There are three types of UFC fans.
One kind are the fans that have been around since the beginning. The ones who witnessed Royce Gracie submit Ken Shamrock. The ones who cheered on Dan Severn was he was just starting out.
Then there are the fans that got into the sport exactly the same time as I did. To be specific, it was probably around the same time Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar were bashing each other's skulls in for three rounds, but who knows for sure.
That fight and that fight alone attracted more UFC followers than ever before. And quite honestly, nothing will ever top that.
Finally, there's the new generation of UFC fans. The ones who will tell you that elite fighters like Jon Jones, Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre got them into the sport of mixed martial arts. The ones that needed a mainstream superstar to harness their attention and capability of sometimes watching sub-par PPV fights before eyeballing their favorite champion defend a title in the main event
With that said, alongside the history of the organization and the future path it's currently on, each and every UFC fan deserves another historic tournament.
One that can captivate all three tiers of followers, old and new. A tournament that can finally settle who's the greatest fighter on the planet.
Because isn't that the sort of question that fuels all UFC debates?
Who's better, Jones or Silva? How would St-Pierre stack up against Dan Henderson? Could Frank Mir submit Mauricio Shogun Rua?
While many of these fight fantasies will never come to fruition, the UFC should truly entertain the notion of constructing a "best of the best" tournament in the near future.
Especially considering the talent within the UFC today is at an all-time high, putting forth the effort to implement a new style tournament could in fact put the organization over the top as far as mainstream exploitation is concerned.
Of course, there certainly needs to be a system put in order so a Urijah Faber doesn't step inside the Octagon with a Roy Nelson.
What the UFC could do is separate the eight weight classes into four individual tournament brackets. At least that makes up for the various size differences between the numerous divisions.
Flyweights would fight bantamweights and other flyweights. Featherweights would scrap with lightweights and other featherweights. Welterweights would battle with middleweights and light heavyweights would set it off against heavyweights.
By doing this, the UFC could not only schedule more monthly events than they do today, but the promotional and financial aspect of a potential tournament would soar beyond expectations.
For fans, witnessing the eight best fighters of each division taking on the eight best fighters of another would broaden their horizons. It could not only attract new fans to the sport, but a tournament would ultimately boost a fighter's notoriety who doesn't necessarily get the mainstream exposure that other top guys do today.
However, it wouldn't be fair to just throw the UFC's current champions into the fire. To ask titleholders to compete against 15 other title hungry athletes would seemingly diminish everything they've already accomplished.
But there's a potential solution that could satisfy any problems that may arise.
Basically, the winner of each tournament would obtain No. 1 contender rights within their respective weight classes. So if Rashad Evans won the light heavyweight-heavyweight bracket, he'd be able to face Jones once again for the light heavyweight title. And if Clay Guida out lasted every top featherweight and lightweight in his bracket, he'd be able to fight Benson Henderson for the lightweight championship.
And for the divisional champions that don't have a tournament winner to face, let the fans vote on who goes through.
It's as easy at that. Obviously there may be some blips in the system here and there, but if a tournament was to be introduced to today's UFC, this is how it should be constructed.
I realize it takes away from a fighter having to climb the divisional ladder to gain the rights to a title bout, but you're talking about an all out brawl between two weight classes in order to acquire those same rights.
Isn't that just as interested as watching Junior dos Santos finish Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin before defeating Cain Velasquez for the heavyweight title?
It's the best road to travel. The UFC could throw together a tournament every six months, giving each champion about two fights a year (which is usually the norm anyways).
With all of that said, there's going to be fans that embrace something like this and there are ones that will automatically shut it down.
But beyond the difference of opinions, witnessing four 16-man tournaments between the top fighters in the world would no doubt deliver top entertainment.
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