I know I'm probably going to get some backlash from hardcore MMA fans on this one, but before you start spewing back venom you should at least know this; I've been following this sport since UFC 1 and no one is more pro MMA than myself. Thus, I think I am in a fair position to question whether MMA is moving forward or going backward?
What I mean is that, in the nearly last 10 years MMA has arguably been the fastest growing sport in the world. It is on network and cable television here in the states and not a weekend goes by anymore where some MMA action isn't going on. However, all the smart moves the sport and primarily the UFC has made in the last few years is giving way to questionable dumb moves lately. Why the sudden lapse in judgement, what else, money? Money is always the underlying factor of what is good and then ultimately bad.
Above you see a photo featuring MMA fighters Tito Ortiz and Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson. Both are former UFC light-heavyweight champions and it's fair to say both are legendary figures in the sport; Ortiz is already a UFC Hall of Famer. A UFC Hall of Famer who currently fights for Bellator MMA that is; so let's start there.
Ortiz, now 39 years old, is a combined (3-7-1) in his last 11 fights; but riding a two fight winning streak since coming to Bellator. Let's examine that a bit closer though; Ortiz who fights at 205 lbs. and is a massive light-heavyweight, choked out Alexander Shlemenko, Bellator's former middleweight (185 lbs.) champion who is arguably a blown up welterweight. Then last month he won a split decision over former UFC veteran Stephen Bonner; he who had been retired for two years.
To make this fight even more of a joke, the promotion behind it was something straight out of pro wrestling with former Ortiz teammate Justin McCully siding with Bonnar over a beef McCully has with Ortiz. McCully even wore a mask into the cage when Bonnar made the call out on cable television; are you serious? New Bellator CEO Scott Coker claims he had no idea this was going down, which makes him sound even more Vince McMahonish, he the owner of World Wrestling Entertainment.
So to recap, Bellator ousts former CEO Bjorn Rebney, does away with it's tournament style format, which was its niche in this sport and decides to make Tito Ortiz the face of its organization. Those don't sound like smart moves to me. Oh and anyone who wants to argue that Ortiz is not the face of Bellator, let me just point out that Bellator made Ortiz/Bonnar the headliner over a great lightweight championship fight between young rising stars Will Brooks and Michael Chandler; 'nuff said!
As for the UFC and its "major" announcement this past weekend that they had resigned Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson. The same Jackson who refuses to evolve his MMA game and they supposedly let go because he was washed up after losing three fights in a row. Sure he went to Bellator and won three fights against Joey Beltran, Christian M'Pumbu and Muhammad 'King Mo' Lawal, all of which have a combined record of 47-22, and because of that we're supposed to believe what; he's "better than ever?"
Sure 'Rampage' is a name, but the truth is he's a 36 year old who is one dimensional and poses no threat to any of the top tier fighters in the UFC light-heavyweight division. He talks a good game, but doesn't have one; which brings me to another point. I'm tired of the UFC continuing to promote anyone who can pick up a microphone and talk sh** into it. Is this a fight promotion or a debate team?
In the last few years the talk has been that boxing is a dying sport and MMA has supplanted it as the major player in combat sports. However, in my opinion, as long as the UFC, Bellator and MMA in general continue to make moves such as these and expecting intelligent fans to take them seriously, they will kill off whatever strides and momentum it has built as a rising sport. Sure boxing has soon to be 50 year old Bernard Hopkins, but he never stopped competing and has continuously took on and defeated top tier younger talent.