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View Full Version : Chris Cope Should Get Another Opportunity, But Not In the UFC



Kickass32
06-06-2011, 02:09 PM
http://cdn2.sbnation.com/entry_photo_images/1380951/chriscope_large.jpg (http://cdn2.sbnation.com/entry_photo_images/1380951/chriscope_large.jpg)

TUF 13 Finale: Chris Cope Should Get Another Opportunity, But Not In the UFC (http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2011/6/6/2208560/tuf-13-finale-chris-cope-should-get-another-opportunity-but-not-in)

http://cdn2.sbnation.com/images/placeholders/profile/tiny.v777cf8a.gif by Bloody Elbow (http://www.sbnation.com/users/Bloody%20Elbow) on Jun 6, 2011 10:02 AM (http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2011/6/6/2208560/tuf-13-finale-chris-cope-should-get-another-opportunity-but-not-in)
I'm all for giving fighters an opportunity to succeed, but there are times when promotions have to be realistic with what they're working with. At Saturday's The Ultimate Fighter 13 finale, there were plenty of those reality checks and to me, none more so than Chris Cope (http://www.sbnation.com/mma/fighter/129718/chris-cope).


Cope, a TUF semifinalist, made his Octagon debut to kick off the live telecast and outworked Chuck O'Neil (http://www.sbnation.com/mma/fighter/131681/chuck-o-neil) to earn a fairly one-sided unanimous decision. With the win, Cope climbed to 5-1 and likely earned another look in the UFC. However, he shouldn't....at least not yet.
If you compare the UFC to other major sports organizations, they are the equivalent of MLB for baseball, the NBA for basketball, etc. That may seem like a 'duh' statement but I've felt like over the past few years that the desire to put on more events has resulted in Joe Silva bringing in talent that just simply isn't upper echelon level. The UFC shouldn't have room for average fighters, but perhaps that's the reality of their landscape today.
A tricky part for Silva and company has been what to do with inexperienced fighters they want to hold onto, but that need more experience against guys at their level. Ideally, the UFC would have a minor league system so those with single digits in overall fights can go at it without being thrown to the sharks, allowing for growth while also enabling Zuffa to secure top prospects. Luckily, the glut of regional promotions has filled that void but with TUF alums, it can create a conundrum for retaining talent and giving them a fair playing field to evolve their talents on.
Saturday, Cope took advantage of his opportunity and took home a win, but no one should think that he's UFC-ready. He beat a fellow regional-level fighter in O'Neil, not a UFC veteran, in a bout put together strictly because they were on the reality show. With six total fights and considering his experience level, there's no logical next opponent for Cope but the UFC likely wants to hold onto him just in case they found a diamond in the rough. If this was a clear blue-chip stud, that would be one thing but Cope is far from that, at least today.
What to do? Enter Strikeforce (http://www.sbnation.com/mma/promotion/strikeforce).
Needless to say, Zuffa's new California-based toy needs help. Their top fighters are all looking for big-money opportunities in the UFC and for years, their roster has needed to deepen with talent that fans both know and want to see fight. At 170 pounds, Strikeforce is paper-thin and their listed roster at welterweight (http://www.strikeforce.com/fighters/men-welterweights/) proves it. When James Terry, Erik Apple (http://www.sbnation.com/mma/fighter/129522/erik-apple) and Nate Moore (http://www.sbnation.com/mma/fighter/128891/nate-moore) are among your 16 men listed, you simply need some more talent. You need guys like Chris Cope.
By inking Cope to a Strikeforce deal, Scott Coker and matchmaker Sean Shelby would benefit from having a charismatic guy on their roster and someone that has some mainstream familiarity from TUF. Pre-Zuffa purchase, I was baffled why Strikeforce didn't jump on the opportunity to sign more TUF alums for that recognizability aspect alone. With Cope, it'd be the perfect opportunity to keep someone in the Zuffa family that isn't UFC-level ready.
For Cope, learning the ropes of major-level MMA in a slightly less intense atmosphere wouldn't be the worst thing in the world either. Fighting in front of 2000 at the Palms is different than being on the undercard of a PPV at the MGM Grand Garden, especially when it's likely against someone more experienced that you. Let Cope play in a smaller sandbox, see what he can do and when the time comes for the eventual merger after 2012, you could have a familiar face ready to be in the UFC welterweight mix. If not, at least they gave him the opportunity to succeed at a level he's qualified to be at.
I would even suggest they do the same for Ramsey Nijem (http://www.sbnation.com/mma/fighter/129719/ramsey-nijem), who at 4-2 needs more fights but not at the top level of the sport. Considering his run on the show, Nijem might even have more upside than Cope but let him develop that without being thrown to the wolves. Who knows? You could even build to a Nijem/Cope fight if the chips fell in the right places.
It's time the UFC starts being more stringent about who can call themselves 'UFC fighters', helping increase match quality, create deeper shows and put more emphasis on the fact that when people are seeing the UFC brand, they are getting the very best. With Strikeforce, they have the opportunity to send these guys over to help bolster roster depth and potentially create some new stars in the process.
The Octagon shouldn't be the place you go when you need to figure it out. Rather, it should be the place you go when you're ready to compete among the very best. Fighters like Cope and Nijem aren't there yet and only should be if it's the right thing to do and they're qualified to be there.
http://www.bloodyelbow.com/

