The UFC sucks at matchmaking fighters at the end of their careers. They will throw you in a blender.
In my previous video, I said that the UFC matchmaking Robbie Lawler with Nico Price was terrible matchmaking. And some of you think that just because Robbie won in, like, 30 seconds that I’m wrong, and I hate to break it to you, but that’s just the exception to the rule.
In this latest video above, I’ll discuss why that is, how veteran fighters should be treated and how their arcs should be handled, versus all the terrible ways the UFC handled by the UFC.
Just let UFC legends retire with dignity!
Quickly, why does this happen? Why does the UFC treat Fighters like this in the twilights of their career? Why do you think that is? Well, it’s because the goals of the UFC and the goals of fighters rarely align at the end of their careers. The UFC sees fighters as assets that they can throw away at any point.
So when a fighter is at the end, they’ll just simply use them as a stepping stone for another fighter. But the actual fighter in this situation, the veteran, the legend, the former champion — they are looking for fights that they can win in spectacular fashion, or just win at all, so that they can retire on a happy note and go back to their family with the embarrassingly low amount of money the UFC pays fighters.
Leaving the sport on your own terms
In gambling, you leave while the table’s hot. GSP, good example of this. But when a fighter who’s been terribly paid their whole career tries to take extra fights past their prime, past their peak to make more money, fights, etc., the UFC doesn’t care. They are just going to milk them and suck the blood from the stone that is their life force.
One really good example is Jose Aldo. Aldo retired somewhat at the top of the UFC. Still, while it wasn’t his personal peak, he stayed around, and it is a testament to how good Jose Aldo is, is that he was still able to compete in the the top five of the bantamweight division years after he had lost the featherweight title. His last four fights are Marlon Vera, Pedro Munoz, Rob Font, and Merab Dvalishvili. He’s still a top five fighter in the division. You don’t really need to sunset him, he’s an exception, right? He chose to go out near the top, right? Good matchmaking, no issues with that.
But these are the exceptions to the rule at which I speak. Let’s jump into some extremely painful and obvious mishaps by the UFC.
Too many veteran fighters just get fed to the wolves
Let’s talk about Frankie Edgar. His career doesn’t have a large red line of losses, right? He has some wins and losses, he dropped down from lightweight to featherweight, had some success, then loss, had some title fights, fought Jose Aldo. Went down to bantamweight, tried again, didn’t turn out so well.
But let’s go over the last few fights of his career, because he was a lower weight guy at 39 years old.
Listen to this matchmaking. It starts off: he fights Pedro Munhoz. It’s a fight with lots of banging, really good fight, Pedro Munhoz rocks him a lot. Frankie’s a veteran, gets through it, right? Then, they give him Cory Sandhagen, a serial name on this list. They keep throwing people at Cory Sandhagen. Not his fault. Cory didn’t do anything wrong, and he gets the highlight-reel KO that everyone remembers with the flying knee.
Ends Frankie Edgar with that, right? Let’s see who they give him next. They give him Marlon Vera.
I don’t know about you, but giving a legend of the sport one of the greatest lightweight fighters of all time at the end of his career at 39, 40 years old — they give you Marlon Vera. After being on a skid, which is at, very clearly, the end of your career, no tune up fight, nothing. Marlon Vera, and in extremely sad fashion, he gets front kick KO’d. What do you think you were doing? Seems pretty f—ked up.
That’s not where it ends. The UFC gave Frankie Edgar Chris Gutierrez. Chris Gutierrez, not super famous but much younger prospect, very explosive, known for really good striking, lots of KO power, considerably larger than Frankie Edgar. I get it, weight classes, whatever. This guy was much bigger, and you know what happens? Frankie Edgar gets KO’d again. I mean I guess I could give the UFC points and going for a lower ranked fighter, but someone who clearly has the exact tools to beat Frankie Edgar, what the f—k were you doing?
Again, guys, like I was saying, the UFC does this constantly. Robbie Lawler winning at UFC 290 was the exception to the rule that was extremely unlikely as incredible as Robbie Lawler is.
