Are you fucking kidding me?
I understand that Dana’s main role is to sustain and expand the UFC, and that legitimizing, legalizing, selling and developing MMA are only a means to that end. If that were not Zuffa’s attitude, they probably would have died by now. I’m also pretty damn notorious for going to the mat to defend Zuffa acting in it’s own interests, on such myriad issues as the Toney signing to the temporary firing of Jon Fitch.
But Anderson Silva isn’t Jon Fitch. Anderson Silva is 11-0 in the UFC and building, every day, on his record-shattering title run. If he beats Sonnen – and I don’t care if he does it by majority decision because he lost a point every round 2-5 due to inactivity – he should be untouchable. If this entire enterprise is, in fact, about actual athletic competition within the scope of the Unified Rules, then Anderson Silva’s job is safe. If it is not – and it’s about entertainment, selling PPV’s and changing the rules to kowtow to the ignorant majority of fans (I’m looking at you, K-1) – then it isn’t.
The UFC walks a fine line between sport and entertainment – you cannot maintain Phil Baroni and Kimbo Slice if you’re going to claim that a certain class of fighter need not apply, and in fact that is a claim that UFC doesn’t make: Dana has said time and time again that fighters that leave it all in the cage and excite the crowd will have a job with his company. But if this is really about sport, then you can’t cut Anderson Silva. You can’t even threaten it. You can say you’ll put in on free TV or you’ll give him fights he doesn’t want and suspend him if he refuses (can they do that?), but you cannot tell a successful champion that he must change his fighting style, provided the style is legal under the Unified Rules, no matter how much you might want to. And you know what? That’s the way it should be.
If – and this is precisely the opposite of my expectation – Silva/Sonnen results in a Silva victory and Dana follows through on this, I’ll put my energies behind an organization that’s interested in rewarding the best mixed martial artists in the world instead of sating the desires of drunk frat boys. If that organization doesn’t exist, then this isn’t a professional sport. Cutting unbeatable champs whose styles you disagree with begets fight fixing. Don’t do it, Dana. I wouldn’t be saying it if I didn’t believe it.