Following UFC 123, UFC president Dana White was certainly in a peculiar mood.
Maybe it was his main event star Quinton Jackson basically admitting to getting a gift decision after being awarded a split-decision win over Lyoto Machida. Or maybe it is the fact that the UFC has over 30 events to plan for 2011, and the guy is a little behind on his catnaps.
Whatever the reason, the man had me befuddled.
For starters, his constant defense of Jackson's win had me wondering why, in the first place, they would even put one of their biggest stars at the height of his popularity in with a guy who's game plan mostly consists of making an exciting fighter unexciting. Especially when Jackson is in such a desperate need of a win.
After the decision was read, Jackson asserted that Machida deserved a rematch, only to be shot down later by White who insisted that Jackson legitimately won the fight and there would be no rematch.
And White's impromptu role as matchmaker didn't end there.
Co-main event winner B.J. Penn was only an hour removed from his 21-second knockout of Matt Hughes, when White authoritatively, and seemingly impulsively, announced Penn's next opponent.
The previously announced welterweight clash between Jon Fitch and Jake Ellenberger surprisingly was scrapped after Penn's performance, and White declared Fitch as the next man to meet the former lightweight champ at UFC 127.
Alright, I guess if Fitch will never cross the precipice of being the top welterweight contender, you might as well give him a chance to beat a great former champion. I did like that Ellenberger matchup, though.
But, it was the next matchup unusually announced following the event that left me completely puzzled.
Lightweight contender George Sotiropoulos—now 7-0 in the UFC—was figured to be somewhere in a short line for a title shot following his second-round submission of tough Joe Lauzon earlier in the night.
However, instead of the anticipated title eliminator that many felt was coming his way, White announced Sotiropoulos' next opponent would be German striker Dennis Siver.
Dennis Siver?! The same Dennis Siver that was completely shut out by Ross Pearson in March of this year?
OK, I get that he is coming off an impressive first-round submission win over Andre Winner last week, but is a win over Winner something that catapults him into the upper echelon of 155 pounds?
Siver is a very talented fighter, but a title contender he is not. Sotiropoulos is on a win streak that is rarely matched in the dangerous waters of the UFC and my first impression is that he is not being due-fully rewarded.
But, after some time to think the decision to match them over, I realize I need to take a step back. The ever looming title shot really is beginning to distort our view of the sport.
Sotiropoulos is a fighter and a competitor; he wants to fight and compete. As long as he is getting a paycheck and making his mark in the sport, I doubt he is complaining. So why should we?
The title shot is not the light at the end of the tunnel; there is no tunnel. The prize is to be there fighting for a living in the biggest promotion the sport knows.
While some might not understand the point of the matchup, initially including me, we can't lose sight of the fact that it will be an interesting scrap and, after all, isn't that the point?
Originally posted on TheMMATruth.com.
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