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10 Things That Need to Change in MMA


10 Things That Need to Change in MMA
Original Poster: dscott
Forum: Mixed Martial Arts Forums
Posted On: 05-01-2007, 00:08

Orginal Post: dscott: The following was taken from I thought it made good points and would like to share it.

November 14, 2006
by Jake Rossen (

What follows are 10 things the sport should be addressing as it continues to evolve ? hopefully for the better.

10) Judging criteria needs to be clarified

What?s more valuable in a judge?s eyes: a takedown or an attempt at a submission from the bottom? Does a knockdown count as much as a triangle that nearly has your opponent unconscious?

Beats me. And there?s the problem: judges are left to make subjective choices about the myriad ways to contest a freestyle fight. One judge will consider submission attempts from the guard to be more impressive than the takedown that initiated the position, while the man sitting next to him will believe the inverse is true.

Result: a much howled about call that irritates fans, confuses the athletes, and molests the history books.

The state commissions could help alleviate controversial outcomes by assigning offensive and defensive strategies ascending levels of importance. Were Georges St. Pierre (Pictures)?s takedown attempts against B.J. Penn (Pictures) later in the fight more impressive than the substantial damage he accrued in the opening moments?

Put it down on paper before, not after, the fact. Fighters and fans will be aware of what it takes to win, and judges won?t need a police escort to leave the building.

9) ?Legends? need to be respected

Few men have done more for the latter-day success of the UFC than Ken Shamrock (Pictures). Love him or hate him, he?s been the fulcrum for some of the promotion?s most profitable events. His bouts with Tito Ortiz (Pictures) ? horribly one-sided they may be ? were responsible for record business and ratings, momentum that promoters used to their advantage.

And how is he escorted out of the ring? By being sacrificed to whomever Zuffa cared to push at the time. His aging, stuttered physicality was little match for Ortiz or Rich Franklin (Pictures). Worse, he gave his retirement speech after being pummeled into another religion ? again ? by the ?Huntington Beach Bad Boy.?

Am I the only one that finds this awkward and depressing? After everything Shamrock has done for the business, shouldn?t he be afforded the opportunity to be matched in a competitive contest with someone his own age and skill level?

The same goes for Randy Couture (Pictures), Mark Coleman (Pictures), and Royce Gracie (Pictures): all champions, all men who seem destined to go out on a loss.

Matching fighters in the twilight of their careers for co-main events isn?t a charity case. Shamrock and Bas Rutten (Pictures) would make for one hell of a contentious rivalry, which means appreciable ticket sales; Couture is probably going to fare very well against anyone not named Liddell.

Better: the fights themselves would actually harbor some degree of suspense over the outcome. Two legends walking in means at least one of them has a fighting chance of going out on their shield.

8 ) Steroid testing needs to be mandatory for all bouts

Let?s not hear about how ?expensive? pervasive steroid testing is: events that pull in a $4 million gate and an additional $30 million in cable revenue can?t claim poverty with any conviction.

Of the 18 fighters at UFC 62, only four were drug-tested; of the 16 competing at PRIDE?s first Vegas show, 10 were asked to fill up the cup; at UFC 64, seven.

While the seeming randomness of the tests would ostensibly deter athletes from using, Bonnar, Randleman, Nastula, and Belfort all apparently conspired to argue against that theory.

What?s good for one should be good for all. Testing should be mandatory for everyone and anyone walking into the major promotions, regardless of their position on the card.

Better yet: solicit random testing at fighter camps, negating the possibility that athletes could ?cycle off? banned substances in order to produce a clean sample. It would take time and effort, but either the commissions are serious in their pursuit of a level playing field or they?re just doing the bare minimum to keep up appearances.

7) The athletic commissions need to relax ? and get tough

The NSAC had its heart in the right place when it refused to sanction ?Butterbean? in a freestyle fight against Mark Hunt (Pictures); they argued Hunt?s wins over Wanderlei Silva (Pictures) and Mirko Filipovic (Pictures) gave him an unfair mat advantage over the green ?Bean.

