There’s lots of places where being a fly on the wall might be fun. In a UFC management meeting as they discuss the heavyweights just jumped onto that list. The UFC’s heavy mess is no one’s fault; except their own. Whether or not cooler heads prevail now, they will have a few less shekels in their pockets.
Right now their reigning champion, Francis Ngannou is getting ready to go under the knife. So if things were all peachy keen they’d be without him for the rest of 2022. But the contractual drama has brought a new tsunami-sized wrinkle to the conversation. And “The Predator” is far from the first or last fighter that’ll be in that position.
The UFC’s model is like an assembly line, one cog after another. Those that have truly broken through (i.e. Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor, Brock Lesnar) did things away from the octagon. It’s a model that’s been successful BECAUSE it doesn’t create household superstars. And it’s hard to argue against them there.
But from the likes of Bjorn Rebney, to Leslie Smith many fighters even now bring up money. And in fairness, from day one; there are no guns to heads to sign contracts. When people compare specifically boxers to MMA fighters they tend not to realize just how different things are. The top being a card of 13-15 fights, to a card of six-to-eight fights.
The UFC’s Heavy Mess; What Do They Do Now
The one thing they WON’T do is go to a tournament, that’s just not Dana White’s style. Although, it would sell easily, filling dates. Whether they strip Ngannou right now and release him (which MAY happen sooner than later), or throw up another interim fight, lots of others might be in the same position as the Cameroonian.
Stipe Miocic has been hard to deal with according to them. Jon Jones shouldn’t be able to just walk into a title shot is worse. Not only has he fought with Dana about money, but there’s the risk of another legal issue with him at any moment. Putting Ciryl Gane in a title fight for three-straight fights won’t have a good look. Derrick Lewis is fighting next month, and Curtis Blaydes just doesn’t fit the bill right now. Although his wrestling would be a good test for Gane in four to five months.
That’s why a tourney would be best. Roll the dice, win and continue always makes for great stories.
If Ngannou Is No More, Where Does He Go
The Stipe loss proves that sometimes when you lose, you actually win. But; the 35-year old is right on one thing, his time’s short, and he WANTS to box. Whether he gets a fight with Tyson Fury, Mike Tyson, or a Tyson’s Chicken; it doesn’t matter. You can’t say he won’t win, but you can say he won’t be able to go 12-rounds. The cardio in boxing is way different than in MMA.
That’s why his next MMA home may be a shock to some. Sure, everyone will say BELLATOR; especially since Scott Coker is the polar opposite of White. And he’s already said he’d allow Cyborg to box. However, there’s a strong connection for THE PFL.
They’ve just signed a multi year deal to be on the ESPN platforms. Their “season format” gives him the time to box. He trains at XTREME-Couture, although Randy doesn’t run the show there anymore; he’s a broadcaster for the PFL. Ray Sefo who’s their President trains out of XTREME as well. The roster depth is less there, and the PFL’s point system of fast finishes is built for Ngannou. So it makes sense. In the end, that little engine that could may land the biggest free-agent to come onto the market.