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« | Home | »

UFC loses both Jake O’Brien and its credibility

By Iain Liddle | April 14, 2008

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Buried amongst the YAMMA headlines on Saturday morning came the news that the UFC have released Jake O’Brien from his UFC contract with Palace Fighting Championships likely to be his next destination.

The 10-1 heavyweight who is fresh off a loss to Andrei Arlovski had two fights remaining on his contract and was widely considered one of the best heavyweight prospects in world MMA. The reported reasoning for the decision is that the company simply had too many athletes under contract and he was purely one of the unlucky few chosen for the chop.

Until this news broke, and even now, I have no strong opinion on O’Brien as a fighter. I have seen maybe one non-UFC fight of his and have never interviewed him. I can’t even say that based on what I have witnessed that I could class him as a particular favourite of mine. His style is often derided as boring (sometimes unfairly) and there is no apparent charisma radiating from him to instantly grab a viewer’s attention.

Despite this however the news of his release was greatly disappointing without being too much of a shock. In fact it serves as a perfect microcosmic example of an issue that plagues the entire company. Quite simply, they aren’t a sporting league or entity and no longer can they have any claim to be so.

The aim of a sport is to determine who has the most legitimate claim of being the best in the world in their specific field / division. It’s impossible for the UFC to claim that this is their objective and must now be classified as an entertainment company rather than a competitive fighting league.

O’Brien has all the potential you could ask for. Bursting onto the scene boasting a decorated amateur wrestling pedigree he finished his first eight fights within six minutes. Two more dominant wins followed including a victory over a Heath Herring before he sustained what was a described as a potentially career threatening injury.

He suffered his first and only loss last month when returning from having his body re-built to take on a former UFC heavyweight champion in Andrei Arlovski. Ironically he was chosen as The Pitbull’s opponent in the hope that he would give the Belarussian a loss in the last fight of his contract – thus lowering his stock to any potential suitor.

It should be noted that O’Brien is still only 23 years old. Regardless of your opinion on his fighting style you cannot diminish his accomplishments in such a short space of time.

I’m not saying that every young fighter deserves to receive the Roger Huerta treatment where they are nurtured to stardom with a carefully selected list of opponents designed to test every facet of their game before moving on to fight a high level of talent.

Similarly the UFC do not owe anyone a contract. They could have as many or as little athletes under their control as they choose. However when the reason given for releasing someone is that you have too many competitors and yet people like Antoni Hardonk have an upcoming fight booked then it becomes clear that there is a massive case of double standards afoot.

Total MMA currently ranks O’Brein at number seven in their heavyweight rankings. There are only two people ranked above him in this weight class that are currently available to the UFC. One is belt-holder Rodrigo Noguiera and the other is Fabricio Werdum. Whilst these lists are obviously not official it illustrates the point that there are far more deserving candidates to face the boot.

The simple reason for his departure is that his face doesn’t fit. His style is not aesthetically pleasing in the way that say a Brandon Vera’s is and so he is considered dispensable. That he could beat the majority of the other heavyweights under Zuffa control is deemed irrelevant. It boils down to personal favouritism in much the same way that Dana White has twice reneged on his promise that the winners of supposed number one contenders fights would be in line for a title shot.

Arlovski defeated Werdum by unanimous decision at UFC 70 but did not fight again until nearly a year later with his stoppage of O’Brien. His performance in Manchester received the Dana White equivalent of a gladiatorial thumbs down and his recent bout was buried in the prelims and never shown on UFC programming due to an ongoing squabble over contracts.

Similarly the winner of the Gonzaga / Werdum fight in January was scheduled to face the UFC heavyweight champion in their next contest. Werdum stopped ‘Napao’ in the second round but now finds himself taking on Brandon Vera in June. It seems that number one contenderships are only valid if the person you want to win does so and even then it has to be in a fashion personally pleasing to the decision makers.

Those who have suggested that a few wins on the independent scene will see O’Brien return to the octagon should run that particular theory past Matt Lindland and see if he agrees.

It would be grossly unfair to apply the tag of being unprofessional solely to the UFC and maybe it is sometimes easier to choose the companies that do not fall victim to it. Elite XC, for example, are set to headline the biggest show in their short history and what will likely be the most viewed MMA card of all time with Kimbo Slice against James Thompson.

In the undercard of the same event Phil Baroni will face Murilo Rua. Both men are coming off at least one loss yet are given prominent placing on network television. Once again the message is loud and clear – if we like you then it doesn’t matter if you win or not as we’ll look after you anyway.

Whilst I understand the need for entertainment, depressingly it sometimes feels as though asking two poorly-skilled pugilists to stand in front of each other is all the men in charge feel the sport has offer.

Topics: Iain Liddle, UFC | 83 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

83 Responses to “UFC loses both Jake O’Brien and its credibility”

  1. Rollo the Cat says:

    Iain Liddle, YOU have no credibilty. Jake wasn’t recognized as a top prospect for anything except a construction job. Thankfully we live in the digital era and you didn’t have to kill trees to write this waste product.

  2. Hawk says:

    MMA is a business. The goal is to make money.

    Jake O’Brien taking people down and laying on them for three rounds will not draw money. Any. He had a fantastic chance to show something against Heath Herring. He was outclassing Herring. He proceeded to take him down and hold him. For three rounds. That made no one ever want to watch him fight again. And those that do? Are hardcore’s, they’ll get anything UFC does anyway.

