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A Case For The Tournament In MMA

Outside of Alistair’s domination in the K-1 tournament over the weekend I found myself pining for some sort of MMA fix and ended up in line at an Apple store wondering the legal ramifications of the Mata Leon on hapless individuals. However my love of freedom got the better of me and instead I got to thinking, with Bellator season 2 starting this week isn’t it about time for the UFC to bring a tournament back to the organization? At first glance this may seem like a bad idea because that has been the bill of goods sold to us, the fans, by the organizations we support ravenously and financially. Well, as a fan I would like you to hear me out.

Christopher Taylor wrote a tremendous piece over the weekend about the infancy of MMA and how as fans we consume so much of it we forget just how young the sport really is and that mainstream sports like the NFL, NBA, and MLB have a pretty hefty head start. The other thing they have, are playoffs and playoffs generate a lot of revenue for these leagues, I mean even the WWE has a marquee event in Wrestlemania, but the UFC doesn’t have an iconic event like Wrestlemania, The Superbowl, or The World Series but couldn’t it be time to build one?

Yes, there were flaws in the UFC’s original tournament style but with Dana’s plans to continue to add a number of events in 2010 and 2011 respectively; wouldn’t a one month tournament facilitate such an addition? When the UFC swallowed Pride my hope was not only for the “Best of Pride” series to have a longer run on Spike TV but that Dana and the crew would bring the Grand Prix idea into the UFC and change the weight-class they spotlight each year to give fresh faces to MMA a chance to shine.

If you are worried about a “draw” have it as a Fight Night Series and put it on Spike TV and undoubtedly some household names would want to be in the tournament much like the Pride version and as an MMA fan, the thought of the randomness of the match-ups could provide a fun shake up in some of these divisions that seem to have a champion that is unbeatable.

If there was a tournament where the winner would be crowned the UFC Grand Prix champion and given a belt in addition to the opportunity to challenge current belt holder in that division, if that person were in fact not the same person, in my mind would not only be exciting to watch but, would establish that crown jewel in the organization since each weight class would compete once every five years. Think of it like Dana White’s personal Olympics with more Lyoto Machida and less Mary-Lou Retton.

I am sure there are many who can only hearken back to the UFC of old with the horrible match-ups, one-sided victories, and championship fights that fell apart but, 17 years later mixed martial arts has changed dramatically and the level of competition to not only get into the UFC but stay in the UFC is staggering to say the least. A tournament setting would allow fighters who did not want to go the reality television route still another avenue into the king of the hill of MMA organizations while achieving the UFC’s goal of adding events. And if that isn’t compelling enough for you, think of it as an extremely extravagant way to get Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck to fight each other.

29 COMMENTS
  • Kirtm says:

    That sounds like a great idea but could the UFC really pull something like that off? I think Dana would scoff at the idea of such a concept. A LHW tournament could go a long way in sorting out the pecking order in that division and would provide some great matchups.

  • primetime says:

    If it’s not broke don’t fix it…

  • EricOBrien says:

    Primetime, while I admire the conventional thinking, as a fan I want to see the sport evolve and grow and with or without a tournament the UFC could benefit from an iconic event once a year for either one event, a week, or a month. Just my thoughts.

  • Guthookd says:

    Hate the idea. Sorry man. A big show once a year would be great though…..all the belts on the line every NYE would work for me.

  • inkythewinky says:

    no that is not a good idea at all

  • Rece Rock says:

    If they did bring this back and revamp it I think it would probably be some newer faces and prospects- I doubt the UFC would want to pay top dollar to established stars on a reoccurring basis… or if top fighters would want to risk losing to a prospect or gettting hurt early on….plus fans need some new interest not watch the top fighters in the division walk in and dominate the tournament… need some fresh blood with an opportunity to sky rocket into a division.

    If i was proposing this concept I would opt for a reality TV format following the fighters at there camps and what they do to prepare for the tournament… a realistic back ground on the fighters and see some of there life first hand as a segway into the live fight. And to maintain interest this tournament could’nt go beyond maybe 4 cards – once a week for a month basically.

    Give it time once the growth and interest in the sport or UFC itself plateaus then they’ll look to freshin up the product and renew interest… but that’s a ways down the road cause this sport and UFC are still growing at an insane pace and they don’t need to consider this format yet… besides they know if your looking for a tournament theres other promo’s that offer you this format.

  • Snoop Dogg says:

    The UFC has a tournament. It is called the ultimate fighter they have this tournament twice a year.
    With all the injuries that occur I personally think a tournament would be a huge flop or postponed to the point where no one gives a $hit anymore.

