Five Things MMA Fans Should Be Thankful For
Thanksgiving - that time of year where we stuff our faces full of turkey and cranberry sauce while reflecting on all the things for that we are thankful.
As fans of mixed martial arts there are many things to be thankful for and many of them occurred in this current calendar year that is still one month shy of conclusion.
Let’s take a closer look at five reasons we as fans should be thankful this year.
5. WEC Fighters Debut in UFC
It is nearly impossible to argue that the new addition of 155, 145, and 135-pound fighters to the UFC roster has not been a blessing. Attractions like Urijah Faber, Benson Henderon, and Donald Cerrone have been all putting on extremely exciting fights and current bantamweight and featherweight champions Dominick Cruz and Jose Aldo have been nearly perfect while on the big stage.
The merger between the UFC and WEC happened in 2010 and while several fighters made their debut late last year, the majority did not fight until this year. The future for these lighter weight fighters is only getting brighter as both Henderson and Cerrone are cruising towards a crack at the lightweight title and Faber is itching for a rematch with Cruz’s bantamweight strap.
4. Five-Round Non-Title Main Events
How many times have you watched a fight and wished there was another round or two because the action was just too intense or there was no clear cut winner? Luckily, we now get to see non-title fights that have title shot implications headlining a fight card be sanctioned for five-rounds just as if it were a title-fight.
The first fight under these new rules was between Chris Leben and Mark Munoz and just this past weekend, in a historic bout that may go down as the greatest fight in UFC history, Dan Henderson edged out Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in a five-round affair that normally would have been halted after three. Had this fight not been sanctioned for five rounds prior to its start the outcome may have been completely different.
3. Zuffa Purchases Strikeforce
For many years fans were intrigued by the idea of champion vs. champion matchups between two opposing organizations. Within the last couple years we have seen some of these fights take place as Zuffa has bought out smaller organizations. Fighters who once left the UFC now have the opportunity to return as the sport continues to grow.
At the last UFC of 2011 draws near we will see former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar take on a man who probably shops at the same Big and Tall store when he takes on former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem.
Earlier this year fans were supposed to be treated to a fight for the ages between former Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz and UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, but that fight was nixed due to Diaz not showing for several scheduled appearances. Diaz then went on to fight former welterweight and former lightweight champion B.J. Penn in a fight that certainly did not disappoint. Diaz is now scheduled to fight St. Pierre in February 2012 – one more thing to be thankful for.
2. UFC on Fox
While many fans were not extremely thrilled with the outcome of the inaugural debut of the UFC on Fox, the future looks promising. Big name cards televised at no cost other than to your regular cable bill are a win-win for the fan. Even if you have to sit through several hours of pre-fight hype as fans had to do when Junior Dos Santos took the heavyweight title away from Cain Velasquez in one minutes time earlier this month.
The current deal with FOX covers a span of seven years and we will see the hit reality series “The Ultimate Fighter” move from Spike to Fox’s FX channel.
1. MMA Breaks Into New York
Let’s hope that this time next year we will be able to say we are thankful for MMA being sanctioned in New York. The main state that the UFC has propositioned to bring action to has still yet to agree to sanction the sport which will ultimately bring millions of dollars into the local economy.
Bringing the Octagon to the main stage in Madison Square Garden has long been a dream of UFC President Dana White and he will nothing short of meeting his goal as long as he is affiliated with the organization you can count on that. Will it be 2012 or 2013 or even later, who knows, but one day it will happen and we will be thankful for Mr. White’s persistency.