The controversy surrounding the headlining championship bout at UFC 104 is a good thing for UFC.

At the event, Lyoto Machida retained the Light Heavyweight Championship in a five-round fight against Shogun Rua.  A vocal portion of the UFC 104 audience are claiming that the judges made the wrong decision by giving the victory to Lyoto Machida.

I haven’t seen enough MMA to analyze whether Machida should’ve walked away with the title still in his possession, so I’m not going to try to breakdown the rounds and say who I think should’ve won.  I’ve heard differing opinions on who should’ve won.  There was apparently enough support in favor of the challenger that Shogun Rua has already been told he’d be getting a rematch.

As far as UFC should be concerned, whether they agree with the judge’s ruling on the fight or not, the controversy surrounding the decision is a good thing.  A very good thing.

The longer Lyoto Machida holds the Light Heavyweight title, the more valuable it seems.  People will want to watch to see if a challenger is going to be able to do something that those before them were unable to do.  When someone beats Machida, it’s going to give that person an instant boost of credibility, but only if the victory is definitive.

Had Rua been awarded the title by decision on October 24, there would’ve been controversy over it because it would’ve most likely been a split decision (given the obvious support by at least a certain portion of the population – which included the judges for the fight), and that wouldn’t have given Rua the added credibility he could’ve had from winning by knockout, submission or unanimous decision.

In fact, titles shouldn’t change hands by split decision.  If someone defeats a champion by split decision, they should be awarded the next shot at the champion, but they shouldn’t get the belt in that initial fight.

A large, vocal portion of UFC fans already don’t like Lyoto and hope he loses the belt.  He’s not necessarily an exciting fighter for most viewers; he works defensively, avoiding his opponent, then picking his spots and connecting with hard punches and kicks.  The longer he holds the belt, the more public opinion grows about Machida, most of it likely negative.  That makes it easier for UFC to build up a fan favorite out of whomever can take the Light Heavyweight Championship from Lyoto.  People will tune in with hopes of seeing Lyoto get knocked out or forced to submit.

I’m not saying the decision for this fight was rigged.  I’m not saying the right decision was made, nor the wrong decision.  I’m simply saying that the controversy surrounding this fight was good for UFC.  They stand to profit from the rematch between Machida and Rua, which should gain considerable ratings – most of the viewers hoping to see Shogun take the belt from Lyoto, not to mention considerably higher ratings from future Lyoto Machida fights based on the increased desire viewers will have to see him lose the belt and other subsequent fights.