    If he stops having his major skills be “Take them down” and then to “Take them down again if they get back up” as a backup plan, UFC will give him another shot. Until that point, he can work somewhere else.

  3. Jose Bastillo says:

    Excellent write up. I am a huge UFC fan, and have been to several events and order everyone single one they have had on PPV. That being said, over the recent year the UFC has made some seriously bad decisions. Just horrible ones. Over the past year, my brother and I have started to fade as long time fans. We have seen a massive decline in the quality of match ups and most of it started shortly after the first season of their reality show on Spike. They’re screwing up and losing fans just as fast as they’re gaining them. It’s just a matter of time before they bleed more fans than they make.

  4. ilostmydog says:

    “Those who have suggested that a few wins on the independent scene will see O’Brien return to the octagon should run that particular theory past Matt Lindland and see if he agrees.”

    Completely different case and you know it. There has been more than one fighter who have been cut from the UFC due to losses and have worked their way back in. Marcus Davis and Brad Imes (although he did get cut again) are two of them.

  5. Dave2 says:

    Jake O’Brien is boring. Most fans don’t want to see him fight, let alone care about seeing him fight. This is a sports promotion, not a sports league. You’re talking apples and oranges. Teams in sports leagues aim to have the best players because if they don’t, they don’t make the playoffs. And if they don’t make the playoffs, they don’t make extra money. And if they don’t make extra money, that’s bad for business. But in the fight, the UFC allowing Jake O’Brien to lay on top of guys for 15 minutes and HBO allowing Klitcsko and Ibragimov to put on a jab clinic for 36 minutes is bad for business. That’s why the UFC is cutting Jake O’Brien and why in boxing, the fans booed Klitschko out of the building in his prizefight.

  6. Eric Worden says:

    I don’t get people knocking Jake for his win over Herring.
    He was a huge underdog who found a way to win. Herring is a well rounded extremely experienced fighter, Jake is a young developing fighter with a limited set of tools. Just like prospects like Roger Gracie and Brock Lesnar. The difference is that he’s 2-1 against top level competition.

    Would you expect Roger Gracie to stand and bang with Cro Cop or for Lesnar to Pull guard on Nog?

    Jake is the most accomplished 23 old HW in the world, and only has two boring matches to his name.

  7. Andrew says:

    Most successful businesses work on the premise that it is more important to keep regular customers than to gain new custumers. The UFC doesn’t seem to agree. Their goal right now is for explosive growth and they are turning a lot of loyal customers away. It is working for them right now but how much longer can it go on?

    Right now the UFC is the only store on the block of mainstream MMA. They can do whatever they want and still succeed. There are other players making moves though and the more core customers the UFC loses the more their competitors pick up. Another problem is the UFC is forced to develop their own talent. There is no minor league or college to bring up recognized fighters to transfer into the UFC. There are smallers orgs that allow fighters to grow skillwise but their marketability with the general public remains almost zero no matter how well they do. It takes lots of fights on televised cards from the UFC for the general public to be willing to pay for a certain fighter. Unfortunately for the UFC the sport itself is growing faster than they are and the talent pool is bigger than they can handle. This forces them to release fighters that they have made known. They may not be well known but they are known and the more the other orgs pick up the better they will do.

    The UFC is turning away fans and giving away fighters. Sooner or later it is going to bite them in the butt.

  8. D. Capitated says:

    MMA is a business. The goal is to make money.

    MMA is also a sport. There are points at which one decides to so completely divert from one to try and be the other than it ends up being detrimental. Continuing to cut your best talent so that you can build around newer, much more untested guys is not a smart strategy to run a sport. Right now they have no one other than Werdum or Gonzaga under contract that can reasonably challenge Noguiera. Nobody.

    Jake O’Brien taking people down and laying on them for three rounds will not draw money. Any. He had a fantastic chance to show something against Heath Herring. He was outclassing Herring. He proceeded to take him down and hold him. For three rounds. That made no one ever want to watch him fight again. And those that do? Are hardcore’s, they’ll get anything UFC does anyway.

    And yet Heath is still there. Not for having had tremendously exciting fights, mind you, but because he’s perhaps more willing to engage in a fight Dana White approves of. So are a number of other far less qualified heavyweights than the number of which whom have been cut, let go, or have had contracts run out. The UFC heavyweight division is an absolute disaster right now.

  9. cyph says:

    Jake O’Brien is pretty good when he fight B level fighters. When he fight top competition, he resorts to Lay N’ Pray. He’s getting a chance to hone his skills in lesser leagues. Once he improves his skill in other aspects, and he continues his winning ways, the UFC will more than like take him back.

    I find it hilarious to find these armchair analysts always criticizing the UFC for cutting some talent as if the UFC is the Pokemon of MMA. Gotta catch’em all! No you don’t! Look at the new talents in heavyweights that the UFC has picked up: Valasquez, Carwin, and Lesnar. Nogueira is champ, and they got Congo, Herring, Gonzaga, and Werdum. All of these guys are way more exciting than O’brien.

    What’s the point of keeping O’Brien only to put him on the under card? Cry more, please. The same guys who clamor for these fighters are the same ones who admonish the UFC for putting up a PPV with such crappy fighters. O’Brien will never sell a UFN let alone a UFC.

