A MMA Wish List for 2012


Now that kids around the world have been visited by Santa Claus and have received their presents (the ones on the nice list anyway), it’s time for us as MMA fans to put out our own wish list for what we’d like to see from the sport in 2012.

  • A Cure to the Injury Plague that haunted 2011’s Main Events

While obviously MMA is a contact sport and injuries are bound to happen, 2011 was particularily unkind to the UFC’s main event scene. Lorenzo Fertitta told the LA Times that 11 of the last 14 main events have been scuttled due to injury, including the much-anticipated clash between UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones and his former teammate Rashad Evans. The curse has even reached into 2012, taking out Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre ahead of his fight with trash-talking rival Nick Diaz. The UFC has done an admirable job in replacing the fighters and putting on quality events, but a little good fortune and a shorter line in the infirmary would do wonders.

  • The Continued Growth of Women’s MMA

Dana White gave fans an early present when he announced that Strikeforce would continue to exist, and along with it their women’s division. With a national TV outlet, women’s MMA should continue to grow and the rumoured clash between Cris “Cyborg” Santos and Ronda Rousey promises to be the biggest women’s fight since Cyborg took the title from Gina Carano. Combining that match-up with continued great performances by stars such as Miesha Tate, Sarah Kaufman and Liz Carmouche promises that women’s MMA is poised for a banner year in 2012.

  • A Re-invigoration of “The Ultimate Fighter”

2012 marks the move of “The Ultimate Fighter” from Spike TV to FX. UFC has promised changes to the format, including live fights and more fan interaction. These are good first steps for a format that has threatened to become tired and stale. While last season’s fights failed to disappoint (thanks to the addition of featherweights and bantamweights), there’s only so many drunken fratboy hijinks one can tolerate. Hopefully the format changes continue and TUF becomes must-see programming again.

  • The success of UFC on FOX

2011 saw a true game-changer, as the UFC debuted on network television. UFC’s first “teaser” show featured a heavyweight title clash between Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez. The event was UFC’s most-watched event in the promotion’s history, drawing 5.7 million viewers. The second event, headlined by Rashad Evans taking on Phil Davis, is scheduled for January 28th. For this sport to truly become mainstream and join the ranks of the “big 4” (NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB) it’s going to take the support of every set of those eyeballs and even more. 2011 was a landmark step, 2012 could be the year that the rest of the general public starts loving MMA as much as we do.

  • A Resurrection of Japanese MMA

Remember 2003? It was home to some of the greatest events in MMA history, and they happened in Japan under the Pride banner. Nowadays, through corruption scandals and economic hardship, the sport is barely limping along in the land of the rising sun. Now that competition in the USA for UFC is non-existent, the time has come for a shot in the arm from overseas. Here’s hoping that Dream, K-1 and the newly founded One MMA find traction and continue the growth of the sport on the other side of the Pacific.

  • A new hobby for Cecil Peoples

It’s true that he’s not the only bad MMA judge out there, but it’s just so easy to pick on the guy that says “leg kicks don’t count”. I understand why Dana White says “don’t leave it in the hands of the judges” when some of those judges seem to barely understand the sport. Fights such as Kampmann-Sanchez, Ring-Fukuda and Elkins-Omigawa left fans with a bitter taste in their mouths after the judges’ decision did not seem to match the fight that the rest of fans watched. But with courses like Big John McCarthy’s COMMAND program out there, there’s less and less excuses for poor judging. Let’s hope that 2012 has less “what were the judges thinking?” moments than 2011 did.

  • A Rocking Chair for Fighters that Can’t Hang it Up

Retirement is a tough thing to wrap one’s mind around in any industry. My father’s going through it now, after years of proudly proclaiming he would die at his desk. It can only be worse for a fighter, having gone through a career of having beaten men senseless then having to deal with the fact that nature has slowed you down and taken your gifts away. While I support these men being able to earn a living as they see fit, there’s no way I want to see men like 51 year old Mo Smith, Jens Pulver (3-8 in his last 11, now fighting against lower tier competition) or Bob Sapp (2-7 in his last 9 and looking more disinterested every time) fight again. With Randy Couture being the exception to the rule, MMA is a young man’s sport and there’s no reason to sit there and watched middle-aged men get turned into hamburger. Get them a rocking chair and teach them to grow tomatoes please.

  • More Examples of How MMA fighters Aren’t Just Great Athletes, But Great People Too

MMA is a violent sport. That’s just the way it is. Because of that, we are often treated to the analysis of those that don’t understand it and don’t wish to label the fighters as thugs, skinheads and whatever else Bob Reilly or Bob Arum can dream up. But then stories come along such as the fundraising efforts for Dan Miller’s child, the Fighters For Kids program and Urijah Faber shaving his head in a show of solidarity for his injured sister and you realize that these men who punch each other in the face for a living are a tight-knit brotherhood and their hearts outside of the cage are as big as they are when in combat. The sport needs more stories in this vein, and less about anything involving Junie Browning.

Obviously beyond all this is a wish for the continued safety for everyone in the sport, but everything on this list would make for an even better sport in 2012 than we saw in 2011.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good fight!

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