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12-23-2010, 10:24 AM
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Barrie, Ont. Can
| | With Matchmaking, UFC Plays Chess While Others Play Checkers
With Matchmaking, UFC Plays Chess While Others Play Checkers -- MMA Fighting
With Matchmaking, UFC Plays Chess While Others Play Checkers |
12/23/2010 10:00 AM ET By Michael David Smith
Michael David Smith
If you're wondering what's up with Alistair Overeem, allow me to fill you in: He's supposed to fight for Dream on New Year's Eve, except for the pesky little problem that they can't find an opponent for him (maybe it'll be Todd Duffee), and then he's supposed to fight for Strikeforce in the spring, except they've consistently been unable to find opponents for him (one title defense since he won their heavyweight belt more than three years ago).
In case you haven't noticed, finding an opponent is kind of an important part of booking a fight. And the inability to consistently get fighters into the cage with the right opponents is the fundamental reason that Strikeforce, Dream and other MMA promotions consistently lag behind the UFC in generating fan interest and building momentum from one fight card to the next.
The UFC's matchmakers, Joe Silva and (now that the WEC has been absorbed by the UFC) Sean Shelby, are like chess grand masters thinking several moves ahead. Other promotions are like a kid playing checkers, moving ahead one square at a time, without any long-term strategy.
Strikeforce has just now announced the headliners on its January 29 show, with welterweight champion Nick Diaz taking on Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos and middleweight champion Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza taking on Robbie Lawler. Those are fine fights; I'll be watching and I'm sure I'll enjoy them. But why are we just now learning about them, six weeks before the fighters step into the cage? If Santos and Lawler were each just one win away from title contention at the time of their last fights, then those fights should have been promoted that way. The moment after Lawler knocked out Matt Lindland on December 4 would have been a great time to start selling him as the next challenger to Jacare, but he didn't offer anything and wasn't asked anything about Jacare in his in-cage interview after the fight.
The problem, of course, is that Strikeforce didn't know Santos and Lawler were one win away heading into those fights because Strikeforce doesn't think that far ahead.
Compare those two upcoming Strikeforce title fights to the UFC's next two title fights, Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard and Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort. The UFC didn't just book those fights months ago, but it also has already identified the No. 1 contender to face the winner of each of those two fights (Anthony Pettis and Yushin Okami). That pretty much guarantees that the UFC's lightweight and middleweight divisions will do nothing but build momentum over the next several months.
You may have noticed that Strikeforce is telling fans to get ready for a January 29 show in San Jose at the same time that the UFC is telling fans to get ready for an August 27 show in Brazil. You think Strikeforce can tell you what its August calendar looks like?
Throughout 2010, Strikeforce over-promised and under-delivered, especially with talk of a middleweight tournament that never materialized. So forgive me if I can't get too excited about the Strikeforce heavyweight tournament that's allegedly going to take place in 2011. The remaining Fedor Emelianenko fans who haven't been turned off by his unending contract negotiations may love the idea of an eight-man tournament that would feature Fedor vs. Antonio Silva this spring, a Fedor-Fabricio Werdum rematch in the semifinals over the summer, and Fedor vs. Overeem in the final in the fall. Sounds great, doesn't it?
Except that if you think Fedor is fighting in Strikeforce three times in 2011, I've got an arena in Stary Oskol to sell you.
Strikeforce did manage to successfully complete one tournament in 2010, a four-woman, one-night tournament that Miesha Tate won to become the No. 1 contender in the 135-pound weight class. But that was more than four months ago, and there's still no word on when Tate will actually get her title shot.
To its credit, Strikeforce had several good fights in its women's 135-pound weight class this year. In fact, there's really not a shortage of good fights in Strikeforce, as we all saw on December 4, when the Strikeforce year-end card on Showtime was far more entertaining than the Ultimate Fighter Finale that aired on Spike at the same time.
The problem is that those good fights seem to appear out of nowhere, often after we were told to expect something different. The UFC tells fans what to expect, and then delivers. It's the superior matchmaking that keeps the UFC on top.
" I don't want to die for you, but if dying is asked of me, I'll bear that cross with honour, 'cause freedom don't come free."
"All men wanna be rich, rich men wanna be kings, a king ain't satisfied til he rules everything"
12-23-2010, 10:57 AM
Status: High-level lurker
Join Date: Nov 2006
I'm often critical of the UFC, but I agree with the article. I don't always agree witht he choices the UFC makes in its matchmaking, especially when they choose contenders based on hype instead of ranking, but that's mostly because I expect so much from the UFC as a leader in the sport.
One of my favourite things about being a fight fan is to analyze where a win puts a fighter in the contention for a title, and then thinking of other fighters in that same level of contention that they could be matched up against. UFC definitely allows me to think that way by (for the most part) booking good matches and doing so well in advance.
For example, knowing about Bader vs Jones, Franklin vs Griffin, Rua vs Evans and Tito vs Nog allows us to discuss the division in a way that's not possible with other orgs.
Sometimes you have to wait longer than you wanted (ex Cain vs Dos Santos vs Carwin), sometimes you never get what you want (ex Anderson vs Henderson), and sometimes you have to put up with bullshit in between (GSP vs Hardy), but at the end of the day the overall matchmaking of the UFC is solid. Of course it could be better, but you definitely realize how much worse it could be when you compare it to Strikeforce.
12-23-2010, 07:10 PM
Join Date: Nov 2009
I dont have a big problem with the matchmaking. They usually put on good shows with good talent on display. And although the titles and rankings arent always handled properly, those belts are still relatively new and dont hold a ton of legitimacy yet. So i'm not too upset when less deserving guys fight for titles, nor too impressed by someone becoming a strikeforce champion.
The big problem with strikeforce is that the number of big shows they have are way too few. I'm a fan and I'll get really excited after watching a strikeforce show and cant wait for the next... then 3-5 months of dead silence go by and I forget they exist.
Also they dont advertise those few big shows they have nearly enough. I almost missed the last one. Those problems are far worse than the matchmaking and getting overeem a top 5 opponent, or trying to compete with the UFC.
They can book a HW grand prix with all the top non UFC heavyweights and stars. But if they dont advertise it and they dont put on more shows a year, they will go broke very very fast. I'm shocked they havent gone broke already.
Last edited by born2kill; 12-23-2010 at 07:18 PM.
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