Forrest Griffin (L) vs Tito Ortiz (R) again ... really? On PPV? Photo via ESPN.com
It seems like the dream job for any mixed martial arts (MMA) fan.
Working for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) behind the scenes, matching up the massive roster of fighters at the promotion's disposal. Playing matchmaker is something almost every fan does after an event, predicting who the winners and losers of each bout should take on next.
It also seems to be a colossal pain in the butt.
You've got fan favorites who are painfully one-dimensional like Dan Hardy who you want to keep on the payroll because they're entertaining, but you've also got prospects who need to be brought up slow enough; however, not too slow as to not completely dash their chances of becoming the next Georges St. Pierre or Jon Jones.
And if you thought keeping up with simply watching all the events the UFC put on is tough, imagine booking the 10 to 12 fights for each one of them.
That's Joe Silva's job, and while he does admirably -- as in the case of booking Gray Maynard and Clay Guida together -- there are still times where his talented mind goes astray and we're left with a fight absolutely no one wants to see.
On one side of the matchmaking spectrum, it is an intriguing bout between two lightweights looking to get back into title contention. On the other, it is a showdown between two men at the end of their ropes with title aspirations barely visible in the rearview mirror. Worse yet, the interesting bout will take place on free television, while fans will have to pay for the innocuous 205-pound fight.
After Quinton Jackson lost to Ryan Bader at UFC 144, I suggested "Rampage" get paired up with Griffin in a rematch of their controversial UFC 86 meeting. For free. On Fox. It's a name match up that would draw eyeballs to its newest and shiniest toy -- a major network television deal -- while still leaving the true contenders to do their thing for a cost on pay-per-view (PPV). Both men won't be banging it out for 12 pounds of gold anytime soon, but their names still hold some sway among casual fans.
"Rampage" has done his best to screw up all goodwill he had left with the UFC fanbase since then, but a fight against Griffin would have still been more intriguing than one with the The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 1 winner and Ortiz. "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" has exactly one win in over five years, while Griffin is 2-3 since winning the belt from Jackson. Their second bout at UFC 106 didn't exactly thrill audiences, making a third meeting between the two completely unneeded and thoroughly undesired.
Honestly, it's an insult to fans and worse yet, it's a slap in the face to fighters more worthy of the PPV spot Griffin and Ortiz are taking.
I understand both men likely have a PPV cut written into their contracts. It's essentially legally required for them to show up on a numbered event on a Saturday night. Still, though, it's curious matchmaking from Silva when better options are available for either man.
Besides the aforementioned rematch with "Rampage," a bout with Lyoto Machida or Phil Davis would be an original match up for Griffin fans haven't seen. Even a fight against recent signee Glover Teixeira would serve to give the highly touted light heavyweight a big debut. At this point of their careers, Griffin and Ortiz should be used to enhance younger talent and a fight between each other does nothing for anyone, including themselves.
At the very least, either light heavyweight could be booked in a fight that would raise eyebrows. Take, for example, the match-up between Rich Franklin and Cung Le. Franklin seems to be the definition of conventional. He's not amazing at any one skill, but he's proficient enough in all of them to be a threat to any fighter. Le, on the other hand, is just about the exact opposite. His striking is dazzling and deadly but has no ground game to speak of.
It's an intriguing bout, one that could go any numbers of ways. It's exactly the kind of fight Griffin/Ortiz III isn't.
Guida/Maynard, Franklin/Le and even Martin Kampmann's next bout with Jake Ellenberger are recent homeruns for the UFC matchmaker. But, Silva swung and missed hard when he booked a third bout between the UFC 59 and UFC 106 rivals. I suppose when you're at the bat as much as he is these days -- over two dozen events this year alone -- you're bound to come up with a dud once in a while, right?
You win some, you lose some. Apparently it happens before the fighters even step inside the Octagon, too.