In light of Dana White's most recent example of "Indian Giver" matchmaking, which granted Gray Maynard a rematch with Frankie Edgar within hours of their second installment and within minutes of the announcement at the press conference that gave Anthony Pettis the next shot at the belt, I'd like to look at the circumstances behind the recent influx of immediate rematches within the UFC. Now, there's a number of fans who are steadfast against this policy; I am not one of them. In my opinion there are two legitimate reasons for an immediate rematch:
Reason #1: The judges got it wrong
Reason #1a: The judges MAY have gotten it wrong, and the fight is close enough to warrant a second look
A prime example of this reason is Shogun-Machida. I personally believe the judges got this one wrong, and I was in the majority, the majority that included Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta, and Joe Silva. Some people don't believe this. One thing that can't be denied, however, is that Shogun came closer to unraveling the Dragon's mystique and solving the puzzle that is and was his unsolvable, elusive style than anyone else had up until that point. There was tremendous fan response after this fight. It might have been because fans wanted to see the Shogun of old, dominant and holding a belt. Or maybe fans were as frustrated watching Machida in main events has those standing across the cage from him were. Either way, Shogun got his rematch and the rest, as they say, was history.
Shogun-Machida II is an example of a good immediate rematch. Even though someone had their hand raised at the end of the first fight, it was NOT decisive. Another example is Couture-Rizzo II. Couture was given the first fight, and many thought he did not deserve to win it. The second fight went differently - Couture won via TKO in the third round. A TKO in the third, or Machida getting KTFO by Shogun in the first, is a definitive answer to the question of "Who won that fight?".
As I said, there is another reason that an immediate rematch could be in order:
Reason #2: The original fight was scored correctly, but the losing contender still poses the greatest threat to the champ
This is the category that Edgar-Maynard III falls under. Saturday night, the fight was, ultimately, judged correctly. The majority of folks saw the fight as a draw. However, look at the lightweight division. There is Anthony "Showtime" Pettis, recently acquired in the WEC merger and a young man who was promised a shot at the winner of Edgar-Maynard's title fight in order to unify the UFC and WEC straps. There's George Sotiropolous and Jim Miller, very talented fighters with stellar records. There's a surging Clay Guida, the steady Kenny Florian, a young Evan Dunham, a reinvigorated Mac Danzig, and a number other fighters in a very deep division, with BJ Penn still looming above, waiting to see how his run at 170 works out. Not one of the fighters I just mentioned has as good of a shot as the Bully does at taking the belt away from Frankie. Not one. The number one contender for a belt should be the man with the best chance at dethroning the champ; Gray Maynard is that man, regardless of how the last fight went. I love Anthony Pettis. I've been a fan of his since before "the" kick and before the "World of Jenks" episode (Sidenote: I have a secret shame. When I'm not in school, the gym, or training, I watch a solid amount of TV. Aside from ESPN, Sons of Anarchy, and House, I watch a solid amount of MTV programming. World of Jenks was new this year, and I watched most episodes. Putting aside the fact that I am a budding MMA fighter myself, the episode with Pettis as the subject was the best of the season. I would encourage you guys to watch it if you havent already). However, "Showtime" does not have as good of a shot to beat Edgar as Maynard does. He's been playing Triple-A ball until now. He could be champ one day, but not yet. I don't like Gray Maynard, yet he is the most deserving fighter for a shot to win the title at 155. Still.
An example of a bad immediate rematch WOULD HAVE BEEN Silva-Sonnen. Yes, Sonnen won the first 23 minutes of that fight. But by jumping into a triangle, he proved to everyone that he is still not as complete or as talented as Silva. Immediate rematches are for those fights that are inconclusive. The official judges said that one person won, and a good amount of the unofficial judges (aka, everyone else watching the fight) aren't so sure. There was dispute as to whether Shogun beat Machida the first time, and there was dispute as to whether Edgar defeated Penn the first time. There was little dispute as to who won Silva vs. Sonnen; Chael Sonnen tapped out to a triangle by Anderson Silva. Story over, case closed. I wanted Sonnen to win that fight. I was pretty apathetic towards Silva until he started turning title fights into dance battles ala Leites and Maia. Then I disliked him, and being that I love a good trash talker, I was praying that Sonnen would walk in and put his money where his mouth was and win the belt. He almost did, but he didn't. There shouldn't have been a rematch. The judges didn't screw it up, and Vitor presents a challenge for Silva, just as Sonnen did. Sonnen should, and most likely will, get a rematch with Silva, but he should have to work for it again.
Edgar-Penn II is another example of a bad immediate rematch. Some fans thought that Penn won, and were vocal about it. Dana made the mistake of giving them what they wanted. Fan reaction is never a good reason for a fight like this to be made. There are reasons to make fights the fans want, and there are reasons to not make fights the fans don't want to see. Fans may call for a fight because it has the potential to be exciting, or because a fighter calls out another and the fans agree. Fans may call for a fight not to be made because it is of no interest to them - this could cost the company money and therefore it would be smart for Dana and Joe Silva not to book an "uninteresting" fight. This recently happened with Mir-Lesnar III, a sentiment shared by many fans, including myself. Often times, fans are unable to separate their feelings for a fighter from his skills. This doesn't mean as much in an undercard fight, but when a title fight is the fight in question, the validity of the fighters skills takes precedent. And since the majority of fans, including myself sometimes, have a hard time remaining unbiased, fans simply calling for a fight of major importance is not enough.
