It's been pointed out before, almost ad nauseam, but it's hard to ignore a recent trend in UFC matchmaking. Namely, the fact that three, count ‘em, three upcoming title challengers actually lost their last fight -- Chael Sonnen, Nick Diaz, and Frankie Edgar.
The explanation often given goes something like this: ‘It's a business, and big names move the pay-per-view needle.' Yet UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo is among the trio preparing to defend his belt against a recent loser, and while the trend doesn't upset him, "Scarface" doesn't exactly agree with it either.
"I don't think it's correct," Aldo said through a translator on Monday's UFC 156 conference call. "But it doesn't bother me. Each person has a way to promote their fight. Each person has a way to try to create opportunity in their career. It's not the path I'd like to take, but it doesn't make me mad."
Aldo was then asked what he believes should be the primary criteria to receive a UFC title shot.
"Everyone should go up there and fight," he stated. "Go up there and go through opponents, and earn their opportunity to fight for the title. Not talk their way into the title."
6 MUST-READ STORIES
Aldo: Fighters need to earn title shots. Speaking on Monday's conference call, UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo said he believes fighters should fight, not talk, their way to a title shot.
Evans talks Silva. Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans was interested but non-committal in regards to a potential meeting with Anderson Silva at 185 pounds. Nonetheless, Evans remained confident about his chances in the hypothetical bout: "I believe I can beat Anderson Silva, and I believe with the skills and stuff I have is something he'd have a hard time dealing with."
Aoki to fight for ONE FC title. ONE FC lightweight champion Kotetsu Boku will reportedly defend his title against former DREAM champion Shinya Aoki at an event in Singapore this April.
The MMA hour. Ariel Helwani and The MMA Hour are back in your life with a jam-packed show featuring Chris Weidman, "King Mo" Lawal, Carlos Condit, Karl Amoussou and UFC play-by-play announcer Mike Goldberg.
Belfort knockout breakdown. Join Jack Slack as he comprehensively breaks down the steps that led to Vitor Belfort's tremendous high kick KO of Michael Bisping this weekend, along with the finish itself.
Ortiz on retirement. UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz opened up on the possibility of ending his retirement. Said Ortiz: "I'm only four weeks out of neck surgery, and then I have to get the ACL surgery. I still need to recover from that before I start thinking about anything, and if I'll compete again. You never know, I may come out of retirement. It's all about how my body recovers."
Ladies and gentlemen, prepare to spend the next 20 minutes of your work day getting absolutely zero work done. The Reem is back, and this time we're trailing the Dutchman as he arm wrestles Bob Sapp in Japan.
Note to self: When Dana White issues a warning not to watch his latest video blog, take heed.
According to SporTV, Vitor Belfort vowed that if he defeated Michael Bisping before the end of the fifth round, he would train for the remainder of the 25 minutes afterward in the locker room. And as you can see, Vitor is a man of his word.
Rener Gracie is back with his fiancee, former WWE champ Eve Torres, to break down "three highly effective arm-in guillotine counters that you can use if you ever find yourself getting choked by Gabriel Gonzaga."
Judge Adalaide Byrd scored it 10-9 for Dwight cutout.
Frankie Edgar caught some flack for his sub-one minute video blogs, so he's back with a new, longer edition.
STOP? MY DEAR, I'M AFRAID WE JUST STARTED
Vitor:I Played golf w/Jesus today after I did @jimrome show.He said you're gonna lose.Also, the tattoo makes you look like a "Brown-Noser"— chael sonnen (@sonnench) January 21, 2013
SPOILS OF WAR
Joe Lauzon (@JoeLauzon) January 22, 2013
Here's a better one instagr.am/p/UxDOMuqbz_/— Joe Lauzon (@JoeLauzon) January 22, 2013
@brandon_chase hanging it on the wall— Joe Lauzon (@JoeLauzon) January 22, 2013
LOOKS LIKE IT WORKED
.@philmrwonderful,you nickname should be Mr. Cute, because it's really cute how delusional you are.— Vinny Magalhaes (@VinnyMMA) January 21, 2013
No contract, UFC hasn't made it official, UFC might not even know. @philmrwonderful said he's down 4 april, so Am I. We have a fight guys.— Vinny Magalhaes (@VinnyMMA) January 21, 2013
CHECKING IN WITH THE BOSS
@wrcoates what surgery did u get? Nerve cut or tube?— Dana White (@danawhite) January 22, 2013
@danawhite I had the nerve cut. I had to learn to walk all over again.— Walter Coates (@wrcoates) January 22, 2013
