Every time Dana is either asked a question about a fighter outside the UFC or when he is defending a prized fighter in his organization somewhere in his reply Dana will say "You have to realize that here in the UFC the best fighters in the world fight each other three times a year". That's his old stand by. The fact of the matter is that it's simply not true. Don't believe me? Let's look at the list of fighters that will fight less than three times in 2010.
I'm going to stick with the ranked best and just glance over the top of the divisions. Here we go: Cain, Brock, Carwin, Mir, Shogun, Big Nog, Little Nog, Lyoto, Rashad, Rampage, Forrest, Jon Jones, Anderson, Chael, Belfort, GSP, Fitch, Kos, Edgar, Maynard, KenFlo. I could go on. But, fighters at the top who actually fought three times this year you can just about count on one hand. Perhaps there once was a time when the top fighters did fight each other three times a year but those days are gone. It is a combination of throwing so many events every year that the top fighters need to be spaced out so they can have cards that sell along with their inability to build and develop their own stars. The result is weak TV cards like last night and even weaker PPV's like Mir v Cro Cop. Let's be honest, UFC 121 was saved by a wonderful return to form for Diego Sanchez and the spectacle that was the demolition of BROCKLESNAR.
Now, I'm not going to turn this into a Zuffa bashing session. They made a very smart move merging the WEC into the UFC brand. I believe that will go a long way in beefing up these cards. I have advocated strongly in the past for the UFC to have perhaps fewer cards loaded with more talent. That in the long run it will benefit the company tremendously as the casual fans will have a much more exciting product to keep them riveted to what happens next in the UFC.
Jake Rossen recently wrote an article in which he looked into the future of the MMA world and saw there being only one MMA organization left.
Like it or don't, but it might not be long before the UFC becomes as synonymous with MMA as the NFL is with football. Not in the Kleenex sense, in which one brand is confused with the many generics, but in a one-ring-to-rule-them-all scenario, Frodo-style. It's not that the UFC will be the predominant banner. (It already is.) It's that it will be the only one.
I think we are a long way off from living in a world with only one MMA organization. However, Strikeforce suffers from a much greater affliction when it comes to putting on consistent quality cards. The worse part about that affliction is that it is self imposed. They have much fewer cards than the UFC and they certainly have the talent to make each card must see viewing. They don't by their own choosing. That is much more infuriating to me as a fan of the sport. They have to become 10 times smarter and 100 times more aggressive in their approach or they won't make it and that is a bad thing for all of us. There are certain fighters, for whatever reason, who will never fit into the mold of a UFC fighter but I still want to see them fight whenever they can in an MMA cage or ring. I don't want the UFC to be the only MMA product out there. At the same point, I want to see the UFC be the absolute, top notch, fucking best they can be month in and month out.
We are entering a transition period for the UFC. This year we have seen a handful of their top stars, and draws, tumble to varying degrees, for various reasons. At the same time boxing is absolutely crashing before our eyes. The combat sports landscape for the next century is being formed as I write these words. There are so many different ways to approach the future, so many different ideas and we all share them here. Why? Because we want this sport we love to grow, to be on ESPN, to show up in our cities regularly. But, maybe the best idea right now for Dana to implement is his own mantra. In the UFC, the best fighters in the world fight each other three times a year. Perhaps it's that simple. If only it were true.