Making Sense of the UFC’s Chaos
Jon Jones is returning, Ian McGregor is on the warpath, everyone is retiring (and un-retiring), and MMA is finally coming to New York.
By John Miles, Santa Fe College
If you’ve seen SportsCenter covering the UFC in the past few months, you’re probably wondering what the hell is going on.
At the same time, you probably don’t care enough about the sport to look into it in any great detail.
For the people who want to avoid the angsty MMA nerdom side of the internet, here is a quick review of what’s happening in the UFC, as well as what to look out for throughout the rest of 2016.
The Boys Are Being Boys
The little feud between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz is nothing more than a schoolyard pissing match. It goes as any squabble goes—one person (McGregor) is the undisputed loser of the fight, but still continues to get all up in the winner’s business (Diaz), mostly via twitter.
Even though Nate Diaz is significantly larger, McGregor is convinced that the situation is a classic example of David and Goliath, though it’s more likely a time when a small, vicious puppy believes he’s a murderous hound.
In addition, McGregor has made enemies with the UFC—after declining to attend a mandatory press conference about an upcoming rematch with Diaz, “The Notorious” Conor McGregor opted to announce his retirement at the age of 27. Then, Nate retired. Then, the UFC got mad at them and told them “No!” and they un-retired. But by then, the fight had already been cancelled and McGregor had lost the $10 million dollar paycheck that he would have earned with a rematch.
The Girls Are Being Girls
It’s no surprise that girls and boys respond differently to failure. McGregor and Ronda Rousey are the two most hyped fighters in the UFC, but they have both been humbled in the past year.
McGregor responded to loss by becoming substantially cockier;Rousey responded with an extended mourning period. In fact, only 11 days ago, she told an interviewer that she was “still grieving” five months after her loss.
Rousey even suggested that she was suicidal following the loss.
This goes to show the immense pressure put on MMA fighters—training camps are brutal and last for months, then conclude with a 15-minute battle that often decides your entire fate, both in terms of your career and your piggy bank. There is no other sport that places as much importance on a single event.
On a lighter note, the UFC is doing a fantastic job marketing their women fighters. Most of the MMA fanbase are men, so they don’t exactly shy away from advertising the beauty of certain fighters. (Particular attention is given to Rousey, Miesha Tate and Paige VanZant.) Still, the marketing push continually emphasizes that these female fighters are legit fighters. It seems like women’s MMA is catching on, and not just because of their good looks.
Jon Jones Is Back and Terrifying
At the age of 28, Jones has been repeatedly considered the best MMA fighter in the world. But after failing a post-fight drug test for cocaine, in addition to being stripped of the belt and losing all his sponsorships due to a hit-and-run incident, Jonny Bones hit rock bottom.
But 2016 seems to be the year of return for Jones, as he recently won the Interim Light Heavyweight Championship against Ovince St. Preux, and is set to fight Daniel Cormier at UFC 200 for the official Light Heavyweight belt.
The Champions Are All Getting Hurt
Fabricio Werdum, Daniel Cormier and Rafael dos Anjos have all dropped huge fights in the past few months due to injuries. This comes in addition to the Mcgregor-Diaz scuffle, as well as the Jon Jones fiasco of last year.
All of the fighters are set to return at some point this summer, and it appears that the Mcgregor-Diaz pissing match is ending and Jon Jones has returned to his former self. The UFC’s biggest concerns all seem to be solved, or at least close to being solved.
There Are 5 Champs from the Strikeforce Merger
Back in 2012, the UFC controversially bought out Strikeforce, a competing organization that was really the only largely-covered alternative to the UFC.
Although they had some of the greatest fighters of all time (most notably, Fedor Emilianenko), they were always sort of considered the minor leagues of MMA, not quite as competitive as the UFC. But today, five out of ten championship belts are held by ex-Strikeforce fighters. Sucks to your assmar, UFC!
Fighters Have Forgotten What “Retiring” Means
There is a growing list of fighters who “retire,” only to come back a year or two later (or two days in Mcgregor’s case). B.J. Penn, who is one of the best of all time, is coming out of a two-year hibernation for UFC 199.
Both Diaz brothers have threatened retirement, though neither have followed through. GSP is likely returning soon. Jiu-Jitsu/MMA legend Royce Gracie recently came out of retirement at age 49 to fight Ken Shamrock, aged 52, thus marking the first time two fighters in the professional MMA ring have had a combined age of over 100 years.
The UFC Is Finally Going to New York
You would think that the world’s fastest growing sport would be embraced by the world’s largest city, but nay; the state of New York has banned MMA for 20 years. Finally, however, it is coming.
2016 is a crucial year for the UFC—rematches between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz, Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier, Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidman have fans on the edge of their seats, ready to blow hundreds of dollars on PPV events. But for the UFC, the single most important event (right ahead of a huge UFC 200 card) will be their debut in New York later this year.
The card will have to be huge, since the New York market is, as of yet, completely untapped. Between UFC 200 and the New York City card, the UFC will be receiving unprecedented amounts of media coverage and likely a whole lot of new fans.
Since the sport is now mainstream, one can only hope that with the absolutely insane lineup for 2016, nothing too catastrophic happens again. You know, like cocaine and hit-and-runs and fighters who won’t take a $10 million paycheck.