Top five things MMA fans can be thankful for in 2012
It's Thanksgiving, and it's time to express our gratitude for the things we take for granted. Gather round the MMA Roundtable as we give thanks for the blessings that have been bestowed upon the sport in 2012.
Gobble, gobble, Maniacs!
It's that time of the year, once again, where we sit around, stuff our faces with tryptophan and pumpkin pie, watch one-sided football blowouts, and attempt to avoid that uncle or grandmother who, quite frankly, you didn't even know was still alive.
Every year, we take this time to give "shout outs" to the things and people we usually take for granted. Whether it's our spouses, our kids, our cars, our shelter, or any number of items, we take this time to honor the fact that it's not as bad as we make it out to be on the other 364 days of the year.
Being thankful isn't restricted to the outside world. Mixed martial arts (MMA) fans have plenty to be thankful for, too, even though we spend most of the time grumbling and griping about what could be better.
With that in mind, I'd like to take this opportunity to list my top five things that I'm thankful for, as an MMA fan, this year.
In the past year, ONE FC frontman Victor Cui saw a target market that wasn't being capitalized upon, and he took the intiative in a big way.
Since Sept. 2011, ONE FC has put on six shows, all in or around Singapore. And, they've all rocked. Every single one of them. ONE FC has brought fans stacked cards in packed stadiums, giving a tip of the cap to Pride FC era shows, and allowing old-school fans to feel the nostalgia.
As a United States fan, there's something special about getting up early on a Saturday and watching a kick-ass ONE FC show. I'm hopeful that it continues with the same momentum.
THE FLYWEIGHT DIVISION:
Look, I know not everyone is a fan.
The 125-pound fight game is different. Generally speaking, there are (and will probably continue to be) more decisions.
But give it some time. The division is thin right now. Zuffa will keep nurturing the weight class and bringing in exciting fighters. Also, don't surprised if you see more fighters like Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson who had spent a considerable amount of time at Bantamweight before they realized that their true weight class was Flyweight.
I think it's exciting and a nice change of pace. The speed is unlike anything you'll ever see. It's like watching too hummingbirds fly around the cage, taking occasional breaks to inflict serious violence on the other.
Personally, I think it's great for the sport.
ADDED DEPTH IN THE WELTERWEIGHT AND MIDDLEWEIGHT DIVISIONS:
I know that those are kind of two items rolled into one, but I feel like they go hand-in-hand.
It wasn't that long ago that people were saying they'd felt UFC Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and UFC Middleweight champion Anderson Silva had both cleaned out their divisions.
That's no longer the case.
Does that mean there are currently any fighters who I'd put money on to take the belt from either champion? No, it doesn't. But, at least there are some possibilities and some potentially very exciting match ups.
Johny Hendricks, Nick Diaz and Rory MacDonald are all guys I'd love to see fight "GSP" (though MacDonald has vowed it's a fight he'd never take, due to his friendship with St. Pierre).
Chris Weidman, Alan Belcher and Michael Bisping are all guys I'd enjoy seeing in the cage with "The Spider" (Sorry, Tim Boetsch fans). Hell, I'd even be amped to see Silva fight Hector Lombard, even though I know he looked piss poor against Boetsch.
Both divisions being deeper is good for everybody.
Not everyone is going to agree on this, particular the Zuffa haters that pretended Strikeforce was ever going to give the UFC a serious run for its money.
Strikeforce had its moments, and it was fun while it lasted.
Ultimately, it's just time for guys like Gilbert Melendez, Daniel Cormier, Luke Rockhold and "Jacare" Ronaldo Souza to get into the Octagon and see what they can do against the very best in the world.
I want to see it. You want to see it. It's time to make it happen, and unfortunately, the death of Strikeforce will be an acceptable casualty in the big picture of the sport of MMA.
I know, I know. He gets on your nerves. He's kind of abrasive. He doesn't always keep his promises, and he tells you guys to go screw yourselves much more often than you're comfortable with. With that said, he gets the job done. He puts together massive fights, and most of the time, the cards he assembles are a lot of fun.
White continually ups the ante, every year, with his focus on signing the top guys from around the world. Call it a monopoly if you will. But, as a fan, I want to see the top guys all fighting under the same umbrella.
Sure, White has ulterior motives, in that it makes his wallet fatter. However, I get the sense that he really is a fan of the sport, and that he gets as excited about the big fights being made as I do.
So, that's my top five. Now it's your turn.
What're you thankful for in MMA this Thanksgiving?