I find myself writing an obituary, thankfully not for any one fighter, but for MMA in general. That is because MMA is dead.
That isn't to say that fans will see a lack of submissions or cages in the next few years. In fact, if anything they will see it grow. Along with that growth will be three letters.
There is no more MMA. It has been replaced by the UFC.
That doesn't mean fighters can't make money in different organizations. There is Bellator for those that want to appear on TV. Regional shows still exist, though it might be hard to make a living in such a manner.
When it comes to the sport that people recognize, it boils down to the UFC. They are the events everyone plans on watching. They are the pay-per-views that articles are written about and media covers.
Every other promotion comes in second.
The irony is that the UFC isn't a monopoly. Anyone could come in and start a promotion. With enough money, a rival company could even give them serious competition on a fiscal level.
There just isn't a way to threaten them where it counts because the UFC has become a part of pop culture. It is as much a part of the fabric of society as Google is. It has ceased to be a part of MMA and replaced it as an acronym for the sport altogether.
There are some fans who will watch Bellator and focus on smaller MMA shows, but they are in the minority. Most of those fans come from a time when promotions like PRIDE still existed. Precious few start out now scouring the Internet for every available MMA show.
Most fans who get into the sport now have one avenue to watch the best in the world ply their trade. To pay money to see anything else, especially in this economy, wouldn't make sense.
If someone is going to invest time and money into watching and enjoying MMA, then they should do it at the top level.
And that is the UFC.
PRIDE is no more.
Sengoku disappeared into nothingness a while ago, and DREAM might still be functioning, though it is in critical condition.
Strikeforce was purchased by the UFC and is still functioning, but only as the minor league for the promotion.
The only contender left is Bellator and even though it is doing well enough and has maintained a healthy growth on cable and in its roster of fighters, it started too late. The UFC has mixed together with society on a level that makes it impossible for another MMA brand to compete with it.
The sport still exists.
It will continue to do well in the future.
And it will still be represented by three letters.
They just changed from MMA to UFC.
And that is something every fan is going to have to deal with.