  10. D. Capitated says:

    I find it hilarious to find these armchair analysts always criticizing the UFC for cutting some talent as if the UFC is the Pokemon of MMA. Gotta catch’em all! No you don’t! Look at the new talents in heavyweights that the UFC has picked up: Valasquez, Carwin, and Lesnar. Nogueira is champ, and they got Congo, Herring, Gonzaga, and Werdum. All of these guys are way more exciting than O’brien.

    Most of the top 20 heavyweights in the world aren’t in the UFC anymore, in spite of them being the “major league”. I think you’re entirely missing the point of what was said in this article.

  11. jim allcorn says:

    This is where Dana & the boy’s decision to not feature a heavyweight devision in the WEC makes no sense to me. Yeah, I know the focus is supposed to be on the smaller guys, but if that’s REALLY the case then why bother having a 205 lb class?

    The powers that be at Zuffa claim that the WEC isn’t any sort of a “developmental league” for talent, but honestly, if Brian Stann keeps winning, improving & building up a following there, do you really think they’ll keep him from mixing with the UFC’s big guns at light heavy? Of course not.

    So, why not make a place for some “lower tier” heavyweights to gain a name & some experience in the WEC instead of cutting them loose?

  12. jj says:

    Boo hoo Jake O’Boring is leaving the UFC.

    This article should be raising the more important issue of why the UFC would let Arlovski go and try and burn him in the process with an snorefest intended match up with Jake O’Boring.

  13. Zack says:

    “widely considered one of the best heavyweight prospects in world MMA.”

    LOL by who?

  14. D. Capitated says:

    LOL by who?

    Name three better prospects. Do I sense Lesnar being one of them?

  15. Jeremy says:

    Iian’s perspecitve is more than a little childish.

    Please find me any sport that does not allow business to dictate what happens.

    I have seen the Minnesota Twins get rid of many fine players based on paychecks, is this very different?

    Kevin Garnett no longer plays for the Wolves, are they a disgrace now?

    The Vikings have repeatedly cast away fine quarterbacks for cheaper, younger guys.

    This is part of the business of sports. Learn a little about it and grown up.

    Regarding your comments about Matt Lindland, there are many reasons why Matt is not in the UFC and many of those reasons have to do with Matt the man, not Matt the fighter.

    If you think he was released simply because of his style, you really know little about it. Matt butted heads with many within Zuffa and verbally complained repeatedly on, and backstage, at live shows. Anyone remember Matt Hughes taking time to respond on a live show? Even some of fighters got tired of hearing him complain.

    Lindland was made an offer a last year, but opted not to take it.

    It has recently been said that the UFC is not interested in him, but part had to do with personality.

  16. cyph says:

    Most of the top 20 heavyweights in the world aren’t in the UFC anymore, in spite of them being the “major league”. I think you’re entirely missing the point of what was said in this article.

    What’s his point then? That the UFC should take everyone who is considered a great prospect regardless if they’re boring or not?

    Name three better prospects. Do I sense Lesnar being one of them?

    Yes.

  17. D. Capitated says:

    What’s his point then?

    Maybe you could read the article? Everything most of the people here rail on him for he already addresses.

    Yes.

    How is that so? O’Brien’s got more than 5 times as many fights and has beaten a top 20 heavyweight/long time veteran of the sport. The only loss he has is to a top five heavyweight. To say Lesnar is nothing but “potential” is a gross understatement about a guy tapped in under two minutes by Frank Mir.

  18. cyph says:

    Maybe you could read the article? Everything most of the people here rail on him for he already addresses.

    Paraphrase it then. Obviously, I’ve already read his article. You seem to think I didn’t. Tell me what is his point, oh great one?

    O’Brien LNP to a victory over Herring. I guess in your world, that’s a great accomplishment. Even Herring admitted that he fought on an injured.

    Define potential vs boring. One guy has potential, the other is boring. One guy sells tickets, the other doesn’t.

    However, in yours and Ian’s world, the UFC has got take every guy with potential, regardless if the fans want to see them or not. A great wrestler can potentially LNP anyone to victory. That does not make him a great MMA fighter.

  19. big boi says:

    “The aim of a sport is to determine who has the most legitimate claim of being the best in the world in their specific field / division. It’s impossible for the UFC to claim that this is their objective and must now be classified as an entertainment company rather than a competitive fighting league.”

    This horrible article is based on this false statement, as well as an egregious over-estimation of what O’Brien has shown and how sports is run.

    It is amazingly silly to think that the aim of a professional sport is anything other than making money.

    A question for the author, does that fact that Barry Bonds sits on the sidelines, unemployed, make MLB no longer a legitimate sport league and therefore merely ‘an entertainment company’? Based on last season’s performance alone, he is clearly better than 95% of major league baseball players. That’s proven, not ‘prospect’ like O’Brien.

  20. D. Capitated says:

    Paraphrase it then.

    The UFC certainly has a right to sign and cut and promote whoever they want, but with it comes the cost of legitimate competition. Wins and losses don’t matter to them (and many others), but mindless brawls, in essence, do.

    O’Brien LNP to a victory over Herring. I guess in your world, that’s a great accomplishment.

    Everyone fights injured, and at no point since has Herring looked particularly better. He looked horrid against Kongo and pretty awful against Imes too.

