Wednesday, 6 February 2008

UFC Lightweight Tournament

I was thinking about the year-spanning tournaments that K-1 have and Pride used to have and was wondering if we might ever see anything like it in the UFC. Chances are slim that they'd create events specifically for a tournament but how about incorporating the tournaments into fight cards, perhaps in such a way to establish a number one contender to the title. Thinking about the weight classes as they are at present, the light heavyweight and the lightweights appear to show the most promise for this scenario given that they appear to have the flattest contender structures in the UFC.

But having a light heavyweight tournament doesn't make a lot of sense when some of the fighters there are the biggest ppv draws and you want to use their brands to establish cards when necessary. In contrast, the lightweights are currently much lower profile and are still establishing their brands, despite their record of exciting bouts. So who would you include in a tournament of 16 fighters if you were going to establish a #1 contender to BJ Penn? Well first the top-level exclusions - Joe Stevenson because they just met at UFC80, Sean Sherk because he's fighting Penn at UFC84 and Roger Huerta because he's taking time off to concentrate on studies. But excluding them still leaves a huge list of potential entrants: Aurelio, Bocek, Clementi, Danzig, Diaz, Edgar, Fisher, Florian, Gamburyan, Griffin, Guida, Lauzon, Maynard, Miller, Pellegrino, Stephens, Stout, Tavares, Tibau, Thomas is already 20!

But look at those names closely and you see that a number of fighters are booked for UFN13 and UFC83. At UFN 13 we have the headline of Florian-Lauzon, plus Edgar-Maynard, Aurelio-Fisher, Guida-Schiavo and Thomas-Neer. Then at UFC83, Clementi-Stout and Bocek-Danzig. Is there something going on that we don't know about; has Joe Silva actually set up a tournament for #1 contender that we don't know about? If I was designing the tournament I'd include 6 of those bouts, choosing to exclude the Thomas-Neer fight on the basis of Neer's track record.

So if those 6 fights are part of a tourney, who might be in the other 2 (which I'd expect to see at UFC84)? Well of the remaining 20, that leaves Diaz, Gamburyan, Griffin, Miller, Pellegrino, Stephens, Tavares and Tibau. Let's stretch our tournament theory even further and say that there have already been entry fights into the tournament - the recent fights including these fighters at UFC81, Griffin-Tibau, and UFN12 Miller-Stephens, to eliminate Tibau and Miller. Griffin is at the top of the pile of these fighters and must be included. Also, given their status from TUF5, Diaz and Gamburyan must be included. That leaves a tough call between Pellegrino, Stephens and Tavares. Of those I've got to pick Tavares as the best call (maybe Stephens-Miller wasn't an eliminator after all?).

Leaving the four of Diaz, Gamburyan, Griffin and Tavares, there's a potentially intriguing rematch between the TUF5 finalists, with Gamburyan given the chance to make up for his freak loss on that occasion. The problem with this rematch, aside from it being too early to make anything of, is that it'd also leave Griffin and Tavares rematching their UFC76 fight. Instead I'll pick Diaz-Tavares in a bjj battle and Gamburyan-Griffin to grapple and bang.

So that gives us the 8 fights: Florian-Lauzon, Edgar-Maynard, Aurelio-Fisher, Guida-Schiavo, Clementi-Stout, Bocek-Danzig, Diaz-Tavares and Gamburyan-Griffin. To continue the speculation, I'll pick Florian, Edgar, Fisher, Guida, Clementi, Danzig, Tavares and Griffin to emerge victorious. Then in the quarters we'll get match-ups along the lines of Griffin-Fisher, Edgar-Guida, Florian-Tavares and Danzig-Clementi. Griffin, Edgar, Tavares and Danzig win through, Griffin then beats Danzig and Tavares submits Edgar to set up a Griffin-Tavares rematch for #1 contender.

Tavares to win, then meet BJ Penn in a championship bout, which Tavares wins sometime in the second quarter of '09.

Pure fantasy, eh?

1 Comment:

Dinamo said...

Thinking again about how the lightweight tournament would work out, I realise that I've been a complete idiot but excluding Din Thomas! While he lost his last fight to K-Flo, he had previous run off three wins in succession against Jeremy Stephens, Clay Guida and Rich Clementi - all of whom are in the tournament. So okay, Josh Neer isn't perhaps the most intimidating opponent and I wouldn't include him in the tournament by recent form but how could Dinyero be excluded? So I'll instead suggest that Griffin is next in line for a title shot against the winner of Penn-Sherk and that Tavares-Diaz is the last fight that'll be part of the tournament. As for the tourney schedule, I'll say Tavares to meet K-Flo in the final instead of Griffin. I still back Tavares to get the W and title shot.