The ruling was awfully superficial, though: Hunt?s ground game didn?t win him either of those fights, and judging from his rapid collapse against Josh Barnett (Pictures) once it hit the canvas, he wasn?t going to be a terror there anytime soon. A bout that seemed predestined to provide some good slugfest fodder was scrapped for ill-informed reasons.

That ignorance was far more pronounced in California director Armando Garcia?s proclamation that Brian Ebersole (Pictures)?s bout against Shannon Ritch (Pictures) looked ?suspicious,? and that Ebersole would be suspended from competition as a result.

Obviously, Garcia had never seen a cartwheel guard pass before.

Commissions prioritize safety of the fighters above all, but that edict needs to be tempered with more than just a passing knowledge of the MMA game and its many variables.

On the flip side of the coin, Garcia and his team had no compunction over allowing an 0-0 Cesar Gracie (Pictures) to make his MMA debut against a 21-7 Frank Shamrock (Pictures). That pointless contest ended in seconds ? it should?ve also ended any commission?s desire to value box office over someone?s health.

I cringed when I saw Ortiz batter a helpless Ken Shamrock (Pictures) a third straight time. When a 42-year-old man displays no propensity for being competitive, is that a fight that really should be allowed to take place?

Before you answer, think about who?s more likely to get their brains served up scrambled: an agile young man with youth on his side, or a plodding middle-aged pug with too much heart for his own good.

6) Frank Shamrock (Pictures) needs to fight ?

Yes, Frank. We know you make lots of money just ?being Frank Shamrock (Pictures),? and we know you won?t ?sellout? to Dana White and his Evil Empire. Still, would it kill you to take a competitive bout once in awhile? As intriguing as a fight with Phil Baroni (Pictures) is, does it really deserve multiple years of hyperbole?

In the International Fight League, you have an opportunity to tangle with Carlos Newton (Pictures), Renzo Gracie (Pictures), or even Bas Rutten (Pictures). All would be well-matched fights with strong interest from fans. Instead of producing painful comedy bits on YouTube, how about using that time to negotiate a bout and start scrapping? Remember: fans chide you because it?s frustrating to watch you sit on the sidelines. They want to see the guy that decimated Tito Ortiz (Pictures), or the guy that drove Igor Zinoviev?s head through the mat like a fencepost ? not the paper tiger from the Burger King commercial.

So, please, Frank: answer a bell other than the one at your front door.

5) ? and Sakuraba needs to retire

Anyone who witnessed Kazushi Sakuraba (Pictures)?s dismantling at the hands of Kestutis Smirnovas (Pictures) in an August K-1 HERO?S event ? before miraculously pulling off an armbar submission ? should fear for the long-term health of a man who virtually carried the Japanese fight scene for years.

Saku?s career had exceeded its expiration date when it was announced in October that he had to cancel a fight after being hospitalized due to blood flow issues with his brain.

Some fighters may have more KO losses on their record, but has any one fighter been subject to the kind of repetitive, bone-snapping damage he?s had to endure over the years? Pummeled against Igor Vovchanchyn (Pictures); broken orbital against Cro Cop; three stoppage losses to Silva, one of which broke his shoulder; mauled by Ricardo Arona (Pictures). Nearing 40, his body is a walking piece of scar tissue.

Yet he?s scheduled to compete on New Year?s Eve, against the extremely formidable Akiyama.

When will Japan get a conscience?

4. Female MMAers need love, too

First things first: the BoDog Fight series, which is currently airing on the Men?s Health Channel, is insipid. Full of noxious scripted segments and the bizarre persona of self-satisfied billionaire Calvin Ayre, it?s to be avoided by anyone with a healthy interest in maintaining brain cells.

Yet Ayre and his fledging promotion have done one thing right: they?ve introduced the concept of female MMA into a relatively unsuspecting North American demographic.

