We've finally gotten to the point where the Faber-Barao or Diaz-Condit-esque tactical five-rounder is the norm in a UFC PPV main event, and the crowd-pleasing knockout stylings of the Anderson Silvas and Jon Jones' of the world are the exception.
Call me crazy, but I liked the UFC a whole lot more five years ago, when fighters let their hands go far more often, and would rather lose in entertaining fashion than win in a snooze-fest.
Fans Love Finishes
UFC President Dana White can say all he wants that the boo-birds who reacted negatively to the Urijah Faber versus Renan Barao main event at UFC 149 were just "non-fans that were looking for something crazy," but the proof is in the pudding that fight fans want to see decisive finishes rather than tactical point-fighting.
A "knockout" is perhaps the most exciting moment in all of sports, and that's why fight fans have made the UFC's "Ultimate Knockouts" DVD series a perennial best seller.
You're never going to see the UFC put "Ultimate Tactical Fights" up for sale in stores because no one would buy it. UFC fans love Chris Leben, Wanderlei Silva, Leonard Garcia and Forrest Griffin because they know they will always get exciting fights with those guys, win or lose.
Tactical fighters like Faber and Condit may win more often than not, but their fighting styles are bothersome to a large quotient of fans.
Is Parity Ruining The UFC?
It sounds strange, but evenly-matched fights between two high-level fighters can turn boring in a hurry.
As we saw with the technical, tactical brawl between Carlos Condit and Nick Diaz in February, and the methodical, defensive battle between Urijah Faber and Renan Barao on July 21, elite fighters that are evenly-matched aren't always crowd-pleasing wars.
Fans love to see knockout finishes, and a mismatch is obviously more likely to feature a crowd-pleasing ending. Chris Weidman's recent dominance over Mark Munoz is a good example of an exciting fight that was a complete mismatch, as the former utilized his superior wrestling skills to set the pace and earn a second-round stoppage.
What Can Be Done To Fix The Problem?
I wouldn't suggest that the UFC should set up mismatched fights for their future main events, but more needs to be done to make sure the fighters engage in battle. There should be an emphasis placed on offense, as that is what the fans want to see.
One possible way to prevent fighters from abusing the scoring system and walking away with cheap decisions would be the implementation of yellow cards like they used to have in Pride FC.
In Pride, if a fighter failed to initiate offense or deliberately stalled, they would get issued a yellow card and 10% of their purse was immediately taken away.
If you step into the UFC octagon, you should come to fight and definitely get penalized for fleeing an opponent or stalling. As Dana White said in the UFC 149 post-fight presser, this is the Ultimate Fighting Championship, not the Ultimate Clinching Championship.
No one wants to see a fighter stall by pinning their opponent against the cage in a clinch or smothering them on the ground with a Chael Sonnen-esque "lay and pray" style.
Should the UFC give out yellow cards like they used to in Pride FC? Let me know in the comments.
Eric Holden is a lifelong UFC fan. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.
- Sports & Recreation
- Martial Arts
- Urijah Faber
- Renan Barao
- Carlos Condit