All that glitters is not gold

JOSE RODRIGUEZ -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

No doubt the mass marketing machine of the Ultimate Fighting Championship has catapulted mixed martial arts into the mainstream.

It has turned an underground sport into a multi-million dollar sensation and has spawned numerous clones.

But here's a little food for thought.

At what point does feeding the mass exposure machine begin to hurt the sport?

Case in point: Matt 'The Terror' Serra, all around good guy and well-established jiu-jitsu fighter and welterweight winner of the The Ultimate Fighter 4. On the reality show, he won over fans with his no-nonsense approach to the game and his New York cabbie accent.

He's been around the block in the fight game but he is -- at best -- a good journeyman. A second-bill man with a record of seven wins with four losses.

Yet, as a result of winning the reality show, he has a shot at the title in February against belt holder Georges St. Pierre of Montreal.

On the other side of the coin is the growing lineup of legitimate contenders who had to punch and kick their way to a title shot.

First in line is Diego 'Nightmare' Sanchez. He is undefeated in the Octagon with a perfect 17-0 record. He deserves a title shot long before Serra.

There is the outgoing king Matt Hughes, who, with a record of 41 and 4 had a bit of humility beaten into him when Georges St. Pierre embarrassed him last month to take the belt.

Or even Karo 'The Heat' Parisyan who's only lost twice in his last 12 fights and those losses came at the hands and feet of Sanchez and St. Pierre. His record is 16 and 4.

Now, I'm not one to question the very successful formula that has allowed the UFC to grow.

But you have to ask, does Matt Serra really deserve a title shot?

FIGHT NOTES:

  • By all accounts, reigning Pride Open-Weight Grand Prix champ Mirko 'Cro Cop' Filipovic will sign on with the UFC. Considered the number two heavyweight in the world behind Pride's Fedor Emelianenko, it shouldn't be long before the Croatian is pitted against UFC heavyweight champ Tim Sylvia, who has also just inked a new three-fight deal with the UFC.

  • UFC prez Dana White has told Canadian Press mixed-martial arts ace Neil Davidson that a UFC event in Canada will happen April 7 in Montreal with welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre. St. Pierre, who fights Matt Serra in February, will either take on Matt Hughes in a rematch or possibly Diego Sanchez.

  • White also said B.J. Penn will be one of the coaches on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter TV show with Jens Pulver being the other. The fifth season of the popular show will feature lightweights.

  • Zuffa LLC, the UFC's parent company, has bought the World Fighting Alliance and in the process the contracts of its top fighters including light heavyweight Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson.

  • Elite Xtreme Combat and its broadcast partner SHOWTIME held a press conference last week to announce its debut event will take place Feb. 10 at the DeSoto Civic Center in Southaven, Miss. Veteran fighters Renzo Gracie and Frank Shamrock will square off in the main event. Montreal's David Loiseau, who was summarily dismissed from the UFC after his loss to Mike Swick, has also signed on for the new fight club. The Canadian middleweight has signed a three-fight deal that is rumoured to pay him close to $170,000.

  • And finally to the faithful readers of this space: Here's hoping you find peace if you need it, love if you lack it and a whole lot of holiday cheer -- in whatever form that takes. See you in the New Year.

    jose.rodriguez@calgarysun.com


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