vipyr
06-06-2011, 02:29 PM
Excellent article. Though I really like Chris Cope, his opponent in O`Neil was really not a true test, and I dont think it was meant to be. And I really want Cope to succeed, and I think you have hit the nail on the head here.
No doubt Cope looked ALOT better this time round, than he did on TUF... a great deal better... but as you said, dont throw him to the wolves in the UFC just yet.. Let me get better and better down at Strikeforce, and get some fights under his belt.
Again, EXCELLENT article

http://cdn2.sbnation.com/entry_photo_images/1380951/chriscope_large.jpg (http://cdn2.sbnation.com/entry_photo_images/1380951/chriscope_large.jpg)

TUF 13 Finale: Chris Cope Should Get Another Opportunity, But Not In the UFC (http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2011/6/6/2208560/tuf-13-finale-chris-cope-should-get-another-opportunity-but-not-in)

http://cdn2.sbnation.com/images/placeholders/profile/tiny.v777cf8a.gif by Bloody Elbow (http://www.sbnation.com/users/Bloody%20Elbow) on Jun 6, 2011 10:02 AM (http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2011/6/6/2208560/tuf-13-finale-chris-cope-should-get-another-opportunity-but-not-in)
I'm all for giving fighters an opportunity to succeed, but there are times when promotions have to be realistic with what they're working with. At Saturday's The Ultimate Fighter 13 finale, there were plenty of those reality checks and to me, none more so than Chris Cope (http://www.sbnation.com/mma/fighter/129718/chris-cope).


