The gift title shot to Dan Hardy, the gift title shots to Vitor Belfort, the randomly fluctuating top contenders in each division, the various instant title fight rematches, and now a gift title shot for Chael Sonnen... Where has the legitimacy of MMA gone?
While many of these big name fighters have excellent skills and are worthy of fighting for a title, the current top contender selection system has little relevance to the competitive landscape of each division. The top contenders that are selected often do not have a solid win streak or have not fought other legitimate title contenders/top competition within their respective divisions. This top contender selection process is additionally flawed in that it robs many fighters who are deserving of a title shot (based on win streak and fighting legitimate competition) of the exposure and the potential for economic growth. Furthermore, this top contender selection process robs the fans of the most competitive fights. Predictable blow out fights are becoming more and more common as the top contenders no longer have to work there way through the competition to earn a title shot.
So what is the solution to all of these problems?...
Bring back tournament format.
Tournament format would solve all these problems as it would give every fighter an equal opportunity to fight for the top prize and would allow more fighters to gain exposure and consequently help the UFC market a wider array of fighters. Tournament format would also benefit the fans as each fight would have significance towards a title leading to more competitive fights and to the elimination of drama queens that get title fights by running their mouths (e.g. Chael Sonnen). Tournament format would also eliminate all these senseless instant rematches as turnover of the title would be common due to the no-room-for-error nature of the tournament format.