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A look at the long and twisting path to a UFC title; A fan’s perspective




image via Sherdog/Dave Mandel

I feel you Lyoto I really do. It has been something that has bothered me for a while now as a fan of the sport. The path to a title in the UFC is one of the most convoluted one you will find. Anyone who has lived or had to negotiate the streets of Muncie, Indiana will tell you it is one of the most confusing places to try to drive in. It was like they gave a chimp the go ahead to set up the city streets and they just blindly followed the map he drew up. The streets make no sense and even after living there for a few years it is still easy to get turned around. It seems like Dana White and the UFC used the same chimp to determine their path to a title.

There often seems like no rhyme or reason to it, or worse the reasons seem to be totally coming from Dana’s personal love affairs with certain fighters. Also, he seems to think he is Lucy and the UFC fighters are his own personal cache of Charlie Brown’s. It is getting ridiculous now the number of times he says someone is going to get the next title shot only to pull that football away from them. Rory MacDonald and Machida being the latest victims of this little game but hardly the only ones.  For Lyoto, he has gone through this more than once with Dana and the UFC.

Let me be clear, I am not talking about who deserves a title shot and who does not. One favorite quotes is from Unforgiven courtesy of William Munny, “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.” Life, sports and most things are unfair. Crying over the fact that is unfair is a losers attitude but at the same time a fighter and the fans should be able to understand how to get a title shot. There should be an idea of what a clear path to the title is for the fighters and the fans.

Instead of a clear path it is like Dana’s own twisted game of Simon Says. “Win this fight and you get the next shot.” “Oh, wait the win was kind of boring and I didn’t say Dana Says.” It is almost like Dana has the attention span of a small child. “Oh, look at the funny talking man with his spinning kicks. He is exciting. I like him. He should get a title shot.” That is fine if you are a fan and you are picking your favorite fighter but if you are running the top MMA promotion in the world it would seem like you would want to be more professional. But, that is a criticism that can be used for many of the things Dana does in the UFC.

I am also not complaining about Conor McGregor getting his title shot. I think we are about to find out just how good he is or isn’t when he fights Jose Aldo. It is also not like Aldo has not essentially cleared out that division. Aldo beat Mendes twice, Edgar, Lamas and Swanson each once. Is he just supposed to keep beating guys he has already defeated? Maybe, and I get that Frankie Edgar probably deserves another shot but I understand why McGregor is getting his shot. In fact his path has been probably the most clear of them all.

No, what is more difficult to understand is some of the others. Except I know why because some of the fighters just are not exciting enough it seems. Lyoto being one example. After he defeated Dan Henderson at UFC 157, Dana talked about how Lyoto would get the next shot at Jon Jones.

Instead, Alexander Gustafsson, who had not fought at all in 2013 got the next title shot. The time on the side trumped Lyoto’s close win over the then number one contender Henderson. Instead, Lyoto lost a close decision to Phil Davis. At that point he moved down to middleweight.

There he won two fights earning him a title fight with Chris Weidman. They had an exciting competitive fight that got closer as the fight progressed with Lyoto coming on strong. After the Weidman fight Lyoto went on to destroy rising top ten middleweight C.B. Dollaway. It was utter destruction and seemed to have him in line for another shot especially after the Yoel Romero versus Jacare Souza was called off due to injury.

That is not what will happen. Instead, Anderson Silva will get the next chance at Weidman if he can defeat Nick Diaz. I wonder if Silva is getting the title chance in part because he will have beaten up a guy Dana does not seem to like too much. Diaz is not ranked at middleweight. Hell, he is not even ranked at welterweight. The weight class that he has spent most of his career. Apparently he is not good enough to be ranked in the top fifteen of the UFC but defeating him will earn Silva his third chance at Weidman.

Of course it makes much more sense to give Silva the title shot. He looked so good in the first two fights against Weidman. Why not give him another chance at the title? It makes perfect sense. I acknowledge that Silva is one of the best fighters of any generation but it seems like it would take more than a win over Diaz to get a title shot after being off for over a year, and when you have had two bad not even competitive fights with the current champion.

That is the UFC’s and Dana’s way of doing things. They make their promises and then do not follow through. They will then give a bunch of bullshit reasons for it. Involving Venn diagrams, charts, strange astrological forces, and it will equal up to a whole lot of nothing. When the real reason is very simple. It is usually that this is the fight we think will make the most money. That or either this is the fighter that Dana really likes.

But then again anybody who really believes much of what comes out of Dana’s mouth these days is a bit of a fool anyway. Unless what he is saying benefits him or is his personal preference. The latest example of his lying ways is the raise in the PPV price. Something that he promised he would never do back in 2009. This promise was first broken for UFC 168 which was a special card and we were assured by Dana that this was a one time deal only. Apparently his promises are worth those of a politician.


image via UFC

The latest victim to have their title shot pulled out from under them is Rory Macdonald. What makes his situation even crueler is that he was promised a title fight in his home country of Canada. Instead of giving MacDonald his chance, they first tried to go with a third fight between Robbie Lawler and Johny Hendricks. A fight no one really wanted to see again this soon. Then Lawler wanted to take a little time off. Now the next title fight will be either the winner of the Hendricks versus Brown fight or the MacDonald versus Lombard one.

One of the better things that have come out of all of this bullshit is a new and meaner MacDonald. He has said he will no longer believe Dana when he tells him he is getting a title shot. While others have lamented this situation and screamed about the injustice of it all, MacDonald has developed the perfect attitude, and that is to just wipeout all of the other contenders if that is what it will take.

He may want to just take a page from McGregor’s playbook. Go for a few rides with Dana in one of his Ferrari’s and you may not even have to face any of the other top contenders before getting your shot.

An avid lifetime fight fan who loves to write about it. So kick back, get comfortable and let's have some fun! "Wants me to tell him something pretty." Al Sweargen "Going wrong is not the end of fucking things, Johnny. Fuck no! I have comeback from plenty of shit that looked like it was going wrong." Dan Dority "Deserve's got nothin' to do with it." Bill Munny

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