UFC Title Shot Controversy: BJ Penn Says It Best in "Why I Fight"
With Chael Sonnen getting his light heavyweight shot at the champ Jon Jones following the season of TUF 17, there is fury and rage over the proper path and etiquette towards getting a shot at UFC gold.
We all know the story with Sonnen, his losses and words, but nailing down who should and shouldn't get a shot is never an exact science.
There are some that think that a shot at the UFC title has never been earned on merit—the proof is in men like Randy Couture and Urijah Faber getting ill-timed shots in the past. There are those on the other side that say that the UFC has always held high the legitimacy and path to the title.
Should title shots be given only after a long and grueling climb to contender? Should they be given based on name and money value?
Should it always be a mix of both when the UFC puts title shots together, and have they crossed the line in parachuting Sonnen in as Jones' next foe? Dan Henderson says hell yes. So does Daniel Cormier.
I think aging veteran BJ Penn nails it on this topic in his book "Why I Fight" (pg 253).
While a fighter has to be talented and successful to earn the opportunities he gets, the UFC's match-making is not based on rankings, statistics, or who deserves a title shot. It's based on how much money a match will generate for the UFC. Nothing more, and nothing less.
Who fights who is based on whether they can market the fight to a large audience, and generate cash flow, not on who really deserves a specific opportunity. I have no idea if I was the best fighter in the world when I entered the UFC. It is their company and they can do with it what they want, but let's not act like there's some sort of merit system in place which allows fighters to get to the top like there is in all of the other major sports.
The bottom line is there is no independent ranking system which clarifies who is the best and which fighters have earned the opportunity to fight the top guys. It should not be about your looks, what language you speak, where you live, the colour of your skin, your personality or any of those things. It should be about your abilities inside the cage.
Dwight Wakabayashi is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA and guest blogger for Sportsnet.ca.
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