UFC: My Issues with TUF and Titles
I have some gripes with the UFC concerning the show "The Ultimate Fighter" aka TUF and overall lack of consistence involving the titles. Especially when related to choosing contenders and times between title defenses.
Now UFC is the big fish in the pond they want to be number one and so far they've done an excellent job of it. See I watched the first five seasons and thought it was alright but mostly I tuned in for the fights.
I thought the purpose of the show was to give young fighters a chance in the professional league and, to showcase said fighters in an elimination style tournament utilizing a team vs. team approach with the winner being awarded a six figure fight contract.
Each team being coached by an established UFC fighter gave the coaches more exposure as well.
Also to show the world that fighters weren't just a bunch of meat heads looking for blood. That in actuality these were professional athletes like any other sport.
Now if I watch it at all it's just for the fights in the last half of the show; even then that's rare for me these days. I think it does serve a purpose and some excellent talent has come from the show's roster.
However to me while the show is marketing genius and no doubt launched the UFC into the spotlight, it's now just a showcase for flamboyant personalities who have all the self control of an infant.
Never mind if these guys can fight or not it's can they keep the ratings up. This in and of itself would not bother me in the least. A lot of people enjoy frat boy antics and insecure dialogue brought on by big egos and low self-esteem.
Not all the fellows who are on the show act this way but the ones who get the most TV time seem to and, do so knowing it helps them in the end. Because even if they are undisciplined and only semi talented they are marketable.
Here is a brief recap of what the past eight seasons of TUF have produced:
Season 1 - Light Heavy Weight - Forrest Griffin defeats Stephen Bonnar
Welter Weight - Diego Sanchez defeats Kenny Florian
Four solid fighters still active in UFC, one of which tasted the gold of a title in Forrest Griffin and Kenny Florian is next in line as a contender at light weight with Diego Sanchez not to far behind him.
Season 2 - Welter Weight - Joe Stevenson defeats Luke Cummo
Heavy Weight - Rashad Evans defeats Brad Imes
Here we have two more solid fighters; Evans is the current Light Heavy weight champion still undefeated. Stevenson went on to fight for the light weight title and lost to BJ Penn.
Season 3 - Middle weight - Kendall Grove defeats Ed Herman
Light Heavy weight - Michael Bisping defeats Josh Haynes
While Bisping is clearly the cream of this crop again, we were given some solid guys with potential to become better fighters.
Season 4 - Welter Weight - Matt Serra defeats Chris Lytle
Middle weight - Travis Lutter defeats Patrick Cote
This was the first and only season to date where the UFC gave a bunch of established fighters who were on thin ice a chance for a title shot.
While Travis Lutter failed to make weight for his title shot against Anderson Silva, Matt Serra caused on of the biggest upsets of the year by knocking out Welter weight champion George St.Pierre. Again, solid stuff.
Season 5 - Light weight - Nate Diaz defeats Manny Gamburyan
- B.J. Penn defeats Jens Pulver for a shot at the title.
This was the first season with the coaches scheduled to fight on the finale as well as the semi finalists of the show. In my opinion this was the last good season of the show.
By good I mean productive, I never liked the "reality" side of the show from the start. As the seasons went on the focus became more and more on these seemingly scripted or encouraged antics all the while tooting it's horn to the tune of "hey, we are professional athletes."
The next season would see the beginning of the idea of putting a title into the mix with one coach being the current champion and the other the number one contender. This idea is just horrible to me and delays title fights for TV ratings.
Now from a marketing stand point it undoubtedly helps bring in more Pay per view buys come fight night.
Season 6 - Welter Weight - Mac Danzig defeats Tommy Speer
Coaches - Matt Hughes and Matt Serra never fought due to injury.
I also would like to add that this was scheduled to happen in the end of 2007 but will finally occur at the end of May 2009; no title though just a feud.
Season 7 - Middle weight - Amir Sadollah defeats C.B. Dollaway.
Coaches - Rampage Jackson loses his LHW title to Forrest Griffin.
At this point Jackson hadn't fought in nearly a year due to injuries and looked rusty. Maybe if he was training to fight instead of doing a TV show, he would have looked better.
Season 8 - Light Heavy Weight - Ryan Bader defeats Vincius Malahares
Light Weight - Efrain Escudero defeats Phillipe Nover
Coaches - Frank Mir set to fight UFC Heavy Weight Champion Antonio Nogueira. At the time no one knew what was really going on with the division at the time with the champ absent.
So they do the only logical thing to do they make a new belt some call it interim others don't. But really at this point with Couture gone for over five months the fight must go on.
