At the end of the UFC on Fox show when Dana White told Joe Rogan that Lyoto Machida would be the one getting the winner of the Dan Henderson/Jon Jones fight, for the Light Heavyweight title, nobody had a problem with that. Dana White did say the most impressive fighter would determine who would get the next title shot.
Clearly Machida’s KO win against a legit top ten contender in the division in Ryan Bader, had to be considered more impressive when you consider that Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua struggled and looked terribly gassed before finally finishing Brandon Vera. Good luck finding Vera ranked in any top 20 unofficial ranking in the light heavyweight division.
Now I know everyone screamed bloody murder upon learning Vera was even in such a position when you look at his record and recent history. My issue isn’t with Vera getting the opportunity, but rather with the UFC for ignoring other, more qualified fighters.
How does Phil Davis go from losing to Rashad Evans in a number 1 contender’s fight to fighting on the prelims of any card? And how does Rashad Evans go from losing to Jones via decision to not being considered as a top light heavyweight? Now I know Evans is considering dropping down to middleweight, but I’d like to believe as a competitor he’d like another shot at Jones.
That is the problem with there being no official rankings system. Now, while Machida and Rua are clear cut top 5 light heavyweights, wouldn’t it make more sense if they fought the other top 2 light heavyweights, which would arguably be Evans and Davis? Rua vs Davis and a rematch of Machida vs Evans. Who wouldn’t have rather seen that?
How about the fact that going into Saturday’s fight Machida had lost 3 of his last 5 fights, and one of his wins came against 48 year-old Randy Couture? Now I know he is the only fighter to win a round against Jon Jones, but how excited will you be to see that potential rematch knowing that the second Jones engaged with Machida he submitted him seconds later? Greg Jackson and Jon Jones are too smart to not attack Machida’s weakness, which is his grappling and submission defense.
By the way, in no way am I forgetting or dismissing MMA legend Dan Henderson. Can he beat Jon Jones? Yes. Will he? I’m leaning towards no. I will write about that at the end of the month.
Back to the title shot. The easiest solution to determine who was in fact the right guy to get a title shot…drumroll…how about Machida vs. Rua III live on FOX? Didn’t the first show on Fox feature Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos? You can’t tell me they need to save the potential third fight for PPV and for a title. In MMA nothing is guaranteed. Injuries or other circumstances could prevent us from ever seeing their third fight. Wasn’t Saturday night the perfect opportunity to see it?
My last case scenario and something everyone has been screaming about–a grand prix tournament to determine the clear cut No.1 contender. The UFC even referenced and had Buffer introduce Rua as the 2005 Pride middleweight Grand Prix champion. Why not a Light Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament?