Way of Martial Arts (wayofmartialarts.com) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to them.
All the best fighters in the world end up in the UFC, making the competition extremely hard.
However, lately, we’ve seen some fights happening that had no place in the elite promotion, making people wonder: is UFC fixing fights?
While there is no fixing the fight’s outcome and no fixing the winner, sometimes the title shots are awarded to more popular fighters, disregarding the ranking system. Those are the famous “money fights” that the UFC puts together to gain public interest and make more money.
Also, some famous fighters get paid a lot more than some fighters ranked better but lacking mainstream popularity, which is clearly unjust.
That enrages many fighters, making them speak out against their employer, against fighters getting more chances just because they talk trash or have popularity, etc.
Let’s discuss in what way does the UFC “fix fights” and how it all began.
Money Fights in the UFC
As I said, the UFC never fixes fights in terms of determining the winner.
However, a fighter will get overlooked time and time again simply because he/she doesn’t draw that many viewers.
So, even though you are winning every fight you get, you might not get the opportunity to fight for the title. It might sound crazy, but it happens in the UFC all the time.
The injustice doesn’t even have to be related to title fights, but rather the pay a fighter receives for each contest. Enter, money fights.
It all began with Brock Lesnar coming to the UFC.
He was a pro-wrestling (WWE) superstar with a massive frame, and the UFC hyped him as the next big thing in their heavyweight category. It didn’t take long for the UFC to hand him a title shot.
He lost to Frank Mir in his first UFC fight and then won via decision against Heath Herring.
That’s a resume that clearly doesn’t make the cut for a title shot, right? Wrong.
The UFC saw how many viewers Lesnar draws for his fights, and they gave him a shot at the champion, Randy Couture.
That was a slap in the face for all heavyweight fighters battling for years to get their shot.
Here comes a guy that never fought in the UFC before, goes 1-1 in his first two fights, and still gets a title shot, simply because it made the UFC more money.
That’s when the talk about the UFC fixing fights began because Lesnar defeated Randy Couture with a knockout in the second round.
Lesnar became the champion after only three fights (going 2-1), which was considered a fixed publicity stunt by the UFC.
He avenged his loss to Frank Mir after that and defeated Shane Carwin a year later, defending his belt two times.
But, he was known for taking steroids before, which is why many fans believed the UFC fixed everything.
That’s when Brock’s descent started. First, Cain Velasques knocked him out cold in the 1st round, then Alistair Overeem did the same thing with a liver kick.
Lesnar retired from MMA, only to come back five years later and get disqualified for using steroids.
This entire story shows how quickly the UFC turned from matching up the best fighters to matching up the fighters that will get them the most money.
That’s the main reason why fans started to speculate about the UFC fixing fights.
However, it quickly became apparent that it was never about fixing the winners but making money.
The UFC tried to do the “Lesnar stunt” again with yet another WWE superstar, CM Punk.
He never fought in professional or amateur MMA but got a chance to compete in the UFC. He got a lot of money to get brutally beat up two times before the UFC pulled the plug.
Disregarding the Ranking System
Usually, it would be the highest-ranked challenger, but it hasn’t been that way for a long time. It started with Brock Lesnar, but it exploded with Conor McGregor.
He’s the reason why the UFC boomed over the past decade.
Conor drew viewers, whether they watched because they loved him or because they hated him.
The UFC decided to “milk” that as much as possible, giving him the first chance in the promotion’s history to become a champion in two weight divisions.
He was a featherweight champ after knocking out Jose Aldo.
He fought in two welterweight bouts against Nate Diaz after that and then instantly got the opportunity to fight for the lightweight title against Eddie Alvarez.
That means the UFC skipped the entire ranking table of the division to give him a chance to become a double champ first.
It’s clear that they did it for the money, but there were no talks about the fight being fixed to determine the winner.
However, it was fixed in terms of skipping the ranking and giving the fight to the fighter who’ll make them the most money.
It happened again after McGregor came back after two years of MMA inactivity.
He wasn’t even ranked in the lightweight division, but everybody wanted to see him go against Khabib Nurmagovedov, the division champion at the time.
So, when McGregor stated he’d be making an MMA comeback, he instantly got to fight for the title – after two years of not fighting at all.
The entire ranking system was shattered with that decision.
Fighters working hard for years to get the shot, like Dustin Poirier and Tony Ferguson, were overlooked just because McGregor was the biggest money-grabber for the UFC.
Is UFC Fixing Fights – The Bottom Line
To conclude, the UFC is not fixing fights by pre-determining the winner, as the WWE does.
But, they are “fixing fights” in terms of giving the opportunity to the fighters who’ll get them more money instead of the fighters that deserve it.
It’s a problem that’s making some fans and fighters extremely furious, but MMA is blossoming as a combat sport.
So, it will be all about finding the balance between making money and being fair to their fighters in the future.