5 YRS AGO: Ask MMATorch – What is key to getting title fight in UFC? Anderson Silva finished? Tag Team MMA fights? Will Fox be shy to show bleeding fighters?

By Jason Amadi, MMATorch columnist

Anderson Silva (photo credit Jayne Kamin-Oncea © USA Today Sports)

The following installment of Ask MMATorch was published five years ago this week. Current MMATorch columnist Jason Amadi helmed the Ask MMATorch column at the time and here are four wide-ranging questions, some timeless, and some capturing an issue of the day in November 2011.

Austin writes: What’s the most important factor for progressing through the UFC to a title fight? Your no. of wins (or win streak), who you’ve beaten, or the manner in which you won your fights?

Amadi: This is a difficult question to answer because a fighter’s road to a UFC title opportunity depends on who they are and what their experience level is heading into the UFC. If you’re a highly touted prospect, then obviously justifying the hype through impressive performances will get you to a title fight a bit quicker than usual. But if you’re of average skills and personality, then you’ll have to put more work in and string together enough wins to get noticed.

Once you’re a contender or “in the mix,” as UFC President Dana White likes to say, you’re now trying to go from contender to number one contender. In other words, you must do whatever you can to separate yourself from the elite of the division. At that point, impressive wins over well known fighters is the name of the game. Well that, and talking trash.

It’s also important to remember that a fighter’s path to a UFC championship depends on what division the fighter is in. If your goal is to get a crack at Dominick Cruz or Jose Aldo, a solid win streak gets you there for sure. If you’re after Frank Edgar, then you probably need to either be close to the UFC record for consecutive victories or beat someone who is. However, if your goal is to get a shot at a long reigning champion like Anderson Silva or Georges St. Pierre, then you have to actually convince people that you’re a legitimate threat.

At the end of the day the UFC is still a business, and as long as a title fight makes dollars for the UFC, then it makes sense.

Pete writes: I am a 34 year old male that enjoys watching MMA. I do not purchase every PPV nor am I an expert in the history of MMA, but I try to follow as closely as I can. I have been puzzled by the recent Fox involvement with the UFC and comments made by the top brass of UFC. The idea that the Velasquez, dos Santos fight was deemed better in RETROSPECT, than the Henderson, Rua fight for Fox really speaks volumes about the future of MMA on “free” TV. If the UFC continues to have fights on Fox, are they going to avoid the “bleeders” because the general public isn’t ready? This may be why Guida and Henderson missed out! I like the UFC, and I think the attempt to grow is admirable, but this new model will be very difficult to sustain. Why am I wrong?

Amadi: Anything that happens once the fights begin is completely out of the hands of Fox and the UFC. There is no way to “avoid bleeders” or to have fights “suitable for broadcast television.” As much as we like to speculate on what fights the UFC should put on, the fact is over the course of the next seven years there’s going to be 28 UFC broadcasts on Fox. The UFC is looking to do around four fights per event, so we’re looking at roughly 112 fights on Fox over the next seven years.

There’s no way the UFC can put on 112 fights without blood, gore, and the usual level of violence that we’ve come to know and love. The first UFC on Fox broadcast contained 58 minutes of fluff with just 64 seconds of action. If that doesn’t properly illustrate how little control the UFC and Fox have over what takes place in the cage, I’m not sure what else could.

Tyler writes:  I have a question, how do you feel about tag team matches in MMA? This is a concept that is so exciting to me; teamwork in MMA. I used to love tag team matches in wrestling, how great would it be to see Fitch & Koscheck versus the Diaz brothers? This is something that has to come next at some point. I figure since people already consider MMA legit, and can stomach men bludgeoning each other 1×1, why not 2×2? Maybe this gets its start on the Indian reservations?

Amadi: There have actually been a few tag team MMA fights, and they’ve all sucked. I’ve watched professional wrestling my entire life, so my distaste for tag team MMA doesn’t stem from some sort of irrational hate for pro wrestling; I just think they’re stupid.

Tag team matches work in professional wrestling because of the drama of the hot tag, and that simply isn’t present in tag team MMA fights. In two-on-two MMA, tags are made whenever a clinch is instigated (which is all the time), brief double team scenarios seem completely unfair and all the shenanigans don’t leave much room for actual fighting.

You can’t truly grasp how awful tag team MMA really is unless you see it for yourself. I suggest you search “Tag Team MMA” on YouTube and prepare to be underwhelmed. Hopefully after seeing it, you have a few laughs and gain a greater appreciation for the story that can be told through a one-on-one encounter.

Jordon writes: What are Anderson Silva’s injuries? Is he finished?

Amadi: Anderson Silva had a shoulder injury heading into his August bout with Yushin Okami and has been nursing it ever since. He’s expected to make a full recovery and is even believed to be helping Lyoto Machida prepare for his upcoming title fight with Jon Jones.

Silva turning in such dominant performances against elite opposition seems to distract people from the fact that he’s 36 years old and still involved in an incredibly physical sport. Aging fighters have to take injury very seriously, and that goes double for Anderson Silva.

No UFC fighter enters the Octagon with more pressure on his shoulders (no pun intended) than Anderson Silva. “The Spider” has blue chip sponsors, tons of money, and the greatest winning streak in UFC history on line every time he competes. The fact is, Silva has too much to lose for him to step into the Octagon with a serious injury, especially after his near loss to Chael Sonnen last year.

Anderson Silva is far from finished, but he’s definitely nearing the end of his career. Over the last four years Silva has had surgery on both of his knees, a fractured rib, and a damaged shoulder. His skills seem to be as sharp as they’ve ever been, but the way he keeps getting injured suggests his body might not hold up much longer.

Feel free to follow Twitter @JasonAmadi. Also, track down some tag team MMA if you’re looking for a good laugh.


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