Cope, a TUF semifinalist, made his Octagon debut to kick off the live telecast and outworked Chuck O'Neil (http://www.sbnation.com/mma/fighter/131681/chuck-o-neil) to earn a fairly one-sided unanimous decision. With the win, Cope climbed to 5-1 and likely earned another look in the UFC. However, he shouldn't....at least not yet.
If you compare the UFC to other major sports organizations, they are the equivalent of MLB for baseball, the NBA for basketball, etc. That may seem like a 'duh' statement but I've felt like over the past few years that the desire to put on more events has resulted in Joe Silva bringing in talent that just simply isn't upper echelon level. The UFC shouldn't have room for average fighters, but perhaps that's the reality of their landscape today.
A tricky part for Silva and company has been what to do with inexperienced fighters they want to hold onto, but that need more experience against guys at their level. Ideally, the UFC would have a minor league system so those with single digits in overall fights can go at it without being thrown to the sharks, allowing for growth while also enabling Zuffa to secure top prospects. Luckily, the glut of regional promotions has filled that void but with TUF alums, it can create a conundrum for retaining talent and giving them a fair playing field to evolve their talents on.
Saturday, Cope took advantage of his opportunity and took home a win, but no one should think that he's UFC-ready. He beat a fellow regional-level fighter in O'Neil, not a UFC veteran, in a bout put together strictly because they were on the reality show. With six total fights and considering his experience level, there's no logical next opponent for Cope but the UFC likely wants to hold onto him just in case they found a diamond in the rough. If this was a clear blue-chip stud, that would be one thing but Cope is far from that, at least today.
What to do? Enter Strikeforce (http://www.sbnation.com/mma/promotion/strikeforce).
Needless to say, Zuffa's new California-based toy needs help. Their top fighters are all looking for big-money opportunities in the UFC and for years, their roster has needed to deepen with talent that fans both know and want to see fight. At 170 pounds, Strikeforce is paper-thin and their listed roster at welterweight (http://www.strikeforce.com/fighters/men-welterweights/) proves it. When James Terry, Erik Apple (http://www.sbnation.com/mma/fighter/129522/erik-apple) and Nate Moore (http://www.sbnation.com/mma/fighter/128891/nate-moore) are among your 16 men listed, you simply need some more talent. You need guys like Chris Cope.
By inking Cope to a Strikeforce deal, Scott Coker and matchmaker Sean Shelby would benefit from having a charismatic guy on their roster and someone that has some mainstream familiarity from TUF. Pre-Zuffa purchase, I was baffled why Strikeforce didn't jump on the opportunity to sign more TUF alums for that recognizability aspect alone. With Cope, it'd be the perfect opportunity to keep someone in the Zuffa family that isn't UFC-level ready.
For Cope, learning the ropes of major-level MMA in a slightly less intense atmosphere wouldn't be the worst thing in the world either. Fighting in front of 2000 at the Palms is different than being on the undercard of a PPV at the MGM Grand Garden, especially when it's likely against someone more experienced that you. Let Cope play in a smaller sandbox, see what he can do and when the time comes for the eventual merger after 2012, you could have a familiar face ready to be in the UFC welterweight mix. If not, at least they gave him the opportunity to succeed at a level he's qualified to be at.
I would even suggest they do the same for Ramsey Nijem (http://www.sbnation.com/mma/fighter/129719/ramsey-nijem), who at 4-2 needs more fights but not at the top level of the sport. Considering his run on the show, Nijem might even have more upside than Cope but let him develop that without being thrown to the wolves. Who knows? You could even build to a Nijem/Cope fight if the chips fell in the right places.
It's time the UFC starts being more stringent about who can call themselves 'UFC fighters', helping increase match quality, create deeper shows and put more emphasis on the fact that when people are seeing the UFC brand, they are getting the very best. With Strikeforce, they have the opportunity to send these guys over to help bolster roster depth and potentially create some new stars in the process.
The Octagon shouldn't be the place you go when you need to figure it out. Rather, it should be the place you go when you're ready to compete among the very best. Fighters like Cope and Nijem aren't there yet and only should be if it's the right thing to do and they're qualified to be there.
http://www.bloodyelbow.com/

Rich Davie
06-06-2011, 02:33 PM
I thought Cope was one of the most improved fighters from what we saw on the TUF show.

I think he deserves another shot just for that.

That fella Chuck O'Neil clearly doesn't belong in the UFC... his strategy of head up-hands down and block all jabs with his nose just does not work in the UFC. ;)

FishingTime
06-06-2011, 02:34 PM
Give them a real UFC guy and see how it goes I feel. If he beats him, let him stay. If not, maybe Strikeforce. Cope is actually pretty good. I think with a lot more training he would do well.

Xtrordinaire
06-06-2011, 02:44 PM
Yea I disagree with this.

I mean how can u even say this when the guy just stepped out of a show that it's purpose is to find new talent , up and coming fighters. He improved since being in that house give the guy sum time and im sure he will continue improving ....this is whats wrong with ufc now everyone is talking title fights the road to the title and yes I understand that but now u have fighters not wanting to lose so bad that they just go out there and put on boring fights cus they are fighting so carefully ....cope just reminds me off your Forrest griffin ur amir sadallahs .....he will improve n if he doesn't then send em packing but its way to premature to give em the boot

Sent from my PC36100 using Tapatalk

Kickass32
06-06-2011, 03:08 PM
I agree with the article to a point.
There are too many quality fighters on the roster now, and guys are waiting 5-6 months for fights. I say, send the newbies to SF, let them get their feet wet there, and allow the established fighters to fight more.

