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This holiday season, MMA fans certainly have their wish lists. Whether or not you think your average MMA nut is an entitled brat or a crusader for justice, there’s always a lengthy ledger of wants from the fight faithful. Our potential for wish fulfillment is not particularly high, but we are more than happy to discuss whatever has got you kvetching this Christmas.
After all the drama involved in firming up Georges St. Pierre-Nick Diaz for UFC 158, fans are wishing for a little transparency from Dana White in the UFC -- emphasis on the wishing. Meanwhile, another UFC title fight between Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez has many wondering if the winner could fulfill another MMA wish: to have another heavyweight who could dominate like Fedor Emelianenko.
Then there are some wishes that never go out of style. From more 10-8 rounds to axing Bellator’s tournament format to replacing Mike Goldberg, we have counsel for your craving.
I wish Dana White and the UFC could be a little more honest about the promotion’s product. I think if this was the usual case, people wouldn’t complain so often when guys like Chael Sonnen fight for a title again or when a fighter like Johny Hendricks sits on the sidelines. If White was frank and said, “This is a business, we want to make the biggest fights and Diaz is a good PPV draw,” people might not agree, but they wouldn’t be up in arms. The UFC only hurts itself with this kind of doublespeak. To act like St. Pierre hand chose his opponent for UFC 158 is an insult to the intelligence of fans. -- Brad from South Dakota
Chris Nelson, associate editor: Ah, it’s a nice time of year for wishes, those things we dream of but know in our hearts could never be.
You raise a good point about transparency, something in which the UFC has shown to be only selectively interested. Fight promoters have often been compared with carnival barkers, and with good reason: you pay your money, you see what they want to show you and then you leave, satisfied or not. We outsiders only get to peek behind the curtain when it behooves Dana White & Co. to let us -- in August, for example, when they let the world know how they felt about their light heavyweight champion after Jon Jones turned down a short-notice fight against Sonnen. Even in these rare moments of apparent transparency, the facts can be manipulated and distorted by way of Zuffa’s custom funhouse mirrors.
At the same time, I couldn’t expect White to admit Sonnen doesn’t really deserve his upcoming title shot any more than I would have expected P.T. Barnum to inform eager ticket-buyers that his Fiji mermaid was actually just a fish body with a monkey’s head sewn on it. Probably some people knew back then what Barnum was up to, but far more were unaware, willing to pony up their money to see for themselves. In the same way, the UFC can afford to ignore the likes of you and I and instead spend the next season of “The Ultimate Fighter” selling the idea of Sonnen as a legitimate 205-pound contender to casual fans. I don’t disagree when you say this is insulting to fans’ intelligence; at the same time, it’s tough to argue that it’s hurting business when the UFC could very well do record pay-per-view numbers with a GSP-Diaz or Jones-Sonnen matchup.
Maybe it’s not as hopeless as I think. Maybe there will come a day when the UFC is more honest about the matchups it makes and why it's making them. Maybe eventually it’ll even have some kind of transparent internal ranking system, you know, like a real sport -- highly unlikely, but again, wishes are nice.
For now, a fighter like Hendricks is forced to try and state his case for a title shot on Twitter, while White justifies championship fights for guys coming off losses or suspensions. For now, just pay your money and step right up.
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