In the fallout of last nights draw finish of Jon Fitch vs. BJ Penn, the conversation seems to be focused mostly on every MMA writer’s favourite subject: b*tching about how inept and incompotent MMA judges are.
C’mon, what do you want from me? It was a close fight. Anytime there’s a close fight, people are going to disagree about the outcome. No amount of rules refinement is going to fix variable scoring in a sport that requires subjective judging.
And what’s wrong with a draw, exactly? The whole “there must be a winner!” attitude in every fight is to the detrament of fans and promoters alike.
Fitch/Penn was a fun fight, certainly the most exciting Jon Fitch has had in awhile. Now, most likely, we get to see 3 more rounds of it.
More on that later.
But first, what the hell is going on with all these draws recently? Certainly 2 of the 3 UFC Events this year going to a draw is a little out of the ordinary.
First there was the Frankie Edgar/Grey Maynard tie at UFC 125. This past Saturday night, Jon Fitch and BJ Penn fought to another close – and controverial – draw in the main event of UFC 127 in Sydney, Australia.
Two fights, 8 combined rounds, and no official winners to be found. Well, inside the cage, anyways. Outside of it, let’s just say Dana White is like Charlie Sheen – he keeps on winning (may also be a ninja warlock assassin).
Why is Mr. White the real winner of these inconclusive draws (aside from the being the recipient of all your PPV dollars, that is)? Its because each time there’s been a draw recently, it seems to have solved one of Mr. White’s problems rather marvelously.
Frankie Edgar and Grey Maynard was one of the least hyped title fights in recent memory. It was an issue. It wa something MMA writer’s talked about widely and at length. People honestly wondered what the UFC was going to do to get that elusive “casual fan” to care about a Lightweight world title fight.
One epicly fought draw later, and all Dana’s problems are solved.
Edgar/Maynard 3 is the most anticipated rematch of 2011, and White gets to put on the exact same fight he put on in January again in May, and make ten times more money this time. Win and win.
Now the majority draw conclusion of Penn vs. Fitch solves another one of Dana’s lingering problems.
See, this fight put Dana and the UFC in a slightly akward position as far as the welterweight title picture goes. With champion Georges St. Pierre set to defend the strap against Jake Shields in April, there has been plenty of speculation that, with a win, he would move up in weight to face Anderson Silva in the biggest MMA superfight ever.
White himself all but committed to this timeline for finally putting on GSP/Silva at long last.
Just one problem: the winner of Penn/Fitch could potentially have stood in the way of that move. Had Fitch won, his 14 UFC wins would have had purists crying foul that Fitch had earned his rematch, that GSP hadn’t truly cleaned out 170 lbs.
Had Penn won, there’s a chance the first words out of his mouth would be to call out Georges St. Pierre once again. Ok, that’s not true – the first words out of his mouth would have been “go to BJPenn.com!”, where he might have called out GSP in a lengthy paragraph, brought to you by RVCA.
Would either of these scenarios have been enough to derail Anderson Silva vs. GSP?
Probably not. But either one would have caused complications at the least. There would be howls that GSP had not truly “cleaned out” the welterweight division. These howls wouldn’t exactly be incorrect, either. Fitch’s case for another GSP fight, or Penn’s case for a non-vaselined 3rd GSP fight would have had some weight behind them if either man had won, if only a little.
Now, we can scratch both those hypotheticals. With Brian Ebersole cartwheel-kicking Chris Lytle out of title contention, Carlos Condit out with injury, Dan Hardy still trying to remember what day of the week it is, and no clear winner in Penn/Fitch, there really is no one left after Shields for GSP to face at welterweight. By happy accident as much as peerless domination, GSP is one fight away from unequivocally cleaning out his divison.
So now what? If GSP beats Shields and moves up, I predict Dana will book a BJ vs. Fitch rematch, this time for the vacant welterweight championship. That ought to get BJ motivated after he borderline retired last night.
Check this scenario out: a season of TUF featuring Penn and Fitch as rival coaches, building interest for their eventual clash. When they finally do fight, book it at Aloha Stadium in Hawaii. Can you think of a better way to feature what could be BJ’s last hurrah – or perhaps his second coming?
By Elton Hobson