    Define potential vs boring.

    Merge this with discussion of sport as being about competition versus that of entertainment, and maybe you’ll get it.

    However, in yours and Ian’s world, the UFC has got take every guy with potential, regardless if the fans want to see them or not.

    He never says they have to do anything. Neither do I. Don’t put words in people’s mouths.

  21. D. Capitated says:

    It is amazingly silly to think that the aim of a professional sport is anything other than making money.

    And yet legitimate competition triumphs in every major sports over mere entertainment value.

    A question for the author, does that fact that Barry Bonds sits on the sidelines, unemployed, make MLB no longer a legitimate sport league and therefore merely ‘an entertainment company’?

    Barry Bonds comes with a lot of luggage, not the least of which being a possible federal conviction for perjury.

  22. Brandt says:

    I feel bad for O’Brien, but if you read anything on my site, you’ll see that his lay-n-pray style has lost a lot of respect from writers and fans. He’s 10-1, but records mean nothing. Just look at Randy Couture.

  23. Dave2 says:

    Jake O’Brien probably might be a young bright prospect. But why is that a reason to keep him around? Let him fight in the indy circuit until he hones his skills. He’s good enough to KO lesser fighters but resorts to lay n pray against top competition. I say let him develop in the smaller leagues. Palace Fighting Championships is perfect. Hell, EliteXC might be a good fit for him too. EXC just might be what O’Brien needs to up his game. Why does every prospect have to be in the UFC right now? The UFC is top dog and WEC doesn’t have a HW div so they can afford to let this guy fight for the competition to hone his skills, gain a personality, etc. And I say this as a guy who is very critical of the UFC.

    And one the things I’m critical of when it comes to the UFC is the vast number of vanilla fighters on their roster who aren’t exciting, have no personality and don’t really get you excited to watch them fight. Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck (though his last fight was good) and pre-Evan Tanner Fight Yushin Okami are good examples of what I’m talking about. Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz are all stars who you look forward to fight. Tito is the least exciting of the three but he personifies charisma and knows how to talk shit. Kimbo Slice has the look of a star. Brock Lesnar has the look of a star (he’s not that great on the mic though). These are the guys that fans can’t wait to see. No one says, “oh man I gotta watch UFC XX or UFN XX to watch Jake O’Brien and Keith Jardine!” Not even the hardcores. It’s the same as how boxing fans never say “oh I can’t wait to see Klitschko and Ibragimov jab for 12 rounds!” If you are a fighter, you are responsible for your own marketing. That’s what seperates the Oscar De La Hoyas and the Vladimir Klitschkos.

  24. D. Capitated says:

    And one the things I’m critical of when it comes to the UFC is the vast number of vanilla fighters on their roster who aren’t exciting, have no personality and don’t really get you excited to watch them fight. Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck (though his last fight was good) and pre-Evan Tanner Fight Yushin Okami are good examples of what I’m talking about.

    Okami is the best 185lb fighter in the entire world available for Anderson Silva to fight. Hell, he might be the best opponent period right now. Fitch and Koscheck have beaten tons of high end opposition. It doesn’t matter if they win? Do you care about the sport aspect of MMA at all?

    Not even the hardcores. It’s the same as how boxing fans never say “oh I can’t wait to see Klitschko and Ibragimov jab for 12 rounds!” If you are a fighter, you are responsible for your own marketing. That’s what seperates the Oscar De La Hoyas and the Vladimir Klitschkos.

    Yes, because Wladimir Klitschko’s potential audience as a boxer is as large or larger than Oscar De La Hoya’s, or that their promotion is in any way similar. Fuck, Oscar didn’t even become a star promoting himself, he made his first $100 million with Bob Arum and then ran off to start his company while badmouthing him constantly. Given the folks here, you’d think he’d get criticism for leaving a promoter capable at the time of giving him big fights to leave and then not do business with any of his fighters even in a promotional capacity for years.

  25. Dave2 says:

    Okami, Fitch and Koscheck don’t really excite me. Though Okami and Koscheck were exciting in their last fights and I’d change my mind if they kept it up. I’m sorry to disappoint that I’m not a MMA purist. You know, I watch MMA to be entertained, not to act like an elitist “purist” on the internet who says they enjoy watching everyone on sherdog or mmaweekly top 10 to gain internet mma community cred. In case you didn’t notice, I prefer PRIDE to the UFC. That disqualifies me from being a purist right there and I’m fine with that. PRIDE was obviously more entertainment-oriented. Though the UFC and boxing aren’t exactly pure sporting either.

    Let’s use other non-MMA examples. The New Jersey Devils were the best at one point and the Greek national soccer team were the best at one point but yet so many people in the media called them boring. Is that wrong? Klitschko was booed heavily for his 12 round jabfest with Ibragimov and the commentators on HBO were saying that he needs to be more exciting and go for knockouts. The fast that Klitschko is boring is hindering his earning potential and his career. He’s the #1 heavyweight in the world but no one gives a damn about him. Professional sports are intended to entertain. This isn’t the Olympics, where you have amateurs competing in “pure” sporting events.

  26. cyph says:

    The UFC certainly has a right to sign and cut and promote whoever they want, but with it comes the cost of legitimate competition. Wins and losses don’t matter to them (and many others), but mindless brawls, in essence, do.

