UFC: A Fan's Wish List

Derek BolenderSenior Analyst IFebruary 21, 2008

Each UFC fan has a list of fights they wish would happen, contracts they wish would be signed, and scenarios they would like to see.  I am no different.

I decided to write down a top 10 wish list (in no particular order).  Some are more likely than others to happen, but as a fan, I wish they all would happen.  Here's my top 10 list:

1) Find a way to sign Fedor Emelianenko.

At this point Fedor is the only missing piece for the UFC.  They essentially have the best overall talent of any mixed martial arts organization at each weight class.  The UFC does have a relatively weak heavyweight class at the moment.  Fedor is arguably the best pound-for-pound MMA fighter in the world and may be the greatest MMA fighter of all-time.  He has 28 wins, 1 controversial loss, and 1 draw in his MMA career.  He is also the reigning PRIDE Heavyweight Champion.  The problem is that he is under contract with M-1 for the next two years. 

2) Bring back Randy Couture.

Couture may very well by the most popular UFC fighter of all-time.  His sudden retirement has left a void in the hearts of many UFC fans and in the heavyweight division as a whole.  His current legal battle with the UFC is a mess.  I would love to see Couture come back to fight Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, but we may have seen the last of Randy Couture in the UFC.

3) Have Georges St. Pierre fighting for the middleweight championship.

In the next year and a half to two years, I would like to see Georges St. Pierre jump to the middleweight division and contend for the title.  He must first get past Matt Serra and a few other contenders like Jon Fitch.  If he continues to dominate the welterweight division, I would expect him to make the jump up to 185 lbs.  If he won a middleweight championship he would become only the third fighter ever (B.J. Penn and Randy Couture are the others) to hold a UFC championship belt in two or more weight classes.  This would cement St. Pierre’s legacy as one of the greatest UFC fighters of all-time.

4) Give Jon Fitch a title shot.

What more does Fitch have to do to get a crack at the welterweight belt?  He has an MMA record of 15-2.  His only two losses were at the light heavyweight level.  He has been on a winning steak since 2003, winning 14 straight matches, including victories over Diego Sanchez, Thiago Alves, Josh Burkman, and Shonie Carter.  His next fight will be against Chris Wilson at UFC 82 on March 1.  I would like to see Fitch get a shot at the St. Pierre/Serra winner.  He has certainly paid his dues.

5) Have Dana White admit Brock Lesner facing Frank Mir was a mistake.

I don’t expect Dana White to ever admit to anything, but arranging this fight was indeed a mistake.  Going into this fight Lesner only had one MMA fight to his credit.  He also had never fought in the UFC before.  The media and the UFC hyped up this fight to no end.  Why put him up against a former UFC Heavyweight Champion in Frank Mir?  Why not give him a mediocre opponent he could have pounded easily? 

He could then fight a few more mediocre opponents in a row.  This would result in the buzz being maintained for weeks, maybe months, until Lesner was assigned a real test.  This would have given Lesner extra time to train and to accumulate a highlight reel.

Unfortunately for the UFC, the hype machine came to a screeching halt when Lesner was submitted by Mir in the first round.

6) Impose harsher punishments for abusing banned substances.

Sean Sherk tested positive for steroids and relinquished his UFC Lightweight Championship belt in the process.  B.J. Penn fought Joe Stevenson and won the vacated title and now Sherk will immediately get to fight Penn to try to earn his belt back.  Was this really a punishment at all?

I don’t believe so.  UFC had the opportunity to do what MLB did not do, which is to get it right from the beginning.  The UFC should make the punishment for a violation so harsh that a fighter would not even want to risk taking an illegal substance for fear of being suspended for a great length of time.  In my opinion Sherk received a slap on the wrist.

7) Consider adding a new weight class.

Too many weight classes is one of the reasons boxing is in decline, but I would propose adding one UFC weight class.  Adding a “super middleweight” class with a limit of 195 lbs is a definite possibility.

There are a lot of fighters who are in between the classes that are small for 205, but too big to cut all the way down to 185, including Wanderlei Silva, Lyoto Machida, Michael Bisbing, Dan Henderson, and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.

A featherweight division capped at 145 could also be a possibility, and is probably more likely to happen.   

8) Have Brandon Vera contend as a light heavyweight.

Vera is a good heavyweight, but not a great one.  He is a quick, dynamic striker, but he is just too undersized for heavyweight.  He was overwhelmed by Tim Sylvia’s height and reach in his last fight.

He would be a big light heavyweight.  With his quickness and power it would be interesting to see him match up against the likes of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Chuck Liddell, Rashad Evans, etc. at the light heavyweight level.  After his fight with Sylvia, he maintained he was a heavyweight, but I believe he should take a serious look at dropping to light heavyweight.  It should be a seamless transition for him.

9) Have UFC highlights shown and analyzed on ESPN.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could turn on SportsCenter and see UFC highlights and analysis being done by a SportCenter anchor and a former UFC fighter?  Hopefully this happens sooner than later.  Once MMA becomes an even greater part of mainstream culture ESPN will be forced to incorporate it into its programming.

NASCAR is a great example of a specialized sport becoming more mainstream.  Five years ago there was no NASCAR coverage on ESPN.  Now that the sport has become increasingly popular, you can find NASCAR highlights on SportsCenter, NASCAR races being broadcast on ESPN, and even a show on ESPN2 dedicated solely to the sport called NASCAR Now.

10) Have Wanderlei Silva be a contender at middleweight.

The middleweight division is weak.  If Anderson Silva defeats Dan Henderson at UFC 82 there are no real formidable opponents left for Silva.  He may have the belt for years to come.  If Wanderlei Silva cuts weight down to middleweight, like the recent rumors say he might, then he will immediately be a force to be reckoned with.