In week three of the series, Tara Larosa (Pictures) and Amanda Buckner (Pictures) waged a three-round war that displayed just how far the ladies have come in comparison to their male peers. Far from the sloppy displays of yesteryear, these two outworked the slovenly heavyweights showcased in later installments. Their athleticism even shamed some of the sport?s bigger names.

The UFC and other majors should be cautious they don?t emulate the persecution they suffered in the 1990s from people who ?didn?t get it?: females deserve a shot in the spotlight. Crowds that can acknowledge triangle choke attempts are sophisticated enough to give women like Buckner and Larosa their proper due.

3) Knees on the ground need to be reinstated

You can all blame Gan McGee (Pictures) for this one. After New Jersey State Athletic Control Board Commissioner Larry Hazzard Sr. viewed a fight in 2000 in which McGee demolished an opponent with knees, the tactic was effectively outlawed in U.S. events.

Knees are no more damaging on the mat than they are standing from the Thai clinch; just ask Rich Franklin (Pictures). (Actually, don?t: give him some time.) But their threat increases the chance that fighters will stay more alert and active on the canvas. It?ll also dissuade wrestlers from taking lazy shots and leaving their face exposed for a cap to the grill.

Soccer kicks should remain verboten, however. There?s something intrinsically sickening about watching someone defenseless get their head punted like a Wilson.

2) Ticket prices need to come back down to earth

Want a front-row seat for Chuck Liddell (Pictures)?s next slugfest? Be prepared to dish out $1,000 for the privilege. $700 would?ve bought you a close look at Fedor in PRIDE?s first Vegas jaunt. Want to enjoy all 12 UFC pay-per-view events in 2007? That?ll be $500 ? and an extra $250 if you want them on DVD later.

Being an MMA fan practically demands a part-time job just to fund the hobby. If people are buying, the UFC would be foolish to curtail its pricing structure. But the think tank at Zuffa may want to consider making a portion of those events more reasonably priced, especially when not all main events are created equal. (Is anyone going to pay $40 to see Travis Lutter (Pictures) take on Anderson Silva)?

There?s some sort of oft-referenced ?psychology? behind pricing events at $40 and up, the idea being that people won?t bother with a cheaper event because it lacks cache. All well and good, but I think McDonald?s sells more $1 cheeseburgers than Wolfgang Puck sells $40 filets.

It also wouldn?t be a bad idea to give their DVD ?Fight Club? members the opportunity to send in a cable bill for a discount on the eventual disc release of the same show.

With the surplus of promotions springing up in the next year, fans are going to start becoming very selective about what they choose to spend their hard-earned funds on.

1) Rematches need to be curtailed ? seriously

I know, I know. It?s a broken record in this space. But consider: December?s bout with Tito Ortiz (Pictures) will mark Chuck Liddell (Pictures)?s fifth rematch in as many fights. The biggest star in North American MMA has yet to fight a fresh opponent since August of 2004. (Prior to his second encounter with Couture, Liddell had pummeled a new face in 18 straight bouts.)

Fights are about suspense. (Otherwise, we?d all be as content to watch events on a month?s delay.) Here?s some fun math: of the 10 rematches and rubber matches to take place in the UFC this year, seven of them had the same outcome as the first bout. If there?s a 70 percent chance of rain, I?m not planning a picnic ? nor am I going to be glued to my TV set.

Zuffa has enough of a television presence that they can sell virtually any fight they can conceive of; all it takes is one SpikeTV special. The suffocating number of repeats in the promotion is indicative of only one thing: an absolutely anemic depth of talent. And it?s not going to change until fans start voicing their boredom.

Remember, only you can prevent Forrest-Bonnar III.

