Is It Time To Get Rid Of Immediate Rematches In The UFC?

Posted on December 23, 2013, 01:01 PM by Mike Drahota
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With an immediate rematch between Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva set to go down at this weekend’s UFC 168, questions about booking quick rematches in the UFC are inevitably being brought up. True, the one between Weidman and Silva was a no-brainer as “The Spider” is a legend that won every single Octagon bout before being floored by Weidman.

But the booking itself brings to light a trend that you may or may not view as effective for today’s ever-evolving mixed martial arts landscape. With many divisions lined up with top shelf talent, it’s arguable as to whether or not a challenger who loses a close bout for the title deserves an immediate rematch.

Let’s take a look at recent example and discuss their validity. Apart from Weidman vs. Silva II, an obvious example here is the UFC 165 war between light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and number one contender Alexander Gustafsson.

Gustafsson took it to the champion in the early rounds, even becoming the first fighter to take down the notoriously tough wrestler “Bones.” Gustafsson wilted in the later rounds, however, allowing an opening for Jones to unleash his vicious Muay Thai strikes. It was a closely contested fight that many were on the fence about.

Countless fans believe that Gustafsson was robbed and deserved an immediate rematch, something that “Bones” initially agreed to after he went to the hospital to treat his injuries. But when he re-watched the fight, Jones decided that he had earned his unanimous decision victory beyond a shadow of a doubt and would be moving on to face the next rightful contender in the surging Glover Teixeira.

Another immediate rematch that comes to mind is the UFC 150 scrap between then-lightweight champion Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar. Henderson edged Edgar out in a close five round affair at UFC 144 to earn the belt. Even though the UFC wanted to head in a new direction, it felt that Edgar was owed his rematch. He got it and appeared to do a lot more in the second fight. Despite his efforts, he was again declared the loser via split decision.

“The Answer” then went to a new weight class, facing featherweight champion Jose Aldo Jr. at UFC 156 for the belt. Edgar narrowly failed once again, sending him into a sort of MMA purgatory as he films TUF 19 opposite old foe B.J. Penn, a legend whom he defeated in an immediate rematch back in 2010. Edgar is at the center of much of this discussion, as he faced Gray Maynard for a third time after the two rivals fought to a draw at UFC 125.

Perhaps that rematch was justified, but did it hold up the division? I’d say maybe it did but was necessary to put their rivalry to sleep. Both Edgar and Maynard were hurt in training leading up to their rematch at UFC 136, and that undoubtedly caused the lightweight division to stagnate for pretty much the entire year.

And that’s the point of this discussion, to decide if an immediate rematch, no matter how much it is deserved, is the right move for the fast-moving UFC.

Let’s take this weekend’s Weidman vs. Silva II fight. If Silva regains the belt in dramatic fashion as many people are picking him to do, there’s little doubt that the UFC will grant Weidman an immediate rematch. They probably should after he knocked out the former champ with such ruthless efficiency at UFC 162.

However, in a talented division full of worthy contenders like Vitor Belfort, “Jacare” Souza, and Lyoto Machida, is that the best course of action? Perhaps in this case it is, because Weidman has a long time to build his legacy while Silva is nearing the end of his illustrious career, but that will keep the contenders who deserve a shot in limbo.

We’ve seen fighters who were set to fight for the belt be brushed aside in favor of an immediate rematch take another fight and lose, destroying their ranking and hard work in the process. That could definitely happen at middleweight in the near future should “The Spider” win this weekend.

And it can work in the opposite direction, too.

With Anthony “Showtime” Pettis on the shelf with knee surgery, “Smooth” Henderson will face former Strikeforce 155-pound champ Josh “Punk” Thomson in a perceived number one contender’s bout at UFC on Fox 10 in January. If Henderson win, we might see a third Pettis vs. Henderson match despite “Showtime” owning two wins over “Smooth.” If Pettis were to return to fight Henderson, it would be an immediate rematch for him even though it was reached in a roundabout way.

I’m not sure that’s the best course of action for a stacked division like lightweight. Pettis seems to have Henderson’s number so there’s not a whole lot of equity in booking that fight for a third time. Somewhere down the line, former scheduled title contender T.J. Grant has to return, but he’s likely to be lost in a clouded title picture when he does.

The last, and perhaps most glaring, example of an immediate rematch was going to be a second Georges St. Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks fight for the UFC welterweight crown. Dana White was furious after GSP beat “Bigg Rigg” by controversial split decision at UFC 167, saying that St. Pierre owed Hendricks an immediate rematch. St. Pierre was more concerned with his personal life and has since stepped away from fighting to focus on other things.

But if GSP had calmed down and decided he was ready to fight again, you can bet that would have been the fight that was booked. And even though I thought Hendricks won and probably deserved a rematch, it wasn’t the best course of action in a division with contenders like Carlos Condit, Robbie Lawler, Matt Brown, and Tyron Woodley all vying for a shot at the belt. At least one, if not more, of those top-level combatants would have most likely been lost in translation.

The argument could be made that if they lost along the road to a title fight, then they wouldn’t have won anyway, and there’s some truth to that. But MMA math rarely works and the bottom line is that immediate rematches do tend to hold up divisions. With so many high-level fighters fighting in the UFC right now, it’s tough to keep having rivalries that tie up an entire division for a year or more.

