Leading up to UFC on Fuel TV 8 in Saitama, Japan on March 2, Siyar Bahadurzada told UFC.com that his opponent, Dong Hyun-Kim:
“[makes] the sport ugly… If he fights like that, he will have 30 more UFC fights and he will never get a title shot because people don’t want to see a boring champion.”
Though hardcore fans might disagree with his proclamation, recent events have shown that the UFC is moving closer to pro wrestling in the way they determine their champions.
In 2013 we have seen fighters like Nick Diaz receive title shots coming off losses. We have seen extremely successful fighters like Jon Fitch get cut because of the perception that they are boring. Wins seem to matter less nowadays than style and offensive output.
Kim isn’t the most exciting fighter, for sure. But the idea that he shouldn’t receive a title shot or shouldn’t be champion because he doesn’t have the most aesthetically pleasing fighting style is ludicrous. That would be like the NBA denying the Spurs a playoff birth because their style of play is low scoring, fundamental, and, for lack of a better word, boring. That would be like the 2000 Baltimore Ravens being denied a chance at the Super Bowl because they had a putrid offense.
Now, just because that is the way it should be doesn’t mean that is the way it is. It is clear that the UFC is worrying less about being perceived as a merit-based sport and instead is running itself more like a boxing promotion. This is ironic because Dana White has always proclaimed that the sport of boxing died because their biggest promotions made similar moves that the UFC is now making. Boxing promotions would award title shots not to the best fighters but the most marketable fighters. Now, the UFC is doing the exact same thing.
Time will tell whether or not this will hurt the UFC in the long run. But it seems like this booking strategy is here to stay so we better get used to it.
What do you think fight fans? Get at me @samgenovese on Twitter.