MMA resolutions and wishes for 2017

    Talking Combat with Chris Toplack - UFC Saskatoon Recap
    SASKATOON, SK - AUGUST 23: Referee Herb Dean (C) calls for the doctor as Charles Oliveira (L) of Brazil falls to the ground with an injury against Max Holloway of the United States in their featherweight bout during the UFC event at the SaskTel Centre on August 23, 2015 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

    It’s a new year, with new hope.

    Yes that’s right, one can only hope 2017 goes better for the world of MMA than 2016 did. Not that there were bad fights by any means, in fact, there were some down right beauties. However, there were some tumultuous times in our sport, especially when it came to things like fight cancellations and injuries.

    So without giving away some of our resolutions with things that happened this past year, lets get right into our MMA resolutions for 2017.

    1. Less UFC events

    Now this one can be a bit of a double-edged sword. I love me some MMA, heck I watch it even on demand or when I’ve recorded it on my PVR (DVR for you Americans), but that doesn’t mean that it’s not completely watered down. That is a whole other resolution in itself right there.

    There can be hundreds of MMA events, I don’t mind that. It’s the UFC events specifically that I’m speaking of.

    There just needs to be less. Having three in one week is ridiculous. When even media members are getting frustrated by the amount of events, or when they forget that there is a UFC card coming up. That’s a big problem.

    Why would the layman want to get behind a sport that drains out even the biggest of fans?

    This is literally a pipe dream. The UFC isn’t going to make less events, in fact they will likely do the same number as they did in 2016.

    But for all of our sake, including the die hard fight fans, please oh please draw it back a little.

    2. Headline events with true headliners

    This is sort of what I was getting behind when I say events are being watered down.

    With so many fight cards occurring on the UFC calendar, they are needing to pick up talent from all over the globe. This is great for potential fighters that are coming up and want to fight for the big three letters — U-F-C. But it’s not great for the viewership.

    When fans don’t know who fighters are on the main card, good luck if they know anyone on the preliminary card.

    Often times we will get some of the best action out of the unknown talent. This doesn’t mean we get excited to watch Joe Blow against that other nobody.

    In 2016 there were a number of events headlined by people that shouldn’t be main event talent. For instance the UFC Fight Night 91 card was expected to be featured with Tony Ferguson vs. Michael Chiesa. No slag against either fighter, in fact, I find both to be uber exciting. But does that mean I want to see them be the main event? HECK NO.

    That fight didn’t end up panning out, and stepping in was a bantamweight bout between John Lineker and Michael McDonald. Are you kidding me?

    A more recent one was in early December. UFC Fight Night 102 was headlined by heavyweights Derek Lewis and a guy named Shamil Abdurakhimov. Say that name fast three times.

    So again, if events are being headlined by these watered-down talent, why in the heck would the card in general have top notch competitors on it?

    3. Less Injuries

    This one is a common theme and there is absolutely nothing the UFC or the fighters can really do about it. Injuries happen and injuries suck.

    2016 was a bad year when it comes to fights being changed or cancelled due to fighters being injured. The number is staggering.

    A good thing that occurred last year was the new weight cutting policy. Fighters were allowed to weigh in earlier in the day in order to gain full re-hydration and hopefully allow for less injuries. Did it help? Who knows, maybe a little bit.

    Fighters are going to train hard, fighters are going to continue to spar. The person that needs to be a little more accountable isn’t the fighter them self, but instead their coach. The coach is usually the one who decides when they are going to spar or not going to spar.

    Some camps are a lot more injury prone than others. Like AKA (American Kickboxing Academy) for instance. In an article on Bloody Elbow, Michael Hutchinson took a look at just how many times that camp has been injured over the last few years and you likely wouldn’t believe it.

    AKA had 11 fighters scheduled 141 times to compete between 2009-2016 and they pulled out of 26 of those bouts.

    Who knows whether those numbers are due to over training? Training with the wrong partners? Or some other factor. But they definitely don’t lie.

    You can hype a fight up as much as you want and get the fans as amp’d as possible. But if the main event or big marquee fight on the card doesn’t stay intact, it was for absolutely nothing.

    4. Develop the upper weight classes

    When you hear “Heavyweight Champion”, the juices get flowing. Everyone loves it when the big guys throw down – especially if they are two talented behemoths.

    The problem in our sport, is that the upper weight classes tend to fall to the wayside when it comes to talent.

    Not just the heavyweight division, which is a giant weight class ranging from 206-pounds all the way up to 266-pounds in a non-title fight – but also the light heavyweight division.

    At 205-pounds, the champion is Daniel Cormier. The true champ is Jon Jones, who is out on suspension. And outside of Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and Alexander Gustafsson, the rest of the division is rather bleak.

    There are definitely some household names that everyone knows. But none of those guys are going to be knocking on the door to hold the belt any time soon. I guess I shouldn’t necessarily say that, because we did just see the number 6 ranked fighter in the bantamweight division Cody Garbrandt beat easily one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world Dominick Cruz at UFC 207. But hey, I did just say it.

    And then there are the heavyweights. This is the real concern when it comes to true talent. It isn’t just in the UFC either. It’s all over the globe. Heavyweight talent is just hard to come by.

    The champ, Stipe Miocic is a smaller framed heavyweight in comparison to some. He walks around at 240-pounds. This seems to be something that we see when it comes to a lot of the guys who hold the belt at the top, other than Brock Lesnar, is they are the lighter, faster heavyweights. The number one and number two ranked guys, Fabricio Werdum and Cain Velasquez, both walk around well below 265-pounds.

    So what does this all mean when it comes to top-notch talent? Many times fans and pundits alike have suggested an in between weight class so that there isn’t as much of a gap between light heavyweight and heavyweight. This would make for an interesting scenario. Especially for the likes of guys such as Alistair Overeem and Mark Hunt who hover right at the brink of 265. They wouldn’t have to deal with a guy who can outpace them the entire fight, but instead get in there with someone that is considered a “super-heavyweight.”

    If you look at the top-15 on the UFC heavyweight rankings chart, I can all but guarantee that there is a name on that list that you don’t recognize.

    I was just messaged recently about a heavyweight champion based out of my hometown who is ready to make the leap to the UFC. I responded saying that I would like to see him fight a few more legitimate guys prior to making the jump. His coach responded with a simple answer — there just isn’t anyone.

    Now I’m not sure whether that is all over Canada or Western USA, but that clears things up right there. There just isn’t enough depth at the heavyweight division to make it glow the way the lighter weights do.

    5. Don’t believe everything Dana White says

    As the title says, do not believe anything UFC President Dana White says. Seriously, don’t.

    Here is a little list of just a few of the lies that White has spewed from his mouth.

    • UFC is not for sale
    • Women will never fight in the UFC
    • Conor McGregor can’t fight at UFC 205, his foot is injured
    • Brock Lesnar is not fighting at UFC 200
    • Reebok deal is better for the fighters

    And the list goes on.

    I don’t think we really need to explain much more on this topic. Simply don’t believe too much.

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