November 26, 2015

Mixed Martial Arts Edition of Thanksgiving Day

By Raphael Garcia

The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us once again. As family travels to and fro while people argue over who’s going to clean up the kitchen, we are reminded of many different things to be thankful for. The same applies for fans of mixed martial arts. 2015 has been an exciting year with a multitude of big fights and big news moments. Looking back at the year that is nearly over, here are some things every MMA fan should be thankful for this year:

Rising Stars

2015 has been the year of the rising star within the UFC. Names such as Paige VanZant, Conor McGregor, Holly Holm, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and Sage Northcutt are creeping their way up the fight card marquee. Whether fans agree or not, the UFC is making a true effort to promote these competitors to a level at which they can replace some of the fading names of yesterday.

Athletes such as Dan Henderson, Vitor Belfort, and others that helped introduce fans to MMA are slowly being forced into a position in which stepping away from active competition is becoming a bigger possibility. These emerging stars and others are poised to take their positions as the reason people tune in to UFC broadcasts in the near future.

Bellator MMA

The business world has proven that competition improves quality. It’s clear that in the world of mixed martial arts, the UFC is the “king,” while every other organization is hoping to find a niche market to live on. Bellator MMA is the second most important promotion in the sport and it used 2015 to carve out an interesting position in the world.

On one hand, Bellator MMA boasts legit athletes such as Will Brooks, Daniel Straus, Michael Chandler, and others; on the other, the promotion pushes “freakshow” fights that would make PRIDE extremely proud. As if Kimbo Slice vs. Ken Shamrock wasn’t enough, Kimbo is slated to face street fighter Dada 5000, while Shamrock will rematch Royce Gracie at Bellator 149. Neither of those fights offers any real value to the sport, but each is sure to garner a large amount of attention and ratings, which is the bottom line for the organization at this time.

It will be interesting to see how long this strategy works for Bellator. Former UFC fighters such as Josh Thomson, Josh Koscheck, and Phil Davis have joined the roster already, and Benson Henderson is rumored to be next. If the competition increases, both fighters and fans will benefit from the organization attempting to challenge the UFC for leadership in the sport.

The Month of December

December is set to be an action-packed month for MMA. Between the UFC, WSOF, and Bellator, there are six events slated to close out the year. UFC 194 is the golden goose of the bunch, as it features Jose Aldo against Conor McGregor and Chris Weidman defending his title against Luke Rockhold. In fact, that entire card is solid from top to bottom. When coupled with the Rose Namajunas vs. Paige VanZant bout on December 10 and the Chad Mendes vs. Frankie Edgar fight on December 11, it’s clear that this is the biggest three-day span in the promotion’s history.

Bellator and WSOF are trotting out Josh Thomson and Lance Palmer in an attempt to draw attention to some of their biggest fighters. No matter the promotion, December is slated to be a great month for MMA as a whole, with big fights across the board.

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for the blessings in our lives. While some fans and media members complain about the sport more and more, mixed martial arts still offers a lot to be thankful for. These are just three, but the list is much longer.


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