Sports

UFC’s Stance On Short Notice Title Fights Is Unfair

The top UFC light heavyweight fighters are in an uproar over Chael Sonnen getting to the front of the title line. UFC president Dana White has made his message crystal clear. Accept your short notice title fight or move to the back of the line and that just isn’t fair.

White blasted Lyoto Machida, along with a few others for not taking a championship fight against Jon Jones on short notice. White’s message was clear in a recent media call. You may have earned the title shot but you can just as easily lose it if you don’t take the fight when offered, short notice or not.

“Everyone of these guys that are b*tching about a title show now, were offered the fight and turned it down. They refused to fight Jon Jones. Now they’re bummed out because Chael stepped up on eight days notice and he’s going to coach The Ultimate Fighter and fight him? I mean, it’s pretty simple. “(Jones and Sonnen) will do this,” White continued. “They’ll fight, and then we can continue to have the light heavyweight division rolling and have an absolute No. 1 contender when Jones comes back (from injury).”

UFC fighters, fans, and media are still reeling over the announcement that Chael Sonnen would go from defeated middleweight to a light heavyweight championship shot against Jon Jones. Top contenders, specifically Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida have both taken to Twitter to express their outrage over the fight.

With all respect,but for me Chael does not deserve The title shot,I would like To know What He had done in LHW for deserve!!” – @LyotoMachidaFW

I guess I should just quit training to win fights and to be exciting for the fans and just go to shit talking school.” – @DanHendo

If these two elite light heavyweights expected any sympathy from UFC president Dana White, they better think again. White blasted these along with other top light heavyweights for refusing to fight Jon Jones on short notice at either UFC 151 or UFC 152. The message White sent to his fighters was clear. While his fighters may have earned the fight, he could just as easily take it away if they don’t do business the UFC’s way and quite frankly, that is just not right.

Losing a title shot temporarily due to an injury is one thing. Losing it altogether because of an injury or short notice is something unique to the UFC. Dan Henderson is a prime example. Henderson will now have to wait for his title shot. To be fair, Dana White did say in a recent conference call that Henderson’s status is still up in the air. That is fine. But White has also been saying how Henderson needs to now fight Lyoto Machida to get the title shot. Champions get hurt all of the time and are rewarded with an immediate fight with the interim title shot when they return. Heck, Alistair Overeem was suspended for failing a PED test and is getting a title shot off of suspension. But for some reason Henderson has to now fight another fight to get a shot that he rightfully earned due to an injury?

Lyoto Machida was declared the number one contender by Dana White after he thrashed Ryan Bader on Fox. I had a problem with it at the time but hey, that was the declaration. Machida was then contacted and asked to take a fight with Jones on short notice for UFC 152. Having not trained at all while the champion was deep in camp Machida declined the fight. Machida was not in shape and felt that he couldn’t prepare for the short turnaround time. He was then ridiculed by White and told to go to the back of the line. In what kind of sport is this acceptable?

The Machida situation is really the problem here. Machida earned (according to the UFC) a title shot against Jones. Machida fought and trained hard for that opportunity. Being that this was his second title shot, it was all or nothing for this fight. Machida had everything to lose walking into a fight with Jones unconditioned and without a proper camp. He earned the right to a full camp. I get the machismo aspect of this in that fighters fight but this is also a business. Jones had a full camp of conditioning, Machida didn’t. The UFC didn’t have to book Jones that quickly. They could have waited. It should be up to Machida as to whether he wants the full or short camp. Penalizing him for not taking it is quite frankly unethical.

Dana boasted about how Chael Sonnen was the only one who wanted to step up and fight Jones on short notice, like he is some kind of warrior or something. Sonnen had zero to lose! He didn’t earn a title shot and was not even in line to get one (little did we know). Of course he stepped up to fight Jones. He stepped up the same way Vitor Belfort did. None of those men were risking a thing. I am sure that Brandon Vera, Stephan Bonnar, or Ken Shamrock would have as well. The big difference between those guys and Machida, Henderson, or Shogun Rua who turned down the fight is that those guys were playing with house money. The other top contenders worked hard to earn a title shot and shouldn’t be asked to blow it because the UFC needs a main-event.

Would the UFC have given Machida or Rua another title fight in the near future as thanks for taking the title shot on short notice? You know the answer to this and that is why Dana White is being a spoiled, selfish, brat with this new edict. Title shots that are earned should be respected. Sure while it’s nice to do Uncle Dana a favor, what will these fighters get for their gamble?

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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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