Sports

Is Greg Jackson Bad For The UFC?

Greg Jackson is turning into one of the most polarizing coaches in MMA. His track record as a coach is arguably the greatest of any MMA coach from this era. However, I think a fair question to ask is whether these wins & losses are coming at the cost of MMA and the UFC.

Jackson’s list of champions is a who’s who of MMA. I don’t think anyone would question his track record and game planning. Yet after the recent Clay Guida vs. Gray Maynard debacle, I immediately developed an immense hatred for the man and his tactics. Thanks to Jackson’s “game-planning” the UFC delivered one of the most disappointing main-events in their history of television fights. Even worse, Guida’s reputation went from warrior to runner in a fight that saw Guida run for five rounds and walk away with a loss.

Now I will say this about the fight. As much as I hated it, I was shocked Guida lost. I was so enraged when the final buzzer sounded that I turned the fight off. I didn’t bother waiting for a winner to be announced because quite frankly, I thought it was a given that Guida won. I was stunned the next day when I read that Maynard came away with a decision. But at the end of the day it was Jackson that put his fighter in the position to lose.

Fighting in the UFC is a real tricky thing for a Mixed-Martial Artist. There is a real fine line between winning fights and entertaining fans. Guys like Jon Fitch and even Maynard have rolled off numerous wins only to be criticized by Dana White for not producing exciting fights. At the same time, sacrificing a smart game plan for an exciting fan will give you a lousy record and a fast ticket out of the UFC. This is why I always found UFC bonuses to be a little unscrupulous. The UFC is almost manipulating fights by saying, “Hey stand up and throw and you can win a bonus.” That is fine but shouldn’t a win mean more than a lucky punch?

White is no fan of Jackson‘s coaching or the way he conducts business. Between Jackson’s insistence that fighters in his camp don’t fight each other (when it’s convenient) and recent game plans which saw more running than fighting, I almost think White would be happier if Jackson announced a sudden retirement. Yet at the end of the day the UFC is a business and it is time to seriously question whether Jackson is good for the business of MMA?

Jackson took credit for Guida’s game plan, even in the face of a loss. “I wanted Clay to, after he drew Gray out, to engage a little bit more, but I think Clay was waiting for him to open up a little bit and he was able to land some combinations when he did that. But one of the things that I think both Clay and I learned is that … we need to do a little more right after the misses, kind of jumping on him a little bit more. I chalk it up to experience and a learning process, and hopefully we won’t be in that situation again where we have such a close decision. Hopefully we’ll be able to dominate the next time.

It took Jackson until 2012 to realize that his fighters need to capitalize on openings? Come on! Does anyone think for a second that Jackson is seriously going to change his strategies moving forward from this? He didn’t learn when Lyoto Machida knocked Rashad Evans clear into next week and that was years ago. Has Jackson had success with similar plans since then? Fans run when they hear the name “Nate Marquardt.” Sure, Carlos Condit just won the interim title with this brilliant strategy. However, ask yourself how many fans want to pay $50 to ever see Carlos Condit fight again?

Luke Rockhold of Strikeforce is already concerned about Jackson’s game planning regarding his upcoming fight against Jackson-coached Tim Kennedy. “… not a fan of Greg Jackson game plans, so I just hope that [Kennedy] comes out and fights me in the middle, and fights me everywhere.” No fighter wants to step into the octagon and worry about their opponent running away from them for three-five rounds. That is not the competition most of these guys signed up for.

To be fair, Jackson has trained plenty of fighters who deliver exciting fights. Jon Jones and Leonard Garcia are just two guys that come to mind who happen to be two of the most exciting fighters in MMA. So what is the problem here? Is it the fighter or is it Jackson? Is it a case where Jackson has more confidence in some fighters than others? I don’t care what you call it but Jackson has had enough of these snoozers in the last few years to make MMA fans concerned, considering the large number of fighters he coaches.

Stick and moving is fine but not when the moving is about 80% of the game plan. Fighters need to seriously reconsider these game plans before giving Jackson the thumbs up on the strategy. The disgruntled UFC viewer won’t remember that Greg Jackson coached a boring strategy in the fight they just wasted their time or money watching. Fans will remember the fight that walked into the octagon and left looking more like a coward than a warrior. If it works for you in the win column, that’s great, but at the end of the day this is a business and if people refuse to pay for your fights going forward, the fighter, the UFC, and the fans will all be losing in the end.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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