A memorable year is yet to come
It's been an
This year had its share of contract squabbles, most notably when
In the year ahead, as fighters and managers alike gain prominence in the industry and in the professional sports world, they will likely use their power to dispute the structure of the UFC contracts, sponsorship deals, bonus money, hardball negotiation tactics, or some combination of the four. This storm has been brewing for a long time, and in 2009, it's going to get ugly.
Ardent MMA fans knew of
If he gets past
Unfortunately for fans, the first two options are far more likely than the third. He may still be the No. 1 heavyweight by the end of 2009, but when the champ takes his skills overseas to face less credible and less challenging opponents, his ranking will become harder to support.
UFC 94 on Jan. 31 is billed as the fighting organization's Super Bowl, and it's not simply because the card takes place on Super Bowl weekend. The rematch between top fighters
Pairing two champions from different weight classes has the ability to make any fight feel like a clash of the titans, and the revenue it brings will only encourage the UFC -- and other lingering promotions -- to do more of it in the coming year.
Consider the outcomes: if GSP wins (the more likely outcome),
You don't have to be Nostradamus to see this one coming. Affliction won't survive its second year in the MMA industry. The upstart promotion lacks organization, and its outrageous expenses won't be recouped. Doom is set to fall on a promtion some hoped would become a rival to the UFC.
It's shame, really. The MMA world could use a viable competitor to the UFC to boost fighter salaries and the overall quality of the product. But Affliction has gone about it in the wrong way: trying to buy a ticket to the big time before figuring out the infrastructure needed to stay there. The company paid its fighters more than $3 million in the first show.
UFC 92, which was billed as one of the most stacked cards of 2008, had a total payout of about $1.3 million. Sure, the UFC's pay structure is often questioned and criticized, but
But at least there will always be overpriced skull t-shirts.
CBS gambled on MMA when it put EliteXC on primetime. And, shocking even to those in the industry, the nation's moral fiber didn't tear asunder. Even with the