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A guide to who's who in MMA

Posted: Monday August 13, 2007 11:58AM; Updated: Monday August 13, 2007 4:38PM
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So, you're a hardcore sports junkie, but you're new to the sport of mixed martial arts. You check it out with your friends, but don't know where all the fighters fit in the sport. Never fear: here is your guide to who's who in MMA, with easy comparisons to athletes from other sports.

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is John Elway. Nogueira and Elway are among the all-time greats at their respective sports, but are best known for monumental comebacks. Elway piloted The Drive, and many other fourth-quarter comebacks. Nogueira looked to be in serious trouble against the likes of Bob Sapp and Mirko Cro Crop, but fought through great punishment and pulled off unlikely submission wins.

Randy Couture is Cal Ripken Jr. Humble, dignified ambassadors for their sports, it's hard to find anyone who has something negative to say about Couture or Ripken. Ripken was baseball's Iron Man, while Couture still continues to fight and excel at 44.

B.J. Penn is Jaromir Jagr. When Jagr is motivated, there are few players so skillful with the puck. But, as Washington Capitals' fans can attest, when he is unmotivated he is all too ordinary. This is the story of B.J. Penn. He has extraordinary natural ability, as demonstrated by victories over Matt Hughes and Takanori Gomi. But all too often he seems unmotivated and out-of-shape, and doesn't demonstrate how good he can be.

Fedor Emelianenko is Roger Federer. It's deeper than the name. Emelianenko and Federer are the unquestioned kings of their respective sports. Federer has been the world's No. 1 tennis player since February 2004, and Fedor has been the world's No. 1 heavyweight fighter since March 2003. Despite their success, both are mostly anonymous in the United States. Federer plays a sport with limited appeal, while Fedor has not yet fought for UFC.

Frank Shamrock is Robert Smith. Few athletes leave the biggest stage while still in their prime, but Shamrock and Smith are notable exceptions. Smith retired after a season in which he rushed for more than 1,500 yards, while Shamrock retired as UFC middleweight champion. Shamrock has fought five times in the ensuing nine years, but never again for UFC.

Georges St. Pierre is Reggie Bush. For pure athleticism, few in sports can match the freakish ability of Bush. In MMA, St. Pierre is a new breed of fighter with unmatched raw athleticism. Bush and St. Pierre also have something to prove. Bush only rushed for 3.6 yards per carry in his rookie season while St. Pierre is coming off the worst loss of his career.

Jon Fitch is Marc Bulger. Bulger is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but doesn't get much recognition. That has a lot to do with playing the NFL's most glamorous position, where Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Brett Favre get the love. Fitch is in a similar rut: He is one of the best fighters in the UFC, but stuck in a deep and talented welterweight division.

Josh Koscheck is Antonio Gates. Koscheck and Gates show athletic skill can be transferred from one sport to another. Gates used the skills he developed as a hoops star at Kent State to become one of the NFL's best tight ends. Koscheck used the skills he developed as a champion wrestler in college to become one of the UFC's better fighters.

Mark Kerr is Ricky Williams. If you think Williams threw away his career with drugs, he's got nothing on Kerr. Kerr started off his career 13-1-1 before drug problems got the best of him. He is 0-5 since that promising beginning.

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