The year that was, and the one to come in MMA!

Posted: November 4, 2011 in Combat Sports

The past year has seen some of the best fights in MMA history. Edgar v Maynard II and III, Barry v Congo, Fitch v Penn, Henderson, v Cavalcante and the list could easily continue. The year saw the return of a champion, at 40 years old, Dan Henderson taking a page out of Randy Couture’s book in capturing the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Title. Unfortunately for Randy, that book was closed for his fighting career, thanks to a kick to the face from Lyota Machida, who also returned to winning form after dropping a controversial decision to Quinton Jackson.

The year also left many fighters in limbo! After losing title fights, fighters such as Josh Koshcheck, Kenny Florian, and Matt Hughes are now left to wonder whats left? At their ages, most fighters are set to make a run at a belt, with those hopes dashed, whats next? Lets just hope, that these two fan favorites can keep putting together entertaining fights, because title picture or not, these two come to bang every time out!

We also saw the return of an invigorated Tito Ortiz, who shockingly beat a more than game Ryan Bader, and also came a few seconds from choking out Rashad Evans, before losing the hold and eventually the bout. Even in the loss, 2011 saw Tito Ortiz’s stock as a fighter return to relevancy, if only momentarily!

Evans meantime is forced to wait for his title shot against Jon Jones. Injuries and untimely delays have put Lyoto Machida across from Jones first. For the champion Jon Jones, this year has seen him catapulted from youngster with talent, to the Champion of the world. After beating Ryan Bader for the #1 contender spot, he was thrust into a title shot just weeks later against Maurico Rua. History was made that night at the expense of Rua’s jaw. Then Jones solidified his dominance of the division by decisively choking out Quinton Jackson in his first title defense.

We saw the UFC’s lightest title holders Jose Aldo and Dominick Cruz on display for two title defenses each. Both fighters are still holders of their respected belts. During those defenses Cruz has added to his reputation, while Aldo although still dominant has at times seemed mortal at best! Meanwhile, Chad Mendez is still for some reason waiting!

Fight fans said goodbye this year to Matt Hamil, and Chris Lytle. Both fighters are known to put in fight of the night caliber performances every night. Their enthusiasm, and heart will be missed by all fans of mma. However, look to see “The Hammer” a film about Matt Hamil’s life. Supposedly it is really well done, and won several film festival awards. Watch for Rich Franklin, as the ‘Hammer’s’ wrestling coach!

We can look forward to seeing Brock Lesnar before the year is through, as he gets ready to face Alistair Overeem (who recently signed with Zuffa). We also get to see Velazquez v Dos Santos on the Fox network. MMA is now Prime-time! This single event will prove to be the sports launching point.

With the UFC’s purchase of rival promotion Strikeforce(currently in limbo), another promotion continued its assent to greatness. The Bellator Fight Championships promotion really picked up speed by televising their weight-class tournaments. These tournaments have created quite a buzz among mma addicts and novices alike. Their stable of fighters is also very impressive with Ben Askren, Joe Warren, Hector Lombard and of course Eddie Alvarez who some feel is the greatest fighter outside of the UFC. Bjorn Rebney has really put together a quality promotion that is available to most on MTV networks.

The coming year seems to bring a limitless potential for the exponential growth of this sport. With each passing day, MMA is becoming more mainstream. Hopefully the growing talent pool within each respected division will continue thrilling the fans with vein popping chokes, and I.Q. changing elbows.

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