In all of combat sports, the number one goal has always been to obtain the 12 pounds of gold and become the champion. Champions were the ones who made the lion share of the money because they generated the most money for the company. In the mixed martial arts community, the UFC has always been known as the major leagues, and the only place the best fighters in the world compete in. There was a time when a UFC champion would be held at the highest standard, being immortalized by the company and the fans. Those days it was very hard for even the champion to make a six figure payout, where as the contender and the other fighters on the card made very little money and hoped to get a bonus at the end of the fight. As the sport has begun to evolve, of course payouts tend to get bigger because the fight game has now become more mainstream, but is it ethically right that a champion makes less money than fighters who have not won a belt in their organization? Is it really fair that Phil “CM Punk” Brooks, who has never competed in any kind of combat sport, gets a $500,000 payout(who knows what ppv backend money he got) while the challenger Mickey Gall gets $30,000? Now I know what y0u’re going to say “Neither of them are champions, so who cares?” The problem is, people who are undeserving, are getting paid more than those who have done MMA for most of their lives, they didn’t put in 2 years at a gym and become a professional UFC fighter. They went through the smoker shows, and then the regional shows until getting their shot at the biggest MMA company in the world.
Lets get back to being a champion in the UFC for a minute, I don’t want to go on a CM Punk rant and end up talking about an actor who plays a tough guy on TV, it has been done to death and I don’t want to insult anyone’s intelligence. There are so many deserving fighters who are chomping at the bit to become the UFC champion, but some of them don’t get their chance because “they’re not marketable” Well, lets think about this for a second here, isn’t it the UFC’s job to make someone marketable? Instead of making a fighter try and cut a wrestling promo, how about talking them up to the fans, and showing more of their fight highlights? So many fighters can do more with a performance than anyone can do with a microphone. Chuck Liddell, Frankie Edgar and Randy Couture are three examples of guys who everyone knows because of their highlight reel fights and their toughness. You knew if any one of these guys were in a fight, it was going to be exciting. No one cared about what they had to say about their opponents, because it didn’t matter a bit. All that mattered was they put on one hell of a show, which they did each time they fought, no matter the outcome. Today, people are sucked in to fighters who just don’t shut up, and talk their way into big fights, because fans have begun to bow at their feet because of witty responses and comical press conferences. It is almost like their skill is an after thought as long as they can talk enough to keep fans interested. These fighters are beginning to make as much if not more money than the champions in the company, exactly how is that fair? This is the way of the business in the fight game today for the UFC and it makes me sad. Why should a fighter want to become a champion in the company anymore, realistically what is the use other than being called “the champ” or “the former champ” Why work hard to become the best fighter, when you can let your mouth talk you in to anything you want, because people will follow you. Today, a champ in the UFC doesn’t even have to defend the belt if they don’t want to. If a fighter can have half the stress of the champ and get paid more, who really wants to fight to be the best in their division or sport? They could just put on a dog and pony show, and allow the sheep to follow.
UFC commentator Joe Rogan has recently gone on record questioning why does the UFC even have belts anymore. Joe had asked that question with the UFC’s recent title fight signing for the Middleweight Championship where Georges St Pierre will be fighting the champ Michael Bisbing. Georges had walked away from the sport three years ago, after his highly questionable win against a probably juiced up Johnny Hendricks. Rogan seemed pretty upset about the signing simply because Yoel Romero had beaten Chris Weidman at UFC 205 to become the number one contender for Bisbing’s belt. Now that Romero has been pushed aside, in walks St Pierre who is MMA royalty, and should deserve a title shot of his choosing, but in a different weight class than where Georges had fought his whole career, raises just too many eyebrows. This is just one example of the ranking system holding no bearings at all with who gets a title shot. Even though Cody Garbrandt had beaten Dominick Cruz easily in their recent title fight, Cody wasn’t even in the top 3 fighters. If all the UFC brass is concerned with is what is going to draw the most money, over the fighters who actually deserve the chance to become champion, that is going to drive fighters to other organizations, just because being a name and a good fighter, will get them the opportunities they deserve.
Change isn’t always a good or a bad thing, it is nice to see the sport we love begin to evolve and fighters can now make enough money so that fighting is their job. I think the UFC needs to step back and assess the situation at hand here. They need to go back to realizing that being the champ is the most important, not someone who can get you the most ppv buys just by running their mouth. Damian Maia is a fighter who the UFC doesn’t feel is marketable because he is quiet, but once that cage door locks, his opponent goes home with one less limb functioning now to me THAT is marketable. If the UFC had to chose between giving Maia or a Diaz brother the shot at the title, they will pick the Diaz brothers just because of their fan appeal. Call me an MMA purist, but I think that is wrong. It is the UFC’s job to make these fighters marketable, a company like WWE knows how to do that perfectly, maybe Dana needs to take some advice from Vince McMahon and learn how to get fighters over with the crowds. MMA is still very young despite the UFC being around for 20 years, the WME four billion dollar buy out was supposed to really make the sport standout, where I feel it is setting the UFC back way to much. Their younger talent will begin to jump ship to other organizations because guys are getting opportunities they don’t deserve, just because they make witty comments to Dana, and be flashy in front of the cameras.