@wrcoates I swear to god that's where it seems like I'm headed— Dana White (@danawhite) January 22, 2013
I was inducted into the NJ Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame today. A great honor for this proud Jerse instagr.am/p/UuZIWyE3ED/— Frankie Edgar (@FrankieEdgar) January 21, 2013
WELCOME TO THE INTERNET
I've recieved this tweet a few times and I am confused. "DC u looked like shit in ur last fight" what did I do wrong. I'm lost! Help please— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) January 21, 2013
Patternicity: Noun. The tendency to find meaningful patterns in both meaningful and meaningless noise.— Jon Fitch (@jonfitchdotnet) January 19, 2013
Patternicity causes 2 types of errors.A type 1 error, or false positive, is believing a pattern is real when it is not.— Jon Fitch (@jonfitchdotnet) January 19, 2013
A type 2 error, or a false negative, is not believinga pattern is real when it is.— Jon Fitch (@jonfitchdotnet) January 19, 2013
Type 1 error: believe that the rustle in the grass is a dangerous predator when it is just the wind (low cost).— Jon Fitch (@jonfitchdotnet) January 19, 2013
Type 2 error: believe that the rustle in the grass is just the wind when it is a dangerous predator (high cost) = death— Jon Fitch (@jonfitchdotnet) January 19, 2013
We ARE the descendants of the most successful Patternicity primates.— Jon Fitch (@jonfitchdotnet) January 19, 2013
AgenticityThe tendency to infuse patterns with meaning, intention, and agency, often invisible beings & from the top down.— Jon Fitch (@jonfitchdotnet) January 19, 2013
May explain: Souls, spirits, ghosts, gods, demons, angels, aliens, intelligent designers, government conspiracist, and all manner of.....— Jon Fitch (@jonfitchdotnet) January 19, 2013
invisible agents with the power and intention are believed to haunt our world and control our lives.— Jon Fitch (@jonfitchdotnet) January 19, 2013
Hope I blew your minds. Bedtime.— Jon Fitch (@jonfitchdotnet) January 19, 2013
Just meet the legend sakuraba great fighter,very good friend,acabei de gravar uma materia aqui com a lenda S instagr.am/p/Uvk705kq-y/— Wanderlei Silva (@wandfc) January 21, 2013
THE END IS NIGH
I’ve never listened to her music but I really like Taylor Swift’s new song, "I knew you were trouble".— Mike Tyson (@MikeTyson) January 21, 2013
Announced yesterday (Monday, January 21, 2012):
- UFC on FOX 6: Josh Janousek (8-1) out with injury opposite Michael Kuiper (12-1)
- UFC 157: Josh Koscheck (17-6) vs. Robbie Lawler (19-9) added to pay-per-view
- UFC 158: Antonio Carvalho (15-5) vs. Darren Elkins (15-2)
- UFC 158: Mitch Gagnon (9-2) vs. Issei Tamura (7-3)
FANPOST OF THE DAY
Today's Fanpost of the Day comes from Emmery Myers, who writes: How to fix Bellator's flaws in the tournament structure?
First, let me say I think Bellator's tournament format is a spectacular idea. It instantly differentiates them from the UFC, and despite some recent rumblings from hardcore fans who complain about a supposed similarity, it differentiates them quite significantly. Having a unique product is key when competing in the marketplace.
Tournaments immediately give credibility to otherwise unknown commodities who challenge for their titles. Also, it adds intrigue to each event as the fights all mean something specific and tangible, and are not just random bouts between unpronounceable Eastern Europeans who can't speak a word of English and have 20 wins yet have never fought a wrestler, against the category of white-trash club fighter which supplements a permanent and uncorrectable lack of natural talent and athleticism with a full body coat of horrible tribal art and MMA brand name tattoos. Even if sometimes, that's what the tournament fights are in the end of the day in the early rounds. (not that the UFC doesn't have this at the prelim level, subbing in Brazilians who have never fought a wrestler and can't say anything in English besides "i so happeh") It makes these fights mean something, and allows the cream to rise to the top in a more visible manor.
A win over the above mentioned tribal-tapout-tattoo'd-Terry instantly means more for an up and coming blue chip prospect if it is in the first round of a tournament than it would otherwise. It puts a little stank on an otherwise drab fight.
The tournament system has created stars like Michael Chandler, Rick Hawn, Pitbull, Shlemenko and Pat Curran, who are now well known and highly ranked commodities. Otherwise, starting at the prelim level in the UFC, it would have taken years and many more fights for these fighters to achieve the acclaim and profile they achieved in months through Bellator. This gives Bellator a huge advantage over other promotions who try and scratch a living off the UFC's scraps using standard fight promotion.
