The end of 2012 is right around the corner and for Christmas this year we’ll be asking Santa Claus to bring us five gifts to help improve the sport of MMA in 2013. Hopefully he’ll be good to us this Christmas and not give us a lump of coal.
5. Less Undeserved Title Shots
If there’s a trend from 2012 we hope doesn’t continue into 2013, it’s the unwarranted title shots. For one reason or another, fighters like Keith Jardine, Frankie Edgar, Chael Sonnen, Nick Diaz and others were granted title shots despite coming off of losses or draws in their previous fights. The purpose of a fight is to win and winning should move you up the rankings, not your name value or what comes out of your month. Titles in MMA become devalued when fighters who are not the true No. 1 contender fight for them. I really hope this does not continue in 2013. And please, Santa, no more interim belts.
4. More Women Fighters
Another thing we’re asking for, Santa, is more female fighters in the UFC. Obviously, Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche are going to fight each other for the title in a few months, but we all know two fighters does not make a whole division. So let’s get more female fighters in the UFC. If it’s 135 pounds that’s going to be the only female weight class, then let’s bring in Sarah Kaufman, Miesha Tate, Alexis Davis, Sara McMann and Julie Kedzie. And please UFC, pay Cris “Cyborg” whatever she’s asking for to make the cut to 135, because Rousey vs. Cyborg is the fight everyone wants to see. Oh yeah, and a female “Ultimate Fighter” isn’t a bad idea, either.
3. Less Pay-Per-Views
With the FOX deal, the UFC doesn’t need as many pay-per-views, and that’s a good thing for the fans. There were too many watered-down PPVs this year – specifically UFC 147, UFC 149 and UFC 150 – and the fans responded by not purchasing them. Judging from the scheduled cards for UFC 156, UFC 157, and UFC 158, the promotion is going to be stacking the PPVs again and, not just that, but featuring only one of them a month. That’s perfect. A simple 12 PPVs a year is reasonable, but when you’re asking fans to shell out for 15 or more – especially when many of them just aren’t very good – it’s just too much. In 2013 let’s hope for less PPVs and deeper free TV cards now that the Strikeforce fighters are moving over to the big show and now that women are going to be a part of the UFC.
2. No More Drug Suspensions
Too many fighters this year were suspended for using banned substances. Alistair Overeem, Nick Diaz, Matt Riddle, Francisco Rivera, Jake Shields – at one point or another all of them got in trouble this year for using drugs. It sucks when this happens because great fights are ruined. Everyone wanted to see Overeem vs. Junior dos Santos for the UFC heavyweight championship, but instead we got to see Frank Mir get beaten up. In Diaz’ case, we never got to see the rematch with Carlos Condit because he smoked pot too close to the fight. Let’s hope that in 2013 we have a resolution to the marijuana as a PED debate, and that we don’t get any fights scratched for these sorts of reasons – and, hopefully, the use of testosterone replacement therapy nosedives, too.
1. No More Injuries
Injuries were a huge problem in the sport in 2012. Top stars and champions like Georges St-Pierre, Dominick Cruz, Jose Aldo, Michael Bisping, Vitor Belfort and Chris Weidman were all hurt at one point or another, nixing big-money fights the fans wanted to see. Obviously injuries are going to happen in MMA – it’s just the nature of the sport – but in 2013 I hope the fighters stop overtraining so much and gyms take better precautions in practices to ensure fighters don’t get hurt and enter fights as close to healthy as possible. I don’t think that’s asking for too much, Santa, because less injuries is literally something that benefits everyone – the fighters, their families, the promoters, managers, cities hosting events, the fans – and hopefully, there’s less of them next year and we all get the incredible year of MMA we know we deserve.
Time to look under the tree. Let’s hope Santa spoils us.