The UFC continues to grow through international exposure and fighter capitalization.
President Dana White has done a fantastic job in promoting the mixed martial arts juggernaut through expanding divisions, signing the best talent, hosting events outside of the U.S. and cracking down on everything an authority figure should.
But through everything the UFC has accomplished over the years, there are still a variety of aspects to the promotion that need changing.
Here are eight important goals the UFC should set forth in 2013 that will make them even more powerful within the MMA community.
Whatever the UFC needs to do to sign Strikeforce champions Gilbert Melendez and Luke Rockhold, they should implement within the next year.
The bottom line is that the UFC has always attracted the biggest names and most talented athletes to their side of the MMA tug-a-war. To stop now would be a crime to the promotion's growing fanbase.
But before they make Melendez and Rockhold household names, it's important to understand that some things aren't as they seem.
Zuffa, the parent company of both the UFC and Strikeforce, would like to keep the little brother company around. That's where fighters like Melendez and Rockhold come into play.
If Zuffa wants to keep Strikeforce in tact, they need fighters to promote.
With that said, assuming Showtime would sell out the rights to broadcasting Strikeforce's top fighters, the UFC should still be able to sign these two phenoms if they truly want to.
This topic honestly deserves its own article, but I'll try to keep it short nonetheless.
The problem with interim titles is the fact that it's simply a glamorized way for the UFC to promote regular fights as championship fights.
It's not a championship fight. Interim title fights are, and always will be, No. 1 contender bouts.
Just in this year, the UFC has showcased two prominent interim title fights—Carlos Condit vs. Nick Diaz at UFC 143 and Renan Barao vs. Urijah Faber at UFC 149 this past weekend.
Now I realize the UFC needs to cover its butt when fighters like George St-Pierre and Dominick Cruz don't leave the doctor's office with good news, but don't try to pull the wool over this Gambino's eyes.
In order to preserve the prestigious commodity that is a championship title, the UFC needs to scrap all interim labels. They need to make sure they don't deliberately ruin the respect that comes with being a champ.
I would like to think that people still would have watched Barao vs. Faber if it had been promoted as a contender bout.
Guys, it's time.
Women's MMA needs to be represented in the UFC. It's been far too long.
Now is the time to capitalize on media friendly female fighters like Strikeforce champion Ronda Rousey and top contender Miesha Tate. These girls can not only talk smack, but they can back it up inside the cage.
To be honest with you, I've never seen more love for women's MMA than I do today. Internet videos of Veronica Rothenhausler knocking out a chick in five seconds in November have worked their way onto my favorite sites.
Little did I know she'd do it again earlier this month. Two wins in 10 seconds? What.
The point here is that the UFC, more specifically Dana White, needs to push for a women's division. White has stated before that the pool of talent isn't as deep as any men's division, but how can you deny a handful of top level female fighters the chance to fight on the biggest stage in their sport?
Nobody is asking for 10 weight classes. One division with 10 fighters would be more than fine and one hell of a rowdy time.
I realize this topic has been repeatedly beaten with a wet pool noodle, but I think it still needs to be addressed heading into 2013.
UFC fighters aren't being outrageously underpaid or worked like dogs, but considering the company has turned into a $2 billion enterprise, it makes sense that their wages would increase.
On what pay scale does a guy like Edson Barboza, one of the most entertaining young talents in the sport, only make $18,000 for a fight?
Sponsorship not included, that's no way to make a living.
Guys like Barboza are lucky to have more than three fights in a year. That's without any issues with injuries or other setbacks.
Furthermore, to say that someone like Barboza isn't on the same level as a Melvin Guillard, who was paid $36,000 to simply show up for his fight at UFC 148, is moronic.
That's double the wages.
I don't know for sure what type of scale the UFC employs to determine a fighter's salary, but besides strict contracts that possess no room for improvement, they need to invent a different, more compensatory system.
Paying fighters with similar experience, such as wins within the UFC, the same amount of money would be a budding start.