    I disagree with his assertion that somehow the UFC is the embodiment of the sport of MMA. It is just a promotion. By cutting O’Brien, it by no means diminish any legitimacy in competition. If there was a rainbow over in MMA land where every fan’s dreams come true, Fedor and all top fighters would be fighting each other under one MMA umbrella. Unfortunately, there isn’t. MMA promotions are run as a business first and foremost.

    Moreover, the assertion that O’Brien is top competition is wishful thinking. O’Brien didn’t suddenly just become some great mythical MMA fighter. He’s a guy who continually reverts back to LNP when faced with top competition. Any top wrestler can grind out 3 round LNP decisions if that’s their intention. Why would you keep a fighter that would turn fighting the best fighters (Arlovski and Herring) into a horrible LNP match? He tried to LNP Arlovski and got pretty much demolished. This pretty much showed the UFC that O’Brien is a one trick pony and his win versus Herring was most likely a fluke. O’Brien isn’t any where near the second coming of Fedor or even Brandon Vera.

    Fans criticize the UFC for everything under the sun; now we can add cutting boring fighters to that list.

  27. D. Capitated says:

    Okami, Fitch and Koscheck don’t really excite me. Though Okami and Koscheck were exciting in their last fights and I’d change my mind if they kept it up. I’m sorry to disappoint that I’m not a MMA purist. You know, I watch MMA to be entertained, not to act like an elitist “purist” on the internet who says they enjoy watching everyone on sherdog or mmaweekly top 10 to gain internet mma community cred.

    So, basically, to appreciate Koscheck’s skill means that you’re a purist and looking for some sort of credibility? What?

    Though the UFC and boxing aren’t exactly pure sporting either.

    Boxing is certainly a sport, in spite of the way many promoters have treated it. Same as MMA. If you feel that Kimbo/Thompson and Brock Lesnar are better keys to the future than having the top fighters fight each other, so be it.

    Let’s use other non-MMA examples. The New Jersey Devils were the best at one point and the Greek national soccer team were the best at one point but yet so many people in the media called them boring. Is that wrong?

    Who said it is? Last I checked, the NHL didn’t kick out the New Jersey Devils and UEFA didn’t refuse entry to Greek club teams, nor did FIFA intentionally put them in brackets intended to eliminate them from play.

    The fast that Klitschko is boring is hindering his earning potential and his career. He’s the #1 heavyweight in the world but no one gives a damn about him.

    Klitschko had been KOed or KOed his opponent in 15 of his previous 16 bouts. That fight with Sultan alone is not why Wladimir Klitschko doesn’t have a massive fanbase in the US, and if you think it is, you’re nieve as hell.

  28. D. Capitated says:

    I disagree with his assertion that somehow the UFC is the embodiment of the sport of MMA. It is just a promotion.

    You’ve probably posted on a hundred or so occasions how incredibly vital and important the UFC is and how they are the face of MMA, and furthermore, the failings of everyone else and why they will exist as the sole major promotion indefinitely into the future. Excuse me if I laugh slightly at this statement.

    Moreover, the assertion that O’Brien is top competition is wishful thinking. O’Brien didn’t suddenly just become some great mythical MMA fighter. He’s a guy who continually reverts back to LNP when faced with top competition. Any top wrestler can grind out 3 round LNP decisions if that’s their intention.

    No, they can’t. If Koscheck could have done that in rounds 2 and 3 against GSP, you bet your ass he would have tried. That’s a ridiculous statement.

    Fans criticize the UFC for everything under the sun; now we can add cutting boring fighters to that list.

    You asked me to paraphrase and I did. You still don’t get it. There’s nothing else I can do for you.

  29. Grape Knee High says:

    I think the Zuffa is treading a fine line here of true sporting legitimacy vs. entertainment.

    Personally, I don’t mind the O’Brien cut because, simply put, he is boring as fuck. I don’t ever need to see the guy fight in any organization until he develops another skill-set besides laying on other men.

    Further to this point, however, I don’t know if I like the fact that they continually give us mediocre sluggers like Alexander, Hardonk, Sakara, McFedries, Leben, Irvin, etc. I don’t mind the occasional freak show matchup — and let’s face it, Alexander vs. Sakara was classic freak show simply because it was a Redneck Challenge-level fight happening in big leagues — but I think they’ve been going overboard recently.

    In the end, though, I don’t mind Zuffa pursuing the goal of entertainment — for those of us who were PRIDE fans, isn’t that after all why DSE was so successful? — the problem is that what I find to be entertaining does not quite align with what the UFC’s casual fans find entertaining.

    As far as someone’s point that the UFC is turning away “loyal customers” because they cut O’Brien? Pshaw. Anyone who really needs to see O’Brien probably also needs likes eating shit for breakfast.

  30. IceMuncher says:

    Building up a prospect like Jake O’Brien is what creates bad fight cards. Prospects need fights just as often as your popular fighters need them, and there’s only so many cards and so many fights on those cards available.

    Why make the fans suffer so Jake can build his experience and skill set? Give that fight to the more deserving veterans that got sidelined longer than they’d like because the cards were already full. Let Jake build himself on the smaller shows, then come back.

  31. Dave2 says:

    I appreciate Koscheck’s skill. I just don’t think he’s exciting. Though he was in his last fight and maybe he’s finally learned that he had to step things up to avoid getting placed in an undercard again. If so, that’s good.

