BEHIND THE SCENES MMA ARTICLES & INTERVIEWS
The UFC and its Tumultuous Year
By Christopher ‘sLapDatSuCKa’ Jester
With the glutinous holiday known as Thanksgiving over, many mixed martial arts fans must now face the scrupulous idea of whether or not the UFC has delivered throughout the year. So far, the UFC has been mired with injuries that has plagued the company at nearly every pay-per-view event for the past 11 months. At every turn, the UFC had to face the idea that a UFC 151 could happen again. Just take a look at how Zuffa owned Strikeforce handled its last couple of events. Even their upcoming last event in January 2013 has now lost their middleweight champion in Luke Rockhold, and had already previously lost its lightweight title fight with Gilbert Melendez pulling out. This is the myriad of calamities that Zuffa and its organizations has taken in, all within less than one year.
UFC’s 2012 set out on an explosive adventure with the idea that it would deliver fights into MMA fan’s homes on basic cable. The UFC on FOX fight back in November 2011 kicked off that idea with what appeared would be an initial success. After a dull second outing with UFC on Fox: Evans vs. Davis, fans were left with a bad taste in their mouth. However, the UFC quickly fixed this by featuring bouts on FOX with top-notch fighters who left it all in the Octagon. The Nate Diaz and Jim Miller fight created a Lightweight contender in Nate Diaz who fights the UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson in December. UFC on Fox: Shogun vs. Vera, placed on the forefront one of the best fights of the year with Joe Lauzon versus Jamie Varner. While the results may have been mixed initially, showcasing the UFC on Fox has not disappointed as the year went on; thanks to the amazing fights put on by these fighters.
The biggest excitement for this year came from the top fighters that the UFC has to offer. The triumvirate top three: Jon ‘Bones’ Jones, Anderson Silva, and Georges St-Pierre. The largest amount of love from fans likely goes to Anderson Silva who defeated his rival Chael Sonnen and brought that story to a close. Silva stepped up once again to defeat Stephan Bonnar to only further cement his stand at the top of the mixed martial arts world.
The same couldn’t be said about Jon Jones. Despite a hit to his persona and his personal life, Jon Jones found his year trying to correct this but also finding heat coming from the blame being placed on him for the cancellation of UFC 151. Most of the war of words came from Chael Sonnen, who had recently found no place at Middleweight since his loss to Anderson Silva, and had decided to move up to light-heavyweight. Their vitriol of words ultimately spelled for the two to meet and coach opposite of one of another in the next season of The Ultimate Fighter. Jon Jones moment of truth was surviving a deadly armbar from Vitor Belfort that almost ruined his stint as light-heavyweight champion. But he proved his heart and pulled through in a victory.
Georges St-Pierre likely wins the most prolific return award. After nearly a year out of the fight game, the UFC welterweight champion returned to the Octagon to face tough UFC interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit at UFC 154. In a fight that proved that St-Pierre had not lost a step, he nearly lost the match in a round that saw him taking a head kick to the dome by Carlos Condit. Pulling out from a game changer and coming back, St-Pierre won the match by unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-45). It goes to prove that even a deadly ACL cannot keep “Rush” out of the Octagon.
Although 2012 has had its mix of good and bad, the UFC looks to close out the year with three free fights and one pay-per-view. This is holiday gift within itself. The UFC needed an end of a year like this. Great free fights and a rematch boasting the heavyweight title. December starts with a title bout between UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz on UFC on FOX 5 on the 8th. Also, BJ Penn returns to face rising welterweight star Rory McDonald. In the co-main event Alexander Gustafsson looks to prove that he is the next big thing at light-heavyweight as he faces Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
The next two free events are UFC on FX 6 (December 14) and UFC – The Ultimate Finale 16 (December 15); both featured on FX. The two culminates the end of two seasons of The Ultimate Fighter. UFC On FX 6 is headlined by George Sotiropoulos and Ross Pearson, while the co-main event features Hector Lombard and Rousimar Palhares. The UFC – The Ultimate Finale 16 is full of strikers and could possibly deliver another fight of the year contender. Originally the coaches Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin were supposed to fight, but that came to an end when Carwin backed out of the fight due to injury. Matt Mitrione has stepped in to face Roy Nelson. Other high-performers Pat Barry takes on Shane Del Rosario and Melvin Guillard will face Jamie Varner in what should all be impressive fights to end the year.
The year ultimately closes out with a fight that started this venture with Fox. UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos will rematch against the man he took the belt away from in Cain Velasquez at UFC 155. This fight should cap off the year with a bout of superior heavyweight athletes who both are fan favorites. If December ends well, then can the fans say this year was a success? The injury bug may have something else to say about that. In the end, the UFC can say they have done enough by its fans. And who can deny that? With 2013 looming, let’s hope that the UFC continues to corrects the ship.
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka
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