Should the UFC Establish a Criteria for Title Shots?
“Alexander Gustafsson is one win away from a title shot.”
“Lyoto Machida’s win over Gegard Mousasi should guarantee him a title shot.”
“Based on his performance on Saturday, Dong Hyun Kim wants a title shot.”
These are just some of the statements MMA fans, writers and fighters have been saying the past couple of months when it comes to the guessing game that is a UFC title shot.
The question is, should the UFC establish some sort of criteria for who receives the number one contender position?
When I wrote about Dong Hyun Kim’s win on Saturday, I received a tremendous amount of feedback, saying that no matter how exciting a fighter he may be, Kim needs to defeat a “top guy” before receiving a shot at the winner of Hendricks/Lawler. While I understand the line of thinking, I completely disagree with it.
The UFC’s job is to create fights that the fans want to see. These fights need to catch the fans attention in a way that they will drop their hard earned money to see two fighters battle it out for a prestigious title. If we examine trends in who is paying for what, we can see that the biggest draws in the company’s recent history were Brock Lesnar, Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva. There is the very real possibility that all three fighters won’t be in the Octagon again any time soon. Therefore, the UFC needs to create a buzz, they need to create new stars. The best way to create these stars is by putting exciting fighters in a position where they can be the most successful.
Let’s take Kim for example. Many people have speculated that his next fight should be against someone like Jake Ellenberger or Jake Shields. These fights would test out Kim’s skills against fighters who are ranked several spots ahead of him according to the UFC ranking system. They would also potentially neutralize a UFC hot commodity in Kim. Both, Ellenberger and Shields could potentially use their wrestling skills to smother out a victory; ugly but effective. Why do this? Why not take an unorthodox striker and vault him right away into the number one contender spot? What rule would this be breaking?
The UFC does not have a criteria for who earns title shots. Sometimes, as in the case of Johny Hendricks’ chase of Georges St. Pierre, he had to essentially defeat every top contender to “earn” his spot. Or what about Urijah Faber, who had to fight up and down the bantamweight division, in order to take a title shot on short notice. Let’s compare this with UFC 170 head liner, Sara McMann who had all of one fight in the UFC before conveniently receiving a title shot against Ronda Rousey, in a fight hyped as “Olympian vs. Olympian” DURING the Olympics. Or what about Gilbert Melendez who is coming off a victory over the 15th ranked Diego Sanchez – and is now fighting for the title; of course his tough negotiation process with the UFC had nothing to do with that. Right.
My point is, the UFC doesn’t have a system for earning a title shot. Their biggest concern is putting on a show that people will pay for. Money is almost always the bottom line. Until there is a criteria, or the ranking system is taken more seriously by the organization that produces it, title fights should be dictated by their marquee value. If someone is riding a 5 fight win streak, but those are of the smothering, decision variety, is that fighter “better?” No. Right now, rankings are rankings.
You can beat all the top 10 fighters you want, if you’re boring, if you’re not going to take any risks, if you’re not going into a fight looking to actually fight your competitor, you aren’t getting my money.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know! Hit me up on twitter!