Immediate rematches seem to be the biggest fad in the UFC right now.
Former Women’s Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey made her return to the UFC public last week, and with it she has been given an immediate shot at the belt.
There is no doubt that Rousey isn’t deserving of a title shot, but she’s been out for a year. After her knockout lost to Holly Holm she has, for all intents and purposes, disappeared. Is it a smart move to give her a title fight coming back to the stage, especially since she is taking on Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes?
Nunes’ style is comparable to that of Holm’s. She’s an expert striker, something Rousey’s has had problems with in the past. Nunes is a very aggressive fighter, like Rousey but Rousey has been able to use an opponent’s aggression to her advantage and pull out a win (like against Cat Zigano), so maybe not the biggest plus for Nunes. But Nunes has a ground game, like Rousey, although it’s in Brazilian Jujitsu making her a more complete fighter.
All signs point to this being a tough matchup for the former champ.
So, then, why throw “Rowdy” in with the lions right away? It’s a big draw. No doubt there is going to be huge gobs of money to made by having Rousey fight for the title right away. Fans will want to see if she can overcome ring-rust and be able to upset a very strong fighter while doing it.
All good and well, however, there should be some criteria for awarding an immediate rematch. Here are some of my thoughts:
If a fighter defends the belt five times or less they are back in the running
Let’s pick on Connor McGregor as an example, since everyone likes to talk about him.
As the current Lightweight Champion he has yet to defend his belt. Now, let’s say Frankie Edgar won the draw against Jose Aldo and is the interim champion and then went on to face McGregor and win.
Let’s say the fight stopped in the second round after Edgar submitted McGregor. The “Notorious” then would be ineligible in my eyes to get an immediate rematch because this is his first title defense.
Forget his popularity. The fact that he was beaten and was not a long-standing champion mean he goes back into the pile with everyone else, albeit with a bit bigger advantage over the other fighters trying to climb the ladder.
But the let’s say that McGregor is entertaining (yes, true) and the fight was entertaining. It did go into the second round after all, and the fight didn’t stop until the end of the bell. Shouldn’t McGregor get a second chance, then?
How good was the title fight it important. Was it a back-and-forth battle with both fighters making the other pay for every inch in blood, sweat and tears? Or is it a safe fight, where the challenger (or the champion) played it relatively safe and got caught up by the judges? Or did the champion go down 13 seconds into the fight like Aldo?
I think that if it is an all-out war then, yeah, let’s do it again. That shows the skills and the personalities of both fighters in the middle of the cage.
But if the championship fight isn’t exciting, if it isn’t competitive then let someone else have a chance.
Fighters in the wings & time off
Now to pull it altogether. Let’s go back to McGregor and Edgar. “The Notorious” loses to Edgar, in theory, but the fight was a blood sport. Frankie leaves banged up, Connor walks away with a broken foot, etc. It is a fight fan’s dream come true, but because McGregor lost in his first defense he might not got another, immediate shot at the belt.
Where does he stand?
OK, so for a tie breaker one needs to look at the fighters that are waiting for their opportunity. Like Aldo who is standing at No. 2 after losing the interim title to Edgar. “Scarface” would have the next crack at the belt. Or maybe No. 3 featherweight Max Holloway.
Seeing who is waiting helps the division to move along instead of getting clogged up. Also how much time a fighter is away should have an impact. Any one fighter can become stagnant, but as we’ve seen in the last few years, the UFC does not.
Now to put this little list to practical use. Rousey did defend her belt seven times (Liz Carmouche, Miesha Tate, Sara McMann, Alexis Davis, Cat Zigano, Bethe Correia and Holly Holm). So she has that.
Check one off for “Rowdy”.
Yet, in her fight against Holm she looked like an amateur. Holm slipped punches, circled and timed her shots. She kept her distances from Rousey and ultimately frustrated her.
Then came the head kick in the second round that put Rousey to the canvas. It was a lopsided fight.
Strike against her.
OK, then we use the tie breaker.
Rousey is currently ranked at No.2 from her extended time off, while Holm has dropped down to No. 4 in the UFC’s ranking after three straight losses. Tate, who is the last woman to hold the belt, is at the No.1 contenders spot—but nobody wants to see another Tate v. Rousey fight, not yet at least. So then we drop to Valentina Shevchenko who is ranked third.
Shevchenko beat Holm in her last outing, and she is currently 2-1 in the UFC. She is a striker, again, the type of fighter Rousey needs to get more comfortable fighting against.
Instead of giving any of the top four fighters a shot at the belt (because two of the four were former champions and have fought Rousey), Shevchenko and Rousey should fight for No. 1 contention.
For Rousey it takes some of the pressure off. She doesn’t have to knock off the top fighter right away, instead she gets to prove that what happened against Holm has made her the top fighter if she defeats Shevchenko. For Shevchenko if she were to win it adds another major win to her record, earns her the right to fight for the belt and keeps the division from being backed up.
Immediate rematches might be the “hot-button topic” right now. To be fair they are entertaining, but sometimes they can do more harm than good.
Rousey was very emotional after her loss; to the point of suicidal thoughts, think what you will about those. It could have been just the emotional swell of the night.
The UFC and Dana White need to be careful with her. She is a big draw and a valuable fighter, and as it should be, the UFC needs to consider its fighters over everything else.