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.