The Year in MMA 2015

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At the end of every calendar year comes reflection. Most people can’t remember what happened, or what they ate for lunch yesterday, let alone what happened over the course of a 12-month period. That’s where we come into play — lets take a look back at the year 2015 and see what the mixed martial arts world brought its fans.

The Year in MMA 2015

Reebok Kits (AKA Star Trek outfits)

In June of this year the UFC claimed to change the fight game. Not by implementing new rules inside the Octagon or changing up weight classes, but instead by taking away the fighter’s ability to claim their own sponsors and forcing them to wear Reebok.

The unveil happened and almost instantaneously had negative feedback.

Not only were the kits ugly, but there were a number of big mistakes made. Most of them were spelling to start things off. I’m sure there were people out there that wanted a one of a kind “Giblert Melendez” jersey or maybe you would have wanted to rock the famous Anderson Aldo kit.

The errors didn’t end there. There were a number of misspelled names, wrong nicknames, odd fighter styles and even messing up a map of Ireland.

It is now the end of the year and I have yet to see a person out in public wearing one of these Reebok fight kits. This could be because we are in the year 2015 and as my friend Dave “The Voice” Boyce calls them — Star Trek Next Generation outfits are from the late 80’s and early 90’s.

A slough of new champions

The UFC brought us seven new champions to be precise. All the way from heavyweight down to women’s strawweight the belt has changed hands on a number of occasions.

Probably the most shocking turn of events came in the main event at UFC 193. The first and only UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey was dethroned and taken out with sass. “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holly Holm executed the perfect game plan against Rousey, picking her apart from the outside and landing big blows to bloody the former champ up. Just under one-minute into the second round, Holm landed what can be called the high-kick heard around the world that floored Rousey and forced the referee to call a stoppage to the fight.

Fabricio Werdum won the interim belt in 2014 and when he and Cain Velasquez clashed in June at UFC 188, the Brazilian proved his worth. He battered the former champ until midway through the third round when he was able to lock in a guillotine choke to be crowned the new heavyweight champ.

In May, Daniel Cormier claimed the vacant 205-pound belt with Jon Jones sidelined. He tapped out Anthony Johnson at UFC 187 and went on to defend that crown at UFC 192, winning a split-decision against Alexander Gustafsson.

The most active champion of 2015 was the 115-pound queen — Joanna Jędrzejczyk. She won the belt by TKO’ing Carla Esparza at UFC 185 in March. The pride of Poland went on to obliterate Jessica Penne at UFC Fight Night 69 and earn a unanimous decision against Valérie Létourneau at UFC 193 in November.

At UFC 185, the +400 underdog, Rafael dos Anjos shocked the world when he mauled Anthony Pettis from bell to bell claiming the UFC lightweight championship. Despite winning the belt, the world overlooked him against Donald Cerrone at UFC on FOX 17. Again, dos Anjos showed that he is one tough cookie by finishing “Cowboy” in just over one minute.

UFC 194 crowned two new champions. The former middleweight kingpin Chris Weidman was battered and bruised against Luke Rockhold. The AKA talent made it clear that he was ready to take the division by storm when he TKO’d Weidman in the fourth round. Then-interim champ Conor McGregor took claim of the 145-pound division when he finished the perennial king Jose Aldo in just 13-seconds.

A new Sheriff in town

Even though Dana White and the Fertitta brothers are the owners of the UFC, it seems like in 2015 there was a new man running the show — Conor McGregor.

At the beginning of the year, McGregor was considered a protected golden boy who had yet to face a wrestler or anyone that could put his pretty face in danger. Then came his first fight of 2015 — Dennis Siver. This happened on January 18 and it was expected to be the Irish fighter’s toughest test to date. It took “Notorious” just one-minute and fifty-four seconds to finish the German.

After that had happened, McGregor stormed out of the cage and went face to face with Jose Aldo like a mad man. The chaos had begun.