There is no way guys like Cope should be taking up TV spots over more deserving, established better fighters.......earn your TV time.

Rich Davie
06-06-2011, 03:29 PM
I don't necessarily say Cope deserves another shot on a televised or PPV event, but certainly he deserves another shot on an undercard... after all, the only reason this bout was televised is because it was the TUF finale. ;)

If Cope fights on an undercard and loses, then send him to Strikeforce.

Kickass32
06-06-2011, 03:37 PM
I don't necessarily say Cope deserves another shot on a televised or PPV event, but certainly he deserves another shot on an undercard... after all, the only reason this bout was televised is because it was the TUF finale. ;)

If Cope fights on an undercard and loses, then send him to Strikeforce.

Oh I know it was all due to being a TUF final, I'm just saying in general...alot of times guys undeserving are taking up TV or PPV time because they came from TUF, and I don't think it's fair to the more established guys.
I'm not saying send him to SF as a punishment, I'm saying it as then he'll get more TV exposure, and time.it'll give him more sponsor recognition, and a chance to pad his record, learn, and grow, and then come over to the big leagues!
I just think it does Cope and guys like him more good to fight on a main card or televised portion of an undercard for Strikeforce, than it does having him on an unaired portion of a UFC event.

Lakota
06-06-2011, 04:38 PM
I like the idea of using strikeforce as a minor league promotion, without belts, as they would be meaningless there. This allows zuffa to hold onto future talent as they gain the experience needed. Win enough fights, and you move up to the UFC and an opportunity to work towards a belt.
I was impressed by the vast improvements cope appears to have made since the show, but I do agree that somewhere like strikeforce would be the best place for him to continue honing his skills.
Especially with all the talk of strikeforce belt holders fighting in the UFC, making strikeforce the minor leagues seems to be a natural progression at this point.

SiMMAFighter
06-06-2011, 04:52 PM
Cope looked better in that fight than any point on TUF. Strikeforce would be a great move. O'Neill proved that he's not ready and too inconsistent. You just never know who's going to show up.

Misfit
06-06-2011, 06:49 PM
Cope was by far the most improved fighter not in the final IMO, not sure why he shouldn't get more prelim fights. I think he's the only 1 besides Ramsy to be honest. Bailey needs a whole lotta work but I can't see why Cope shouldn't get a few more fights, he's looked much better than I was expecting.

Rich Davie
06-06-2011, 07:02 PM
Cope was by far the most improved fighter not in the final IMO, not sure why he shouldn't get more prelim fights. I think he's the only 1 besides Ramsy to be honest. Bailey needs a whole lotta work but I can't see why Cope shouldn't get a few more fights, he's looked much better than I was expecting.

Same here man... and I was fully expecting Chuck O'Neil to get the win as I thought he was a better fighter, not as good as Chuck thinks he is but I thought he showed more promise in TUF than Cope.

CrimsonColts18
06-06-2011, 07:52 PM
i think he should get a shot but i think the best thing for him is to go to like the strikeforce challengers series... have a couple fights there... (baring he dont keep losing) and then maybe a fight or 2 on a main card or prelim card of a main card in strikeforce... then work his way to the ufc... i mean he improved dramatically but hes still a ways off... and i dont think putting him in there with someone real and getting him destroyed is the best way to go... hes someone who could be an up and comer... and the perfect place for someone like that is the strikeforce challengers series

Misfit
06-06-2011, 07:59 PM
YEah, SF might be good for him but I feel these TUF fights that aren't for the TUF title are always audition fights, he passed his audition and should stay until he fails it. I don't think Bailey should stay around, he's got lots of work to do. And Cope could also be a Forrest type of guy they build up, I can see him getting a shitload of fans cause of his stupid Rick Flair crap. I can't stand it and I would go crazy being in the crowd with a bunch of idiot doing it but I think it's going to work for him.

Rich Davie
06-06-2011, 08:13 PM
Is that where Matt Hamill got that from ?

I thought Cope was taking that from Hamill.