(Gotta love Dana White’s newfound love of Twittering.)
Well, look who stopped by the UFC office yesterday, oddly right around the same time the UFC was putting together “Rampage” Jackson and Rashad Evans as the coaches of TUF 10, thus leaving Lyoto Machida without a title challenger. Why, it’s our old friend "Shogun" Rua. White said on today’s conference call that Machida would not be waiting until after Jackson and Evans settle their black-on-black crime beef in order to make his first title defense, so could it be that “Shogun” has already been tapped to do a little Brazilian-on-Japanese/Brazilian violence?
I gotta say, if that’s the case it’s a huge mistake. Here we have Machida, who has already been crowned a dominant champ without even defending the title once, and they’re taking the obvious number one contender out of the running in order to drive up reality TV ratings while simultaneously making a very weak case for Rua.
The guy beat up an elderly, gassed Mark Coleman (barely) and an old, on-his-way-into-retirement Chuck Liddell (convincingly). Look at just about anybody’s rankings and you won’t see him any higher than the number five spot. This is the guy they want to get the first crack at the champ who no one is supposed to have a chance against?
Say for a moment it’s not Rua. Say it’s someone else. Who, apart from Jackson, would even be worth talking about?
The UFC is essentially fabricating a number one contender here for the sheer sake of convenience. In other words, they’re making the same mistake that boxing made over and over again — a mistake that has helped drive that sport to the fringe of American consciousness. Even if they don’t put Rua against Machida first, virtually anyone they get would be a disappointment.
Look at the light heavyweight top ten. Now tell me who would be a legitimate challenger. Forrest Griffin is coming off a loss, plus he’s already booked. “Babalu” Sobral isn’t even top five, and he was ousted from the UFC for the stunt against David Heath. Keith Jardine is obviously not contender material at this point, nor is Brandon Vera. Luiz Cane barely squeaks into the top ten. Short of signing Fedor, the UFC has got nothing interesting to give to Machida.
But for the sake of TV they’re going to pretend someone has earned a shot when they haven’t, and in the process demean everything Machida had to go through — being undefeated, waiting for several other people to get injured, etc. — just to get his crack at the title. So much for the legitimacy of establishing a number one contender. So much for the UFC making decisions based on anything other than the pursuit of the quickest possible buck.
Is this what they meant by “The Machida Era?”