Tyron Woodley against Nate Diaz?
With little birdies dropping the news that UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley may face Nate Diaz at UFC 219. The first thought which popped into my head was, huh, quickly followed by a “what the?” I know, not very analytical, but what can you do.
Tyron Woodley has been sitting pretty at the top the division now, since knocking out Robbie Lawer at UFC 201.
The issue we have here is that above all else, all parties concerned first and foremost, just want the money. And I get it, prizefighters fight to pay their bills. The promoter promotes to build their business and pay off shareholders.
But, there is a real threat of something which in the long run could have a much more devastating effect on the long-term viability of the UFC brand.
If you start to consistently rip up the rankings format to which almost all major sports adhere. You destroy the fabric of that sport, for it’s no longer a sport. Will it is a sport, but first and foremost it becomes entertainment, followed by the sport.
And with WME IMG looking to service huge debts and get the cash rolling in as quickly as humanly possible. There is a real and tangible possibility of this becoming the new norm.
Now put yourself in the situation of a fighter who has been steadily working their way through the rankings. And now it’s his or her time to shine. That big opportunity which could change their life.
And just like that, it gets snatched from under your nose. You did everything you were asked, you played the role. But your boss comes in and moves the goal post mid-game. And you have no power to move them back.
Jumping the Line the New Norm?
Now, someone, will no doubt come out and give the example of one Conor McGregor jumping the lightweight cue. Getting what some might deem an unfair title shot. But what you would have to admit is that McGregor came to the game with something very special. A champion in another division, unbeaten in the promotion and looking to make history by becoming a simultaneous two-division champ.
Nate Diaz would enter the octagon, being a fan favourite yes. But he isn’t even a top 15 ranked fighter. With his (19 – 11) record on Sherdog since 2012 having all the makings of a delicious green and red pepper pizza. And yet another additional topping to add is the fact that the only person Nate Diaz has ever beaten at welterweight was McGregor. In his first ever fight at that weight! And now he becomes the money fight. Why?
Because he stepped into the octagon with the lightweight champion, when not too long before that for the most part. Nate did not in Dana White’s words “move the needle.” Nate’s pulling power is closely intertwined with that of McGregor. And for me at least, entertaining as it might be. A potential matchup with Tyron Woodley will not be the big draw the UFC is hoping for. And what if Nate were to beat T-Wood to become the welterweight champion?
If you were to chart his route to the championship out with pen and paper. How visually skewed a road-map would that be? From nowhere to number one, skipping past a whole division of deserved challengers, grizzled vets and up and comers.
It’s a story line which wouldn’t be out of place in the world of professional wrestling. But who knows, perhaps that what the new owners of the UFC are aiming for?
Real or Imagined, How Empires Crumble
After the year that was in it, as the sports biggest star was given free reign to chase his dreams outside the octagon. We now need, more importantly, the fighters involved now need, some type of stability to steady the ship. Because if we see a continuation down this road of this anything-goes style of promoting.
There’s a real possibility of pushing away the fans out of the sport, not those who simply want to be entertained! But the fans who want to see fighters who paid their dues, getting their just deserts. It’s only fair.
Some of you may not be too familiar with a promotion called K-1. Who in the noughties was right up there with Pride FC, mainly in Asia. In terms of the sheer scale and brand loyalty. Packing out 90 thousand plus seater stadiums, with some of the greatest kickboxers the world has ever known.
Today, K-1 is but a shadow of its former self. A victim of its own success, the rise of MMA. Or perhaps it’s a jaunt into the world of freak show fights which diluted their brand’s potency and fans loyalty until it became all but a joke. Be careful what you wish for UFC. Many the giant has crumbled under the weight of their own ego. Don’t be the just another name on that ever-growing list.
Images courtesy of mmadeferlante.com, mmajunkie.com & scrapdigest.com