Post: zefff:

LOL your not on Sherdog are you? I saw this earlier on another site and have to say I definitely agree with the judging thing. Having judges from boxing scoring on an MMA bout is like having a basketball ref run a football game IMO.>

Post: dscott:

[quote=zefff LOL your not on Sherdog are you? I saw this earlier on another site and have to say I definitely agree with the judging thing. Having judges from boxing scoring on an MMA bout is like having a basketball ref run a football game IMO.[/quote 

No I’m not on Sherdog…..I can’t stand that forum. I visit every once in a while just to see what the buzz is but I can’t stand that forum. Did I say that I can’t stand that forum?>

Post: Sparky-bjj:

Tha part about sakuraba having to retire is indeed true. Sad but true. He was the man and he’ll always be the man, but he’s just getting to old and injury-ridden. But the japanese seem to enjoy watching their hero struggling to keep competing. Saku really has that never-say-die attitude and I believe he still has some wins in him. But if I was him I’d retire. Offcourse the money to keep fighting is good…On the other hand even if he retires I really don’t think he’ll have any financial troubles :)>

Post: Tease T Tickle:

I am all for knees on the ground in the US.

But, i think it’s be more important to, ahem, get talent in the US first.>

Post: Diesel67:

Keep the soccer kicks. The guy getting punted can tap out at any time.>

Post: meninomau:

Call me sick, but I think the soccor kicks are some of the most exciting parts of any fight. The opponent can verbally submit at any time throughout. Is face-stomping (ala. Wanderlei Silva vs. Yuki Kondo) exiled from the NASC rules, under soccor kicks?

Things can go terribily wrong, though. Watching the end of Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Ikuhisa Minowa from this New Years Eve was an example of how things could end up getting VERY serious. The referees need to tighten up. I don’t think I could watch another Sakuraba/Smirnovas again.>

Post: WushuPadawan001:

I gotta disagree on point #2. So long as it’s pricey it will attract big names – the celebrities seen at UFC events. Big names bring more viewers – “Kid Rock likes the UFC? I like Kid Rock, so I’ll watch the UFC!”

When it gets cheap it risks becoming lowbrow and losing a certain degree of respectability.

Just my 2cents>

Post: dscott:

I see your point but the prices should come down a bit, no? They’re so expensive now. But then again, all sports are expensive to watch.>

Post: WushuPadawan001:

I?m not as familiar with Pride as I am with the UFC, so all the examples I use will be from the UFC.

UFC events are held in small facilities such as the MGM or Hardrock. Because these facilities can only host a limited number of people ? as opposed to say a basketball stadium ? ticket prices need to be high to gain an appropriate amount of revenue.

One way to avoid this issue would be to move the fights to larger facilities. The down side to this would be that prices for good seats would stay the same (high), and cheap seats would be in the nose bleeds ? at which point one would have a better view at home in front of the TV (a game of baseball can be viewed from the cheap seats, a fight between two people would be like watching ants wrestle).

All that being said, a larger facility would allow more MMA fans of average income to attend the fights, even if they had to settle for poor seating. But, as I mentioned on my last post, when the seats get cheap a different sort of audience is attracted. So what the UFC and Dana White really need to ask themselves is if they want to open up the UFC to a larger audience and risk losing an image years in the making, or keep their A-Crowd, cocktail sipping visage at the risk of alienating a portion of their audience.

If someone really want to see the UFC first hand then he/she has to dish out the money for a plane ticket (or whatever travel method) to Las Vegas, pay for a hotel room, food, gambling expenses (hard to go to Vegas without playing the slots), and then worry about the ticket. All in all, if one has the money to spend a weekend in Vegas, then he/she probably has the Benjamins to afford a ticket to the fight.

Lastly, viewing the UFC really does not cost a cent. As the popularity of the sport of MMA has risen in the last four years more and more bars/sports-bars/pubs are screening the UFC (and I imagine Pride will follow when/if it moves to the USA). If you can?t afford to go to the fights first hand, order it on payperview, or buy a DVD, then do like me: find a bar, walk in just before the fight starts, and enjoy.

Plus, there is always Youtube.>


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