Besides being an actual professional fighter, officiating fights in the UFC is the probably the most difficult job in sports.
It's simply too inconsistent. Too subjective.
The UFC employs some of the best referees in the world but even they get it wrong on a nightly basis. It's just too hard to call fights when you yourself have never stepped inside a cage.
Referees like Herb Dean have done so well in the UFC because Dean has actually fought before. His career may have been short, but he has trained to fight and knows what positions are actually threatening, which ones aren't and when a stalemate should be broken up.
For other referees, ones who have never fought or trained in MMA, they simply don't understand when a fighter has a chance to recover, when recovery is not an option and when a hug-fest along the cage needs to be separated.
Now I've never done any type of MMA training or sparring in my life, but you'd think I was Bas Rutten the way I scream at my TV for Josh Rosenthal to stand a fight up.
If the call is so clear from the comfort of my Long Island home, why can't Mr. Rosenthal see it?
I completely understand every referee has their moment and every close call gets magnified in the media, but wouldn't it be better if UFC officials actually trained?
Nothing crazy, just a three-month crash course on the facets of fighting.
Testosterone-replacement therapy, or TRT, is bad news for the UFC.
If their bodies are unable to produce the natural level of testosterone needed to train and perform inside the cage, that's their problem. Why should their opponents turn the other cheek and fight a guy who has cheated on the basis of exemption?
It doesn't make sense. Most of the UFC fighters that use TRT are already prominent figures. These are not bottom level guys trying to catch a break and win some close fights. These are top contenders. Guys hosting PPV events. Guys fighting for championships. Guys unethically stepping foot inside the Octagon.
I know it sounds elementary, but TRT use in the UFC is just like steroid use in baseball. If a player doesn't have the natural ability to put on muscle and become stronger then they inject themselves with performance enhancers. If a fighter doesn't have enough testosterone to perform at his highest level he signs up for some much needed TRT.
It may be a stretch, but MMA is the last sport that should possess an uneven playing field.
Even worse is the fact that fighters don't find out their opponents are on TRT until after their fight. Talk about a big surprise.
For the most part, the UFC has done it's job at creating the movement to legalize mixed martial arts throughout the country.
Liberal states like New York are, for some reason, holding on to the once accepted notion that MMA is too barbaric.
Call them idiots, call them senseless, call them what you will. It all sounds about right.
The bottom line here is that eventually states like New York are going to cave and give in to the MMA epidemic. There's too much money going around. Too much revenue being swallowed by competitive markets, like California and Nevada.
So the problem isn't really when, but more so how. The UFC needs to really sink its teeth into this movement and make sure they do everything in their power to promote the legalization of MMA nationwide.
They need to be the front runners. The face of an MMA nation. They need to take matters into their owns hands, charge into New York City, construct an Octagon in Time Square and showcase fights for free.
Well maybe I'm getting carried away, but you know what I mean. I can already hear the Madison Square Garden crowd chanting "Weidman."
To be honest with you, I don't fully understand all the fight metric jumble that always seems to surface on the Internet after close fights are called wronged.
For me, a fan first and statistics calculator second, I can see just fine. I know when a guy wins and when a guy loses. It's as plain as day.
Sure some fights are incredibly close, but based on damage, durability throughout the fight, combat initiation, takedowns and strikes, I know who won.
For UFC judges, it's becoming a taxing job to stick to a point system in which every single facet of a fight is graded on an already predetermined scale. They aren't judging fights, they're calculating them. Now I realize some sort of system needs to be utilized, but to what extent?
Are judges being too strict? Are decisions being awarded to guys who land two more takedowns than to guys who inflict 10 times more damage to their opponent?
Unfortunately, yes they are. Not every fight is close and not every fight goes the distance, but when those two aspects of MMA line up, I'd say 20 percent of the time judges get it wrong.
That's way too high for a sport that's completely based around fighting. It's simply an outdated source for making decisions. It's judging, not a systematical biopsy of percentages. There's only one thing to determine.
Who beat the crap out of who.
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