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The Peril of Dream Matches
Posted by mmaplayground Thursday, March 5, 2009 12:00 AM
Submitted by Turd Ferguson
Everybody loves an underdog. Everybody loves seeing a little guy get the better of a bigger man. Everybody loves a good story about people making good on their chances to rise to the top and do something never done before. Unfortunately for BJ Penn, and maybe the rest of the MMA fans around the world, Georges St. Pierre isn't a fan of the great American underdog story, and why would he be, he is after all a Canadian, and a French Canadian at that.
UFC 94 was anchored by a main event pitting two fighters that were in just about everyone's top 5 pound for pound lists against each other, those fighters being the aforementioned Penn and GSP. GSP was the reigning UFC welterweight champ, and Penn was the lightweight champ moving up in weight for what seemed like the umpteenth time in his career. Both fighters had dominated the former champions in their respected and talent rich divisions, and this rematch(St. Pierre won a razor thin decision in their first meeting almost 3 years prior that many fans disputed) was to be a fight for the ages. Although most were not surprised by the outcome, the fighters were seen as very evenly matched by most fans and pundits alike, the way the fight went was a shocker to almost all who watched, St. Pierre grape-danglers aside. GSP dominated the fight from the opening bell until Penn's cornerman, and brother/manager, decided he had seen enough.
This leads me to the question: Will UFC president Dana White allow any more of these "dream matches" involving two of his organization's champions again?
The pay per view buy rates were high, speculated at about 1.3 million by White himself, so there is money to be made, but will seeing his title holders get dismantled the way GSP did Penn discourage him from putting on these fights anymore because it might expose his champions as "not as good as people thought they were". BJ has hinted to retiring since the fight and although he said that he was considering it before the match even happened, one has to wonder if he is at home in Hilo questioning his ability due to the crushing nature of the defeat.(personally i think he will want to come back and prove himself again, but as many fans know anything can happen with BJ). Will this turn of events lead to a vacancy for the 155 pound belt that no one has even looked remotely close to being able to take from him(although ever improving Kenny Florian is on the horizon)? Would Dana allow one of the most marketable men in all of sports, never mind just mixed martial arts, GSP to move up in weight class to fight Anderson Silva in a dream fight that has been talked about among internet fans for over a year now, or not allow it due to fear that the sports "golden boy" could just as easily be destroyed by the larger Silva?
The UFC has to not only make money on it's PPV's but it also has to make sure it isn't leaving it's stars hanging out to dry by moving them from one weight class to another. This is still truly a fledgling sport as demonstrated by the fact that its not even legal in all 50 states yet, and sullying one of the few household name's record for the sake of PPV buys for one night only may end up doing more harm than good in the long run. Those of us that consider ourselves in the know will give a fighter a pass, or at least a little more slack, when he moves up in weight and loses, but the vast majority of new, or casual fans will only see a loss as a loss and that will inevitably take away from a fighters drawing power.
I love the fact that a guy like BJ Penn wants to test himself against bigger men, it shows that he has the "warrior's spirit", a term that gets tossed around a little too much for my tastes these days but is truly deserved in BJ's case. When all things are considered equal though, the bigger man will almost always come out on top, size does in fact matter(sorry fellas). Does a fight between GSP and Anderson really do more bad than good in the end? If GSP wins he moves up the pound for pound rankings ahead of Silva, and cements himself as THE GUY in the UFC, but what if Silva wins? Is there a way that Silva can somehow end up looking better after this fight? Sure he will have beaten a guy that is also a top 5 P4P fighter, but he was the bigger man and should be expected to win if all other things are considered equal, not to mention GSP's stock will drop in the eyes of many fans and that's just not good business. Neither is the fact that if one fighters holds titles in two different weight classes both divisions contenders will have to wait longer in between title shots, and less title fights = less PPV buys, more fans shell out the dough when a strap is on the line.
BJ Penn is really a different case story than many other fighters because hes made the move up and down in weight many times, and is the type of fighter that the UFC brass has to handle with kid gloves from time to time because he is a big draw, and is the type of guy that will take a walk if he doesn't get to do the things he wants to do in this sport like take on bigger men, or attempt to hold 2 belts at once. The match against GSP was basically forced upon the UFC by BJ and they knew if they didn't give him his shot he was a risk to fly the coop, and lets face it, it was a rematch that the fans wanted to see and would shell out cold hard cash for even in these bleak economic times.
So as much as I would love to see the champions in the different weight classes clash and see who comes out on top, I fear that we may not get the chance to see this happen in light of what occurred at UFC 94. My money is on Dana White putting an end to these kind of fights, and making a fighter like Anderson Silva move up to fight at light heavyweight permanently or until another force emerges at middleweight or stay put at middleweight and finish the job of cleaning out the division rather than having his fighters go up and down in weight class on a regular basis. I think we have seen the last fight between two current UFC title holders, at least until another champion decides it's his turn to pull rank and demand that he gets a shot to prove to himself and the world that he is without a doubt the best fighter on the planet period......not named Fedor that is.
(The opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of this website in general, nor it’s webmaster. They are solely the views of this writer)
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