Saturday, April 7, 2012

Champion vs. Champion, who is the best? Part I

After watching Bellator welterweight (170 lbs.) champion Ben Askren cruise to victory on Friday in his title defense against Douglas Lima it got me to thinking; with the UFC, Strikeforce and Bellator all claiming to have "world" champions in their respective weight classes, who actually is the best?

Of course this would best be settled by having the champions fight each other, but as we know this will never happen since the UFC will not cross promote; and as they have proven in a business sense, why should they? They don't need anybody, everybody needs them. Nonetheless, for the sake of argument I thought I'd take a look at the various champions side by side and see how they stack up against one another.

For this debate, I will look only at the champions in the aforementioned big three organizations here in the U.S., thus I will not be considering such great champions like Shinya Aoki, the current DREAM lightweight (155 lbs.) champ. Also, since the UFC does not currently have a women's division, I will not review any of them as well. Finally, since the flyweight (125 lbs.) division was just recently added, I will only look at the champions in the other seven weight classes.

That of course means I will be discussing at least 21 different fighters, as some organizations and weight classes, such as Strikeforce's heavyweight class, are currently still undetermined. A bit much for just one column; therefore, since there are seven weight classes, I will cover one weight division per blog over the next couple of weeks in a seven part series. Today in part one, we start at the bottom and work our way up. Thus, that means we take on the bantamweight (135 lbs.) champions.

Here are the champions in the order that I rank them:

1.) UFC - Dominick Cruz (19-1, 6 KO's 1 sub)

Hard to argue since Cruz (Pictured above) holds a distinction of being a world champion in two separate organizations as he was also the WEC bantamweight champ. The only blemish on his record came in only his 10th pro fight when he lost to Urijah Faber. This was at a time when Faber was dominating the opposition in the WEC.

He has shown his growth and maturity as a fighter since that loss when he avenged it last year. I thought he easily handled Faber over five rounds, although others felt it was much closer. With a unique style that is unorthodox and difficult to prepare for, at only 26 years old 'The Dominator' just keep getting better.

His movie star good looks and Hispanic heritage only adds to his crossover appeal, though his feud with Faber hurts his popularity since his foe is one of the sports most recognizable and popular fighters. Easily in the top ten discussion of pound for pound fighters in the world, Cruz will get one more chance to cement his legacy against Faber when they meet in rubber match this summer.

2.) Bellator - Zach Makovsky (14-2, 1 KO, 6 subs)

From a personal standpoint, it's difficult for me to pick against this kid since he's a hometown product from right here in Bethlehem, PA; he wrestled in high school literally 10 minutes from my home. Logically though, as good as he is and even better that he's getting, he's just not at Cruz's level yet. Nonetheless, 'Fun Size' as he is called is fun to watch.

Bellator's first bantamweight champion is also quickly becoming one of their biggest young stars. With a division one wrestling background, a slick submission game and an ever growing striking arsenal, Makovsky should be a champion for quite awhile. We'll see soon enough as he gets tested next Friday night when he defends against last year's tournament winner Eduardo Dantas from Brazil.

3.) Strikeforce - currently does not have a bantamweight division

Up next, in a few days I'll take a look at the featherweight (145 lbs.) champions side by side.

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