Is Heath Herring More Valuable to the UFC than Quinton Jackson or Cro Cop?Here's a toast to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) president Dana White and everyone at Zuffa. UFC caps off the biggest year in US mixed martial arts (MMA) with what will likely be the highest-grossing MMA event ever, UFC 66: Liddell vs. Ortiz II. The card features the highly anticipated rematch for the UFC Light Heavyweight championship between champ "The Iceman" Chuck Liddell and former champ Tito Ortiz, plus a loaded undercard featuring rising stars Forrest Griffin, Chris Leben and Michael Bisping, as well as former UFC heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski.
The fights alone should be enough to keep MMA fans buzzing into the New Year. But there's more news: the outspoken and flamboyant Quinton "Rampage" Jackson will be at the MGM Garden Arena to watch his friend Ortiz and likely to announce his upcoming UFC debut against Marvin "The Beastman" Eastman. In acquiring Jackson, UFC has added an extra-tough fighter with a gift of gab like no other in the fight game. He’s got a built-in storyline against Eastman (avenging a prior loss to the Beastman), and oh yeah… he holds a win over current UFC Light Heavyweight champ Liddell. Should Ortiz fail to wrest the title away from Liddell, you can bet Rampage will be waiting in the wings with something to say!
All that should really keep fight fans buzzing after UFC 66. But wait, there’s even more! Sherdog.com has announced that the UFC has signed and will introduce at UFC 66 Croatian heavyweight Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. The reigning PRIDE Open-Weight Grand Prix champion and future hall of famer can make the argument for being the best fighter in the World right now after successfully defeating “The Axe Murderer” Wanderlei Silva and Josh Barnett in the same night! In addition, he brings his lethal high kick into the Octagon which will undoubtedly add severable memorable moments to the next edition of “UFC Ultimate Knockouts”. With Cro Cop destined to become UFC Heavyweight Champion, UFC can rightfully claim to have the undisputed best heavyweight champion in the World (no apologies to current champ Tim Sylvia).
With all of the (deserved) hype around Rampage and Cro Cop, one fighter has been woefully ignored. I’m talking about none other than the 6’4 tough-as-nails heavyweight Heath "Texas Crazy Horse" Herring. The tall Texan has made a name for himself in Japan’s PRIDE and K-1 taking on the best of the best. His 26-11 record is nothing to be ashamed of, since some of his recent loses were at the hands of masters like Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (twice), Mirko Filipovic, and current PRIDE heavyweight king Fedor Emelianenko. This guy has everything you’d want in a UFC fighter: he’s tall, good looking, well-spoken, known for wild haircuts, and he’s from Texas. He’s basically a bigger, more experienced, more in-your-face version of Forrest Griffin. In short, Crazy Horse is a US fight fan’s dream.
So why is no one excited about Herring? Surely it’s the buzz around the more talented Cro Cop and the more flamboyant Rampage. But here’s the bottom line on those two guys: they’re all about money. Check their track records: as soon as those two can do so, they will leverage their UFC deal to go fight somewhere else. And with MMA on fire right and everyone wanting into the game, there will be someone to pay them whatever they want. Herring, however, is a guy you can build around. He should be given a slow accession in the ranks during 2007 so that when Cro Cop is gone, he can step in and claim the Heavyweight title. He’ll make a great face for UFC and will wear the belt proudly.
So the question is this: is Crazy Horse a better long-term acquisition than Rampage or Cro Cop? Only time will tell. But until then, what do you think?