What if Dana White doesn’t like you?

The UFC has a near-monopoly on top level MMA fights. As I said in my last post, there are a lot of people who think that this is no bad thing. Specifically, I considered the idea that sports need monopolies in order to run smoothly, and if you look at the governing bodies you have for most large sports, this seems to make sense.

But the UFC clearly isn’t a governing body in the sense we mean when we talk about the NFL or FIFA. This week, Rashad Evans spells out what’s wrong with that argument, so I don’t have to:

The problem is, there’s no governing body to the UFC to decide who gets the title shot. There’s no ranking, so how do I know when I’ll get a title shot again? What, when Dana White likes me enough? It’s basically on when he likes me, and you know as well as I know, that’s not that often. If I get the opportunity to fight for a title because he says so, then I’m going to take it. If I have to wait to take it, I’ll wait to take it.

This pretty much nails it. Governing bodies are expected to abide by a reasonably consistent set of rules. Obviously “expected to” is a long way away from “do in reality”, but it’s very hard to think of a governing body for a sport that has as much discretion as Dana White does in picking who gets to fight who, and when.

To be fair, Evans’s problems actually stem as much from bad luck as from anything else. But the wider point is sound. In place of rules, top level MMA has “What Dana White thinks would be a good idea.”

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