My inbox hasn’t exactly been bursting at the seams, but a couple of insightful questions and comments have found their way to email@example.com along with some completely unnecessary pictures of staph infections (dude-really?). It seems most of you enjoy the debate forum I host prior to each major MMA event, so we’ll keep that going along with the smart assery I’m known for. Here’s the best stuff to hit my addy:
Chris Lytle is a great MMA fighter. You seem to focus on his 16 losses, but to me, that doesn’t make him a loser. Of his 16 losses, 14 were by decision and two where TKO’s as a result of cuts/doctors stoppage. What I’m saying is that he has intelligently defended himself in every fight he’s been in, never been knocked out and never been submitted. How many MMA fighters can say that? Not many. The fact that Lytle has 16 losses means that he will fight anyone at any time. He’s not trying to protect his record and take easy fights to get to a title shot. He just wants to fight, because he enjoys it. –Kevin Liebertz
I didn’t call Lytle a loser. Although he’s lost a lot of fights, I said that might be forgivable given the amount of world-class talent he’s fought. My point was that the only reason he’s still on a main card is his excitement factor. He brings his A game every time and last week against Paul Taylor he showed that he’s harder than woodpecker lips. Reading between the lines, I’m wondering if that’s what it really takes to make it in the UFC-excitement as opposed to a winning record. The bigger question is, which is more important-a boring winner or an exciting loser? I asked Dana White that exact question when I was writing my book and didn’t get a straight answer, but he did say, “fighters who leave everything in the cage will always have a him in the UFC.” He then went on the trash Tito Ortiz in the funniest three minutes I ever recorded, but that’s another story. In the end, Dana White and Zuffa are in this to make money and exciting fighters, like Chris Lytle, do just that for them.
So, with Elite XC closing down, what do you think Tito will do now? Has he burned his bridge with Affliction (since he didn’t sign with them earlier and they could end up like Elite XC if they’re not careful), or do you think he’ll go crawling back to Dana?
I think if he’s going to crawl to anyone it will be Affliction. He’s burned his UFC bridge and I can tell you from personal experience that Dana detests him and won’t give him another chance (see earlier response). EliteXC going under will be good news for Affliction because they’ll scoop up all of Elite’s talent who dislike the UFC or aren’t welcome there. I think you’ll see a bidding war over Jake Shields and maybe Robbie Lawler because he’s been so successful lately and the UFC needs middleweights. But other than that, Affliction should be deploying a lot of salesmen with contracts in their hands to a lot of camps this week to get their hands on the EliteXC debris.
Whether they know it or not, Affliction is looking at a golden opportunity right now. Women’s MMA was on the rise after EliteXC spent millions hyping Gina Carano and a potential fight between her and Chris Santos. That matchup is still fresh in the minds of 4.5 million viewers who just saw them win a few weeks ago, so the demand is definitely there. If Affliction is smart, they’ll snatch up ALL the women in MMA and make that one of their niche’s instead of letting them scatter to the four winds where they’ll end up in obscurity. The UFC bought the WEC and made it a home for the lighter weights. Affliction should follow suit and make a home for women’s MMA to support their marquee fighters. More on that issue on Wednesday.
I think the UFC has been waiting for the time to strike (pun intended) in the UK and they set themselves up perfectly for this one. Judging by how much attention they have given to all of the non-U.S. markets lately I don’t think they are as concerned with whether they can keep the flare of TUF as bright here. I am not saying that they don’t want to grow here but if they can keep the U.S. vs. “Any other nation or region” theme going then the true US fans will stay on for that and with each season they will add a significant number of people in the new region. All they need is an Ambassador to each one so that they have a solid headliner for their initial venue(s) to the region. They are taking over the world, no doubt about it.
The UFC wants to be global because they think there are markets out there that just need to be tapped into the reap rewards. I think they’re right, but I question how successful the TUF business model will be overseas. It’s true that a record number of applicants showed up at the TUF tryouts in England last week, but that’s a developed, English-speaking nation (duh). Most homes own TVs and don’t need translators. Try that in the Philippines or Mexico-two markets the UFC wants to break into-and they’ll have a different result. But then again Dana White’s philosophy on the sport going global is actually pretty sound. He knows that you don’t need to speak English to watch a fight. Hell, you don’t even need to know what the rules are or that there even are any. If you turn your TV on and two guys are fighting, then who cares what Joe Rogan is saying. It’s a fight and you’re hooked. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world because it doesn’t take anything to play. Makeshift nets and a goats head for a ball will do just fine, so millions of kids grow up playing it in some form or another. White thinks MMA can rival soccer globally for the same reason-you don’t need ANY equipment to get into a fight and millions of kids grow up doing it. He thinks he can translate that youthful angst into dlooars overseas. He may be right.
Kelly Crigger is a freelance MMA writer and author of the book “Title Shot: Into the Shark Tank of Mixed Martial Arts” which you can purchase by clicking here. Contact him through his website at IntoTheSharkTank.com