Mixed martial arts fans need to invest in day planners because 2010 will be even busier than 2009, and if UFC 108 was any indicator, you don’t want to miss any of the action. Here are 10 reasons to be excited for 2010.
UFC Fan Expo
Fight fans have another chance to get their swag on in grand fashion when the UFC hosts its second Fan Expo to accompany UFC 114 in Las Vegas come late May. Free stuff and a chance to rub elbows with just about everybody who’s anybody in MMA is reason enough to visit Vegas, but if you need convincing, the FIGHT! Magazine booth is pretty badass.
Healthy and Happy New Year
A rash of injuries plagued the second half of 2008, sidelining champions Anderson Silva, Brock Lesnar, and Georges St-Pierre. Up-and-coming fighters like Dustin Hazelett and Todd Duffee were on the DL, too. Here’s hoping that everyone recovers from illness and surgery to fight again in 2010.
Some of the world’s best fighters are communicating directly with their fans. Dynamic personalities abound on the social networking site Twitter. Frank Trigg, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, and Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal are avid Tweeters. Nate Quarry makes his comments count for laughs and Miguel Torres causes trouble. Fans can get a well-rounded view of a fighter’s personality and have instant access to their idols. Check out the heavy hitters here.
The success of THQ’s UFC Undisputed 2009 brings a sequel in 2010 and a competitor in Electronic Arts’ EA MMA 2010, which will prominently feature fighters from Strikeforce and DREAM. For years, fans had no mixed martial games for their consoles. Come 2010, they’ll be able to choose between two for the first time since 2004. Though if you’re like us, you’ll just buy both.
If You Can Make It In New York…
With the UFC coming to Boston in August and mixed martial arts sanctioning in nearly every state, New York’s holdout is unlikely to last through 2010, especially since former Gov. Pataki and current Gov. Patterson both favor regulation. Add in the UFC’s planned shows in Australia and Abu Dhabi and Dana White’s plan for global domination is in full swing.
Fighters on Film
Like it or not, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is a lead player in the The A-Team remake. Cung Le will recover from Scott Smith’s weighty punches with choreographed comeback fights and Gina Carano is set as Steven Soderbergh’s next action starlet. Not to mention mixed martial arts legend and UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture stars opposite Hollywood icon Sylvester Stallone in The Expendables. Improving the crossover appeal of fighters can’t be bad, even if the movies are.
Twenty-five minutes wasn’t enough to prove who is the best light heavyweight in the UFC, and arguably, the world. Champion Lyoto Machida narrowly retained his belt in a technical, steady contest despite critics and fans awarding Mauricio “Shogun” Rua the decision. The controversy overshadowed what a fantastic contest it actually shaped up to be but the rematch, targeted for UFC 113, will likely be a completely different bout now that they’ve already had five rounds together.
Fedor Emelianenko is the best heavyweight on the planet and we get to watch him on free TV. With the longest winning streak in the history of the sport spanning nine years and 27 victories, the Russian is slated to hit network TV again in April. 2009 was his best year since his PRIDE days as he posterized two consensus top-10 heavyweights in Andrei Arlovski and Brett Rogers.
Strikeforce’s Second Stage
Strikeforce emerged as a major player in 2009 by securing a television deal with CBS/Showtime and signing MMA legends Fedor Emelianenko and Dan Henderson and is bringing solid, nationally televised fight cards to the table nearly every month. This competition gives fighters another stage to shine on and forces promoters to offer the best product possible.
Whether you’re watching UFC, WEC, Strikeforce, Bellator, Dream or Sengoku in 2010, you can be watching it for free or for the cost of your cable package. All of the organizations have a broadcast, basic cable, or premium cable television presence. Prior to The Ultimate Fighter season on just five years ago, the kind of presence mixed martial arts will have on television in 2010 was unfathomable.