Thursday, December 6th started out as a great day for the growth of mixed martial arts. However, some suspect decisions by Dana White and UFC matchmakers leaves us fans scratching our heads. The ability to earn a title shot in the UFC involves too many subjective opinions. Unlike hockey, baseball, or football, there is no clear cut playoff format for the fighters to go through and this often results in controversy. Two statements Dana White made today have way too much personal opinion and bias behind them.
Today started as one of the most exciting days for UFC fans, women, and the gay community. Now that may seem like a strange combo, but those 3 groups that received great news this afternoon. Ronda Rousey finally has a date to make her UFC debut and be the first woman to fight in UFC history. She is making this historic debut against the first openly gay UFC fighter, Liz Carmouche. The UFC seemed to be on top of the world when they announced that the first female bout in their history, but Dana seemed to have dropped the ball in the light heavyweight and welterweight divisions today.
Lets start with the welterweights:
After making his historic comeback and defeating Carlos Condit at UFC 154 in November, GSP was waiting to hear who his next opponent would be. GSP seemed to have no interest with a superfight with Anderson Silva, so it seemed like the power punching wrestler Johny "Big Rig" Hendricks would be his next match. Dana however, threw us all a curveball as he likes to do from time to time. He announced that it will be Nick Diaz facing GSP next. Dana obviously has a love affair with the Diaz brothers, as I believe Nate's 3 wins weren't enough to merit a fight with Ben Henderson for the title either. But Nick is coming off a suspension for illegal substances and a loss to Carlos Condit (who just lost to GSP!). If he could not beat Condit, how could he beat Georges? I do not see Diaz bringing anything at all to the table that GSP cannot handle with little to no trouble. Meanwhile Johny Hendricks has just outwrestled Koscheck and knocked out Fitch and Kampmann with his 1 punch power. He was a perfect 56-0 wrestler at Oklahoma State, and he uses his superior wrestling to keep fights standing in the UFC. GSP is known for the best takedowns in the business so this dominant wrestler could give GSP problems he has never seen before. The only other dominant wrestler GSP faced was Josh Koscheck and the striking of the champ was way too much for Koshcheck to handle. This will NOT be the case if Hendricks is in the octagon with the champ! If GSP plans on doing his usual thing and fighting the entire 25 minutes to earn a decision, think again. If you spend 5 rounds in the octagon with "Big Rig," that left hook is going to find you eventually. This is an incredibly exciting matchup in the making and the UFC really dropped the ball by dismissing him and going with Diaz. While I feel this fight will happen eventually, I am very upset that I have to wait longer to see it.
On to the 205lb division:
My complaint with this division does not lie in the matchup between Chael Sonnen and Jon Jones but rather who gets the crack at the winner. I agree with Dana White that nobody stepped up and that is why Chael is getting the title shot. However, I cannot agree that the winner of Shogun Rua versus Alexander Gustafsson should get the next title shot. Dan Henderson earned his title shot by defeating Rua in one of the best fights of recent memory, and Lyoto Machida earned his title shot by knocking out Ryan Bader in spectacular fashion. Henderson's knee injury at UFC 151 threw this division into a crazy disaster and complicated earning a title shot for everybody. Although the division is slightly crazy right now, it seemed like everyone thought the fight between Henderson and Machida at UFC 157 would determine who gets to fight the winner of Jones versus Sonnen. We all thought wrong. Whoever wins this Saturday night will get the next title shot which has to leave Henderson, Machida, and fans across the world scratching their heads. I am big fans of Rua and Gustafsson and I think they both are capable of dethroning the champ, but I would have liked to see them do a little more to earn their shot at the title. (like face the winner of Rashad Evans versus Little Nog)
On a final note, when people talk about the top pound for pound fighters on the planet they are talking about Anderson Silva, GSP, Jon "Bones" Jones, and Jose Aldo. Right now Anderson Silva is refusing a match with Chris Wiedman while GSP, Jones, and Aldo are all lined up to fight fighters coming off of a loss! If they are truly the pound for pound best, put them against the best.