McGregor was expected to take on Aldo at UFC 189 and a world tour was upon us. The UFC put forward the most money ever and unfortunately the fight did not happen. The Irish bad boy stayed on the card and took on Chad Mendes for the interim belt. Many counted McGregor out of the fight, but he found a way to win and the belt was his.

On December 12, it took McGregor just 13-seconds to starch Aldo and knock him face first.

Lorenzo Fertitta has stated that McGregor will likely become the UFC’s first $100 million man and his coach John Kavanagh has said that the ball is in their court as to what he wants to do next.

The UFC had already put a lot of stock into the 27-year-old, but it seems like he is ruling the roost now.

The return of PRIDE… Sort of

Bellator Dynamite was a spectacle to say the least. But the biggest thing that came out of the event was the announcement of a new Japanese promotion ran by former PRIDE FC President, Nobuyuki Sakakibara. Not only was it the return of JMMA, but it would also mark the return of arguably one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time — Fedor Emelianenko.

The organization didn’t wind up being called PRIDE or even PRIDE 2.0. It was being dubbed Rizin Fighting Federation.

Up until just a few weeks prior to the event, Emelianenko’s opponent was up in the air. The initial opponent that was being rumored, wound up being the man he will take on on New Year’s Eve — Jaideep Singh.

If you were a fan of the former Japanese promotion then there are definitely some names on the fight cards that will pique your interest. Those include Sakiraba, Shinya Aoki, Satoshi Ishii, James Thompson and even Carlos Toyota.

The two-day event begins on December 29 and wraps on December 31.

The greats fall on their face

Whether they are champions or not, the faces of your company are supposed to be role models and people that young up and coming mixed martial artists can look up to.

This didn’t happen in 2015.

It all began in February 2015 when the best to ever enter the UFC Octagon, Anderson Silva failed not one but two post-fight drug tests. “The Spider” fought Nick Diaz on January 31 and failed his second test administered the night of the event.

Later in the year, Silva blamed the failed drug test on a sexual enhancement supplement. At the same time it was revealed that the former middleweight champion would sit on the outside of the Octagon for one-year.

Then April came around and the light heavyweight champion faced his own uphill battle. Jon Jones was involved in a hit-and-run accident, running a red light which lead to a 30-year old pregnant woman suffering a fractured arm and wrist.

He ran from the scene, but witnesses say that he ran back for a bundle of cash, which Jones claimed in an interview afterwards was false. Police also found marijuana and a marijuana pipe in the rental Buick SUV, which had paperwork in it that led to a Jonathan Jones.

At the end of April the UFC decided to strip Jones of his light heavyweight championship and suspend him indefinitely.

Silva will be back in action in February against Michael Bisping after serving his one-year suspension and Jones was officially reinstated in October; likely returning to the Octagon in early 2016.

An overloaded schedule

Over a 52 week period, the UFC held 41 events. Those covered 32 different cities across 13 countries and five continents. According to Mike Bohn of MMAjunkie.com, “If you watched every UFC fight/event in 2015, you spent 83 hours, 33 minutes and 40 seconds doing so. That doesn’t include commercials.”

For the average fan that is an insane amount of time. Even for the hardcore fan that is a tad bit overloaded.

In December, the UFC held three events on consecutive nights, which had fans perplexed by the end of Saturday.

It wasn’t just the UFC that had us glued to the TV and interweb. Over one weekend in November, there were around 10 combat sporting events. There was UFC, Bellator, WSOF, ONE Championship and K-1 just to name a few.


These are some of the most significant stories of the calendar year. They had a massive impact on the MMA community, but are by no means all of the stories that captivated the minds of this calendar year. If you have others that you think should be listed then let us know in the comments section below.

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Jeremy Brand is an experienced MMA writer and columnist. He is the founder of MMASucka.com, and has represented the company with media credentials at many mixed martial arts fights. Jeremy is also a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, training in BC, Canada.

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