From fans to fighters, to the ownership of the UFC, everyone has bemoaned the commissions that govern our sport.
Whether or not the complaints have been about unqualified judges or referees, or whether or not it’s been accusations of political corruption or personal biases against the commissions directly, there’s seems to be a growing and palpable contempt for the governing system and its processes.
In essence and for many, it boils down to a question of who protects us from our protectors.
The commissions are populated with people who are simply bureaucrats. That’s it. They push and pull the levers of the machine and that’s all they do. In terms of understanding the sport that their machine has dominion over, they haven’t a clue; not at least as a general rule.
They appear to know nothing of MMA and its intricacies, the levels of knowledge required to judge and score it properly, nor do they even have a competent scale by which to grade it. More frighteningly, there seems to be a general malaise or resistance from the commissions in addressing these fundamental problems.
Beyond that, the commissions seem to be vulnerable to third party manipulation; that rather than considering issues that are singularly pertinent to the sport, that they can be swayed by the influences of external agendas and chased down a path of spurious concerns.
Further still and ironically so, the commissions, which were conjured into existence by government(s) for the purposes of dealing with corruption in sport, have themselves, a storied history of corruption.
Considering it all, it begs a question:
In the year 2013 and given the size of the UFC, its complete understanding of the sport and its own vested interests in ensuring that the sport is “clean”, and in every conceivable aspect that could be considered, then why can’t they (the promotion) govern themselves?
To be honest, there seems to be no real reason other than the appearance of propriety.
For all intents and purposes, commissions perform a threefold task; they enforce drug policies, license and assign judges and referees, and establish the scoring system. Beyond that, they’re political entities that are held accountable to various legislatures, which themselves, are populated by people who know little or nothing of MMA.
In terms of the functions listed, there’s nothing tallied that the UFC cannot do or is not better qualified to do, than the commissions. Further, the promotion would be highly motivated to accomplish all of the goals and to do them in a highly professional and transparent manner.
Moreover, the UFC has no track record of corruption, misdealing or mismanagement. As such, it would be difficult to deny the promotion the right to self-governance based on any evidence of malfeasance, for there is none.
Further still, as the principal owners of the company (the Fertittas) also have a vested interest in a chain of gambling establishments (Stations Casinos), they’re not apt to risk that investment along with their billion dollar MMA promotion, for whatever limited return they might make on trying to game their fights. Quite the opposite would be true. The promotion would be exceedingly actuated to ensure even higher standards and controls than the commissions do, now.
In addition, the promotion’s self-governance would still be subject to existing Federal and State laws, regarding a myriad of subjects.
In synopsis, the UFC can easily do that which the commissions are currently doing, inclusive of sanctioning its fighters, which is something the promotion elected to do this past week with Ben Rothwell, and as such, a reasonable conclusion can be drawn, that as long as the UFC’s processes were transparent and improved the sport, that they’d be a better and more preferable option to what we have now.
As to the business of the sport, it’s easy to see the value in commissions, but only regarding the view that the job needs to be done and done right. Who does that job and does it correctly, is an ancillary concern.
As it stands now, most fans would probably agree that the commissions aren’t doing the job to the standard that it should be done, and that simply because their oversight comes with a government stamp of approval, doesn’t mean that it’s a guarantee of either professionalism or fairness; certainly no more so than that which the UFC could itself, guarantee.
That said, as fans we’d be at a loss to say that the UFC or any promotion for that matter, will ever be able to govern themselves, but in pondering the question it’s fair to ask why not, for on its face, it appears to be a reasonable proposition.
Personally, I’d be comfortable with the UFC taking control of its own oversight and it would give me no cause to question their fights. Again, as they’d be motivated to do the job correctly and have no blemishes on their record, there’d be no reason to consider it otherwise.
Sadly enough for the commissions, the same cannot be said of either their motivation or their records.