The Unofficial Rulebook to UFC Matchmaking

First written on Bloody Elbow

WARNING: This post is fictitious. Merely satire based on real facts. There’s no reason for you to genuinely believe anything written here. If you get pissed off, please write an open letter to me.

Ever wonder how the UFC performs the task of booking fights for you the viewing public to watch? Here’s a glimpse as to how they do it.



The Coddle Rule

– The Coddle Rule is the most complicated rule in the UFC matchmaking system, yet the most simple. You see, this particular rule has several subsets and is broken down for different fighters. In the broadest sense, the coddling rule means you’re given fights that favor your style to please the fans and/or heavily increase your chances of victory.


Now please note this only applies to a select group of people. Here are some examples:

Endearing Personalities

Amir Sadollah. The UFC perceives Sadollah to have a great personality and a tremendous ability to be a TUF alum, and try to give him the easiest matchups possible so he can showcase his kickboxing skills en route to a likely unanimous decision win. Guys like Brad Blackburn, Peter Sobotta, and Phil Baroni (all currently out of the UFC) are called up to the task to be Amir’s punching bag. When they matched Amir up against actual fighters worth a damn like Johny Hendricks and Dong Hyun Kim he lost both times. Joe Silva has made sure he will never make this mistake again. According to several of my sources after Sadollah’s next win against Duane Ludwig, he will be lined up to face Matt Riddle, Sean Pierson, James Wilks, and for some reason Jason Reinhardt.

Dan Hardy. Like Sadollah, the UFC loves Dan Hardy’s personality in addition to his Britishness. He has that charming British accent, he loves art, and they have determined that he has KO power. In fact, they loved Hardy so much and wanted to promote him so bad, they made sure he didn’t have a single fight in the United States. He even jumped from prelim of UFC 89 to co-main of UFC 95 against a guy who fought on a prelim section of a rushed together Spike TV event. Once he disposed of Akihiro Gono and Rory Markham, the UFC gave him his mandated “European fighter must fight Marcus Davis” bout a few months later and then awarded him a title shot against Mike Swick, who at the time had a whopping 4 fights at welterweight and one of them against Jonathan Goulet.

Having “earned” his title shot despite not facing a single wrestler, Hardy shockingly lost to Georges St. Pierre, gaining new fans for not tapping to two deep GSP armbars despite not being competitive for 25 out of 25 minutes. No worries though for the UFC, they reinstated The Coddle Rule twice against Carlos Condit and a stapled-together Anthony Johnson, but The Outlaw lost both due to Condit and Johnson not following the pre-fight “STANDANDBANG FOR 15 MINUTES” clause. Condit broke it by hitting really hard, and Rumble broke it by being really good at wrestling. Hardy has not been cut, but instead will headline an upcoming Versus event against Chris Lytle, and if he loses that they will continue to find fighters Hardy can beat so he can contend again.

Stephan Bonnar. Due to his contributions to Griffin vs. Bonnar I, Dana White has stated that Stephan Bonnar will never be cut from the UFC. His toughness and wild brawling style that typifies everything that stopped winning championships in the UFC for several years are the only things keeping him around. It’s also because of this that he’s never allowed to fight top 10 fighters (at the time of their bout) ever. When Bonnar retires with a UFC record hovering around .500, he will likely continue his role as a fight analyst, creepily staring into the camera like a serial killer. Perhaps this explains why he’s called “The American Psycho”.


British Fighters

See Dan Hardy.

Paul Kelly and Paul Taylor. The two “Pauls” have never been UFC caliber but they’re both entertaining strikers and they’re also British.  The UFC ensured Kelly and Taylor stayed with them as long as possible by matching them up with the exact same opponents (or each other). Kelly and Taylor have fought each other, Marcus Davis, and were both originally scheduled to fight Sam Stout and Gabe Ruediger before injuries changed that. Having both dropped to lightweight, the UFC released Paul Kelly when they ran out of fighters he could realistically beat. Paul Taylor will experience a similar fate when he wins Fight of the Night in his 30-21 decision loss to Anthony Njokuani.


Well-liked TUFers on Two Fight Losing Streaks

Stephan Bonnar and Joe Stevenson. Not much more can be said.


The We Want You Out Rule

Have you ever pissed the UFC off? Then you’ll be on the fast track to an axing with this rule.

Example: Kendall Grove, who pissed on TUF, Spike, and the UFC enough to have his fight with Goran Reljic bumped to the dark fights and then his ensuing fight comes against Demian Maia. Grove is now out of the UFC after losing to Tim Boetsch. Mission Accomplished. It also helped that Kendall Grove has a horrible chin.