Here’s a recent one: Kevin Lee. Kevin Lee, not doing so well. Leaves the UFC, takes some time off, ends up fighting in Khabib’s Eagle FC, which hasn’t had an event in a while it seems by the way. Then UFC resigns him, explicitly to face him against a new up-and-coming dangerous talent. The UFC was 100% using Kevin Lee to build this man up. They put him on the prelims too, come on guys.
They put him against Rinat Fakhretdinov. He gets guillotined in a minute. Now you don’t know how fights are gonna end, otherwise, you would gamble and win tons of money instead of working for the UFC. Sure, but you also know things.
And finally, to the former PRIDE Champion, the former UFC champion, one of the greatest light heavyweights of all time, Maurício Rua. He has, by all accounts, performed so much better than he should have after his prime. You could argue Shogun’s prime was like 2005, 2010 like mid to late 2000s.
He’s in PRIDE before his UFC career. It has been more than 13 years since then, so he’s competing at an extremely high level, well past what you’d expect for most fighters. So admittedly he’s an exception there. The UFC has not matchmaked him for his level very well, yet he keeps over-performing, so it’s a little grayer than some of the others.
To give you some context, in 2014, when he first faced Ovince Saint Preux for the first time and he got obliterated, a lot of us thought that was scary, scary matchmaking then, for him who we thought was a fighter clearly at the end of his career, right? It’s been nine years since that fight, and he fought Ovince again — that’s how much longevity he’s had. I can’t critique them too much in that regard, because he kept getting enough wins to like push himself back up, but the UFC kept giving him prospects that could, and sometimes did, f—k him up.
The fight against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, that fight felt like good matchmaking from a retirement standpoint.
Now the UFC doesn’t decide when fighters retire, admittedly. This is credit I have to give UFC, they don’t always know. Shogun wins that fight, he fights some more. But then they give him Paul Craig again, he loses, they give him Ovince Saint Preux, he loses again, and they give him this new, up-and-coming prospect from Ukraine, Ihor Potieria, really exciting, explosive fighter, and he sends Shogun to the shadow realm.
Why, UFC? This man isn’t just a veteran of the UFC. He is one of the legends of MMA. He has been fighting for 20 plus years. He was a PRIDE champion. He was a UFC champion.
Why would you give so many of these legends matchups like these? So many of these veterans, kind of like Donald Cerrone, probably have no issues with the way their fights or career was matchmaked. They got that dog in him. But just like referees, that’s not our job to care about that. Our job is to care about not sending these guys into dementia land. What the f—k are these matchmaking? I’d rather see them let him knock out a bum and retire, but there’s countless instances they’re in the receiving end of those.
UFC cares more about money, than the fighters that got them here
This isn’t tennis. MMA is a much more dangerous sport, it is prizefighting. The UFC owes these fighters who bleed and break bones and break limbs to usher them out in a more elegant, respectful, less demeaning way.
Matchmakers like Sean Shelby, Mick Maynard, and president Dana White, you make f—king tons of money. You don’t have to milk them for that extra few percent. You don’t have to take that little bit of extra life force after paying them dogshit most of their careers. You don’t have to. You could set up a pension plan, you could set up retirement funds, you could actually have good healthcare that covers them and their families, instead of literally just fight nights and fight camps. You can do a lot. But you won’t even matchmake them in a way that’s respectful. You owe these fighters better.
They deserve more, because without them the UFC is nothing. So Fighters, f—king unionize, unionize!
The NBA pays players 50% of revenues. So what the f—k is going on? Are we not embarrassed that this is the sport that we follow? The sport that we’re fans of? Because the longer that we watch this shit, the more obvious that they are just exploitative a—holes that are deserving of the title of human cockfighting promoters. There’s a way to do this respectfully, and well.
Fighters are constantly taken advantage of and you should want them to be treated better in all aspects. Pay, matchmaking, promotion, all of it.
Watch the video above for the full argument.
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