Thus Nogueria defeats Tim Sylvia at UFC 81 on 2-2-2008 to win the belt since Randy Couture was long gone and his return uncertain I consider this belt the official title. They even mentioned how Nogueria was the first and only Pride/UFC Heavy weight Champion.
However while the show aired who should return but Randy Couture after over a year of legal war with UFC. Now here begins a real problem. Your old heavyweight champion has returned before your current one has made his first defense.
This should resolve easily, right? Just have champion vs. champion. Nogueria versus Couture would be the logical and fair thing to do.
But the show was already promoting Nogueria versus Mir so what does UFC do?
They make the only financially logical choice lets say that the belt Nogueria has is just an interim title.
OK that's not so bad, then the winner of that fights the champion Randy Couture, right.
No. We let a guy whose record is 2-1 in Brock Lesnar fight the returning Champion Randy Couture right away at UFC 91 on 11-15-2008.
Then Frank Mir went on to defeat Antonio Nogueria at UFC 92 on 12-27-2008.
So out of this fiasco comes a victorious Frank Mir and Brock Lesnar set to do battle at UFC 100. A rematch for the ages for sure but the way in which it arrived is anything but legitimate.
This leads me to my issue with UFC's titles. What does it mean to wear the gold around your waist? To me it means that individual is the best in his division, soundly defeating all opposition to achieve his spot and earn the belt.
Once you have the title you should defend it bare minimum twice a year. Otherwise what is everyone else in the division going to be striving towards.
Lets face facts; for all the guy starting at $10,000 and less a fight two or three times a year the title shot and the journey towards it helps add that extra income in sponsors.
Opponents should be chosen based on performance and overall accomplishments. A clear means of establishing the next contender has yet to be seen from UFC. Unless you count popularity or grudges.
So let us look at the current title holders and their opponents and defenses over the past year or so.
Light Weight Champion B.J. Penn wins his title on 1-19-2008 at UFC 80 by defeating Joe Stevenson via rear naked choke.
Former champion Sean Sherk had recently been stripped of the title and suspended due to testing positive for steroids.
At the time, Stevenson was on a four fight win streak in a division that was still sorting itself out since it had been reintroduced not to long ago.
Penn defends his title against Sherk upon his return from suspension and wins via TKO on 5-24-2008 at UFC 84
Next title defense set for 8-8-2009 at UFC 101. That is a lapse of 14 months. While this was mostly due to Penn moving up to Welter Weight to rematch George St. Pierre for the welter weight title and losing at UFC 94 on 1-31-2009 it still makes the title at Light weight less significant.
If only because all the light weights contenders are put on hold for a super-fight set to make a lot of money. They could have at least graced us with their favorite solution in a interim title.
Welter Weight Champion George St. Pierre wins his title in a rematch against Matt Serra on 4-19-2008 at UFC 83.
Then defends it against Jon Fitch (who was on an eight-fight win streak) at UFC 87 on 8-9-2008 in a five round war with St. Pierre winning a unanimous decision.
Next comes B.J. Penn at UFC 94 1-31-2009. St. Pierre wins in dominating fashion with Penn unable to continue into the final round.
George St. Pierre's next defense is set for 7-11-2009 at UFC 100 against Thiago Alves.
While St. Pierre's run as champ is decent prior to his rematch with Serra the title was in limbo because after winning said title at UFC 69 on 4-7-2007, Matt Serra was injured before he could fight Matt Hughes which led to the creation of an interim title.
St. Pierre would go on to defeat Hughes for a second time in their third match, thus winning the interim title. If perhaps Hughes and Serra had just fought rather than do a TV show then things would have been different
Middle Weight Champion - Anderson Silva won his title at UFC 64 on 10-14-2006 by defeating Rich Franklin.
Anderson has defended his title five times.
UFC 73 on 7-7-2007 defeats Nate Marquardt who was riding a six fight win streak, also a former pancrase champion
UFC 77 on 10-20-2007 defeats Rich Franklin who had a two fight win streak and was the former champion
UFC 82 on 3-1-2008 defeats Dan Henderson, former Pride champion. The UFC had recently acquired the Pride organization and it's fighters contracts; at middle weight and welter weight coming off of lose to UFC light heavy weight champion; at the time;Rampage Jackson.
UFC 90 on 10-25-2008 defeats Patrick Cote who was on a five fight win streak at the time
UFC 97 on 4-18-2009 defeats Thales Leites, while technically on a five-fight win streak one of those wins came only because Nate Marquardt had two points taken in their three round match up and Leites then only managed a split decision. That tells you he was getting owned by Marquardt in that bout.
My problem here is they have run out of quality opponents so rather than recycling worthy competitors in Nate Marquardt or Dan Henderson they threw in a clearly un prepared Thales Leites.
