao — Who said this was strictly a mixed

martial arts column? Perhaps the greatest combat sports fight that never

occurred was Mayweather versus Pacquiao. Rarely does one see two parallels of

excellence last so long and never meet up. Mayweather versus Pacquiao would

have been the most watched fight in the history of mankind.

    Oscar De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather in 2007 was supposed to be the fight that saved boxing but

it fell short. Mayweather vs. Pacquiao would have been the fight that punched back

and saved boxing from being completely absorbed by the interest of MMA.

    As widely known, it was differences in drug screening processes that made

Mayweather and Manny Pac refuse to fight each other. Pacquiao would not agree

to the Olympic-style testing Mayweather demanded.

    With Pacquiao's loss to Juan Manuel Márquez three weeks ago, and Mayweather's

legal issues landing him in jail, this matchup has lost all of its steam. With

the two fighters in their mid-thirties, they are now leaving their prime which

makes it less likely for them to gain any momentum.

    It's a shame fans have been ripped off from seeing the fights they want to see

because of differences. What can't we just all just get along and fight?

    David Estrada Jr. is a Mixed Martial Arts columnist for the Port Arthur News. He can be e-mailed at

DavidEstrada@DavidEstrada.com

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