On July 6, at UFC 162, middleweight No. 1 contender Chris Weidman made good on his promise that he would knock out 10-time defending champion and No. 1 mixed martial arts pound-for-pound fighter Anderson Silva. Weidman is the new middleweight champion, but his victory will be short lived. About a week later, the UFC announced the rematch, Silva vs Weidman II at UFC 168, in December. Weidman knocked out Silva with a left hook in the second round after Silva continued to taunt his opponent by keeping his hands down. This was the second biggest upset in UFC recent history since Matt Serra defeated Georges St. Pierre at UFC 69 in April 2007. Serra was a 6-1 underdog.
Immediate rematches are bad because they’re disrespectful to both fighters, especially to the underdog winner. It’s as if the fight never happened. There’s a conspiracy that the fight was fixed. Now, Weidman has to prove that his victory was no fluke. Well, upsets are one of the great things that happen in fights. You set up an immediate rematch and you take away the excitement of the upset because it will no longer be remembered if Silva wins decisively in the rematch. People will say Silva only lost because he toyed with his opponent. Silva disrespected Weidman and he paid dearly. He doesn’t deserve to be next in line.
If Weidman wins again, where does Silva go from there? A weight class change or maybe retirement. A trilogy will never be possible. That’s what happened to former lightweight champion, B.J. Penn. He defended his belt successfully three times before he lost twice to Frankie Edgar in the title fight and the immediate rematch. There’s no time for growth when there’s an immediate rematch. When Penn lost again, he moved up to welterweight. Edgar had gotten into his head and a third fight would not sell as well since he got drubbed both times.
If Weidman loses in the rematch, he loses his star appeal. Middleweight didn’t look great because Silva had the aura of invincibility. Weidman made Silva look human again. If Silva wins, Weidman returns as an unfamiliar fighter to the general public and the middleweight division becomes stagnant again because Silva is once again unbeatable.
There are other top contenders that are being disrespected by the organization. Vitor Belfort, Michael Bisping and Mark Munoz – just to name a few. With an immediate rematch, every one of these fighters have to wait even longer. That was the case in the lightweight division when Benson Henderson had to defend his title against former champion Edgar. Lightweight is UFC’s deepest division. Imagine having to fight again where one loss can immediately drop you down the champion’s ladder and a victory doesn’t mean you’re the next contender because the former champion just jumped a spot ahead of you.
For all of these reason, immediate rematches are bad for business and the fighters. Sure, the rematch will create fireworks. But then the middleweight division will remain unexciting because the UFC doesn’t respect the value of upsets.