The playoff format is used to determine championships in many different sports leagues. The teams that have performed best throughout the season play each in a series of games for the right to declare themselves the league champion. Recently, I’ve begun asking myself how this format would fair if it was embraced by the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The idea does seem intriguing.
To begin, the smaller but growing organization, Bellator, uses the tournament format to determine contenders and champions to their various titles. So this idea isn’t something that’s new to mixed martial arts. However, I’m wondering how well would it fare with the big names that are within all the UFC weight classes. Follow me on the method to my madness.
The hypothetical tournament will take place in the popular welterweight ranks of the UFC. With Georges St. Pierre an unquestioned champion who has steamrolled the fighters placed in front of him, the match makers are pressed to find new contenders for the champ. Imagine a tournament draw that included John Fitch, Josh Koscheck, Jake Shields, Chris Lytle, Diego Sanchez, Dong Hyun Kim, Nate Diaz and Carlos Condit. Six fighters who are either current contenders or one key victory away from being deemed as much. A pairing that consists of any of these names would be an exciting match for the UFC fan.
The tournament drawing would be held during the UFC’s annual New Year’s event. Each fighter would draw a number that would correspond to their first round match up. For example, fighter 1 would be matched with fighter 6 and so on. Fights would begin in February and be held on a three month basis. Round 2 would be during a June UFC event; round 3 during an October event. The finals would be held during the New Year’s event that following January; setting up a nice spring or summer match up.
During this time, the current champion can take catch weight fights to stay competitive. Wouldn’t this be a great time for the Georges St. Pierre versus Anderson Silva matchup? Or even a rematch against Matt Serra or the surging Matt Hughes? Either way, the UFC can easily find non title competition for the current champ during the year of the tournament.
Once the spring season comes around the UFC can get their promotion train behind the new contender and the champion; setting the stage for a great battle. It would work best that each year’s tournament features a different weight class. New faces are needed to challenge for the titles within any combat sports organization and such a tournament would help develop those faces while keeping fans interested from the very start.
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