    Boxing is indeed a sport. But it’s also a sport where fans will boo the hell out of you if you want to be the cure for insomnia. And your pay will reflect this. Klitschko is the #1 heavyweight but he’s not being paid like a heavyweight champ. The heavyweight crown was the prestigious in the world but it’s not like that now anymore. Boxing promotion can’t be considered pure sport when the best heavyweight in the world isn’t getting paid large, isn’t being promoted heavily and isn’t creating a buzz amongst fans. You go on the street, ask people who Wladimir Klitschko is and most will have no clue. Ask them who Mike Tyson or Rocky Marciano are and you’ll be in luck. Fight sports are about larger-than-life figures.

    The NHL didn’t kick out the NJ Devils but they changed the rules to prevent the offside trap I believe. They purposely changed the game in an attempt to make the game more exciting. As for FIFA, they are an independent international sanctioning body. They don’t own the Greek national team. The UFC is a promoter that directly hires the fighters, big difference.

    As for Klitschko, he has a track record of being a knock out artist (and having a glass chin himself) so it’s true that lack of KOs isn’t holding him back. It’s his lack of charisma and lack of a larger-than-life character like previous heavyweight legends that has hurt him. And the 36 minute jabfest with Sultan just hurt his stock with American fans even more. If you’re hinting that the American fans are xenophobic towards him , note that it’s not like a non-American fighter has never been endeared to the American fans.

  32. doem says:

    what is surprising about this is that it leaves very limited match ups for the heavyweight title. Kongo was just beaten by hearing, hearing just beaten by nog. Gonzaga just beaten by both couture and Werdun, Werdun beaten by AA. Strong rumors now that AA has left the UFC, which appear to have been confirmed by a post at sherdog by his potential opponent Ben Rothwel. So you have a potential Nog V Werdun, which is not a good heavy weight showcase for the UFC.

  33. S says:

    “MMA is a business. The goal is to make money.”

    It is BOTH business AND sport.
    And if we neglect the sporting aspect… you’re left with mud.

    I want MMA to be a sport FIRST, and business to tag along. That way business surely won’t suffer, and the fans will be pleased.

    If we go the other way around, it soon becomes – politics.
    Who fights whom, who stays and who goes, should be based on logic and accomplishments.

  34. Yes, MMA is a is BOTH business AND sport. But in end, the world’s most successful businesses will alway listen to their customers or at least know their market to ultimately make a profit. Overall, The release of Jake O’Brien is a tell-tale sign of what the fans probably want to see. For every 1 fighter the UFC released, there’s probably another 1000 lining up to fight in the octagon.

    In a perfect (scholastic) world, MMA should be a sport first and without politics. But in the end, market forces and profits will always remain a priority. If you have shareholders or owners demanding that your business make a profit, the “MMA should be a sport first” argument is pretty useless.

    If you want pure sport, perhaps you should watch amateur wrestling or some non-profit beer league.

    Zach, I am extremely disappointed with your choice of writers. Unless you planted him as a troll or a mark to increase page views, it would be a lot more appropriate to hire another writer with a lot more common sense and an acumen for business.

    Next time, I’ll simply skip over this troll’s article than waste my time responding to such a foolish article.

    If the UFC catered to the wishes of most Hardcore MMA fanboys, like Iain, they’d still be stuck in the dark ages with minimal following. Plus, sites such as Fight Opinion, MMA Junkie, etc, would not have such a large white demographic following (the core of the UFC audience).

  35. D. Capitated says:

    I appreciate Koscheck’s skill. I just don’t think he’s exciting.

    Fine. Does that make it so that people who can appreciate and even enjoy the occasional Koscheck match are “looking for credibility”? What a ridiculous statement.

    Boxing is indeed a sport. But it’s also a sport where fans will boo the hell out of you if you want to be the cure for insomnia. And your pay will reflect this. Klitschko is the #1 heavyweight but he’s not being paid like a heavyweight champ.

    What is “being paid like a heavyweight champ”? He’s not the undisputed champion. Who is he being compared to? Mike Tyson? Lennox Lewis? Both would be faulty. He makes significantly more than many well known American fighters when he goes back to Germany and takes on bouts there on national TV. Right now he’s *the* highest paid heavyweight in the world, bar none. Probably among the 5-6 largest draws.

    The heavyweight crown was the prestigious in the world but it’s not like that now anymore.

    Are you blaming a single Wladimir Klitschko fight for this? The heavyweight division’s interest level in the US has been on a decline since the mid 1990s. You can argue this has even been the case since the late 70s.

    Boxing promotion can’t be considered pure sport when the best heavyweight in the world isn’t getting paid large, isn’t being promoted heavily and isn’t creating a buzz amongst fans.

    Why? Because the heavyweight champion must be pushed above all others? For what reason? You’re telling me that Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns, and Roberto Duran were what, sports entertainment? They were a lot bigger in drawing power than Larry Holmes, Big John Tate, etc.

    You go on the street, ask people who Wladimir Klitschko is and most will have no clue. Ask them who Mike Tyson or Rocky Marciano are and you’ll be in luck. Fight sports are about larger-than-life figures.

    How did Tyson and Marciano ascend to that status?

    The NHL didn’t kick out the NJ Devils but they changed the rules to prevent the offside trap I believe. They purposely changed the game in an attempt to make the game more exciting.