  • crisis182 says:

    I often think a tournament would be a good idea to sort out some of these divisions and to make new contenders. I don’t know about the rotating Grand Prix style, but I would definitely be open to something. The only problem that jumped out to me are injuries. In Dream I recall Bob Sapp getting back in several times due to injuries. Obviously, the UFC has a lot more talent and maybe they could have matchups where if someone is hurt, the winner of this other match gets to replace them, somewhat like Joachim Hansen did in Dream.

    Anyways, I like it!

  • Hume says:

    I like the idea, but how would medical suspensions affect the UFC’s ability to pull this off? It seems like almost every fighter is suspended 30 days for something.

  • cdrg says:

    bad idea!

  • cdrg says:

    but they could do as guthookd said “all the belts on the line in one event every year or two.

  • Dufresne says:

    The UFC has a tournament.It is called the ultimate fighter they have this tournament twice a year.
    With all the injuries that occur I personally think a tournament would be a huge flop or postponed to the point where no one gives a $hit anymore.  

    I was kinda thinking that myself.

    I wouldn’t mind a tournament style setup when things get like they were in the heavyweight division and everyone is trying to figure out who the real number one contender is while the champ is on an extended leave, but I don’t think it’d be feasible to put on a big tournament with big name fighters. As several people have already said, the risk of injuries is very high and a single broken knuckle can get a fighter a 3 month or more medical suspension.

    The NFL, NBA, and MLB all have playoff systems, but they are also team sports where you can rotate your players and have backups if one gets injured. WWE is all scripted, and even then wrestlers are often performing with fairly severe injuries (read Mick Foley’s book, great read). But in MMA you have one fighter that’s closely monitored by ring doctors, athletic commissions and their own managers all working to keep the fighter out of the Octagon if the fighter gets hurt.

    I think what would end up happening if there was a tournament is what Big Country did while on TUF. He fought the fights on the way to the final as safely (and boringly) as possible so that he would have the greatest chance of being healthy come time for the finals. It worked, but God it was hard to watch.

  • fatboris says:

    I think the Ultimate Fighter is the tournament for the UFC. What I would like to see is another comeback or contender season of the Ultimate Fighter. I assume their would be a problem with paying the fighters and reporting to the commission.

  • bigbadjohn says:

    One of those things… great in theory BUT

  • Vogairian says:

    Solid article, but I just don’t agree at all. It’s great in theory, but I just don’t see it. I want to see top flight fighters fight each other at their best, not with all of a week of preparation or lingering issues from the fight they had a week ago. Like Dufresne mentioned the best strategy would reward guys like Fitch and Maynard who are more than willing to wrestle you down and hold you for 3 rounds, while a guy who’s all energy or likes to stand and bang would be at a huge disadvantage.

    The biggest thing we as MMA fans need to stop doing is comparing this sport to team sports. There’s no comparison. We can’t really ever have an end of season show, because MMA season never ends. It’s also not fair to say well WWE has Wrestlemania, because it’s just not possible to stack a card full of 100% great relevant fights and not kill the next 3-4 month’s cards.

    Also, most title situations are settled by de facto tournaments anyway. We have one going on at WW and HW as we speak and if your goal isn’t to have title fights as the end game of the tournament, well in that case we have an actual tournament and it’s called The Ultimate Fighter.

  • moosebaby02 says:

    i like it and i dont like it and for all the reasons you all stated

  • Makington says:

    Hate the idea. Sorry man.A big show once a year would be great though…..all the belts on the line every NYE would work for me.  

    As much as I would love that, I don’t think it would work. To have every champ fight on one card, that means there are NO title defenses in the 4 cards before that one or after it. It would make for an epic night but it would put a stopper on the division for much too long for my liking. Not to mention the fact that with each fight potentially lasting a full 5 rounds, the broadcast time might keep going until like 2am.

  • MCM says:

    I agree with everyone else on their points on why this would not work. It’s not that, as a fan, I would not enjoy a tournament in the UFC. And I think even Dana knows that if he did follow this idea, it could be one of the most lucrative months in MMA. But the points about fighter safety (injuries), boring fights, and pay for established stars are just too much. The only valid and feasible tourney style competition the UFC could do is another TUF 4. Which is what I would like to see for season 12.

  • slammy862 says:

    It might be fun to do the tourney in a World Cup or Olympic format, every 2-4 years.

    Each country sends a fighter for each class(or what they can). Find out who’s really at the forefront in mma: U.S, Brazil, Canada, Europe or Russia.

