FEWER STARS IN MMA GALAXY
They are countless stars in the universe, something around one hundred billion in the Milky Way galaxy alone. More than even George Lucas, Harrison Ford, Leonard Nimoy or William Shatner could even fathom in all their journeys far and beyond.
On earth… not so much.
Ever wonder why the same actors are doing the same roles in the same type of movies? It appears just over a handful of stars are considered bankable in Hollywood so there isn’t a need to stray from the proven.
Sports aren’t much different. Peyton Manning hasn’t throw a ball in a real game in over a year, but now he is the most coveted free agent in the NFL after being released by the Colts. Neck surgeries or not he remains a true star. After all, there are only a few quarterbacks with that kind of fan and team appeal glow.
In boxing is there any match other than Manny Pacquiao against Floyd Mayweather, Jr., that will guarantee the colossal pay and colossal attention they both command?
In MMA there is no need for a NASA quality telescope to find those stars who burn the brightest. Even with dozens of talented fighters at the top of their game, how many can really grab the attention needed to sell tickets? Maybe ten? Twelve?
The women’s side of the sport has received mixed reviews since Ronda Rousey took the belt from Meisha Tate. They are the two of the stars of the division, a very nebulous one at that. Rousey is now the Strikeforce Bantamweight champion. It’s a malleable division that could move up or down a weight class depending on who might really be available to present a challenge. With former bantam titleholder Sarah Kaufman the logical next in line for a shot at Rousey there’s not an immediate need to rearrange things. Still, it shows the limited number of in-demand-women for promoters and fans.
There are certainly more options on the men’s front, but a closer look narrows the scope quickly. There are the obvious champions of the division but only a few challengers that bring excitement and sensibility to the match up.
UFC interim Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit, who is scheduled to appear on Inside MMA Monday, is apparently content to wait to fight the champion Georges St. Pierre. Even if that means waiting until late fall while GSP continues to rehabilitate from knee surgery. Except for Jake Ellenberger, who lost a split decision to Condit, there aren’t really any intriguing set-ups for him, especially with Nick Diaz’ personal problems delaying any immediate rematch.
UFC Middleweight king Anderson Silva simply doesn’t have many challengers period. The only deal that will get those pay-per-views buyers pumped up is to see the long awaited rematch with Chael Sonnen, the only threat he’s had in years. When he’s healthy, Mark Muñoz looms as the next in line for a shot at the winner.
Bantamweight winner Dominick Cruz will fight Urijah Faber for a third time. A trilogy worthy of closure and about the only matching that will attract an audience in that division.
Newly crowned Lightweight Champ Benson Henderson has some options but not many. Anthony Pettis possibly in a scenario to avenge his only loss. Gilbert Melendez always makes sense but he is still among the few sequestered in the Srikeforce world. A unification belt meeting seems a long way off.
In an effort to stir interest in the featherweights, former Lightweight champ Frankie Edgar has been offered a chance at Jose Aldo’s title is he drops weight classes. Edgar however, wants the chance to get his title back from Henderson.
Jon Jones, the UFC Light Heavyweight Champ, is scheduled to defend his belt in April against Rashad Evans, one of the most appealing matches of the year to date. Outside of that perhaps only the ageless Dan Henderson could get a try at the winner. Elsewhere in the division, only a recycling of Tito Ortiz against Forrest Griffin with only pride on the line may create the biggest buzz.
There is intrigue in the Heavyweight division with UFC heavyweight champ Junior Dos Santos’ first title defense against Alistair Overeem in May. It is possible that former champ Cain Velasquez will get another chance after that. But with Brock Lesnar retired, how many of the big men make you want to buy a ticket? Perhaps when the Strikeforce tourney finally wraps up this spring, with Daniel Cormier taking on Josh Barnett, some kind of unified belt will be up for grabs. Considering the UFC had to bolster its shallow ranks of heavy’s by bringing in other Strikeforce guys, it’s more than likely that Strikeforce belt will be the final one in that rank.
No organization including Bellator can radiate enough of their own star power to be included in the UFC spectrum. So while the UFC stars shine brightest in the MMA galaxy, there are still too few of them. No division can offer a handful at the moment.
It is a small world after all where rematches, the already proven commodity, will remain the focus.
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