In case you missed it, Dana White told Dave Meltzer this past weekend that not only will the UFC not follow the weight class changes outlined in the latest revision to the unified rules, but also that the man leading the charge, former UFC referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy, is his new enemy. It didn’t take long for ‘Big’ John to catch wind of White’s comments and had a few of his own during today’s Fight Network Radio show. McCarthy also went on to explain the reasoning behind the decision to change the weight classes.
AUDIO HERE (.mp3) McCarthy comes a little before halfway through.
McCarthy makes the argument that adding more weight classes will open up more opportunities for fighters, especially the ones who fall in between the current weight classes. However, will doing so fragment the divisions to the point where big fights are not getting made? As Dave Doyle stated in one of his recent Yahoo Sports blog posts, fighters Kenny Florian and Roger Huerta could fight for a title and never have to beat BJ Penn to get it. The question then becomes how much of the fan’s interest—who ultimately pay the fighters’ bills—are they willing to sacrifice to give fighters more opportunities?
McCarthy also pointed out how the UFC not adopting the weight class changes could affect their claim of having the best fighters. For example, if a promotion such as EliteXC or Affliction were to institute the new weight classes they could claim to have the best fighters in X, Y and Z weight classes, whereas the UFC, not having X, Y and Z weight classes, could not. In essence, it would give the competition a powerful marketing tool.
It appears as if White may have already recognized this. On Steve Cofield’s post-UFC 86 radio show, White states:
I’m disappointed in John McCarthy. He turned out to a be a real big disappointment. The guy’s sponsored by Affliction, ya know what I mean. He’s sponsored by the t-shirt company, and he’s out there talking like he’s some unbiased guy who’s looking out for the best interest of the sport. C’mon ‘Big’ John. I’m a little diasppointed in John McCarthy.
Was White implying that ‘Big’ John has been advocating for the weight class changes to help his sponsor, Affliction? The weight classes were never mentioned in the discussion, but I’m not sure what else he would have been talking about. Regardless, I seriously doubt McCarthy has ulterior motives. He’s always seemed to me as someone who cares about the sport and fighters above all else.
It will definitely be interesting to see if EliteXC and/or Affliction employs the aforementioned strategy though. The business side of MMA is becoming as compelling as the fights themselves.