Yesterday we saw the news that shortly after his fight at UFC on Fuel 3, Cody McKenzie had signed the contract for his first featherweight fight in the UFC against Chad Mendes, a fighter coming off of a title shot where he was soundly beaten. McKenzie has one tool in his arsenal, one. The fact that he's in the UFC is shocking. The man should not be coming off a win over Marcus LeVesseur and go into a fight with a not so long ago title challenger. Whether or not you like Cody, it is agreeable through most of the fanbase that knows their stuff that this is a huge mismatch.
Now, does Cody have a path to victory? Sure. Is that path to victory foreseeable against a fighter who is better than him in every facet? Absolutely not.
I'm not completely opposed to far odds for a fighter. What I'm opposed to is a completely unfair mismatch that will most definitely not be one they can learn from. Cody gets nothing from this fight at all, other than his paycheck to show and maybe a pat on the back for taking the fight. What's more is he has the ability to improve himself now with the right team at Cesar Gracie's with the notorious Diaz brothers, and he had the chance to build up from the little momentum he has now. That chance is, beyond some lucky guillotine, gone.
There are many other examples of these kinds of fights matched up by the UFC. Up-and-comers being given too much too fast. Fighters on the downswing getting tougher opponents than the ones they just lost to. A lower tier guy being used as a bounce back fight for a contender coming off a loss. The list goes on and on, and it's pretty outrageous.
A few days ago, news went out that the UFC has now scheduled Phil Davis to welcome Chad Griggs to the light heavyweight division at UFC on Fox 4. Griggs is a relative nobody right now, while Phil is coming off a loss in a perfect example of a too much, too soon mismatch against Rashad Evans. For Chad, this is a fight he's most likely not going to be able to do anything in, and a fight he clearly shouldn't be involved in.
Tuesday of this past week, we saw Jeff Hougland take a brutal beating from Yves Jabouin, and that fight itself was a mismatch. But what who was Jeff Hougland supposed to take on before this fight got signed? Renan Barao, who will now be challenging Urijah Faber for the interim bantamweight title at UFC 148. Hougland vs. Barao was one of the most baffling fights that Joe Silva has made, especially in that it would've done nothing for the two involved.
At UFC 145, we watched Rory MacDonald beat the hell out of a clearly overmatched Che Mills. What made this fight so appalling was that the UFC brass had the audacity to tell us that Mills actually had a chance. At UFC 142, we were treated to seeing Mike Massenzio take on Rousimar Palhares, a fight booked with the sole intention of giving Palhares another slide on his highlight reel.
Perhaps the most disappointing of mismatches is the rushed title shot. A fighter who looks solid at the lower tier, ruined by being rushed in against a champion that outclasses them. We've seen it before with Nate Quarry in his fight with Rich Franklin for the title. We saw it when Dan Hardy challenged GSP for the welterweight title. In a great deal of Anderson Silva's title fights, we've seen people get rushed in. At UFC 149, we are bound to have another example, when Erik Koch will be facing the young phenom, Jose Aldo, for the featherweight title, in a fight that will almost undoubtably be an embarrassment for Koch. These kinds of mismatches are without a doubt the most heartbreaking for fans, because the road back to the title is long and treacherous.
Today, these kinds of fights shouldn't be happening. I don't mean to overlook people I noted in the post, but it is pretty clear that some fights just shouldn't be put together. Sometimes, they'll prove you wrong, like when Matt Serra fought Georges St. Pierre after The Ultimate fighter or when Tim Boetsch had a terrific comeback knockout against Yushin Okami in Japan. There are still many fights in recent memory that I missed, such as BJ Penn vs. Matt Hughes III, or Josh Koscheck vs. Matt Hughes. We can joke around about Joe Silva's jealousy of Yoshihiro Akiyama, but what it comes down to is very unfair matchmaking. Losses are hard to come back from, and you can't always learn from a loss, despite what some may say. I understand that some of these fights get booked due to circumstance, but others are baffling and come at the expense of fighters, which I'd rather not see.