What to expect in MMA for 2010
By Todd Jackson, Inside Fights
Throughout 2009, MMA fans were taken on a roller-coaster
Tito Ortiz returned to the octagon after mending what seemed
to be bridges charred beyond repair after a lengthy dispute with
UFC president Dana White.
B.J. Penn rebounded as one of the most dominant fighters in
the world after a devastating loss to UFC welterweight champion
Georges St-Pierre in January.
Fedor Emelianenko showed the world that the beat of his own
drum truly guided his legacy as he turned his back on the UFC and
signed with rival promoter Strikeforce. Fedor made his prime time
network television debut in 2009, knocking out Brett Rogers
in the second round of the main event.
These events were just a small sample of an unpredictable
year. Now looking forward to 2010, fight fans can really see a
world of potential.
Fighter to watch — Jose Aldo
With fighters like Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza
commanding attention at his Strikeforce debut, or Dan Hardy
positioning himself for a fight with GSP, it is obvious that there
are many fighters deservedly demanding time in the spotlight.
One man who really stood out is WEC featherweight champion
Jose Aldo. He defeated then-champ Mike Brown at WEC 44, pummeling
his way to the 145-pound title. Aldo showed the world of MMA what
it is constantly craving, a finisher with tools to stop any
fighter, no matter how game he is.
Aldo has ended his last six fights early. With Urijah Faber
dead set on becoming champion again, and Brown obviously
still very much in the mix, Aldo should have his hands full in
The sky is the limit for Aldo. Do not blink when this man
takes the stage.
Feud to watch — B.J. Penn vs. Georges St-Pierre
Bad blood is always something fan should keep their eyes on.
The running feuds and dilemmas in the sport are many, but few have
the heat to really turn MMA on its head and divide a community like
one certain duo.
A year ago, chat rooms were riddled with the lunacy and
tantrums of those anticipating a coming match between two of MMA’s
When Penn gets to butting heads with St-Pierre, people get
interested. Regardless of which side a fight fan is on, nothing
could be better for the sport. In January, St-Pierre made a
statement at Penn’s expense one again in a dominant victory
at UFC 94, after beating him three years earlier.
In the subsequent months, Penn has re-established quickly
himself as a top pound-for-pound fighter, he and his camp are
nudging St-Pierre for another bout.
Neither man can seem to find a worthy challenger as it is,
and the love is already lost. How long will it take before they
find each other locked in a cage together yet again?
Story to Watch — Strikeforce looks to contend with
Of all the potential story lines over the next year, the most
compelling one is that of a fight promoter who finds itself
standing alone with the 800-pound gorilla in the room. The UFC has
always been the brand, the name of the sport. It is that gorilla.
The cold scared shivering little chihuahua in the corner is a
promoter that refuses to lay down.
Strikeforce is that chihuahua. The thing about these
chihuahuas is they don’t seem to know how small they are, and
they bare their teeth regardless. With Emelianenko on board,
Strikeforce had a puncher’s chance to make a true name in
this sport. It had a chance to hang on by the fingertips and hope
he would carry them to the next level. That recipe has been proven
ill fated, see Affliction.
Now, with signing fighters like Dan Henderson, and even the
highly recognizable Bobby Lashley, Strikeforce is making a
statement. They intend to contend. Its network TV deal is something
the UFC has proven incapable of negotiating thus far.
That ability to become the readily available provider of MMA
to a community of enthusiasts that won’t shell out $45 every month
to support the sport may be its ace in the hole.
Strikeforce is positioned quite nicely. It has some
old-school world class fighters in Emelianenko and Henderson. It
has some extremely compelling up and comers like Souza and Gegard
It may have had a puncher’s chance with Fedor alone,
but now it might be able to go the distance and leave it in the
judges’ hands, i.e. the fans.
This past year was a great one in the world of mixed martial
arts. How could we forget all that MMA did for us as fans? That
being said, 2010 brings with it a wealth of potential to be a very
exciting year, on many fronts, in many ways.