Dana White is a man who often talks about “legacy” and how important it is to build one while you can, while you are in your prime, at your best, and able to make the most money. But looking at two champions in particular, it seems as though the UFC's scheduling is limiting just how great their legacies could be.
I'm talking about Georges St.-Pierre and Anderson Silva. With Lesnar currently out, they are the two biggest draws in the UFC. For those challenging Silva's status, find me a card headlined solely by Cruz, Aldo, Edgar or Jones in title fights that outdraw the 750K buy rate of UFC 126, headlined by Silva. Outside of Lesnar and the occasional super-feud that nets a huge buy rate, these two are the consistent and steady draws right now.
And they are fighting two times a year. Two.
When you couple that fact with Dana's often used mantra of 'In the UFC the best in the world fight 3 times a year', it becomes even more perplexing. The up and comers and new guys often fight 3 times a year or more. Jim Miller and Phil Davis both fought 4 times each in 2010.
Anderson Silva fought in early February, on Superbowl weekend. His next fight is August 27th. Breaking it down, that is a little more than 6 months between fights. Yushin Okami was deemed the next #1 contender in November of 2010, LAST year...yet his title shot gets scheduled for a late August 2011 date.
GSP fought at the end of April and I believe his next fight is mid-late October. That's right about 6 months there as well.
These guys, being the two best pound for pound fighters on the planet, being two of the most recognizable names in the sport, being the two longest reigning champions in UFC history, and being on their great win streaks...you would think Dana White would perceive it as being in the best interest of the UFC to have them in action more than just 2 times a year.
I'm not asking for work overload or anything like that. But simply bumping up their number of defenses to 3 per year couldn't possibly be unreasonable. Yes, they both receive big paydays from the UFC and cost quite a pretty penny, but the amount of publicity, fan interest, and in the end, money that they generate for the UFC is more than worth it.
It may mean that the UFC has to start revving up the speed at which they generate #1 contenders, but the UFC has the depth of talent to do so. I mean, would anyone REALLY have complained if Jon Fitch was given another shot at GSP? We all know what would probably happen, but everyone would have checked it out anyway, and would too many fans have debated his shot?
At this stage, GSP vs anybody and Anderson Silva vs anybody still gets as much attention, fan interest, fan complaining, fan praise, analysis, and TV promotional spots as when they fight anybody else. These two are beyond needing big challengers to sell fights. Their names will still earn more or less the same amount of Pay Per View buys, varying a bit based on the strength of the rest of the main card.
Imagine, if these guys had been defending their belts 3 times a year and hadn't lost...how much more impressive would their oh so important “Legacies” look right now? Surely the longer win streaks would only add to the aura of these great fighters and get them even more attention, which surely could only help their drawing power as icons of the sport.
Widening the view even more. Picture the UFC's annual Pay Per View schedule if all 7 of their champions, if healthy and uninjured, were fighting 3 times a year. The amount of must-see, spectacle level events would increase by quite a few, which would only raise their annual PPV numbers by even more. Beyond that, if title defenses were a bit more often, the UFC would perhaps be more inclined the throw the hungry fans an occasional bone by giving us a free title fight every so often, or at least, more often then they have been. Moves like that would surely only improve their standing with the fans and could only attract more fans.
It's just a thought, but if the UFC aimed to have their champions fight 3 times per year, barring injuries of course, I see a lot of potential positives in the outcome.