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Graph of the Week (9/20/2021)

Namajunas vs Weili 2. Moreno vs Figueiredo 3. Immediate rematches are once again in the news and the subject of controversy as many fans believe that top contenders like Askar Askarov in men’s flyweight and Carla Esparza in women’s strawweight are being snubbed of their deserved title shots in favor of immediate rematches.

There are three main problems with immediate rematches. First, they stalemate the tops of divisions and can deny legit top contenders from getting a shot, forcing them to either be inactive for long periods of time or take fights against other top contenders which can result in them never getting their deserved shot if they lose. Second, they create unwanted situations regardless of result. If the former champ wins, they go to a rubber match further stalling out the division, or they deny the loser a rubber match which is unfair and heavily biased matchmaking towards one side. If the former champ loses, it creates an awkward situation if he continues to have success in the division because now you have a scenario where a fighter is beating top contenders but no one wants to see him fight for a title against a champ he’s already lost against twice. Third, and most importantly, it is insanely uninteresting, unexciting, unentertaining, and produces one-sided predictable results more often than not. The last time a title contender won a title coming off a loss was in 2019 when Stipe Miocic beat Daniel Cormier in their rematch. Since then, fighters are 0-8 when contending for a title while coming off a loss.

It would be ideal if the UFC made a rule banning immediate rematches, requiring former champs to win at least 1 fight before contending for the title again. But in the real world that we live in, immediate rematches will continue to be made because recently former champs bring more eyeballs than unknown contenders. All we can do as hardcore fans is to continue to root for the reigning champ in immediate rematches until the graph below is so outrageous that the UFC can’t ignore it anymore.

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