The Forrest Griffin Rule

–When a fighter wins one of the greatest fights in UFC history and proceeds to become a contender, that fighter is never allowed to have an easy opponent. This only applies to Forrest Griffin, who is one of the most badass people alive. It was highly rumored that Forrest Griffin threatened to leave the organization for not being able to fight Fedor back in 2007.


The Paulo Thiago Rule

– The Paulo Thiago Rule dictates that when a fighter who is brought in for the sole intention to lose to a well-known TUF alum actually wins, he must consistently be given top 10-15 ranked opponents regardless of experience or winning/losing streak. Examples: Paulo Thiago


The Marketability Rule

There are two ways for this to work. It can work positively in one’s favor when the UFC perceives you to be popular enough (whether good or bad) to merit high-profile matchups and un-warranted title shots. The UFC are suckers for pro wrestling heels. However, this rule can also work against you when you’re deemed to be such a Pay-Per-View cancer to the point where people would rather watch re-runs of Joey, whether by unappealing fight style or the personality of a wet napkin. So, the UFC keeps you busy with mostly over-matched opposition on low-level PPV cards or Fight Nights, without giving you an actual title shot.


See Dan Hardy.

Jon Fitch. Most people admit that Jon Fitch isn’t very exciting to watch. Fitch’s only Fight of the Night was a complete ass-kicking at the hands of Georges St. Pierre. The judges at ringside were so convinced the fight was over in the 1st round that Doug Crosby stopped watching and started writing his grocery shopping list at ringside. When he was notified that the fight had gone the distance, Crosby hurriedly looked at his scorecard and then to Fitch’s face and swiflty jotted down 50-43 GSP. Otherwise, he’s normally one to put the fans and not the fighters to sleep. Jon went 7 straight victories winning by completely boring unanimous decisions, and it got so tedious that in his contest with Ben Saunders at UFC 111, Bruce Buffer accidentally said “Fighting out of San Jose, CA, your winner by unanimous decision, JON FITCH!” during the pre-fight intros. Reports from people at the Prudential Center that night claimed Buffer didn’t watch the 15 minutes of tedium that ensued, but instead focused on Rosetta Stone’s “How to fake accents in 6 different languages” on his laptop.

Anthony Pettis. Showtime’s awesome off-the-cage kick against Ben Henderson at WEC 53 made SportsCenter and was the talk of the sports world for a few days. It won him a WEC-UFC Title Unification superfight against the winner of Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard.  The kick brought mass hysteria and calls that Pettis would be able to finish either Edgar or Maynard. It’s as if Pettis had no weaknesses and the repeated successful takedown attempts by Alex Karalexis and Shane Roller never existed. The UFC saw a star and then Frankie Edgar ruined it by not staying knocked out against Gray Maynard. So they got creative and gave Pettis the always-entertaining Clay Guida. After all, he brawled against Roger Huerta and Diego Sanchez, so why no give Pettis a direct route to the top by facing a lifelong gatekeeper? Well that didn’t pan out, as Guida did his silly wrestling thing and won a decision. The entire strategy with Pettis blew up in the UFC’s faces with two of the worst possible results, meaning they actually have to give someone who has long been established as a top LW a title shot! Someone like….

Jim Miller. A 7 fight winning streak meant absolutely nothing to the top dogs at Zuffa. Even though Jim Miller is really exciting, he’s never gotten a title shot. Instead, Miller has become the unofficial WEC Lightweight mop-up boy. He dominated Kamal Shalorus and will probably dominate Ben Henderson on August 14th. In his entire winning streak Miller has not fought a top 10 fighter, and much of this is attributed to the fact that he’s never flashy and doesn’t really care too much for racial slurs and bigotry to become popular. Miller is expected to face Donald Cerrone, Shane Roller, and Danny Downes once the Henderson fight is over. When he wins all of those fights, Miller will be passed up for the next title shot by Anthony Pettis’ capoeira kick KO of Rafael Dos Anjos. Miller will remain “in the mix”.

Chael Sonnen. Before the infamous battle with Anderson Silva, Chael Sonnen was known for being fairly boring in his “takedown and pitty-pat” decision victories and high number of submission defeats. Perhaps we should’ve seen Sonnen’s sub defense come in question when he lost an amateur fight early in his career when he tapped out to his own submission attempt. But Sonnen is now one of the most famous faces in MMA because of his epic trash-talking, which otherwise would get people banned on most forums. He remains the closest we’ve ever come to seeing Anderson Silva lose, and even with his failed drug test Dana White wanted a rematch. The UFC had to adhere to Sonnen’s suspension, but they wasted no time in giving him a free decision victory against Brian Stann this October, to set-up what hopes to be the highly anticipated 2nd round submission against Anderson Silva in 2012.


I swear this post wasn’t supposed to be this long, but there you have it.

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