    Basically offset in MMA by standup rules for inactivity.

    As for FIFA, they are an independent international sanctioning body. They don’t own the Greek national team.

    Wait, do you mean to tell me that comparison was horribly flawed from the start? GASP

    It’s his lack of charisma and lack of a larger-than-life character like previous heavyweight legends that has hurt him.

    He’s a major sporting figure in Europe, where he commands major cash. He doesn’t translate well in the US, just as many athletes whom are great don’t. Dirk Nowitski is a hell of a basketball player, but he’s not setting the endorsement world aflame in the States.

    If you’re hinting that the American fans are xenophobic towards him , note that it’s not like a non-American fighter has never been endeared to the American fans.

    That’s prototypically because they have strong nationalistic bases of support in America. Acting as if there’s not a natural inclination to root for people from one’s hometown/nation in sports is pretty bizarre.

  36. D. Capitated says:

    In a perfect (scholastic) world, MMA should be a sport first and without politics. But in the end, market forces and profits will always remain a priority. If you have shareholders or owners demanding that your business make a profit, the “MMA should be a sport first” argument is pretty useless.

    “I’m not saying that every young fighter deserves to receive the Roger Huerta treatment where they are nurtured to stardom with a carefully selected list of opponents designed to test every facet of their game before moving on to fight a high level of talent.

    Similarly the UFC do not owe anyone a contract. They could have as many or as little athletes under their control as they choose. However when the reason given for releasing someone is that you have too many competitors and yet people like Antoni Hardonk have an upcoming fight booked then it becomes clear that there is a massive case of double standards afoot.”

    Do you people read? At all? Or do you look at the title of the piece and write a critique?

  37. Dave says:

    I think the issue here is that UFC is sort of biting itself in the ass with this. Yes, JOB was a boring, boring fighter. I’m not a fan in the least, but UFC has hired some real lummoxes when it comes to their heavyweight division, and hell, still employs guys like Vera and Sanchez that are just not good. I think JOB makes for perfect undercard, untelevised fights while he builds his skill, and at least would make good fodder for some top name fighters (c’mon, that is what most of the non big name heavyweights are anyway).

    cyph’s anti-“armchair quarterback” gimmick is getting tiring. Can we let go the fact that we might not like other people’s opinions and realize we are all kinda just doing the same thing? Talking about stuff we like on the internet.

  38. Grape Knee High says:

    The NHL didn’t kick out the NJ Devils but they changed the rules to prevent the offside trap I believe. They purposely changed the game in an attempt to make the game more exciting.

    The NHL always had interference rules that prevented the effectiveness of the neutral zone trap. They just started enforcing it more using a zero tolerance policy.

    But they did also change fundamental play of the game using other rule changes at the same time that necessitated an entirely different type of player and skillset. Gone were the skill-less muckers and grinders (the Jake O’Briens of the NHL) and in came the faster, smaller, more skillful players who were being smashed out of the NHL previously.

    So, yes, the NHL isn’t kicking players out, but they are using methods that force the teams to cut these “boring” players if they want to win under new rules.

    The same goes for all other sports that run as a business; rule changes happen all the time in many other sports that force teams to cut certain players in favor of others.

    I think, D.Cap, that you are showing moral outrage based on your expectation that “business sports” should act more like “pure sports” (like the Olympics, let’s say.

  39. cyph says:

    Can we let go the fact that we might not like other people’s opinions and realize we are all kinda just doing the same thing?

    I think we are all criticizing Iain’s position on this, not him as a person. I appreciate the article and his opposing viewpoints. Some times the backlash is too great and certain writers are driven away from putting on future articles. That would be a shame. I hope Iain continue to write.

    Do you people read? At all? Or do you look at the title of the piece and write a critique?

    Could it possibly be that we read the article, understood it, but disagree? D Cap, you’re too angry some times. It’s easy to criticize the UFC keeping Hardonk vs cutting O’Brien. However, are you privy to how much they’re getting paid? What other reasons could there be for keeping Hardonk? Could it be that he is a stand up fighter VS O’Brien’s LNP? He it be that is paid less but is more marketable? Who knows?

    I think, D.Cap, that you are showing moral outrage based on your expectation that “business sports” should act more like “pure sports” (like the Olympics, let’s say.

    I agree. EliteXC is booking Kimbo VS tomato can as a main event. Why? Because it sells. If fans demand LNP fighters like O’Brien, then they should vote with their pocket books. MLB allowed rampant steroid abuse in baseball because the long ball sells. The bean counters in the UFC determined that LNP fighters don’t sell. That is the point that I think people disagreed with in Iain’s article.

  40. Dave2 says:

    When will the MMA purists learn that if the UFC did not cater to the mainstream and to entertain the audience, we’d still be stuck with 105,000 PPV buys AT BEST for a UFC card. Not to mention that the Fertittas would have “tapped out” long ago in 2005 and not let the UFC go on. And with PRIDE inevitably being screwed by the Yakuza scandal and Zuffa going bankrupt, what would be the result? We’d still have Japanese MMA (hopefully) from FEG/Zombie PRIDE maybe, Shooto for sure , maybe WVR and some other small orgs. But we’d have no MMA in North America except for mainstay small promotions like IconSport, KOTC, etc. There would be no ProElite to try to capitalize on the UFC’s success. Scott Coker would still be doing kickboxing with Strikeforce.

