The UFC brass has announced that the winner of the main event at " UFC 127: Fitch vs. Penn" will get a shot at whoever holds the title after the collision between welterweight champ GSP and long established contender Jake Shields. This prompts me to ask a few questions. Firstly:
Who the hell cares?
As I have mentioned previously, I feel that a main event should sell the entire card. I find it to be anti-climactic to have a strong undercard with a weak main event (witness Mir vs. Cro Cop). Granted, GSP is always an exciting fighter to watch, but we are talking about two people that he not only beat, but completely dismantled. Let's review.
Jon Fitch- Although boasting a 16 fight win streak at the time, Fitch found himself woefully inadequate against the champ. GSP, treating Fitch's head like a pinata, pummeled his way to a decision victory. While MMA judges have a hesitancy to offer 10-8 rounds, GSP earned scores of 50-44, 50-44, and 50-43.
While Fitch has yet to taste defeat since he was pugilisticly molested by the champ, we'd be lying to ourselves if we said that he has been facing top level competition. Jon uses an impressive ground game with strong top control to win his battles. While it can not be argued that his "lay and pray" assault is effective, he has also been criticized as being boring. Moreover, if you take away the vaunted ground game (which GSP can (and has)) done, you get a walking punching bag.
BJ Penn- GSP has beaten BJ, not once, but twice. While many have said that the first victory was controversial, GSP's second defeat of Penn was one of the most brutal beatings I have witnessed. The champ took BJ down, controlled him from top position, managed to hip-out, and rain down an anialistic barrage of knobby elbows. BJ's corner threw in the towel after the fourth round. The most intriguing part of the match up was the "Greasgate" scandal afterwords, which included BJ sending his mommy to speak on his behalf to the CSAC.
On a further note, think about BJ's actual career at 170 pounds. Yes, he is a former champ. But a little known fact is that he has only beaten 2 people in the welterweight division: Matt Hughes (twice) and Duane Ludwig. Now, after one win against an outdated Matt Hughes, Penn is in line for a title shot?
Don't get me wrong; I'll buy the pay per view. I love seeing Penn get his ass beat.
On to the second thought raised:
DON'T YOU DARE! NO, NO, NO! DON'T YOU DO IT!
For the past couple of weeks, UFC president Dana White has been alluding heavily to the supermatch between middle weight champ, Anderson Silva, and GSP. Both fighters have completely cleaned out their divisions, and are in a 3-way tie for the pound for pound best fighter in the world (I don't care what anyone says; Fedor is still there.)
Silva, who has mentioned an interest in retirement and/ or transitioning to professional boxing, is looking for something new; something to challenge him. He pretty much owns any record available in the UFC. After devouring the elite of the 185 pound division, Dana and Joe began to match him up with sub-par fighters (from his perspective, at least.) This in turn led to the staring contests that have occurred in a number of his last few fights.
GSP has mentioned that he would be willing to move up to middleweight, but if he does, he is staying there. There is absolutely no one of note left for him to fight in the welter weight division. Assuming that GSP gets past Jake Sheilds, this fight absolutely needs to happen. And speaking of assuming...
If you really think about it, does anyone really think that Shields can beat GSP?
Yes, Shields is an experienced competitor. Yes, he is a former champion. Most importantly, yes, the UFC is an incredibly effective promotional institution. The "hype machine" that they put behind fighters makes any fight look even or effective. But let's look at reality:
Jake Shields- 5'11 with a 72" reach. He currently boasts a 26-4-1 record, and hasn't lost since December of '04. He is physically strong, has a very strong ground game, and is big for the division. His striking is weak, and he uses a strong top game to win his fights. He is often referenced as a "wet blanket".
Hmmm...Sounds a lot like this guy:
Jon Fitch- 6'1 with a 74" reach. He currently boasts 23-3 record. Outside of the champ, he hasn't lost since December of '02. He is physically strong, and has a strong ground....wait...Have I already said this? And of course, we all know what did/ will happen to Fitch. So what should the UFC and Dana White do? How do they handle the loss of the most marketable face of the UFC welter weight division?
I have an answer...
...and it will come later this evening in an article titled "The Solution".