I don't have an exact count, but there have probably been 20-30 rematches of top-tier fighters in UFC history. There have probably been just as many of lower tiered fighters, but once again, I did not count exactly. Only recently, however, have these rematches been coming immediately. Aside from Couture-Rizzo, I cannot think of any other immediate rematches off the top of my head that took place outside of the past couple years in the UFC. Now just in the past year, just off the top of my head, I can think of 6 that were scheduled: Shogun-Machida, Edgar-Penn, Silva-Sonnen (scheduled; Sonnen suspended), Bonnar-Soszynski, Danzig-Wiman (scheduled; injury, but can't remember which fighter), and now Edgar-Maynard.
Immediate rematches are not a bad thing in and of themselves. The problems people have with them stem from the fact that people think that they are about to see the same thing they just saw. But lets go over the recent ones.
Shogun-Machida I -Machida wins via controversial UD
Shogun-Machida II -Shogun wins via 1st round KO
Edgar-Penn I - Edgar wins via slightly less controversial UD
Edgar-Penn II - Edgar wins via very definitive UD
Bonnar-Soszynski I - Soszynski wins via 3rd round TKO (cut)
Bonnar-Soszynski II - Bonnar wins via 2nd round TKO (punches to the face)
3 sets of rematches. Now some stats. In two of them, the winners were different. The Shogun-Machida fights couldn't have gone any differently. The Edgar-Penn fights were somewhat similar, aside from the fact that the rematch wasn't close. The Bonnar-Soszynski fights were also somewhat similar, except the winners and round of victory were different. Now lets look at some other rematches in the UFC that did NOT take place immediately.
Liddell-Babalu I (UFC 40) - Liddell wins via 1st round KO
Liddell-Babalu II (UFC 62) - Liddell wins via 1st round TKO
Hughes-Trigg I (UFC 45) - Hughes wins via 1st round RNC
Hughes-Trigg II (UFC 52) - Hughes wins via 1st round RNC
Liddell-Ortiz I (UFC 47) - Liddell wins via 2nd round TKO
Liddell-Ortiz II (UFC 66) - Liddell wins via 3rd round TKO
Liddell-Couture II (UFC 52) - Liddell wins via 1st round KO
Liddell-Couture III (UFC 57) - Liddell wins via 2nd round KO
Silva-Franklin I (UFC 64) - Silva wins via 1st round KO (knee)
Silva-Franklin II (UFC 77) - Silva wins via 2nd round TKO (multiple knees)
5 sets of rematches with strikingly similar results. Rematches with plenty of time for the fighters to grow, evolve, and change gameplans in between. Only the Hughes-Trigg fights looked noticeably different, yet still finished with the exact same result.
Immediate rematches are not bad when they are booked for the right reasons. The fact that I have seen numerous people on this site say that they are getting tired with the UFC for doing it is bullshit. The job of the UFC is to put on the best fights. That typically means having fighters that are evenly matched get in the cage together. That is exactly what they are doing by booking Edgar-Maynard III. It is the best possible fight we, the fans, can see for the lightweight belt at this juncture in the UFC. Complaining about it makes no sense. So what if those two just fought each other? It was a great fight! And no matter if Gray gets his first round KO the next time, or if Frankie locks in that guillotine of his in the 4th, it will most likely be a great fight the next time too. It's easy to complain about matchmaking. I heard Chris Leben complaining about how Brian Stann was below his level after that match was made too. And then he knocked him out in the first round to prove how right he was. Oh wait, is that not how it went? Exactly. If a fight was incredibly one sided, then yes, fans would have every right to throw a shit fit about an immediate rematch of that fight. However, unless Joe Silva was delusional, that fight wouldn't get booked.
On the basketball court, my friends and I have a saying. If there is a dispute about a call, no matter the call, that we can't solve by talking, someone will inevitably say "God never lies." That means "Give me the ball. I'm shooting a free throw. If I make it, we're right, if I miss, you are." Now I know some people don't believe in God, and that's all well and good, but the logic still applies, in my opinion. Shogun "won" the first fight. The judges went the other way. Well lets have them do it again to see if the judges, or the fans, were right. Shogun by KO. Edgar vs. Penn shouldn't have gotten an immediate re-booking. Edgar won the first contest. But why not, let's have them meet again. And Edgar dominates. I guess that one was right the first time. The matches that are supposed to be made, are 9 times out of 10, made. Just sit back and watch what happens. Because as much as people complain about matchmaking, or judging, or reffing, or Dana's personality, or Brock's sword/penis tattoo, or GSP's half-retarded attempts at english, you're going to keep watching. Enjoy it.