Dana White’s Contender Series is back and not without some head scratching controversy as Brendan Loughnane is bizarrely denied a UFC contract.
I’ve often lauded the ‘Contender Series’ as the absolute best way of finding talent to add to the UFC roster and for the most part, men and women who have been signed to the UFC from the show have slotted right in.
There have been some bizarre situations such as Austin Vanderford being denied a contract in season two despite an excellent showing. Then we have Greg Hardy whose signing left a sour taste in many people’s mouths due to his domestic abuse issues.
Fast forward to the opening night of season three and Brendan Loughnane – six years since appearing on The Ultimate Fighter – returns to impress Dana White with a dominant display over Bill Algeo and gets (for want of a better phrase) fucked over by Dana White.
LONG TERM OR SHORT TERM
What exactly are the UFC and Dana White looking for here? Are they looking for entertaining fighters who go hell for leather or durable fighters who can actually progress and earn title shots?
What is the ultimate goal here? Long term or short term?
We all know finishes are great and highlight reel KO’s/submissions will get you noticed by White and Sean Shelby who sit cage side and ultimately make the call but if the sport is mixed martial arts then surely what Brendan Loughnane did to Bill Algeo showcased a little of everything that is involved in the sport.
Excellent boxing, counter punching, good movement, leg kicks and takedowns in a gritty but ultimately dominant performance against a guy who was 12-2 prior to the fight.
Much like Simon Cowell of the X-Factor, Dana White’s awarding of contracts seem dependent on his mood. If he’s in good form, he’ll throw out contracts like they’re going out of fashion.
Find him in a pissed off state and he’ll dash a fighter’s hopes and dreams in an instant.
What we had from Dana White on Tuesday was him in a pretty snarky looking mood at the conclusion of Loughnane’s fight.
Having gone through 15 tough minutes against a durable guy in Algeo, Loughnane would have been feeling pretty good about himself only to check the monitors to see the sullen face of Dana White when Loughnane secured a last ditch takedown to seal the round and the fight.
If the series was called ‘Dana White’s: You’re only getting signed if you finish your opponent’ Series’, Loughane could have no complaints here, but it’s not and Loughnane can feel rightly aggrieved about this non decision to award him a contract.
There is no doubt that Brendan Loughnane is one of the best unsigned fighters in Europe not competing in the UFC and his talent reflects that. His skillset reflects that and the unwavering support from some of sport’s biggest names reflect that.
Tyson Fury and Manchester United players were all behind Loughane’s quest to sign for the UFC and now because of Dana White’s bullshit power trip, it will now likely hurt them in the long run.
Even before he set foot into the cage, Loughnane was a big star. He’s charismatic, he’s got the skillset and substance to make a real go at 145lbs but most importantly, he’s a ready made marketable fighter.
As I’ve alluded to, he has the backing of huge sports stars already. You can’t buy that and as Peter Carroll said on MMAFighting.com’s ‘The A-Side’, when the UFC return to London and are looking to fill the card with UK talent, Loughnane should have been high on that list.
It’s hard to tell what Loughane’s relationship with the UFC will be now but it’s likely to be soured due to what happened on Tuesday night.
However, I don’t doubt that Loughnane has other offers on the table and were I in his shoes, I’d be looking at other options. Bellator is certainly the option that jumps out and with the spate of European shows being offered by Scott Coker and a solid roster of top talent, Loughnane could easily be a major player in their featherweight division.
I like the Contender Series and I want to like it more but when Dana White’s decision making is based purely on pre-conceived biases and power tripping, it’s hard to take it too seriously when legitimate talent are being left out in the cold.
Decide Dana. Are you after short term highlight reels, or do you want to build up long lasting roster that can really reach the upper echelons of the sport.