(Barring a courtroom miracle, this is probably the last Diaz mean mugging you’ll get to see this year. Pic from Esther Lin’s UFC on FOX 3 gallery)
Last night’s UFC on FOX 3 fights were great … exactly the kind of stuff the UFC needs to serve up on a regular basis to get normies interested in the sport. Which makes it extra disappointing that we may not see two of Saturday’s stars again for several months. Because Nate Diaz and Johnny Hendricks are going to wait for their title shots.
Hendricks, who has to wait for Georges St Pierre to heal and then for Carlos Condit to fight him, summed up his decision to wait succinctly:
“If somebody says, ‘In January, I’ll give you a million dollars. Or, you could fight in four months, and make $35,000,'” Hendricks told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “Which one would you take?”
Meanwhile, with the Benson Henderson / Frankie Edgar fight not slated until UFC 150 in August, that’s probably all she wrote for Nate Diaz’s 2012. Which is really too bad because he’s got an obvious challenger to the #1 contender slot in Anthony Pettis. Here’s Pettis on FUEL minutes after the main event ended:
“Let’s do it. Nate Diaz thinks he’s the No. 1 contender, I think I’m the No. 1 contender. Let’s figure out who the real No. 1 contender is. I’ll make sure I’m ready to fight around September. I haven’t had a clear shot to the UFC title until now, so I’m going to take advantage of this. I think I match up great with (Diaz).”
Unfortunately, right now it looks like that won’t happen. All because the UFC has shown itself too eager to promise title shots when trying to build up interest in fights. If you ask me (and I’m assuming you are since you’re on my site, aren’t ya?), the number 1 contender spot should be a hot seat, not a vacation lounge chair. Sure, there’s a balance that needs to be met to make sure you’re building challengers to the title and not knocking them all down, but in this case that balance is all out of whack.
Sitting out lower paydays to wait for a title shot may be good for Hendricks and Diaz, but not for anyone else. Not the fans, who are getting sick of hypothetical fights in the distant future that often lose steam by the time they’ve arrived. Not the UFC, who need great fights with fan favorites now more than ever. And then there’s the other contenders in the division looking at a yearlong stretch stuck in a holding pattern.
The solution is simple: keep the fighters fighting. That’s what they’re there to do.