June 8, 2012; Sunrise, FL, USA; Henry Martinez (left) charges into Bernardo Magalhaes during their UFC bout at BankAtlantic Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
For those mixed martial arts (MMA) fans who caught the four fights on last night's (June 8) UFC on FX 3: "Johnson vs. McCall" main card, they were treated with a handful of excellent scraps.
Eddie Wineland and Scott Jorgensen kicked off the festivities with a bloody, two-round war which ended with "Young Guns" nearly unconscious on the Octagon floor. From there, Mike Pyle and Erick Silva each score first round stoppage via knockout and submission, respectively, to further along their UFC title aspirations.
Those four fights were fun, violent and all-around exciting. The under card bouts preceding them, however, were pretty much anything but.
Eight fights and six decisions made up last night's "Prelims" under card with a couple of the contests -- and its participants -- forcing many fans to ask themselves -- and their Twitter followers -- why this would appear on an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event.
What does "UFC caliber" even mean nowadays?
The UFC is considered the top of the food chain in MMA. In fact, ask your average fella on the street if he's a fan of MMA and you'll likely be met with a blank stare. Toss the UFC acronym his way and the odds of getting a response increase exponentially.
Dana White's company is synonymous with the sport and as such is subject to scrutiny not given to other fight promotions like Bellator. Since UFC is the top dog, only the creme de la creme should be showcased. Regional-level fighters with spotty striking and rudimentary submission skills need not apply, thanks.
But that seems to be exactly what we got in a few fights last night.
So did these guys deserve to be in the Octagon? Are they "UFC caliber?"
I read a statistic the other day that stated the fight company has already promoted more fights this year than it did in the entirety of 2003.
That's a whole mess of scraps.
More events means more bouts means more fighters. This all leads to fighters you wouldn't have seen inside the Octagon 10 -- or even five -- years ago serving as support on a basic cable event.
Heck, five or 10 years ago, basic cable UFC events didn't even exist.
To be honest, as quickly as the sport is growing, I'm not sure there are even enough fighters who would traditionally be called "UFC caliber'" on the planet to fill every UFC event top to bottom. In the month of June alone, there will be nearly 50 fights inside the Octagon. That's 100 fighters, many of whom are stepping in on short notice thanks to the scourge of injuries sustained in training.
The MMA talent pool simply isn't deep enough to support all the events UFC is putting on.
So what does "UFC caliber" mean?
It used to mean someone was the best of the best. It meant this fighter had gone through the regional wringer and come out better on the other end. It meant, with good training, the right fights and just a little bit of luck, a fighter could be the next world champion.
Now, it doesn't really mean anything. With multiple events each month and an injury bug with seemingly no mercy flying around training camps, the UFC often needs to bring in a fighter to whom it originally wouldn't have offered a shot.
The UFC isn't just for the elite fighters anymore.