    The MMA scene wouldn’t look so hot if the UFC didn’t try to reach new demographics. And even back THEN, characters like Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz and Randy Couture were very crucial to the survival of the product. You had to have matches like Liddell vs Ortiz to hit at least 100k buys in those days. It’s amazing how far these guys came along from their beginnings with Semaphore Entertainment Group to now. Charisma, personality and putting on exciting fights matters. If you want to draw and you want to create stars, you need guys like Liddell, Couture and Ortiz. Guys like O’Brien are people that fans don’t get pumped up to see and even get annoyed watching. Unless O’Brien improves his game and he has that chance in small orgs. I’m rooting for O’Brien. I hope he goes to EliteXC on CBS, knocks guys out like he used to and creates a buzz for himself. But he’s a liability to the UFC at this point, even on the preliminary card. You don’t want to put the fans in the audience to sleep.

  41. Grape Knee High says:

    I think the issue here is that UFC is sort of biting itself in the ass with this.

    Can anyone make an economic argument for why Jake O’Brien should not have been cut?

  42. Dave2 says:

    The UFC badly needs a heavyweight division in WEC. Jake O’Brien would probably knock everyone out put in front of him there. He has a very impressive KO ratio for a wrestler but what works in TKO/KOing guys in the smaller leagues doesn’t work in the UFC. I think the ideal situation for everyone would be to send Jake O’Brien down to WEC. But Zuffa for whatever reason doesn’t seem keen on building the heavyweight division.

  43. ilostmydog says:

    Are you kidding me? The WEC is successful and awesome in large part because it doesn’t have a HW division. Their niche is focusing on the lighter, faster-paced, and more skilled weightclasses. Bringing in HWs would defeat that. Furthermore, the UFC can barely sustain their own HW division, so how is Zuffa going to recruit fighters for two HW divisions?

  44. D. Capitated says:

    Could it possibly be that we read the article, understood it, but disagree?

    Obviously you and others do not. You’re seem to be arguing that Iain is wrong because the UFC has no credibility when it comes to its legitimacy as a competition centered promotion. Oddly, this is exactly what he’s saying.

    It’s easy to criticize the UFC keeping Hardonk vs cutting O’Brien. However, are you privy to how much they’re getting paid? What other reasons could there be for keeping Hardonk?

    He answers this in the end of the article.

    I think, D.Cap, that you are showing moral outrage based on your expectation that “business sports” should act more like “pure sports” (like the Olympics, let’s say.

    “Business sports” that are successful and are respected actually run themselves as actual, competitive sports. Comparing rule changes in the NHL to firing fighters you don’t like and attempting to discredit them as some here are is enormously stupid.

    I agree. EliteXC is booking Kimbo VS tomato can as a main event. Why? Because it sells.

    Its theorized that it will sell. The entire undercard is filled with, as Iain likes to say, poorly skilled pugilists. Marketing the sport as glorified Toughman isn’t a very bright move and not something that’s likely to ensure its longterm survival.

    If fans demand LNP fighters like O’Brien, then they should vote with their pocket books. MLB allowed rampant steroid abuse in baseball because the long ball sells.

    I can’t even begin to tell you how faulty this is. I would ask you to think about what you’re writing, but I know you won’t.

    The bean counters in the UFC determined that LNP fighters don’t sell. That is the point that I think people disagreed with in Iain’s article.

    Iain’s article at no point goes against that line of thought. If you read it and understand it, you should know that.

  45. D. Capitated says:

    When will the MMA purists learn that if the UFC did not cater to the mainstream and to entertain the audience, we’d still be stuck with 105,000 PPV buys AT BEST for a UFC card.

    The UFC has typically tried to keep some semblance of competitive balance to the sport. Nate Marquhardt thrilled no one prior to getting a deserved title shot against Anderson Silva, and yet somehow that show did more than 105,000 buys. So did other shows featuring fights that meant tons for hardcores (Liddell/Rampage II, Silva/Henderson, etc). There is crossover, you know.

  46. D. Capitated says:

    I hate to add an extra post, so you can tag it along with the one above me if possible:

    Its also worth noting that in spite of how supposedly hated lay and pray fighters are, the most popular draw in US MMA history got a deserved reputation for being exactly that. Who here enjoyed Matyushenko/Ortiz? Anyone? Anyone at all?

  47. Iain Liddle says:

    Wow, thanks for all the responses guys – apart from the first one.

    I won’t go over everything mentioned above as it would take too long (and probably turn into a seperate column altogether) but I appreciate the debate that has ensued.

    Remeber to make sure Total-MMA.com is always your second port of call on the internet… after FO of course.

    Iain

  48. Grape Knee High says:

    Comparing rule changes in the NHL to firing fighters you don’t like…is enormously stupid.

    In both cases, the sports organization is trying to make their product more palatable for their fans in order to increase revenue.

    These situations are extremely similar, whether you have the intelligence to recognize it or not.

  49. George Lucas says:

    D. Capitalized is pretty much wrong.

    Silva/Marquardt wasn’t the draw of UFC 73, Ortiz/Evans was. Half the audience had left before Silva had even stepped in the octagon.

    Funny how you ignore Ortiz as the draw in one post and then call him the biggest draw in the sport in the next.

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