The Top 5 MMA Stories of 2014


The presents are unwrapped, the year is winding down, and MMA is off until the New Year. So, let’s take a look at the top five stories in the world of MMA over the last year.

The Top 5 MMA Stories of 2014

5. Cung Le tests positive for HGH

Cung Le looked a little more shredded for his fight in China against Michael Bisping, so no one was all that surprised when the UFC announced he tested positive for HGH. The positive result was still noteworthy, but the story blew up when questions about the UFC’s drug testing protocol for the event arose – specifically, the testing facility used. The UFC would later rescind Le’s suspension, though Le requested his release anyway before being revealed as one of the three plaintiffs in a class-action antitrust suit against the promotion.

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4. War Machine goes on the run after brutalizing Christy Mack

War Machine has been a troubled person since he first showed up on the Ultimate Fighter as Jon Koppenhaver. His relationship with Christy Mack was just as troubled with the two engaged in a dysfunctional on-again, off-again relationship over the last few years. That relationship came to a sad conclusion when War Machine physically assaulted Mack after entering her home and finding her with a male friend. The story penetrated mainstream consciousness when law enforcement conducted a manhunt for his whereabouts. War Machine was eventually found in San Diego, and would later attempt suicide while in prison awaiting trial. Mack has provided updates on her recovery via social media.

3. Bjorn Rebney out; Scott Coker in

The Bellator brand became toxic under Bjorn Rebney. Rebney’s Bellator regime enforced one-sided, iron-clad contracts with its fighters, and the company’s handling of Eddie Alvarez’s attempt to sign with the UFC only reinforced this poor image. Fighters, especially young prospects Bellator desperately needed in order to maintain some sort of relevancy in the MMA world, began avoiding the promotion, and Rebney and co. started playing hard and fast with an already-stale tournament format. That all changed when Viacom sent Rebney packing and brought in former Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker to right the ship. Coker’s presence immediately changed the perception of the promotion, and his move to downsize the number of events – focusing on four tent pole shows each quarter – should help position Bellator as a viable alternative to the UFC in 2015.

2. Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier brawl during UFC 178 press conference

In a move straight out of the boxing playbook, a press conference intended to promote UFC 178 proved wildly successful when main eventers Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier engaged in a wild brawl that saw both men (and UFC PR man Dave Sholler) fall off the stage. What was already one of the best fights on paper in the last few years became a national sports news story. Footage then leaked (or “leaked”) from a satellite feed of Jones and Cormier trash talking each other between remote interviews further compounding the hype. The iron cooled when Jones pulled out of the event with an injury, though the UFC released an inspired promo for their rescheduled fight at UFC 182 that has the MMA world abuzz once more.

1. The UFC’s struggles continue in 2014

The UFC’s pay-per-view numbers have been in decline since Brock Lesnar lost the UFC heavyweight title to Cain Velasquez in 2010. Many expected the UFC to bounce back in 2014, but the promotion had found trouble before the year even started. Georges St-Pierre announced a hiatus from the sport (which may become his de facto retirement) in early December. Then former pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva snapped his leg in a return match with current middleweight champion Chris Weidman. Injuries continued to haunt the UFC with nearly every champion going down with something at some point during the year. An injury to Jose Aldo forced the cancellation of UFC 176, and Renan Barao’s disastrous weight cut led to Joe Soto taking his place in a pay-per-view main event on less than 24 hours notice. The disappearance of St-Pierre and Silva, injuries to nearly every top star, and a breakneck schedule led to a pay-per-view business with only a single show cracking 500,000 buys. The UFC is marketing 2015 with the slogan “The Time Is Now,” though it’s hard to imagine how things could be any worse than this past year.

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