When you don't fight, you don't get paid. In other words, the more often you step into the cage, the more money you make.
For most MMA fighters, that's the simple reasoning for taking back-to-back UFC fights on short notice. Now that more fighters seem willing to jump back into action faster than ever and without proper rest or training, it's time to address the question of whether such instances are good or bad for the sport, and if fighters should be allowed to do so.
More often than not, these situations arise when a fighter jumps into a situation when a regularly scheduled fight loses one of the combatants due to injury. That said, it's hard to hate on a guy who "takes one for the team" by stepping into the cage without a full training camp.
Brownie Points With Dana White?
Even if the fighter who jumps into the fight on short rest loses badly, the UFC brass will usually appreciate that he stepped up to the challenge and not penalize him for his efforts.
It basically puts a fighter in the good graces of Dana White and UFC matchmakers, while also providing an extra opportunity to make a lot of money in a short amount of time.
That was basically the reasoning why Lavar Johnson decided to fight Stefan Struve on an injury-ravaged UFC 146 card, just a month after knocking out Pat Barry. Perhaps it was the short training camp, or maybe Struve was just the better fighter, but Johnson was submitted in the first round.
We also recently saw Brian Ebersole look uncharacteristically slow for his fight against James Head at UFC 149, just a month after putting on an entertaining show at the "UFC on FX 4" card, where he defeated T.J. Waldburger in a unanimous judge's decision.
On the other side of it, Chris Leben famously ran through Aaron Simpson and Yoshihiro Akiyama in a span of less than a month in 2010, and Jon "Bones" Jones destroyed Ryan Bader and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua over a five-week span in 2011.
Daniel Pineda and Dan Miller are two of the rest of a handful of other UFC fighters who have tallied back-to-back victories over the course of a five to six week span, so it's clear that the results aren't always bad for a fighter who attempts to go at it on short notice.
Should Fighters Return To Action On Short Rest?
The way I see it, taking back-to-back fights isn't too risky as long as it's a young up-and-coming fighter who isn't trying to maintain a long winning streak. Fighting twice in two weeks can help a fighter earn a lot of extra dough, and a loss hardly counts against him because the UFC would understand he didn't have a full training camp.
The fans also seem to appreciate such efforts, as Jones and Leben were thrust into the spotlight when they fought back-to-back in six weeks. As far as fighters' health concerns go, I don't see a problem with taking fights on short notice as long as they are cleared by the overseeing athletic commission.
Should UFC fighters compete on back-to-back cards? Let me know in the comments.
Eric Holden is a lifelong UFC fan. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.
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