UFC 170: A Hypocritical Decision
The UFC was backed into a corner and did the only thing they could. With news of a knee injury to Rashad Evans coming out, forcing him out the co main event of UFC 170, the UFC quickly signed former Olympian Patrick Cummins to a contract and he is now facing Daniel Cormier. On the surface, this seems like a smart move. Cormier gets to stay on the card and can show the world what he can do at 205 lbs against an opponent he should have no problem with. For Cummins, he gets to make his début in the UFC and is under no pressure to win, because of the timing of the event. He can be a real life “Rocky” and create a thunderous, star making moment for himself.
But I’m not a fan of the move.
Look, of all the possible decisions that could have been made this isn’t the worst one. There’s a sense of mystery with the fight now and if Cormier comes into the fight a bit more relaxed, he will truly be able to display his talents. If the UFC wants a Cormier/Jon Jones fight for the title, they are going need him to be more exciting. Sure, he’s got a tremendous amount of skills, but his career hasn’t exactly been a highlight reel of excitement. I always felt the original fight against Evans would be a boring one, so this change at least gives me a little bit of hope that Cormier will not play it safe.
So where does my dislike of the move come from?
To me, the thing that makes MMA stand out, is that guys have to earn their place on the card. Look at the career trajectory of Johny Hendricks. He battled his way to a title shot, got that shot taken away from him because of a media driven feud between Georges St. Pierre and Nick Diaz, chose to fight a very dangerous Carlos Condit on the same card and earned another shot. After being robbed of the decision against GSP, he now has to face another dangerous striker, in Robbie Lawler for the vacant title. He worked his way up the welterweight chain, beat everyone he needed to beat and earned everything he received.
So now, Patrick Cummins, who has really fought no one of significance, has the opportunity to make his UFC debut and “shock the world.” A surprise win over Cormier won’t give him a title shot, but will immediately put him in the mix with other top level fighters.
In essence, I suppose that’s the American Dream – but sometimes you need to prove yourself before that dream becomes a reality.
Then there’s the other part of this story – the personal side. In February 2011, Pat Cummins pleaded guilty to burglary charges and spent some time in jail. So it’s perfectly fine for the UFC to hire Cummins because they are in a jam, but they can cut a 19 year old TUF Nations fighter, Tyler Manawaroa, for posting a racist picture on Instagram when he was 17?
Two wrongs don’t make a right – but which way is the UFC going? Are they going to be the integrity police, with the ability to judge who deserves a second chance and who doesn’t?
Trying to find logic in this move is a difficult thing. Agree? Disagree? Let me know.