Now that the dust has settled since the weekend and we have had a chance to digest what happened at UFC 108 I have been thinking about the Welterweight division in particular. I must give credit to Pro MMA Radio which I listened to on mmamania.com as it was a topic discussed on the show that got me thinking.
So by now I think we all know that Paul 'Semtex' Daley put on another impressive display on Saturday in knocking out Dustin Hazelett. It took him to 2-0 in the UFC with two big KO wins over respected opponents in the division and to 23-8-2 for his career. The talk since Saturday night has been of 'what/who is next?' for Daley. This is what I want to talk about most.
What I want to do though is look at the picture of the division and where the challengers stand from the UFC's point of view of marketing fights. Its important to remember that the most deserving fighter may not always get a title shot because at the end of the day it is about selling PPV's to fans.
We know that GSP meets Dan Hardy at UFC 111. Most would consider Hardy ranked at maybe 5 or 6 in the division, the ones above being Thiago Alves, Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck maybe Mike Swick and Paulo Thiago depending on your opinion. Daley is of course now involved in the list somewhere.
The problem the UFC has is that the top 3 ranked contenders, Alves, Fitch and Kos have all faced GSP before and lost convincingly which causes a problem when marketing fights. They all need to string a run of impressive wins together before people would be interested in seeing them fight GSP again. This is the reason that Hardy was given the title shot, he was 4-0 and probably the most deserving outside of Kos, Fitch and Alves at the time.
The issue for the UFC that people may not see is that the AKA camp has 3 of the top 10 ranked welterweights who have said they wont fight each other. With calls for Daley to face Kos next, there could potentially be a log jam at the top of division. This is because if these guys keep taking out upcoming challengers as Kos did against Anthony Johnson and Fitch did against Paulo Thiago there will be no challengers. Most people seem to think Kos would beat Daley so again there is a risk of another challenger being knocked off.
Why not save Daley, give him the next title shot, he would be marketable, 2 big KO's and would be an easy sell for casual fans with his highlight reel finishes. There would also be the added story of him getting revenge for his teammate Hardy assuming he will lose to GSP. Obviously not deserving but it would sell.
All that a Daley vs Kos fight will do is eliminate a new, fresh challenger from contention and leave the UFC stuck with 3 fighters, Alves, Fitch, and Kos who are better then the rest but not good enough for another title shot. To give the idea some credibility just look at Vitor Belfort, jumping over Henderson and Marquardt to a title fight with only 1 win in the UFC in his return and it wasn't even at Middleweight! The UFC has done it here so why not again.
I know it may seem a strange idea and Daley is not yet ready or deserving but the UFC is in danger of being held up by team loyalty in the division. Who knows Daley jumping the line may encourage Kos to fight Fitch for example to prove he is the N0.1 contender!
The Welterweight division is an example of where Joe Silva and the UFC need to be very careful with there matchmaking in the future. Otherwise they are in danger of being left with challengers that no one wants to see fight for the title!
I open this for discussion because I think it may prove a bit controversial for some of you!!