In 2008 we were treated to the best year in Mixed Martial Artist history. There were wars between organizations and an endless amount of big fights. With only a few days until Christmas we decided to compile our MMA Christmas wish list.
Young stars Continue to grow
In 2008 we witnessed a break out year from Thiago Alves, Forest Griffin and Kenny Florian. A large number of fighters went from hard working grinders to house hold names over night. If MMA wants to continue to grow, they will need the same number of young stars to break out in 2009. Who will it be? My front runners are Nate Diaz, Jake Shields and Cain Velasquez.
The Organizations to Sort themselves out
In 2008 we saw one organization after another come upon the MMA scene. Affliction tossed their T-shirts aside for promoter’s hats. EliteXC was the first to reach a deal with a cable network. Strikeforce continued to put on big shows on the west coast. And smaller regional shows popped up all over the world. And in the end, all had varied results but none reached the success of the most significant player in MMA – the UFC. Fans fear that the UFC will run them all out of business, which will leave them with only one option. Maybe 2009 will give the fans a legitimate alternative to the UFC.
Maybe we don’t want that. Maybe the UFC could buy up or work with some of these smaller organizations and create a “minor leagues” of MMA. The second option would go a long way in legitimizing MMA as a true sports league, just like AAA baseball and the American Hockey League. That might go a long way in continuing MMA’s mainstream acceptance.
GSP vs. Penn to live up to the Hype
Too often fights don’t live up to the hype set before them. Lesnar Couture was to be the “biggest fight in MMA history” but a 2nd round knock out resulted in little more than a changing of the guard and might have been one of the 15th best fights of the year. Fedor vs. Tim Sylvia? This was to be Fedor’s greatest challenge in years, but it was a butt kicking from bell to bell (all 36 seconds of it). Huerta vs. Florian? It was a good fight, but hardly fight of the year material it was marketed as. MMA needs a big hyped fight to finally live up to it. GSP and Penn should provide this.
Anderson Silva to be Given a challenge
I would never wish someone to lose, but with Anderson Silva running through everyone at 185, that weight class has become stale. The way he has plowed through the field, you’d wonder if he was a pro fighting amateurs. He needs to be pushed this year or he will simply lose interest and could very well bolt to boxing. Give him one more tune up fight at 205 and then let him fight for the title. Let him move up and fight at heavyweight. Make him shed some weight and fight GSP at 170. Put him on weight watchers and put him up against Penn at 155. Anything to push the Spider. Anything to keep him amused.
A year just like the last
Has there ever been a better time to be an MMA fan? We witnessed great cards, big upsets and the best athletes that sport has to offer almost every weekend. The sport has taken off over the last year and there’s no stopping the MMA Train. Let’s hope 2009 can continue to build on the momentum from 2008 and cement itself as the greatest sport on earth.