2018 – A New Hope for the UFC

From the early 80’s, I was a boxing nut – buying every magazine going as well as building up an extensive video collection of fights and documentaries.

But slowly and surely the sport went from two world champions in each division, the WBC and the WBA, to seemingly never-ending additions of more governing bodies and weight divisions.

Unification fights were a rarity; the best routinely avoided fighting each other, boxing politics ruled the sport rather than the boxers. My interest in the noble art dwindled, and with the growth of MMA and in particular the UFC, my love shifted from boxing to the new kid on the block.

The UFC grew from its dark years to buy out the main competition, Pride and Strikeforce, and we got the majority of the best MMA fighters on the planet under one umbrella, the best fought the best.

Sadly, we are heading down the road where, at least in my opinion, titles are being devalued. Interim titles pop up far more frequent than they should, and with the featherweight, lightweight and middleweight divisions put on hold for extended periods at one time or another over the last two years.

Hopefully, now Georges St-Pierre has to the surprise of nobody, vacated his newly won UFC middleweight belt, Robert Whittaker and Luke Rockhold can restore normal service, and whoever wins their title match goes on to defend their belt against the best contenders available, rankings should mean something.

I don’t want the UFC to get like the WWE – some insane promo allows someone to gate-crash the title picture before their in-cage talents warrant it. Money fights are fine but they should be the exception, we saw enough of the circus when Conor McGregor thought he could defy logic.

I’ve said it before, but whatever McGregor decides to do next, and if that next move isn’t defending his lightweight title, and not against an undeserving challenger like Nate Diaz, he needs to vacate or be stripped. Enough is enough. Over a year without defending is more than enough.

Cris Cyborg is a champion in a division which doesn’t really exist. If you are going to introduce a division, get some fighters in who are actual featherweights – bring the talent in. Currently, there are no rankings for the division, either invest in it or scrap it.

Thankfully some time ago my interest and love for the noble art has returned. Even with the many of the same old flaws still very much there, but boxing in 2017 has had its best year for quite some time, while the UFC has suffered in comparison with poor PPV buy rates and superstars like McGregor and Ronda Rousey being nowhere to be seen, at least in the UFC.

Hopefully, 2018 will see a return to what the UFC used to be; sport is nothing without credibility.

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Mark Baldwin
rightmark6@googlemail.com
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