The 2013 MMA Campaign: There’s Been Plenty to be Thankful For
By Kelsey Mowatt
With the end of 2013 nearing, and Americans celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend, it’s a good as time as any to reflect on how the year’s unfolded thus far in MMA. While there’s certainly been some disappointments and setbacks, chances are most fans and pundits would say the year’s been a big improvement on 2012. After all, compared to last year where fights were dropping like flies due to injuries, 2013 has unfolded rather well. Not only that, but there’s been no shortage of compelling bouts and storylines this year that have made it a ridiculously memorable campaign.
Now of course, critics of testosterone replacement therapy aren’t exactly thankful for what Vitor Belfort has done this year, but even they would have a tough time arguing “The Phenom” hasn’t kept things interesting.
After taking out Michael Bisping with a head kick in January, Belfort one upped the finish in May, by blasting Luke Rockhold with a spinning heel kick. Then earlier this month, the 36 year-old vet needed less than 90 seconds to finish Dan Henderson. There’s no question Belfort’s been one of the year’s biggest and most exciting stories.
Sure, Anderson Silva boosters aren’t very thankful for what the “All-American” did on July 6th, but in ending the middleweight’s historic championship run, Chris Weidman shook the very landscape of MMA. While all of Silva’s fights have been something to marvel, now millions of fans are anxiously awaiting the rematch on December 28th. How can you not be thankful for that?
Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson
Any MMA fan who isn’t thankful for what Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson accomplished at UFC 165, should probably consider following another sport. The two threw down in what was an instant classic, and left the sport buzzing for days. Although Jones is set to defend the light-heavyweight belt versus Glover Teixeira next, there’s still considerable talk about how a rematch with “The Mauler” will unfold.
Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez
It’s not often that pre-fight hype matches what actually takes place in the cage, but it certainly did when Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez battled for a second time at Bellator 106. Just like their first encounter in 2011, the jaw dropping bout featured non-stop action, but this time around Alvarez emerged victorious with a split decision win.
While fans are thankful that a rubber match is in the works, chances are they’ll be even more grateful if it’s broadcast on SPIKE again instead of PPV…
Of course, women have been thrilling fight fans for years, but with the UFC now on board, more people than ever have been able to watch their talents. It’s been an exciting year and women have played a big part in it, not just in the UFC but in other organizations like Invicta FC.
Other Promotions Like Bellator, WSOF, MFC, and ONE FC
Since the UFC is the planet’s biggest organization, and far too many casual fans are oblivious to the fact that MMA exists outside the Octagon, we, the media, often overlook what goes down in other promotions. Not only are there quality fights to be seen in other organizations like Bellator, WSOF, MFC and ONE FC among many others, but they’re crucially important for the sport’s development and sustainability.
Heading into UFC 167 there was plenty of talk that Johny Hendricks would offer Georges St. Pierre his toughest test in years, and the rugged wrestler did just that. As 2013 began the MMA world was buzzing about Hendricks, and now 11 months later, he’s established himself as one of the planet’s best P4P fighters.
Georges St. Pierre
It seems fitting that considering what went down on November 16th, and that we still don’t know for sure when and if Georges St. Pierre will fight again, that the champ deserves thanks for what he’s done. For years now, GSP has been participating in some of the sport’s biggest fights, and although he has his critics, there’s no question MMA has grown tremendously because of his skills and efforts.