    Get that national pride thing going.

    Never happen, but would draw an audience and some rabid fans.

  • Guthookd says:

    As much as I would love that, I don’t think it would work. To have every champ fight on one card, that means there are NO title defenses in the 4 cards before that one or after it. It would make for an epic night but it would put a stopper on the division for much too long for my liking. Not to mention the fact that with each fight potentially lasting a full 5 rounds, the broadcast time might keep going until like 2am.  

    Yeah, I guess I see your point, but there are a quite a few champs who don’t suffer damage in a title defense and could therefore defend within a month or so and still be in prime condition.

    GSP could fight again today after his defense against Hardy. A. Silva could probably fight every month and still be at 100%. Brock doesn’t seem to take damage either, though of course we’ve only seen him defend a couple times. Penn might need a few months I guess, but I think Machida could do a fight every two months barring injury.

    I personally would be cool with two UFC events with no title fights, leading up to the big daddy NYE show, to see all the belts on the line in one night. Then another two evens to let the champs rest. Might be a good time to sort out the contenders really, plus they could charge $100 for that PPV and I think me and a lot of other guys would probably buy it.

    I know you’d see it one way or another.

    :)

  • MCM says:

    It might be fun to do the tourney in a World Cup or Olympic format, every 2-4 years.Each country sends a fighter for each class(or what they can). Find out who’s really at the forefront in mma: U.S, Brazil, Canada, Europe or Russia.Get that national pride thing going.
    Never happen, but would draw an audience and some rabid fans.  

    It would be fun, but that would me Co-Promotion, and we all know who well that’s doing. M-1 holding up Fedor, Dream and SF having “non-title” championship fights, ect. If the other promotions want to stay out of it and just send in there fighters then maybe. But I doubt Dana would wanna risk one of his guys loosing to anyone outside the UFC.

  • Makington says:

    True Guthookd that the title holders usually take little damage. I’d maybe like to see it done once to see how it goes as long as we had nice enough cards holding us over until then. Obviously there are still some really exciting fighters that aren’t holding a belt. Wanderlei could totally headline an event, same with other popular fighters like Couture, Florian, Bones Jones, Hughes, Forrest, Nog(s) it’s not like any events would be lacking fighters.

    The only thing we’d need is for the champs to really man up and get right back to defending their belt after the event. Even though GSP is injury-free and could fight this Saturday if he needed, I doubt we’ll see him defend his belt in the next 4 months. Hell, it might not be till longer than that. If fighters actually defended their belt more often like they should it could make for easily the biggest night in UFC ever but it always seems like the belts are defended half as much as they should be.

  • inkythewinky says:

    instead of a tournament how bout a m-1 vs ufc night where the best of m-1 face ufc’s #2-3 ranked fighters

  • edub says:

    Gotta be down on this idea. Your trying to compare team sports with leagues, standings, etc.. To fighting.
    The UFC doesn’t want one big event a year. They build their product around every payperview card being a “big event”.
    Too many wild cards that could thrown things off.

  • elpiojo14 says:

    Totally agree.

  • EricOBrien says:

    Here is what I love about this site, I am only three articles in and EVERY time the comments are 100 times more interesting and that is a testament to both Cory Brady and you guys who love this sport and have well thought out opinions.

    It is a pleasure to read the different points of view and makes the time it takes to write each week well worth it. Have a great week and thanks for making this site killer!

    -Eric

  • Guthookd says:

    @ EricO:

    I agree. It’s a combination of things that makes 5oz the best.

    1. The writers know their business and choose great topics
    2. The news here is by far the freshest of all MMA sites
    3. The moderation is not heavy-handed
    4. This format is superior to the forum format where things get off track and often end up in huge arguements that have nothing to do with the original discussion
    5. The thumbs up/down button does wonders to keep people in check; no one wants to see their comment with a ton of thumbs down, and when that does happen the comment is automatically hidden and as a result, and mainly ignored

    There are only two things I wish were different: I wish there was a way to be notified when someone quotes you or even when a reply is posted to a topic you’ve commented on, and I wouldn’t mind seeing some more pictures to go along with each article.

  • inkythewinky says:

    i agree with guthookd, and would like to add that a live chat would be tight, or like a live chat for each new article so we could talk more in-depth

  • primetime says:

    With the pay-per-view events, free events on Spike and Versus, and the Ultimate Fighter show it’s almost a full time job watching the UFC. Sometimes when the UFC airs 2 or 3 events in a month the cards get watered down. I just think a tournament would be overkill…

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