MMA’s New Year Resolutions

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Written by Matt Webb

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It’s Sunday morning and you’re probably just waking up at around noon. You hoist your

head up from the carpet floor that unexpectedly served itself as your drunken resting place

the night prior. The pieces of the inebriated puzzle start to slowly stumble together. Did

you really play flip cup with straight Jack Daniels? Did you really tip the bartender with that

Arby’s coupon that’s been in your wallet since 11th grade? Did you really believe that it

wasn’t butter? In a daze, you grab your phone to start cycling through the social media

wonderland that is Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. Ah, there it is, you did post

a picture of yourself chugging a beverage with the caption “New Year, New Me.” Yeah, that

actually did happen. But hey, it got some likes, so you leave it in the social media ether. Hell,

that was last year anyway, it’s 2017 now for God's sake. Clean slate time, right? New Years

Day is the time we earthlings long for. It’s the day for us to continue our yearly ritual that is

conceiving a set of New Year Resolutions. While starting to write my own I decided to write

this instead. In the wake of 2016, 2017 lay straight ahead and with it a plethora of wide-

eyed MMA fans with a set of their own ideal MMA New Year Resolutions. Here is a list of the

three New Year Resolutions MMA needs to write on a sticky note and put on its fridge.


Get Rid of The Ultimate Fighter

In the year 2016, the UFC saw a range of changes within the company. For starters, Zuffa

sold the UFC to WME-IMG. With the sale, multiple UFC team members are now seeking

employment elsewhere. By their own doing or not, staple pieces of the UFC are no longer with

the company. Matchmaker Joe Silva and longtime play by play announcer Mike Goldberg have

left the organization. Even UFC Hall of Famers Matt Hughes and Chuck Liddell were told to

clean out their desk. The year 2016 took no prisoners. It ended the tenure of these longstanding

pillars for better or for worse. Yet, there is one particular piece of the UFC that 2016 did not put

in its days of yester year. That piece is the highly predictable, highly monotonous show that is

The Ultimate Fighter. The Ultimate Fighter at one point in time was a pipeline of talent to the

UFC, serving as a minor league to the promotion. Fighters such as Forrest Griffin, Nate Diaz, T.J.

Dillashaw, Michael Bisping, and Rashad Evans are just a few names and they have all become

successful athletes for the promotion. The Ultimate Fighter at one point in time was legitimately

an interesting program. The peek behind the curtain into the lives of actual high-level mixed

martial artist was well worth the hour viewers were asked to sit through. More often than not, the

fighters in the show would have an actual career inside the UFC as well. However, this was long

ago and the show at this point in time has far worn out its welcome. Each episode serves as a mirror

image to the last. The constant drunken altercations mixed with childhood pranks served as some

humorous fun back in 2009. But now it's 2017 and the hardcore MMA fans do not have the time or

the willpower to continue sitting through this hour long slog fest. The hardcore UFC fan has

reached maximum capacity with events happening almost every weekend and Fight Pass

providing more content then one can humanly handle. Let us all hope 2017 puts The Ultimate

Fighter
on the chopping block. If not, we MMA fans will be spending perpetual eternity sitting

through The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America 4 promo packages. Please 2017, rid us of this

nuisance.



No More Ludicrous Matchmaking

Mixed Martial Arts in its adolescence hosted multiple unforgettable freak show fights.

Pride FC always ironically took pride in their ability to sell some ridiculous matchups to the masses.

Fights like Fedor Emelianenko versus the giant Hong Man Choi and Mirko Cro Cop against the

masked man Jose Alberto Rodriguez will forever be a part of MMA folklore. Pride, however,

was not on its own. The UFC didn’t mind signing up high profile boxer James Toney for a suicide

mission against Randy Couture at UFC 118. History wrote us warning signs on why these quick,

cash grab, freak show fights should have stayed in the past. In 2016, premier MMA promotions

decided to dust off the carnival show and put it on a revenge tour. The UFC gave the enamoring

CM Punk a chance to test his fighting fortunes inside the cage against Mickey Gall. The outcome

was worse than terrible. Who would've guessed that a middle-aged man with no actual

competitive combat experience making his MMA debut at professional fighting’s pinnacle

would go poorly? The UFC was somehow the lesser of two evils in this freak show fiasco. That’s

right Bellator, did you really believe you would come out of this unscathed? Booking matchups

with the likes of Kimbo Slice and Dada 5000 was criminal enough. But then to go and lock the

cage door for a trilogy fight between 50-year-old Royce Gracie and 52-year-old Ken Shamrock

without batting an eye. Bellator, have you no shame? No offense to the MMA legends but they

shouldn't have taken Bellator's bait when their names are already enshrined in the UFC’s Hall of

Fame. With no surprise, each of these pairings turned out to be nothing short of a disaster. Ken

Shamrock was TKO’d by an illegal groin strike from Royce Gracie and Dada 5000 damn near

died inside the cage from exhaustion. If 2016 taught us anything it’s that we should banish the

“fun fights” mantra to the MMA annex for eternity. Premier MMA promotions, please let us leave 2017

free of freak show fights.



Free Agency Momentum Continued

This article has been primarily focused on some 2016 negatives. Now let us shed light on

some positives to build on this following year. Mixed Martial Arts is coming into an age that has

been, for the most part, barren until recent years. The UFC is no longer the only destination for

mixed martial artists. At one time fighters could find refuge in organizations such as Pride FC and

Strikeforce if the UFC did not seem to be a welcoming home. The demise of those MMA

promotions left the athletes without a needed necessity. That necessity was having viable options

aside from the UFC. In 2016 however, options began to once again arise for fighters. With the

booming popularity of Conor McGregor and his ability to accumulate millions per fight, other

fighters have taken notice. The monumental UFC sale for an estimated four billion dollars also raised

eyebrows of the athletes. High profile fighters are starting to want a bigger slice of the pie. In

2016 the UFC lost fighters that at one point in time would've been a shoe-in to resign. Company

men such as Benson Henderson and Rory Macdonald decided to take their talents to Bellator.

Matt Mitrione also decided to trade in his Reebok fight shorts for his own sponsor-laden trunks.

MMA’s popularity boom is not just to the UFC's benefit but also to promotions like WSOF,

Rizin Fight Federation, and Bellator. For the first time in quite a while, fighters have options. Let’s

hope 2017 continues the trend because these fighters deserve more substantial bids for their services.

At year's end, 2016 was seemingly a success for mixed martial arts. With 2017 on the

horizon and MMA's New Years Resolutions set, will have to wait patiently to see if any of these

resolutions come to fruition. Much like our own, we put these goals in our mind with the

backhanded thought of them never taking shape. However, 2016 taught us that this magnificent

sport of violence is ever changing and MMA’s current climate just may be welcoming to all sorts

of evolutions in 2017.