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How Many “World” Heavyweight Champions is Too Many?

Let me start by saying I am big supporter of what Affliction pulled off in their first event and have always been a passionate fan of the UFC.  From UFC, Affliction to EliteXC to you name it there is no doubt about the deep talent that exists in each organization and that MMA as a whole is a rocket of momentum.

As they handed Fedor the heavyweight belt at the end of the Affliction event in Anaheim and declared him the “only” and “true” “world” heavyweight champion I couldn’t help but question the validity of that claim while dodging the exploding confetti. 

After watching Fedor toy with Tim Sylvia it would be hard to argue that he is not the best in the game today. He’s just that good… but that’s not my point.

image of Fedor, photo courtesy of combatlifestyle.com The rise in popularity of the UFC was based on a single premise – let’s take everyone and anyone in the mixed martial arts field as well as just your everyday tough guy and put them in a fight. See who wins. Have ONE champion.  End any debate. It was the allure that brought millions of people to the sport of MMA and at the same time had them bored with boxing. Quick, can you name the heavyweight champions in boxing today?  There is more than one and that is one more than anyone cares about. 

The UFC went from one champion to multiple title holders in various weight classes. That was a logical decision and a must if it was ever going to become the mainstream sport it is today. 

Taking it to the next level of having multiple champions across different organizations creates confusion for the average fan and moves away from the unique and successful proposition that kicked off the UFC – a single champion.

image of UFC Champion, Antonio 'Big Nog' Nogueira The second and perhaps more objective reason for having one organization is economics. Time after time it has been proven in mainstream sports that it is extremely tough to generate the dollars required to support multiple organizations.  Anyone remember the World Hockey Association? They had someone named Wayne Gretzky before folding to the NHL. How about the American Football League?  Eventually consolidation in football was the only conclusion when the NFL and AFL combined for the first Super Bowl. Why do we think the UFC and Affliction would be any different? 

The upstart organizations all kicked off with the same model – sign a big name to big bucks. Joe Namath signed a record contract with the AFL, Bobby Hull did the same with the WHA and the fees raked in by the top fighters at Affliction Banned were a good indication of where things are heading. Then eventually, economics catches up with them and the consolidation talks start. 

Eventually, what the MMA fan wants is a sustainable mainstream organization with one true champion. That’s what MMA was all about at the start – bringing everyone together from the various disciplines to a single fight. Let’s see who is the best. Simple. 

I’m still going to watch and attend every UFC and Affliction event possible but for the good of the sport long term – one organization, one champion please. 

 

10 COMMENTS
  • scarredson says:

    Something I forgot. I believe fighters should fight in their proper weight class. Enough of dropping down 15 to 20 lbs. Maybe this way their would be more heavyweights. Think about it Iceman a Heavyweight.

  • scarredson says:

    affliction is a good idea for fighters who can’t get into UFC. UFC only wants the winners, and put their best against nobody’s just so they can win.Most of the time. Crocop one the best loses twice and they drop him. It don’t make sense. Soon, maybe the best fighters will move out of UFC because it wants their fighters to fight only with them. If they don’t fight in the UFC. you can’t face them

  • RangerLee says:

    As it stands it makes no sense for the UFC to “share” any fighter with any org. Right now the UFC is popular in the US not MMA. The UFC has paved the way for the growth of MMA and this is why other orgs are popping up and that is why many of them are also failing, WFA, IFL, WEC was bought by the UFC…all because the UFC is popular.

    Affliction has some good talent, however to share a fighter, Affliction would get good media coverage via the UFC, and it would be free coverage just due to the casual UFC fans tuning in to an org they do not know about. If Affliction ever gets as big as PRIDE was, where the market share is close to being the same for both orgs, then the possibility of “sharing” a fighter becomes a reality.

  • jay says:

    the wec is owned by the ufc and it is like it’s ‘minors’

  • Matt K says:

    I really like that idea. UFC actually did that with pride with a little success, before they bought them, sending over Chuck Liddel a couple times. I think they could potentially set that up with all the organizations. Each one could have their own organizational belt, but the sport could have a world champion belt that superceeds all organizations? I don’t know. Good luck getting Dana to deal with Donald Trump anyway.

  • Shogun says:

    It’s unlikely there will be just one major organization as the sport and the world is too big for just one promotion.

    A better alternative which can happen now is for organizations to share fighters. For example if this Randy-UFC lawsuit keeps dragging out, a compromise could be reached where they’ll let Randy fight in Affliction for one fight (against Fedor) and in exchange Fedor would fight in the UFC for one fight.

  • Bobby TwoSteps says:

    The UFC owns the WEC. It’s basically the farm club for the UFC. Lots of UFC guys fight in it as well. Weight Classes 155-170-185-205 are the farm league and up n comers to the sport. the 135-145 pound divisions are really the best in the sport.

  • Edgar says:

    I like the minor leagues idea.

    Just like in other sports. If you’re the best of the best you get the UFC (or whoever).

    Me likey.

  • Ron says:

    It would be difficult to imagine only one organization, because there are too many fighters.

    Maybe the UFC has a minor leagues like other pro sports teams do.

    Maybe make the IFL and WEC the minors? I don’t know.

  • big daddy says:

    If MMA continues it will end up like boxing. 100 different belts with 100 different organization all trying to make a quick buck.

    The UFC has said from the start they are trying to be like NASCAR in the fact that they are the LEADER in the field and no one knows about the rest.

    NASCAR is the best STOCK CAR Org out there and the best at NASCAR is the best in the world. No question about it.

    Hopefully the UFC can get there one day too.
    Just my 2 cents.

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