After reading several articles that took on the issue of fixed fights in the UFC, I decided that I'd throw my two cents into the mix.
First and foremost, I do not believe that the UFC fixes its fights. I will, however, agree that on occasion, the UFC will hand pick opponents tailored to be relatively easy fights for certain fighters.
Some fights come to mind immediately when the word "gimme fight" comes up:
Gabriel Gonzaga, for example; his last two opponents were pretty much gimme fights in Justin McCully and Josh Hendricks. Brandon Vera was also given one of these fights against UFC newcomer Reese Andy in Vera's Light Heavyweight debut.
Those are just a few examples of the occasional gimme fight that the UFC will hand out. However, this article is not about gimme fights because gimme fights in the UFC are rare. The fact that gimme fights are rare in the UFC is a good example as to why the UFC does not fix its fights; most fighters in the UFC face top competition every fight. The point of this being that to be the best, you have to beat the best and more often than not, the UFC will put on the fights that the fans want to see.
Now before I get too far off topic, here are several examples that I think prove that the UFC does not fix its fights.
Chuck Liddell is the most obvious example here.
Chuck Liddell vs. Rampage Jackson
When Rampage Jackson was brought to the UFC, it was obvious that the UFC wanted to match him up with Chuck Liddell to challenge for the Light Heavyweight belt. Chuck Liddell had lost to Rampage in Pride and this fight was to allow Chuck to avenge that loss and allow Dana White to say "I told you we have the best fighters in the world!"
Rampage beat Chuck in the first round of that title fight. Chuck was not supposed to lose.
But because Rampage is such a marketable figure, this example isn't as clear cut as the next.
Chuck Liddell vs. Keith Jardine
Chuck was definitely not supposed to lose this one. This fight was supposed to be one of those 'gimme fights' for Liddell. Jardine isn't exactly the most marketable fighter in the UFC and was supposed to be a perfect matchup for Liddell as he would stand and trade with the former champ; it would be here that Liddell would knock him out.
Not so much.
Jardine executed a perfect game plan using effective kicks to keep Liddell off his game. Jardine won by split decision and handed Chuck Liddell his second loss in a row.
Not exactly what the UFC had in mind.
Chuck Liddell vs. Rashad Evans
With Chuck coming off an impressive win over Wanderlei Silva, a win over Evans would set up a huge money making fight between two of the UFC's most marketable fighters in Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin for the UFC Light Heavyweight title.
Evans' style was one that Liddell beats easily; a wrestler who will try to take him down. Chuck had a lot of success fighting wrestlers because he would use his own wrestling ability to defend the takedown, keep the fight standing and land that knockout punch. This was to be the case against Evans.
But Evans didn't look for the takedown. He opted to stand and trade with Liddell.
Liddell took a nap.
Definitely not the result that the UFC had wanted. Now, instead of the UFC being able to set up a gold mine of a fight between Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin, they had a daunting task of marketing a fight between Evans and Griffin–a fight nowhere near as intriguing as Liddell vs. Griffin.
I don't mean to pick on Liddell, it's just that if the UFC fixed its fights, Chuck Liddell would never lose.
But enough of Liddell, Mirko Cro Cop also comes to mind.
Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovich was, at the time, the most feared striker in all of mixed martial arts. He was a head hunting kick boxer with deadly power in his kicks. The UFC acquired him from Pride and was paid very handsomely to come over and steamroll through the competition to capture the Heavyweight title.
He was well on his way after his TKO victory over Eddie Sanchez in his UFC debut. His next fight was to be a walk in the park.
Mirko Cro Cop vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
Prior to this fight, Gonzaga fought mostly in prelim matches and was a relatively unknown fighter. Cro Cop was to dispose of him with relative ease.
Apparently, Gonzaga didn't get that memo.
Gonzaga knew what he had to do–take Cro Cop down. He did just that after catching a body kick and taking Cro Cop to the mat. He proceeded to pummel Cro Cop on the ground for most of the round. But a standup was forced and it appeared that Cro Cop would begin his assault.
Should Gonzaga's career as a fighter not turn out, he can always resort to doing impressions. His impression of Mirko Cro Cop in the final seconds of round one was possibly the best impression I've ever seen. Gonzaga was possibly thinking "here's my impression of what you look like when you fight".
And with that came the kick heard round the world.
It was as horrific as it was ironic. Cro Cop who had become known for knocking out his opponents with deadly head kicks found himself tasting his own medicine. Gonzaga delivered a thunderous kick to the head that dropped the Croatian in disturbing fashion.
Not exactly what Dana White and the UFC had in mind.
Heavily marketed fighters that get paid $300,000 per fight are not supposed to get knocked out by unknown fighters.
This next example is a no-brainer. It is possibly the biggest upset in UFC history.
Georges St. Pierre vs. Matt Serra
After winning The Ultimate Fighter: The Comeback, Serra was guaranteed a title shot against the young, athletic, and very marketable Welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre.
Coming into this fight, Matt Serra was the underdog of all underdogs. He wasn't given much of a chance at dethroning the new champ. St. Pierre was to walk right through Serra and reign supreme as the UFC's 170lb champion for as long as he wanted.
But as that old saying in MMA goes–anything can happen.
And it did.
As quickly as Georges St. Pierre attained the welterweight crown, he had it removed thanks to the heavy hands of Matt Serra.
A shot behind the ear sent St. Pierre into a drunken stupor, doin' the polka around the Octagon and finally being finished off by the unrelenting assault of Matt Serra.
It was an upset for the ages.
Upsets. If the UFC fixed its fights, the word upset would not even exist in the UFC vocabulary.
There are no predetermined fights in the UFC and that's why it is the most successful promotion in the most exciting sport in the world.
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