That’s my two cents. I think that the UFC should move on to the next rightful challenger even if the fighter who just lost obviously deserves another shot. Gustafsson has to do just that. Hendricks will have his shot at the belt like he deserves, but it is time to let the fights and fighters speak for themselves.

If you lose, controversially or not, you take a hit and should have to win a fight or two to get back to the status you once enjoyed. It’s that simple. It may not be fair but there’s definitely no set formula for fairness in the cutthroat world of the UFC.

What is your stance on immediate rematches?

Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea for USA TODAY Sports 


Comments

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  • MagicMMA
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    If Silva wins, I doubt that there will be a third fight between them immediately if ever. Vitor has earned the winner, and Silva wants to fight Roy Jones Jr. Also, considering many blame Silva for the loss, if he wins convincingly on Saturday people will probably accept the first fight as a fluke and move on. In some cases immediate rematches do make sense, Silva is a good example, but others don't always. I still think that maybe it should be Condit fighting Lawler for the title, both are coming off wins where as Hendricks, controversial as it may be, lost a title fight in his last outing

    Reply 4 months ago
  • azzkika
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    Vitor hasn't earned **** until he trains and fights outside of Brazil.

    Reply 4 months ago
  • mmauk
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    The answer is simple, if a rematch makes sense then YES!! BJ vs Edgar and Edgar vs Maynard made sense because the fights were that close. Silva vs Weidman made sense because of the circumstances of how Silva lost and how long he had the title. Jon Jones vs Gustaffson made sense to me at first and i would like to see them fight again, but I seriously advise people to watch the fight again Jones was right when he said he clearly won, I honestly had to ask myself what I saw the first time.

    Reply 4 months ago
  • MMAoracle
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    I respect your opinion, but I don't agree. I watched jbj vs gus live, and I thought it was.close, thought perhaps jones won. Rewatched the fight 3-4 times, with no sound, and it is very easy to argue Gustafsson won the three first rounds. Gustafsson landed all the significant strikes and controlled the fight (with increasing control until the 4th minute of round 4), while Jones only landed a few weak headkicks that were mostly grazing and blocked kicks with only the tip of the foot landing. Plus a few legkicks with nothing on them. The only thing Jones had going for him was that he moved forward, which made it look like he had some sort of control. Look at the two fighters going into round 4, that tells the whole story.

    Now, does this mean he should get an immediate rematch? I'm not sure. I feel that the rematch is much more exciting with a fight in between.


    Reply 4 months ago
  • HolyGrimace666
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    My stance is Mike Drahota is an idiot! We most definitely need immediate rematches. Maybe not all the time, but for close, controversial fights, YES, we need immediate rematches. Some fighters have a very short fight span. If Shogun didn't get his immediate rematch, he would have never been champion. Yes I know, he was champion only for a short time, but it would have never happened. I'm still firm on Gus winning the fight, @mmauk but I'll watch it again.

    Reply 4 months ago
  • enjoylife321
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    @Holygrimace...public opinion and debate is what drives the sport. The UFC follow all types of media, twitter, MMA sites to gauge how the fans feel about matchups, title fights, venues, controversial topics like TRT etc. Mike D was simply asking the question about a topic that is more relevant now than it has ever been after many guys have been overlooked. Anyway, show some respect.

    Reply 4 months ago
  • HolyGrimace666
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    @enjoylife321 Oh, show some respect? what an unoriginal condescending thing to say. I don't think anyone asked for your advice or called you into this conversation about how this bias, typo filled "writer" is an idiot. Have some decency and don't get involved. Plus wasn't my comment within the bounds of "opinion" or "debate"? Do you feel good you pretentious, condescending, hypocrite?

    Reply 4 months ago
  • Mike Drahota
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    My stance is Mike Drahota is an idiot? Dude are you six years old?

    Reply 4 months ago
  • HolyGrimace666
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    because I think your an idiot, I have to be 6? Well, I guess I am 6 years old and you are an idiot than...

    Reply 4 months ago
  • TheXperience
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    In my opinion immediate rematches should go! close or not.. if u loose u loose... work your way up again, even if its just 1 solid win. I think it's just unfair to put the rest of the division on hold for 6 months, just to make a rematch happen. Fighters have very little time to accomplish their goals in the sport and i think its disrespectful to keep them from their shot at the title.

    Reply 4 months ago
  • Mike Drahota
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    Well said Exp.

    Reply 4 months ago
  • enjoylife321
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    Everything is relative to the division and how many suitable contenders are lined up...In fairness to the division, you lose and you let the next guy get his shot...But this is a money making entertainment product, not simply a sport. Its not the Olympics.

    Reply 4 months ago
  • azzkika
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    I don't know about others here but i could watch Aldo - Edgar or Jones - Gustaffson every event. I wouldn't complain if Edgar and Aldo fought no one bar each other for the remainder of their careers such is their skill level. It may be a bit cruel on JDS but as far as HWs go I would rather watch them two at it as the rest despite complimenting the UFC at a far deeper level than a few years back are just not on their level.

    Reply 4 months ago
  • watermelon fresh
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    on a case by case basis you need a rematch. Unless you're Frankie " I fight guys twice" Edgar!

    Reply 4 months ago