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MMA Resolutions: Changes for the New Year

By Ben Bieker

In honor of ringing in the New Year, I will give my top ten things I wish the New Year will bring for the fans in 2011. So let’s get started:

1) Better Judges

This is simple the judging in MMA has its ups and downs. I am not going to saw that is horrible as most people believe because 9 times out of 10 the judges get it right. The problem is when they get it wrong it is glaringly obvious. This topic is not relegated to decisions like Machida vs. Rampage or Melvin Guillard vs. Jeremy Stephens where the fight decisions could have went either way, and only fans of the fighter that lost feel like he was robbed.

No, this reflects back on decisions like Nam Phan vs. Leonard Garcia, Leonard Garcia vs. Chan Sung Jung, or Tyson Griffin vs. Nik Lentz. These are all decisions that should have went the other way. Many people like to say not to leave it in the hands of the judges as a way to not to get robbed by a bad decisions, but the fact is able to finish a fight. Not everyone is a word class ji-jitsu specialist, maybe they don’t have knockout power, or both fighters are smart enough not to let their guard down and get caught.

There are two easy fixes to the problem also. Have the judges take training courses where they are educated in the sport of MMA and make unified judging criteria. If criteria was ruled upon on how things are rated, whether it is a leg kick, punch or takedown then we wouldn’t have people winning from lay-n-pray when the fighter on the bottom is doing more damage. Another way could be to have retired fighters judge MMA and this was seen at UFC 115 when the three judges were ex-MMA fighter the most notable being Bill Mahood.
9) Better Refs

The same thing with the judges of MMA is that the refs need to get better. While there are clearly some competent judges out there in John McCarthy, Herb Dean, and Josh Rosenthal, that still does not stop there from being some very flagrant officiating in the cage during fights. One of the more recent events happened at the last Ultimate Fighter Finale during the Bonnar/Pokrajac where in Bonnar was deducted a point, which is fine, but it was done during the last ten-seconds of the bout and the fight ended while the ref was taking away a point. Another example would be the stoppage of the Mac Danzig and Matt Wiman fight where the ref stopped the fight even though Mac was not out and had not even tapped.

While this point is not nearly as relevant as the bad judging we have seen during the year it ranks higher because if the third man in the cage is not intelligent enough to be in there with the fighters it can cause a lot of harm.

8 ) A Lighter Weight Ultimate Fighter 

While many fans want to know who the coaches of the next season of the Ultimate Fighter will be I can’t wait till we get a season with a weight class below 155 on the show. These fighters are just coming to the UFC with not a ton of fan fare outside of Jose Aldo and Uriah Faber, and the fact remains that not a lot of people know who they are. I would like to see a season where the Ultimate Fighter takes a division like 145 or 135 and lets the general MMA fan who watches the show religiously see what these lighter weights can do when allowed to shine in the spot light.

7) GSP vs. Silva

While I am not a fan of super fights or catch weight fights the fact of the matter is that these two need to meet in the cage. At the end of their perspective careers it would be horrible if there were any what ifs to who the better fighter was. I know GSP and Anderson already have potential fighters lined up for their next fights, but honestly why let a fight between two prime fighters slip away from the fans like Fedor vs. Randy or Chuck vs. Wanderlei was, and their is no contract negotiations that have to be dealt with here. Why not let them duke it out when it really matters? When they are both still relevant and at the top of their games.

With Anderson’s last performance some are becoming to question whether he is slipping, or if he could be dominated by a good wrestler, and to be honest so am I. So at the end of the day it makes sense for both fighters to get in the ring from a financial and interest standpoint. So why not let them see conclusively who is the top pound for pound fighter in the world at this time in MMA?
6) A Healthy Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

Shogun Rua is an absolute animal when he is in the ring. He has all the animal brutality that Wanderlei possessed at one time, and the reserve and technical abilities to pick apart a fighter when need be. He has the built in fan base from Pride, but he has not been able to stay healthy long enough in the UFC for him to stay relevant to the fans. He first came in and got beat by Forrest Griffin, and then had to have surgeries on his knees.

Once he came back he strung together a few wins and then fought for the belt. Everyone counted him out in that fight, saying the Shogun from Pride was dead, but he proved everyone one wrong, even though it took two fights to win the belt. Now, he has been out for almost a year and I hear very few casual fans mention who he is, or that he is even the champion. I hope he stays healthy and Dana is right that the lack of keeping his knees good was from not having top surgeon fixing them. So here’s to 2011 being the year of Shogun.

5) MMA in the Olympics

It is a long shot, but why not have MMA in the Olympics. The argument against it does not make sense. MMA is practiced and trained in more countries then Basketball is played in. The sport is internationally relevant as seen by how the UFC is able to sell out arenas around the world. Judo, Wrestling, Taekwondo, and boxing are all contested in the Olympics. So why not MMA? That is the question that no one can really answer.
4) Fedor returns

I would like to see Fedor return to MMA. But since 2007 he has only fought 4 times. Out of those four fights only two of his opponents should have been in the ring with him. Tim Sylvia was coming off a loss and Brett Rogers was still too green to be in there. So out of his two legitimate competitions he lost one and knocked out the other. The loss to Werdum is a big question mark to some whether it was a fluke or has Fedor lost it. I don‘t know if he has lost it, but he sure will if he does not start fighting consistently.

Do you think that Kobe Bryant would be as good as he is if he only competed in 2 out of every ten games the Lakers played? The answer is no. Fedor’s management has been a big hurdle to leap, but the man is a fighter and he needs to fight. If not then he needs to retire and stop leaving the fans wanting more and never returning on our hopes.

3) Better Reporting

Reporting in MMA has come a far way in the past few years, but it also still has a far way to go. Only recently has ESPN been covering fights that are going on in the UFC and that is only for bigger events. The question is how can they not cover every event put on by the UFC and Strikeforce? How many hours can people spend listening to pundits arguing about whether this will be Brett Farve’s last season, or if the Lakers will win a third consecutive championship, or why Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather fight, before I just want to hear some coverage about the upcoming fights.

I appreciate what Versus did for the last two WEC cards putting on a pre-show and post-show for the event, but can you say too little too late? If the sport is to become main stream it needs to be covered mainstream and not be buried in newspapers and websites under 15 articles about Boxing.

2) New York Legalization

America is supposed to be the world leader, but how can it be so far behind in one thing. Countries are begging to have MMA events in their countries because they know the revenue it will bring and the excitement it can give to their people. So, why is it still not legal in all 50 states in America. There are only about 5 states left that have not legalized MMA, but for the sport to not be allowed in New York is asinine, and people wonder why the Olympics aren’t coming to America anytime soon.

1) Flyweight Division

We have already seen the addition of the Lightweight, Featherweight, and Bantamweight divisions to the UFC in the last few years, so now is time for the Flyweight division to be added too. In addition, some fighters coming over from the WEC are just too small for 135, so why not put in the lower weight class. Antonio Banuelos, Demetrious Johnson, and Joseph Benavidez have all said at one time that they would all drop to 125 if there was the division and they all need it as some of there losses have come because they are just a little too small.

A lot of people all ask for the old school tournaments to be brought back by the UFC so in an effort to kill two things on my list I hope the UFC makes an Ultimate Fighter season with all Flyweights with the two finalist at the end fighting for the belt at the finale. It could include the previous three fighters that are already established names, but are willing to drop down to become a UFC champion, and give exposure to the lighter weight classes to the general masses of MMA fans.

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