Waiting is the Hardest Part: Should Fighters Stay Active or Sit and Wait for Title Shot?


  • Share on Tumblr
  • submit to reddit
Rashad Evans UFC 114

Rashad Evans

The debate has raged for what seems like forever.

Should a fighter sit out and wait when given an opportunity to fight for a title or should they continue to compete if the champion is injured or unable to step in at a certain date?

The subject has come up several times in the past few months, and reached fever pitch after former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans opted to sit out and wait to face Mauricio “Shogun” Rua after an injury pushed back their original fight day in 2010.

The fight was rescheduled for UFC 128 in March 2011, but this time it was Evans who ended up dropping out of the fight with a knee injury. Evans’ former teammate Jon Jones stepped in and went on to claim the light heavyweight title in a one-sided beatdown of Rua.

Evans was then slated to face Jones for the title, but the new champion has been dealing with a recurring thumb injury that forced him to delay the fight. Now Evans will fight Phil Davis at UFC 133 in Philadelphia. If he loses, he obviously forgoes his chance to fight for the title.

Despite the outcome, Evans says he has no regrets about waiting for his shot at the title. As a matter of fact, even if he knew the outcome ahead of time, he still would have sat out and waited.

“I still would have waited,” Evans told MMAWeekly Radio recently. “I think besides the fact that I didn’t get to fight there’s other things that I got to accomplish in the whole time I was off as far as personal business I want to do outside of fighting, you know when fighting is said and done.

“You think about it, a lot of professional athletes they never really get a chance to see what they could do outside of the sport while they’re in the sport cause the sport keeps them so busy.”

UFC president Dana White has argued all along with fighters sitting out and waiting for title shots. He believes that fighters should stay active and not miss out on paychecks and keeping busy just for the chance to fight for the belt.

He also points to the situation that happened with Junior dos Santos, who opted not to sit out and wait when UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez was injured and put out of action for several months.

“You get in these positions, look at dos Santos. He could lose and lose that spot. If Rashad lost, yeah, Rashad could lose the spot to (Davis),” White commented.

“(Rashad) sat out and missed opportunities and so now you’re back in line. Then a guy gets hurt, a guy gets hurt, it keeps happening. You don’t know. When you get an opportunity in this business you jump on it and you take it.”

The case that most people point to when it comes to fighters missing an opportunity for a title shot is the situation that happened with former UFC welterweight Karo Parisyan a few years back.

Parisyan had been scheduled to face then champion Matt Hughes for the UFC title, but he suffered a sternum injury in training and had to drop out of the fight. Due to several circumstances and the fact that the division kept moving while he was injured, Parisyan never got a shot at the title.

Anthony Pettis at WEC 48

Anthony Pettis at WEC 48

While title opportunities are rare, fighters ultimately have to decide whether they want to keep busy and stay active and risk it, or sit out and still possibly miss out on a title shot like what happened to Evans.

Former WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis was riding on top of the world after defeating Ben Henderson to win the belt. Following that fight, Pettis was scheduled to meet the winner of Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard in the UFC to unify the lightweight titles between the two promotions.

What ended up happening is something no one would have predicted.

Edgar and Maynard ended up battling to a five-round draw in January. At that point, Pettis and his management team at MMA Inc. opted to take another fight, which headlines this weekend’s “Ultimate Fighter” finale, instead of sitting and waiting for Edgar and Maynard to fight again and then facing the winner.

Now more than ever, it looks like Pettis made the right decision because Edgar and Maynard both ended up with injuries further delaying their title fight rematch, which would have put the final WEC champion on the shelf for an unknown amount of time.

“Look what would have happened to Pettis if he would have waited. That speaks volumes. Look at Rashad Evans,” Pettis’ manager, Mike Roberts, told MMAWeekly.com.

“A few weeks ago is when we found out about Edgar and Maynard falling out, and all the fight cards are already booked. The soonest Anthony would have been able to fight would have been September. A couple months short of a year off, that’s way too long.”

Now because of the injuries to Edgar and Maynard it’s more likely that Pettis will end up fighting a second time before he gets a title shot, but he’ll still be keeping busy and off the proverbial shelf.

UFC lightweight Jim Miller keeps a similar mindset to what Pettis has when it comes to his activity versus waiting in line for a title shot. The New Jersey native may very well be the top contender at 155 pounds, but he’s taken short notice fights, and keeps as active as anyone on the UFC’s lightweight roster.

While Miller was never guaranteed a title shot, he has very well earned it. But if the call for a title shot came from the UFC tomorrow, but it meant he’d be out for a long time before fighting, he’d pass on the title shot and stay busy in the cage.

