On March 12, news broke that the UFC's parent company, Zuffa, LLC, had purchased its biggest rival promotion, Strikeforce. Since then, the UFC has signed many of Strikeforce's champions, including Nick Diaz, Dan Henderson, Alistair Overeem, Jason Miller and Cung Le. Diaz is now competing for an interim welterweight belt, Henderson won a light heavyweight title eliminator in a classic bout with Shogun Rua and Overeem faces former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar in a title eliminator at UFC 141 on Dec. 30. Strikeforce is sticking around, with champions like Gilbert Melendez (pictured) defending his title and its women's belts being contested, and they just added an extention to its TV deal with Showtime in December.
Jon Jones emerges as a force
Jones seemingly came from out of nowhere in 2011 to dominate the sport. On Feb. 5 at UFC 126, he beat Ryan Bader. He followed that up just six weeks later with a third-round TKO over Shogun Rua, which gave Jones the UFC light heavyweight title. He defended his title for the first time at UFC 135 on Sept. 24, submitting Rampage Jackson in the fourth round — the first submission defeat in Jackson's career. Jones then finished the year with a second-round chokeout of Lyoto Machida at UFC 140. The 24-year-old Jones is the youngest man to ever hold a UFC title, and the future looks incredibly bright for the seemingly unbeatable champion.
FOX lands UFC deal
On Aug. 18, UFC president Dana White and FOX announced a seven-year broadcast partnership between the two companies. The deal moves the UFC closer to mainstream acceptance, showing four cards on broadcast TV a year with several more coming on FX and FUEL TV. Also the UFC's reality show, "The Ultimate Fighter," will move to FX in 2012 with a new live format. Even though the deal won't begin until 2012, we got to see a sneak preview with UFC on FOX 1 on Nov 12. In it, Junior dos Santos took the heavyweight title from Cain Velasquez by knockout 1:04 into the first round.
Edgar finishes off Maynard
Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard fought the last two bouts of their trilogy in 2011. First, the two fought to a split draw at UFC 125 on Jan. 1, allowing Edgar to keep his lightweight title. In the bout, Maynard totally dominated Edgar in the first round, almost getting a stoppage win, but the champion survived the round and came back to even up the fight. In the sequel at UFC 136 on Oct. 8, Edgar again had to survive a thrashing from Maynard in the first round. This time, Edgar's comeback was thorough enough to escape with a win, keeping the belt around the champion's waist.
Triumph in Brazil
Brazil is the unofficial ancestral home of mixed martial arts. On Aug. 27, the UFC staged UFC 134 in Rio de Janeiro. In the main event, Anderson Silva scored a second-round TKO victory over Yushin Okami to defend his UFC middleweight title for the ninth consecutive time, but for the first time in his home country. In all, 10 Brazilian fighters won on the night as the UFC returned to Brazil for the first time since 1998.