Saturday, May 30, 2009

UFC Title Problems

MMA is the fastest growing sport in North America and the UFC is the premiere organization for fighters to showcase their talents. The best fighters in the world, with the exception of Fedor Emelianenko, fight in the UFC across 5 weight classes (lightweight, welterweight, middleweight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight). Each class has its own championship and championship belt and all divisions are competitive, or at least they used to be.

These days each division, with the exception of heavyweight, is dominated by fighters that look unbeatable. BJ Penn, Georges St. Pierre, Lyoto Machida, and Anderson Silva are all champions and are far and away the best fighters in their weight class with a significant gap between the rest.

While some people think this is a good thing I personally feel like this will be a detriment to the sport in the long run. Having the same champion for an extended period of time can get stale after a while and may cause some fans to lose interest. Imagine if the Lakers won the NBA title every year or the same actor won the Oscar for Best Actor. People get tired of repetition and in a sport like the UFC seeing the same person win over and over again eventually becomes boring.

To prove my point I will use the example of Anderson Silva who is the current Middleweight champion.

Silva first came to the UFC in June of 2006 and won his first fight against Chris Leben with a stunning knockout. He followed up that win with a knockout win of champion Rich Franklin only 4 months later. Since then Silva has won his last 7 fights. His first few fights as champion were phenomenal as he had amazing KOs and solid submissions. However his last 2 fights against Patrick Cote and Thales Leites have been awful, the Leites fights being one of the worst in UFC history.

What's happened to Silva? He has gotten bored with his division as he is so far and away better than everyone else that he doesn't try when he fights. Instead of pushing the pace and knocking guys heads off he has taken to dancing around the ring and looking apathetic to the whole idea of fighting.

This is something that the UFC might have to start worrying about as Penn, St. Pierre, and Machida all have the same kind of talent Silva has.

In the welterweight division St. Pierre is set to face Thiago Alves who is good but not great. Once he beats him there aren't any real worthy opponents left for Georges. He will be stuck fighting guys who are way below his talent level or maybe fight heavier guys in the middleweight division. Either way that is not a good scenario.

Machida is 15-0 in his career and has never even lost a round in the UFC. He is the definition of perfection and is an absolutely flawless fighter. The other guys in the Light Heavyweight division are just trying to get in line to get handled. Rashad Evans looked like an amateur against Machida in their recent fight where Evans lost his title and I'm sure no one else will do any better. Rampage, Jardine, Forrest, and Liddell has 0 chance of beating him. Division is locked down for a while.

Finally the Lightweight division which is dominated by BJ Penn. His next opponent is Kenny Florian who while excellent is not on BJ's level. BJ looked like crap in his last fight which was against St. Pierre but he is still better than anyone in the 155lb division. After he beats Florian there isn't anyone left. Franky Edgar and Diego Sanchez are next in line but neither will have a chance against Penn who isn't nicknamed the prodigy for nothing.

The only division open right now is the Heavyweight division which currently has 2 men as champions (its a weird situation I am not going to get into). The two belts will be unified when Frank Mir and Brock Lesnar meet at UFC 100 on July 11th. My pick is Lesnar who's wrestling background and bricks for hands should pull through. If Lesnar wins there are a few guys who could potentially beat him which makes the Heavyweight division, which for awhile was known for being weak, the most exciting division going.

One of the main reasons I like the UFC is because I feel like no matter what anything can happen. Any given night all it takes is 1 lucky punch and it's all over. I get that feeling every time I watch a fight, every time except when Silva is fighting. He takes all the fun out of it for me because he is a lock. St. Pierre, Penn, and Machida are all getting to that stage and it's not a good thing.

I like it when there is turnover with the belts. It keeps things fresh and interesting and helps build rivalries and new match ups. Hell I own the UFC Undisputed video game and I hate being the champion because I just fight the same 3 guys over and over again. It is actually not fun holding the belt because it gets so repetitive after a while. The same can be said for real life.

Change isn't always a bad thing and in the case of the UFC it should be encouraged in my opinion.

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1 comment:

Wych said...

Pretty good article, although I love everything and anything mma related. I don't know if I would include BJ Penn on that list of seemingly unbeatable champions though. I don't believe he is as determined to succeed as St.Pierre, Machida and Silva and while he is very talented, that will only get you so far. Considering how dedicated Florian is to improving his game (look at his performances on TUF 1 compared to his thrashing of Joe Stevenson) I wouldn't be surprised if he finds a way to beat Penn. If Florian can't do it I would perhaps look to Gray Maynard, who is a fantastic wrestler and would have a shot if he could avoid BJ's submissions on the ground. I don't see some of the other contenders like Guida, Sanchez, Griffin and Edgar having much of a shot against Penn. At 170, I would give Alves a chance to catch St.Pierre on the feet as Matt Serra showed everyone that he has a little bit of a suspect chin. However, St.Pierre has already steamrolled through much of the rest of the division, and I don't really see someone like Martin Kampmann giving him many problems.
At 185, I'd like to see Dan Henderson get another shot at Silva, but he's going to have to get through Bisping first, which isn't a lock. Demian Maia should be able to submit Anderson on the ground, but I don't feel confident that he could get it there.
At 205, I honestly don't know who is going to be able to hang with Machida. The only time he's ever really been in trouble was when Tito had him in a triangle at the end of their fight. I think Rampage made a wise choice passing on the title shot to coach TUF and fight Evans instead, because his style is not going to get it done at the moment. Jon Jones' unorthodox striking and wrestling could perhaps give him problems, but he won't be ready for the title picture for another two years or so.