MMA in 2013: 5 Things That Need to Be Fixed ASAP
MMA isn't a perfect sport.
Whether it's fans trolling fighters on Twitter or the utter ridiculousness of the Bellator tournament structure, there are times when I'm embarrassed with the direction this sport that I love so much is headed.
Those two examples pale in comparison to what you'll find ahead. In the grand scheme of things, they have little effect on the overall way people view MMA.
However, there are five different things that really grind my gears that I would like to see changed in 2013.
Criminal History? Bellator Wants You!
Credit: Keith Mills for Sherdog.com
Seriously? Do I even need to say this? Really?
Look, I'm all for people getting a second chance after doing their time. It's what makes the American justice system so great.
However, Bellator has made it a habit of signing fighters with a criminal past.
Fighters such as War Machine and Brett Rogers are the most notable names. Rogers was arrested for domestic abuse for attacking his wife in front of their children.
That alone is indefensible.
But Bellator continued the theme by not only signing War Machine, but promoting him as a criminal. They shot a promo with him speaking on a prison phone saying "I am fueled by hate!"
Then there's the case of Dan McGuane, who was arrested and sentenced for involuntary manslaughter. He and his brother beat a kid to death. Yes, really.
After some public outrage, Bellator ultimately decided to remove him from the card, but this was just another case of them putting their promotion's reputation in jeopardy.
It's bad enough that detractors can point out the brutality of the sport. Stop giving them more ammunition.
Out for 2 Years? Keep Your Title!
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
The UFC has a tendency to create interim titles whenever a champion is on the shelf for an extended period of time. At times, the fighters will defend the belt on multiple occasions while waiting for the real champion to return for a unification bout.
It was the case when Randy Couture was involved in his legal battle with UFC brass over the Champion's Clause. The interim belt was on the line multiple times before being unified by Brock Lesnar.
But then there was the UFC's bantamweight title.
Dominick Cruz was set to defend his title against Urijah Faber at UFC 148 after the first and only season of The Ultimate Fighter: Live. It was an anticipated bout and a much-deserved rubber match between two of the best in the sport.
Then, Cruz suffered a torn ACL that forced him from the bout.
Faber was removed from the card and pitted against Renan Barão for the interim bantamweight belt at UFC 149 in Calgary. Barão put on an absolute clinic and walked away with a shiny piece of gold around his waist.
Yes, I know that Renan Barão is putting his interim bantamweight belt on the light against Michael McDonald, but that's only because it will be close to two years between Dominick Cruz' title defenses. He's currently shooting for a winter 2013 return.
If a champ can't defend what is rightfully theirs, then the UFC needs to strip them of the belt.
You Know What's a Safe Form of Transportation? Motorcycles!
Josh Holmberg-USA TODAY Sports
Traditional sports fans probably know the story of Jason Williams, the point guard whose career was cut short prematurely due to a motorcycle accident. For those that don't know the story, Williams was one of the best players to enter the NBA in the 2002 NBA draft.
On June 19, 2003, he crashed his motorcycle into a street light in Chicago. He wasn't wearing a helmet and suffered a litany of injuries that included a severed nerve in his leg and fractured pelvis. He also tore three ligaments in his knee including his ACL.
This accident violated the terms of his contract with the Bulls. In fact, most major sports franchises have stipulations in their contracts that forbid players from riding motorcycles, horses or anything else that puts their careers in jeopardy.
This summer, José Aldo was in a motorcycle accident that ultimately forced him off the UFC 153 card. He was expected to defend his featherweight belt against Frankie Edgar. At the time, Dana White made a lighthearted comment towards Aldo, but there was a level of seriousness.
Due to their partnership with Harley Davidson, the UFC awarded Colton Smith, the winner of the 16th season of The Ultimate Fighter, his own motorcycle. They did the same when Carlos Condit defeated Nick Diaz at UFC 143.
If you want to stop fighters from getting injured, start treating this like a legitimate sport. I surely don't want to see another situation like Jason Williams', where a fighter is forced to walk away due to a serious injury.
Tell Me If You've Heard This Super Offensive Joke Before...
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Look, some people are funny. Those people are called comedians.
But there's been a slew of fighters who have used their Twitter accounts as a means to test out their latest material.
Who can forget Miguel Torres' "rape van" tweet? It was a reference to It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. But it was also a ridiculous thing to tweet since most missed the reference, including UFC staff, who cut Torres for his comment
And then there was Forrest Griffin, who tweeted that "rape is the new missionary." Apparently, and this is according to UFC president Dana White, Griffin was attempting to comment on news coverage in the United States. I guess there was a week where everyone was raping a bunch?
Twitter is a great way to connect with fans. But think before you tweet. You get paid to punch people in the face, not to write a hilarious bit.
Title Shots Are Earned! Wait, No They're Not...
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
What do Chael Sonnen and Nick Diaz have in common?
No, it's not their ability to make fans care about their fights. It's that both have been granted title shots by talking trash.
At UFC 143, Carlos Condit defeated Nick Diaz by unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 49-46) to win the UFC interim welterweight title. Diaz then failed his post-fight drug test, testing positive for marijuana metabolite, which sidelined him for a year.
Despite the loss, suspension and a clear No. 1 contender in Johnny Hendricks, Diaz will face Georges St-Pierre at UFC 158 in 2013 because the champ "requested" the fight.
Sonnen? Well, after he came up short against Anderson Silva for a second time at UFC 148, he decided to test his mettle in the light heavyweight division. He planned on fighting Forrest Griffin at UFC 155, but when opportunity presented itself, Sonnen came calling.
He accepted a bout against Jon Jones on eight days notice in order to save UFC 151, but the champion decided he needed a full training camp. He continued to poke and pry until he was awarded not only a shot at the belt, but a full season of The Ultimate Fighter to hype it.
The UFC has always prided itself for their ability to put together meaningful fights. Allowing champions to pick and choose their opposition only cheapens their titles.