Should fighters be allowed to turn down fights?Posted on November 3, 2012, 01:49 AM by Andreas Hale
Shogun Rua turned down a fight with Glover Texieria. Forrest Griffin wouldn't fight Vitor Belfort. Jon Jones said no to Chael Sonnen; only to have to fight him next April. Matt Mitrione declined a fight with Daniel Cormier. Anderson Silva has no desire to fight Jon Jones.
And the list goes on and on.
It's become rather interesting that fighters have become a lot more picky about who they fight. Once upon a time, whatever Joe Silva and Dana White said, went. Matches were made, fights were had and it was very rare for a fighter to turn down a fight. Today is a different story.
What has separated boxing from MMA is the thought that the best fights would be made no matter what. In boxing, oftentimes the biggest fights are bypassed because one fighter "isn't ready" and needs a few more cream puffs to fatten up the record. A big step up in a challenge could result in a loss and many boxers aren't ready for the devastating blow it could have on their career. MMA was thought to be different.
In a sense, that's what made the sport special. You'd have the best fighters facing one another without hand picking one another to keep their pristine records intact. It made for pleased fans and powerless fighters who had to wait for the UFC brass to determine their fate. Fighters today aren't the same "I'll take anybody on at anytime" fighters they once were. Perhaps because they need to look out for their best interests.
But is that what we want?
Should Jon Jones have fought Chael Sonnen? Perhaps the only reason he shouldn't have had to do with him not being prepared. That's arguably excusable. But when Shogun Rua says that he's not fighting Glover Texieria for no other reason than he doesn't want to, what precedence does that set for the UFC? Why wouldn't Matt Matrione go to Strikeforce to take on Daniel Cormier? To protect his record? Is it the whole "high risk, low reward" concept? Some fighters will pass up on a fight because the opponent doesn't have the "name." But in a sport that prides itself on the actual sport rather than the fighters, who cares about protecting their record? All we want to see is good fights.
But maybe the fighters should have a say in who they fight. Considering that they don't control the fight purses that their boxing counterparts have, in order to maintain a career and be financially stable, a fighter has to be smart and make their decisions accordingly. Anderson Silva's career could end if he were to face Jon Jones with Jones still evolving and Silva being more than ten years his senior. The luster surrounding Silva would be gone and he faces the possibility of being hurt. Knowing that, Silva opting not to face Jones could be the best thing for his career, especially if he's considering defending his middleweight title a few more times before his career ends.
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer as to whether or not fighters should be able to select who they won't fight.
What are your thoughts?