UFC on Fox 4: Dana White Flips Like a Gymnast

I was going to write a post today about how ridiculous it was for Dana White to give the winner of the Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua vs Brandon Vera fight a title shot against champion Jon Jones (assuming Jones defeats Dan Henderson on Sept 1st).  But then, while I was at work, a funny thing happened.  Dana White changed his mind (imagine that!).  It’s not the first time that it’s happened and won’t be the last, but the abruptness of the switch was what caught me off guard.  The title contender status has been extended to cover the Lyoto Machida vs Ryan Bader bout.  Despite each of these fighters having lost to White has said that whomever impresses him the most out of the two bouts will gain the next title shot.  The implication in this 4-way mini-sweeps is that Rua will get the shot at Jones if he beats Vera.  If he falters, the winner of the Machida – Bader fight will get their second shot at the champ.

I like Brandon Vera and I’m excited to watch this matchup up Muy Thai practitioners, but to give him the chance to be in a title-eliminator bout would have been an absolute folly.  He was once touted as an up-and-coming, undersized heavyweight but never materialized as the title-contender some thought he would become.  He dropped down to light-heavy and has been underwhelming to say the least.  His greatest win was over Frank Mir in 2006, when Mir was still on the mend after his near career ending accident.  In his last 3 fights he had been destroyed by Jon Jones, in his run to the title, and Thiago Silva.  Both fights saw Vera’s face rearranged, but the Silva loss was overturned after he failed a drug test.  Not much in his resume to warrant a top-ten ranking, let alone a title shot.

OUCH!!!

The reason for the switch is simple: fan pressure.  White received so much flak for his announcement the previous day that he felt compelled to chang the stakes.  Response to the thought of Vera receiving a title shot was met with such public outcry that he was forced to move.  That’s one of the things I love about the UFC.  I’m not one for social media, owning neither a Facebook nor Twitter account (odd for a blogger, I know), but the accessibility of the UFC’s head honcho is just as incredible as it is charming.  I can’t imagine one of the commissioners of any other sports league allowing themselves to be viewed as anything other than untouchable / infallible.  Decisions are made from above and unquestioned.  Not so, with White.

White and the matchmakers have been in a bit of a bind in a few of the UFC divisions.  Anderson Silva, Georges St. Pierre, and Jon Jones have so thoroughly cleaned out their divisions that there’s not much in the way of cannon fodder.  Both Silva and St. Pierre are the subject of ‘super fight’ rumors and few people give anyone currently at the top of the LHW division a chance to unseat Jones.  What I’d like to see happen in these instances is something along the lines of the Bellator season tournaments.

The Solution

Why not have a more formatted approach?  Rank the guys 1-12 in the division.  1 fights 2 whenever possible, with 3 fighting 4 for the right to fight the champ next.  Let fighters 5-12 fight an 8-man tournament over the course of the year with the winner getting a shot at the belt.

Using MMA Movements LH rankings, the format would be as follows:

How I imagine the final of my eight-man tournament to look.  (Bloodsport Movie Image)

1. Jones vs 2. Henderson

3. Rashad Evans vs 4. Shogun …for the next shot at the title.

5. Machida v 12. Antonia Rogerio Nogueira

6. Bader v 11. Muhammed Lawal

7. Quinton Jackson v 10. Gegard Mousasi

8. Alexander Gustafsson v 9. Forrest Griffin

Now I’m not saying I agree with the rankings, one can argue  about who should move up a position or down a slot.   I’m simply illustrating that anyone ranked 5-12 who beat any 3 of those fighters would be more qualified for a title shot than Brandon Vera (who happens to be ranked 30 in these rankings).  Both Lawal and Mousasi are under contract with Strikeforce, and those fights can be fought under the Strikeforce banner (if the UFC decides to keep the organization intact), like the upcoming Daniel Cormier vs Frank Mir bout.  This seems easy enough to play out over the course of a year and a little bit of transparency in how the UFC views its fighters wouldn’t hurt.  I’m not suggesting this should be implemented all the time, or in every weight class.  The lightweight division has enough talent and drama to allow the brass at UFC to move the pieces around as they see fit.  But once a champ has beaten everyone in the division who can stake a claim at being the number 2 then something has got to be done that’s more exciting than rumored ‘superfights’ or Brandon Vera title-eliminators.  Otherwise we get these awkward moments were Dana has to explain to Brandon why Forrest Griffin gets to fight Jon Jones on New Year’s weekend.

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  1. Reblogged this on MMA RESULTS.

    • jumpingpolarbear
    • August 2nd, 2012

    Dana listens to the fans. Not many matchups left for Jones though, as he has cleaned out the division!

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