Tournament. A word once synonymous with mixed martial arts has all but vanished in the past few years. It is also a word that sparks a lot of debate and invokes strong feelings in fighters and fans alike.
A tournament is like watching your favorite movie. You sit down with a certain expectation, hoping to be captivated, entertained, and immersed in the storyline as it unfolds before you. You sit wide-eyed on the edge of your seat through the various twists and turns, which culminates into a spectacular finish that you could never see coming. We can all relate to that on some level. Now, what if you went to a movie and they only showed you the first 30 minutes? A month later you could come back for the next 30 minutes, and another month later you could come back and watch the end. You would likely lose the heart of the story and your connection with the people involved. That is why I love one-night tourneys, and apparently, I am not alone.
Strikeforce recently did a poll, and 87% of respondents said they favored the one night format.
A tournament is a throwback to the early days of the UFC and Pride. There are some organizations that are doing “tournaments” over the course of several months and claiming to be “different.” I fail to see how that is any different from an organization that has multiple fight cards—whereby the person who wins the match fights the person who wins the other match, which culminates into a championship match. I am not speaking to dilute the meaning of the word “tournament,” but rather emphasize the most challenging adjectives that can be placed upon it—“single” and “night.”
Some people will argue that the single night tournament format is antiquated. Others, like myself, feel that it showcases what makes this sport great: the mental fortitude, physical conditioning, technical skill, and little bit of luck that are not only present in every fight, but rather, pushed to their respective limits. It is a daunting task to step into a ring or cage—with all the variables that come into play during a one-night tournament. I respect the hell out of any man or woman who has the courage to make the sacrifices of time and commitment to fight. However, any fighter that is willing to put their ego aside and let fate run its course in a single-night tournament, commands the ultimate respect in my book.
There are inevitable challenges that accompany a one-night tourney, namely injuries. Let’s face it, no one wants an alternate to come in and win the final. As Chief Operating Officer of Shine, I have experienced the challenges. One of the more difficult tasks in assembling a tournament is gathering the talent. Only one man will win. This means that everyone else gets an “L” at some point in the night—not something a fighter looks forward to. There is always the flip side of that coin. One fighter will walk away with three wins under his belt—a feat that could signify the rebirth or launching pad of his or her career.
I will always love the single bouts that have come to be the standard for MMA. However, I have a strong feeling that we will see more and more tournaments over the next few years. As a matter of fact, I know for certain that we will.