A bad economy that led to over 3,000 seats given away for free. Three fighters who couldn't make weight. Another early stoppage. Another huge judging controversy. And oh yeah: swine flu.
Dana White's head shave this week likely sliced a few more gray follicles than seven days before, and who could blame him? UFC 104 was, on paper, a great card, but when it was over he found himself answering questions about everything from the Velasquez stoppage to Lesnar pulling out of UFC 106 to "Brown Pride" to the fatties both on the card and in The Ultimate Fighter. Oh - and a Machida victory that had the Internet HOWLING in outrage, thinking Rua got screwed.
Now, there's not a lot Dana can do about a global pandemic. But with a number of the other things swirling around, I got to thinking: these are not just Dana's problems. They are Scott Coker's problems. These are mixed martial arts' problems. And if White is serious about growing the sport AND ensuring that the tainted, toxic clouds that have hovered over boxing for years never alight on MMA, it's time to start thinking about a U.S. governing body for mixed martial arts.
Bolivian officials demonstrate a model governing body for MMA. Wait: this is their Congress? Oops.
I'm sure the UFC would like to think of themselves as the only superpower in town; their (largely successful) efforts to stifle WAMMA have been proof of that. But no matter what they do, they'll still have to deal with a patchwork quilt of athletic commissions. As we saw this weekend, those commissions can have a severe effect on any promotion. There are a variety of advantages a properly funded and supported national governing body could provide:
-Training and recruitment of judges and referees: This is the largest benefit of a governing body - a pool of officials that can be trained to officiate and score MMA matches instead of getting the various sloppy seconds from boxing that some state athletic commissions dole out. MMA referees get slammed from all sides. White has publicly ripped Steve Mazzagatti on numerous occasions, "Big John" McCarthy is on the outs with a number of state commissions, and Yves Lavigne has looked lost in the cage multiple times this year. These are the guys that are officiating at the sport's top tier! A governing body can establish referee training and recruitment programs and work to reform judging and MMA's scoring system into something smart and unique as opposed to a quick-and-dirty bastardization of existing boxing rules.