Pat Miletich is one of the great mixed martial arts fighters and coaches in the brief history of the sport and his opinion on any aspect of the sport should carry a significant amount of weight.
But Miletich was off base in his comments on HDNet's "Inside MMA" on Friday, when he called for all promoters to join the World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts. It's a group whose objective, Miletich said, is to fairly rank all fighters in a weight class and then to identify the best fighters.
In theory, it's a sound idea. It doesn't work in practice, though, and all you have to do is look to boxing for the answer.
Boxing has been plagued by years by corrupt sanctioning bodies which finagle with the ratings, unfairly strip champions of their belts, ignore deserving challengers and penalize champions who have the temerity to try to unify the belts in a given division.
Those kinds of problems have yet to plague MMA and won't so long as there is not a sanctioning body to get in the way.
The truth is, the championships mean little. Who cares if one fighter has a belt or not if you get a great match? As long as the promoters continue to make the best possible matches, the belts are irrelevant.
Was there one fan anywhere who was less interested in the Chuck Liddell-Wanderlei Silva fight at UFC 79 because neither man had a belt?
The UFC is a closed shop now, only because there is no other organization that has its depth or that is selling the number of tickets or pay-per-views it is. But don't forget, it wasn't long ago that UFC president Dana White sent some of his fighters to Japan to compete on Pride Fighting Championship cards.
The biggest problem boxing faces is with its sanctioning bodies. They're plain and simple a mess. MMA doesn't need to add one of boxing's problems. The fans can ensure that promoters make the best bouts by supporting only those shows which offer quality matches and the fights they want to see.
With that, I'm going to answer a number of reader questions on a variety of MMA topics. My answers are in italics below the questions.
What do you think would be better for the sport of MMA: Multiple organizations offering more opportunities for several different TV agreements and offering fighters more negotiating power and more options for their career path, but dividing the talent fairly thinly or having one dominant organization that is able to contract the majority of the best talent ensuring the best match ups and most "true" champions, but also giving them an abundance of power and influence over the sport?
I'd say it's pretty clearly a little of both. If you took all the best fighters and put them in 20 different companies and they never fought, how good would that be? So from that standpoint, it makes sense to have one dominant promoter, such as the UFC is now. Having said that, competition is always good and if a fighter can make more money by having numerous promoters bidding on his/her services, I'm all in favor of it.
I'm a Houston Alexander fan, but I have to ask, does he not have a very good chin? When he fought Keith Jardine, the first punch didn't look all that devastating but Houston went rag-doll for a second. And then the same thing happened in this last fight against James Irvin with that Superman punch. Are these guys just landing awesome shots or does Houston not have a very good chin?
West Chicago, Ill.
I think it's fair to say that Houston has a lot to prove about the quality of his chin. And though a lot of fans are complaining about referee Steve Mazzagatti's stoppage, I have to agree with it. Alexander was wobbly long after the fight ended.
With all these good lightweights out there right now, do you think the UFC will ever hold a one-night tournament similar to what Pride had? I would love to see a rotating tournament for the different weight classes each year.
I don't see it happening because UFC president Dana White is a vocal opponent of tournaments. I like the tournament concept as a fan, but if a title is at stake, it's not fair, because the best man doesn't always win. A cut or a fluke injury can make a huge difference in a tournament. If no belts are at stake, I'm all for them occasionally. But I don't like it as a means of determining a champion (if the organizations are going to insist on handing out belts!).
Kenny Florian vs. Joe Lauzon went pretty much how I thought it would, but can you clarify the rule on no elbowing on the back of the head? I've seen Kenny go for those shots before from the bottom before and thought they were illegal both times. It's also too bad for Kenny that no matter what happens, B.J. Penn will submit him and Sean Sherk will decision him. No amount of training/heart/vicious elbows will change that.
From my vantage point, I thought Florian's elbows were fouls that merited a point deduction. Referee Herb Dean only chose to warn Florian. Florian explained it by saying that Lauzon was ducking his head, thus causing the illegal elbow to the back of the head. I'm not sure I buy that explanation. I agree that Florian would have loads of trouble with Penn, but I think he'd have a decent shot to beat Sherk.
I'm not saying Florian is not talented. He is, but what's all the hoopla? He has beaten no one since losing to Sherk. Lauzon didn't even win the Ultimate Fighter he was on. Din Thomas? Mishima? Alvin Robinson? Come on now. Florian needs to fight at least one guy who is thought of as being anything in that division. Clay Guida, Joe Stevenson, Roger Huerta, Frankie Edgar (even with the loss), Spencer Fisher, Tyson Griffin, Leonard Garcia: He has fought none of them. If the fight with Huerta happens, good. If not, he deserves nothing.
It's certainly a valid criticism, Mark. But I think he showed in the fight with Sherk in 2006 that he belongs at the elite level. After winning four in a row inside the distance, I think he deserves the Penn-Sherk winner, but I wouldn't argue if the UFC made him beat one or even two of the men you mentioned first.
CHALLENGE TO DANA
Dana White has a big mouth. I was sitting on the couch with my grandson, waiting with anticipation for the new UFC program. All the fighters come in with a certain amount of respect. But Dana White comes in and lays the "F" bombs on national TV and starts off with his typical negativity. I know he calls the shots, but someone should bring him down a few notches and kick his ass.
El Segundo, Calif.
I think this is the first time in the history of this reader mailbag that a reader has called out a fight game figure. Dana, are you up for it?
What is the penalty for fighters not making weight in MMA events? I know in boxing a bout can be called off or it can change from a title to non-title fight as consequences for boxers not making weight. However, in MMA (especially UFC) the promoters have so much control that I doubt they will call off a huge match if the fighters fail to make weight.
It depends upon the state where the fight is and the promoter. A fighter could be fined by the state athletic commission if he misses weight. And it's up to the promoter if he wants to let the bout go forward, unless he's so far over that the relevant athletic commission gets involved. When Travis Lutter missed weight for his title match against Anderson Silva, the UFC went with the bout because Silva agreed and it would have cheated the fans. But had Lutter come in at, oh, 200, there definitely wouldn't have been a fight.
NO MAIN EVENTER
I feel EliteXC is doing MMA a huge disservice by putting Kimbo Slice as the main event on such an important card. I am a huge Kimbo fan but, lets face it, he is still more of a spectacle at this point in his MMA career. Why not legitimize our sport by featuring a championship bout between two thriving middleweights, Robbie Lawler and Scott Smith? Both men have appeared on UFC cards in the past, both are legitimate MMA fighters, and both appear to be just as marketable to the general public as Kimbo. What's your take?
Huntington Beach, Calif.
I don't have a problem putting Kimbo on the card, but I find it horrible he's in the main event against James Thompson. How CBS would accept Thompson as the opponent in a main event is beyond me. The guy has lost two in a row and six of his last eight. It's a disgrace that a guy with a record like that would be put into a main event of such a significant card in the sport's history.
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