I also understand the winner of the current TUF coach bout between Dan Henderson and Micheal Bisping will be next to challenge Anderson Silva.
Why not just make the fight and forget the reality theatrics.
Light Heavy Weight Champion - Rashad Evans won the title by defeating Forrest Griffin at UFC 92 on 12-27-2008. He undefeated recently having knocked out Chuck Liddell. A draw to Tito Ortiz is the only blemish on his record.
Forrest Griffin won the title from Rampage Jackson at UFC 86 on 7-5-2008 in a five round unanimous decision. Griffin was on a two fight win streak notably over Shogun Rua.
Rampage Jackson defends his title against Dan Henderson at UFC 75 on 9-28-2007 wins by unanimous decision. Henderson was the former Pride champ and this was his first fight in UFC since 1998 at UFC 17.
Prior to that Rampage defeated Chuck Lidell via knock out at UFC 71 on 5-26-07. The UFC had recently acquired Rampage's contract so Lidell could avenge his only remaining loss at the time having beaten Jeremy Horn and Randy Couture the only other fighters to have defeated Liddell back then.
This is the only division I can't really complain about it's been very active other than again Rampage being inactive for ten months doing a TV show with Forrest Griffin instead of being allowed to defend his title.
Heavy weight champion - Brock Lesnar won his title by beating Randy Couture at UFC 91 on 11-15-2008 by TKO. Couture was returning from a fourteen month lay off and was 45 years old. Lesnar by comparison out weighed Couture by at least sixty pounds.
Yet Lesnar was 1-1 in the UFC 2-1 overall. However Lesnar is a huge draw and they were trying to get the quarter of a million fight salaries worth out of him.
Frank Mir beat Antonio Nogueira at UFC 92 on 12-27-08 via TKO to win the interim title. The had the show behind it; Mir had just submitted Brock Lesnar and Antonio Hardonk. Nogueira wore the gold.
Antonio Nogueira defeated Tim Sylvia via triangle choke to win the newly created interim title. Sylvia was the champion before Couture and was coming off a unanimous decision victory over Brandon Vera.
Randy Couture defends his title at UFC 74 on 8-25-2007 defeating Gabriel Gonzaga by TKO. Gonzaga was popular for his recent knock out of of Mirko Cro-cop and was riding a four fight win streak inside the UFC.
Randy Couture defeats Tim Sylvia at 68 on 3-3-2007 by a unanimous decision. The division was rel dead at the time no one wanted Andre Arlovski versus Tim Sylvia four so Couture came back after a year long retirement.
In conclusion after going through the time line and the facts I think the reality show needs to get back to its roots and leave titles out of the mix.
Do not allow every idiot who can't decide to be a disciplined fighter or a TV star a contract of any kind.
The Junie Brownings of the world should be given bus fare and sent packing. The more of these types you allow into the sport the less the fighters are recognized as professional athletes and more like professional wrestlers.
If they have too do another one like season four with the guy's fighting for a title shot that would be fine. I could even live with it if they decided to make this the means of establishing title shots twice a year for divisions that were a bit stagnant in the contender area.
Perhaps slow down to one show a year instead of two. After all there is only so much undiscovered talent and they need to be in the heavy weight division if anything. Though to the UFC's credit, I've heard that the next TUF is heavy weight.
When it comes to the pecking order if the contender I only see two real methods here beyond the TUF coaching scenario.
One is if a fighter is on a decent streak of four or more especially in entertaining fashion.
The other is if there is a grudge or the contender has just beaten someone of note with a decisive victory.
What needs to happen here is a list an actual list where any fan can go to on the website that says "RANKED No. 1 " in whatever division. This can be done for boxers with a bit of a margin of error for various opinions in numerous organizations.
Should be easier for an organization that has all it's fighters under exclusive contract.
I know UFC doesn't want to be like boxing but, it is a legitimate sport professional wrestling is the greatest stunt show and male soap opera out there.
So if UFC wants to lead the pack for the long hall and get that last recognition of legitimacy they need to polish up the rankings of their fighters while they count the money from marketing and pay per views.
UFC needs to show a fair order not favoritism from popularity or salary but, actual simplicity of fighting for your place in the mix.
Since UFC is at the top of the heap then they need to be held to a higher standard. While the toot the horn of being the only thing that matters in the world of mixed martial arts other smaller organizations still exist and some put on cards that are just as good if not better.
They throw a pay per view out once a month. These cards have been weaker as of late with decent fights here and there.
Numerous interesting bouts lay ahead but when they are done they divisions will need to have their new contenders and a way to establish them that's universal.
Thanks for reading my rant. Also as far as Dana White goes he just needs to stop everything he says about five minutes early before he goes to far.