But, that said, there have been some major flaws which create strange contrasts and cognitive dissonance. Specifically, inactive champions and meaningless headline bouts. It is strange to see a fighter have to fight 3 times in 3 months, only to win a title and then defend it once a year, if that. Chandler burst onto the scene in 2011 with his dominant tournament run and fight of the year type performance against Alvarez, only to fight once in 2012, with no defenses until 2013 and no major injuries.
And while every under card tournament bout means something, when the champions do fight to stay busy in between defenses, they fight a notable but safely washed up name at a catch weight in meaningless squash matches that headline the card. Chandler's one fight in 2012 was a lopsided beating of the now retired Akihiro Gono. When Hector Lombard won the Bellator 185 pound championship, he was 21-2. When he left Bellator, he was a 32-2 and had defended his title exactly 1 (one) time.
These meaningless non-title fights also have an utterly disastrous side effects : sometimes they completely kill your champion.
You wanna know why I omitted M'pumbu from the list of fighters who Bellator has created? Because he took a fight against a journeyman he should have crushed - AND LOST. This took almost all the stank off him.
You know why I omitted Eduardo Dantas from the list of stars and high profile commodities? Because he had to take a fight outside the promotion and got knocked the flying f**k out. This took almost all the stank off him.
Another flaw is that occasionally, as pointed out in another recent fanpost, the tournaments feel watered down, and lack intrique. I don't find it as much of an issue, but I can certainly see where other fans and casuals would. Especially in situations where the known names, free agents, former champs/tournament winners lose early.
Which brings us to the final flaw ; a lack of storylines. Combat sports, be it boxing, MMA or the faux combat sport of pro wrestling need storylines and drama. Fight sports need to be "true sport" but unlike team sports which have a level of loyalty to the team, regardless of record, MMA needs to put a little stank on it. While a small but annoyingly vocal segment of the hardcore fanbase has a paranoia about this, the vast majority of hardcores, MMA journalists, mainline and casual MMA fans react better to fights with story behind them. Let me be clear so there is no confusion in the comments: This isn't to say Bellator needs only storyline in place of competition (Jones/Sonnen), but the fights that sell the best, have competition and marketable pizazz as well (Rashad/Jones, Rampage/Rashad, Sonnen/Silva, Lesnar/Mir, Liddell/Ortiz, GSP/Diaz, JMM/Pacman, Tyson/Holyfield, etc.)
So, how can they correct these flaws before they come back to haunt them in front of the Spike audience? Here are my suggestions :
1. They need to continue to loosen up their restrictive title fight models, allowing for some more tried and true fight promotion techniques to supplement the tournament model. They've made a good start by instituting rematch clauses for title fights. This will allow them to capitalize on fights like Alvarez vs Chandler in the future.
Bjorn has stated that 145 is too stacked for an immediate rematch between Pitbull and Curran, and that is fine, but it will be promotional malpractice of the highest order to not have Pitbull take care of his unfinished business with Joe Warren, with the winner of that bout preceding to a title rematch with Curran. Both are former tournament winners with exciting title fights with Curran, there is a storyline of "unfinished business", and it will prevent one/both of them from being lost in another tournament.
One-off title eliminators between former champions and title contenders doesn't cheapen their model.
2. Institute 4-man tournaments. A potential roadblock is this causing a hang up when trying to negotiate free agents to enter 8 man tournaments if they'd rather do a 4-man, but the biggest names don't want to do 8-man 3-fight tournaments anyway. It is much easier to get Rampage to sign on to a 4 man tournament than an 8-man tournament. It is also cheaper if those names command bigger purses. A 4-man offers quicker rewards for fickle fans. There is less room for injuries to muck things up. They can be completed much faster, sending up title contenders in faster order. They also can be structured to where big names and stars have an easier road to finals and title fights, helping with storyline and super-star management.
I think a 4-man Master's Brackets featuring former tournament winners/finalists, former champions, higher profile signees/free agents, legends, higher ranked talent and long term Bellator commodities would be a great way to build intrigue and draw public interest and still allow for tournament qualified competiton to be quickly generated.
3. Ditch the new bracketing system in 8-man tournaments. Who the hell thought it would be a good idea to make rigid brackets in 8-man tournaments? The promotion needs flexibility to schedule the right names, create tournament fights which create the best buzz, avoid bad style match ups which could lead to unpleasing fights, and manage their biggest draws. It gives them a measure of promoter's flexibility while still comfortably shielding them from accusations of giving easy fights - you still have to win in the tournament.
Comparisons to team sports ring hollow. This isn't a team sport where Giants fans tune in regardless of the names on the field. If Bellator is to rely on tournaments, they need to be able to manage them and create the fights the fans want to see. This is not the NCAA, and a rigid bracket is not a promoters friend.
Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.