How You Lose When You Win in The UFC
Since the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) kicked of 2017 in my adopted hometown yesterday, I figured it would be fitting to write about something I have intended to write about for sometime.
For those not familiar with the UFC, they are the big leagues of Mixed Martial Arts. Fighters reaching this level are at the top of their sport. Much like boxing, fighters work their way up the rankings by winning fights eventually earning a title shot if they are able to win enough fights against other ranked competitors.
Now the scenario I just laid out above is not quite accurate. There are many other factors in play. For example, injuries, other fighters schedules, UFC Fighter Rankings, etc. For these reasons and others, you don’t always see the number 1 and 2 fighters fighting for title belt in their division.
Dana White the CEO of the UFC has been fairly transparent regarding what he likes to see from fighters in order to get the fights that they desire. Look no further than Conor McGregor, current Lightweight champion. According to Dana White, Conor never turns down a fight. He fights anyone and does what he says he is going to do. Regarding that last comment, he is referring to McGregor calling out fighters, defeating fighters he says he is going to, doing it in spectacular fashion as he says he will.
There are many fighters on the UFC roster who go out and perform well. Last night, Yair Rodriguez dominated a legend in BJ Penn. His performance was phenomenal. He came into the fight as the 10th ranked fighter in the Featherweight division. Based on his performance I could easily see him beating top five competition. Immediately following his victory in his post fight interview in the cage, Rodriguez was asked the inevitable question of who he wants next.
What happened next is all to common. Rodriguez pointed over to his boss (in this case match maker Sean Shelby) and goes on to state it is up to him. Rodriguez is correct, it is up to him. In winning a fight in spectacular fashion, Rodriguez loses when he defers picking his next opponent to the UFC brass. This happens so often, that I can’t even put the right words to how this makes me feel as a fan and someone who wants to see people succeed in their chosen field.
I don’t pretend to be someone who knows all the fine details of MMA match making. I am however someone who listens when Dana White answers media questions about matchups and fighters like McGregor getting fights they want. He has been as transparent as one could possibly be. You have to do the following.
- Get the fans to love or hate you
- Take any fight especially the short notice, card saving variety of fight
- Be in the gym training and ready to go on short notice for any opponent
- Call your shot. That means calling out specific opponents and how you intend to beat that person
- Take risks. Fight people ranked above you, take short notice fights, fight the guy or girl everyone is avoiding
My ask for the remainder of 2017 is to see every fighter doing the above. I love MMA and I genuinely like and appreciate all the fighters on the roster. I love watching fighters like Conor McGregor come on the scene and rise to the top. Everyone on the UFC roster has the same opportunity. Just like you need to execute a plan inside the cage to defeat your opponent, you need to execute a plan from the moment your hand is raised until the next time you step in the octagon to efficiently work your way to a title shot.
The bottom line here is fighters need to take ownership of their destiny.