Combat Sports Under the Tree

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The holiday season is here once again. It’s always amazing where the time goes every year, isn’t it? Just think about everything that’s happened over the past 12 months.

It seems like just yesterday, we were gathered around our television sets with our families and friends watching Penn State defeat Utah by two touchdowns in the Rose Bowl Game from Pasadena at the end of last year’s festive slate and now, another year is almost in the history file.

With the holiday season comes a number of annual traditions, some of them great, others seeming more like a chore with each passing year. One of the greatest holiday traditions is that of gift-giving. Remember when you were a child and you couldn’t wait to get to sleep on Christmas Eve in anticipation of waking up the next morning to see what Santa Claus brought?

Let’s Look Under the Tree!

If we’re being honest with ourselves, Santa Claus and his fleet of eight reindeer, fronted by Rudolph, can’t handle the task of delivering gift after gift to the children of the world by themselves. That’s why the bearded man in the red suit has helpers. Hang on, there’s something in the mail.

Ah, yes:

“Dear Drew, thanks for being a good little boy all year long. Since you love MMA and combat sports with a passion, I’ve left some presents for you to hand out to the fans of competitive violence. Deliver these promptly. It’s a real help.”

-Santa Claus.

There’s no time to waste. It’s time to get started.

To: Amazon Prime Video. From: Premier Boxing Champions.

The opening gift under the tree this year is a real treat for fans of the squared circle of boxing. Earlier this month, after weeks of conversation and rumor, Amazon Prime Video and Premier Boxing Champions came to terms on a multi-year deal to bring live events both on and off pay-per-view to the streaming platform.

This deal came about in the wake of Paramount Global announcing earlier in the fall that it would close its Showtime Sports division as a means of placing a greater emphasis on scripted offerings on the premium movie channel.  In addition to the live action, Amazon Prime is set to include archived PBC cards on its service when the new rights deal commences next year.

Throughout recent years, Amazon Prime has aggressively pursued contracts to air live sporting events. Prime’s new deal with PBC is the second foray into the realms of the fight zone in as many years. A year ago, the service added cards from ONE Championship once a month on Friday nights to viewers in North America.

Amazon Not Finished

If you thought Amazon’s sports portfolio was complete with the acquisition of PBC rights, think again. Earlier this week, the tech giant was reported to be in negotiations to acquire Diamond Sports Group, the parent company of the Bally Sports regional television networks.

Should the deal be consummated, Prime would secure streaming video rights to Major League Baseball games featuring several teams whose contests are shown locally on a Bally RSN. The future is now for streaming video when it comes to sports and the PBC deal is a gift that’ll keep on giving.

To: Bellator MMA. From: The PFL.

One of the most noteworthy stories outside of an MMA cage to take place in 2023 was the backstage drama surrounding the future of  Bellator beyond this year. Paramount’s decision to end Showtime Sports complicated matters, and at one point, it looked like Bellator was in doubt to continue in 2024.

Right before the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, the Professional Fighters League stepped in and purchased Scott Coker’s promotion, creating a stacked schedule of cards throughout the world in the new year between the two brands. With any merger comes the question of whether or not the deal is beneficial to the parties involved.

Everyone’s a Winner

You don’t even have to ask the question this time around. The PFL’s acquisition of Bellator MMA is a win-win. Bellator will remain in existence in foreign markets and there will be a cross-promotional event next year featuring  champ vs. champ fights.

Quite simply, 2024 is going to be a busy year across the board due to this merger.

To: Michael “Venom” Page. From: Dana White and the UFC

Finally this holiday season, Santa’s left a contract underneath the tree, and it’s got the name of a former entrant in the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix on it. On Dec. 16, against the backdrop of UFC 296, Dana White made it official that Michael “Venom” Page is the newest member of MMA’s top promotion’s active roster.

At the present time, “MVP” is scheduled to make his UFC promotional debut on the night of March 9 during UFC 299. Kaseya Center, home court to the NBA’s Miami Heat, will play host to a fight at welterweight between Page and Kevin Holland. Its exact placement on the card is yet to be known at press time, but the contest shares the spotlight with a main event between Sean O’Malley and Marlon Vera for the bantamweight title.

MVP a Big Score for UFC

Page could have signed with the PFL and made a guest appearance on Dec. 8 during PFL Europe. That night, he shook hands with Cedric Doumbe for a photo-op and exchanged pleasantries. That interview with Sean O’Connell was the catalyst for the UFC to ink MVP to a deal.

There’s no denying that Michael “Venom” Page is an MMA legend. What can he add to his career accomplishments in the UFC? Tune in next year and find out.

Happy Holidays!

From all of us at MMA Sucka, have a safe and happy holiday season. Whether you’re a parent of a newborn child, a child yourself, or the parent of a grown-up child, it’s never too late in your life to believe in the spirit of the holidays.

May the magic of the season touch you all. Peace and good cheer, everybody.

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Drew Zuhosky has been writing about combat sports since May of 2018, coming to MMASucka after stints at Overtime Heroics and Armchair All-Americans. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew is a charter member of the Youngstown Press Club. Prior to beginning his professional career, Drew was a sportswriter for YSU's student-run newspaper, The Jambar, where he supplied Press Box Perspective columns every week.

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