“If they were saying Jim you get the next title shot, (but) it’s not going to be till the end of the year, I’d rather throw another fight in there,” Miller stated.

There is no one right or wrong answer when it comes to a top contender opting to sit out or not sit out waiting for a title shot, but the numbers seem to favor staying busy and keeping active because there are no guarantees.

Ultimately it comes down to the fighter and the people around them to make the best business decision.


Damon Martin is the lead staff writer and radio host for MMAWeekly.com.
Follow
@DamonMartin on Twitter or e-mail Damon a question or comment.


Follow MMAWeekly.com on Twitter and Facebook.


view original article >>

Related News

  • 26 days ago
  • 56 views

Today's mixed martial arts incorporates a truly defined group of amazing athletes. From powerful strikers to bone-crunching submission specialists, MMA offers a hodgepodge of scintillating talents. That's why the UFC has enjoyed an injection of competitive contenders from flyweight to heavyweight. However, in a demanding era when knockouts and submissions rule the world, some top names have struggled to please the masses. Here are the five best fighters in the UFC right now who need to turn deci more

  • 27 days ago
  • 35 views

The end of the line has come for Eric Prindle and several other fighters, who are no longer on Bellator's roster. Bellator's house cleaning has extended beyond just ousting Bjorn Rebney and Tim Danaher. Earlier this week, the promotion confirmed the release of 19 fighters from its roster, most notably former heavyweight tournament winner Eric Prindle. The 38-year-old went on a run of just 1 win in his last 7 fights, and was stopped by James Thompson earlier this month. Prindle is best known, and more

  • 27 days ago
  • 22 views

Bellator MMA significantly trimmed its roster recently, releasing 19 fighters from their contracts. more

  • 27 days ago
  • 48 views

But insists the releases were done prior to the hiring of former Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker. Bellator MMA, which fired Bjorn Rebney just last week, has also said goodbye to 19 fighters under contract for the Viacom-owned mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion, including former title challengers Eric Prindle (heavyweight) and Anthony Leone (bantamweight). Here is the complete list of releases (via MMA Fighting): Eric PrindleAnthony LeoneRodrigo LimaFrank BacaNick KirkTravis MarxHiroshi NakamuraSerge more

  • 27 days ago
  • 28 views

Several names were removed from Bellator’s roster. Bellator officials confirmed to MMAFighting.com on Wednesday that 19 fighters were released from the promotion, including former title challengers Eric Prindle and Anthony Leone. The list was initially posted on Sherdog Forum. The list also includes Frank Baca, Nick Kirk, Travis Marx, Hiroshi Nakamura, Rodrigo Lima, Sergej Grecicho, Jared Downing, Jason Fischer, Tim Welch, Nathan Coy, Anthony Lemon, Trey Houston, Vaughn Anderson, Keith Berry, Je more

  • 28 days ago
  • 93 views

Georges St-Pierre is the former UFC welterweight champion and is one of the most dominant champions in UFC history. St-Pierre has held the title twice and defended it a total of nine times. After a decision victory over Johny Hendricks at UFC 167 in November 2013, St-Pierre decided to take "an indefinite hiatus" and vacated his welterweight title. During his time on hiatus, he managed to tear his ACL for a second time, although on a different leg than his first ACL tear. An injury like that may more

  • 28 days ago
  • 18 views

Nate Marquardt and James Te Huna will make a piece of inauspicious history on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 43. According to statistical wizard Mike Bohn at MMAJunkie.com, Te Huna vs. Marquardt will be the first UFC main event ever to feature two fighters coming off back-to-back losses in the promotion. Perhaps it goes without saying, but this is probably not one the MMA bards will immortalize in song and story. The last time we saw Te Huna he was being sacrificed at the altar of Shogun Rua, playi more

  • 28 days ago
  • 43 views

Every UFC fighter steps into the Octagon with the hope of elevating themselves to a UFC title shot. But what happens when there's a major roadblock in the way? That's the situation in which guys like Junior dos Santos and Urijah Faber find themselves. The end result of fighting is always to push up the rankings, but for these guys, there's only so far they can go. The fighters on this list find themselves in a bit of limbo in that they can defeat nearly every contender thrown their way, but UFC more

  • 29 days ago
  • 802 views

There are six title fights currently scheduled between now and the end of the year. That's six fighters who have a chance to achieve the ultimate goal of being a UFC champion. Unlucky for them, there are far more than six fighters who have a shot at being champions by the end of the year. There are No. 1 contender matches scheduled, top-level fighters waiting for an opportunity to fight, and others who are waiting on the sidelines for their chance to fight for the title. Everyone in the UFC want more