The UFC's biggest obstacle is evident at UFC 104

By Eric Kamander Subscribe to Articles by Eric Kamander

At this past weekend’s UFC 104 I think we had a look at the single biggest obstacle facing the UFC today in their effort of constant expansion. While the main event was filled with controversy, it didn’t start with Shogun’s questionable loss the to The Dragon.

Let’s look at some of the preliminary fights that were not scheduled to be televised. The airing Chael Sonnen vs. Yushin Okami was questioned and it was suggested that they could have shown Kyle Kingsbury vs. Razak Al-Hassan. And the topic of Zuffa’s nefarious motives for making and airing fights are frequently discussed. I usually despise such talk, but this is the one case where I agree that Zuffa had a motive, but I definitely support it. And this touches on a few topics.

Sonnen vs. Okami was an entertaining fight. Far better than anything I ever expected from this matchup a “lay and pray wrestler” vs. “a slow starter.” This fight really answered questions about the contendership of the middleweight division. I’m personally happy about the results as I’ve always felt Okami never deserved a title shot and was actually over hyped as a result of his DQ win against Anderson Silva and a result of the hype that always occurs any time a title shot is announced.

Put aside whether or not Okami actually deserved a title shot. When you consider the amount of talk of Zuffa improperly keeping Okami from a title shot, despite the fact that there have been many extenuating factors involved in Okami’s lack of a title fight, it is perfectly reasonable that Zuffa choose to televise this fight. It answers questions to address the legitimacy of their match making.

On the flip side Kingsbury vs. Al-Hassan was a questionable decision and I think one agenda Zuffa has demonstrated is a reluctance to release (not just not televise) questionable officiating – and rightly so.

We always talk about other promotions competing with Zuffa, but the single biggest obstacle Zuffa has to be wary of is one which they have little control over: the appearance of impropriety. If the general public gets the impression that mixed martial arts is fixed, it will turn off the masses and the UFC.

Many people have decided that MMA is a sham after the scoring of the Machida/Rua fight. It seems that after every event the one constant is that there was some officiating mishap. While the Zuffa brass work internally to try and address this very legitimate concern as best they can, it makes perfect sense that, when given the option, they choose not to release a fight that only exacerbates the problem.

What Zuffa can do to actually address questionable officiating is a bigger issue, but take a look at the UFC 104 post event press conference and Cecil Peoples explanation for why he scored the Machida/Rua fight the way he did.

What Do You Think of This Fight/Event?