UFC: 5 Big Christmas Wishes for 2013
Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre - Esther Lin/MMAFighting
The expectations are through the ceiling for 2013, and while White has the final say in every UFC decision, there are still things beyond his control.
The injury bug hit the UFC hard in 2012. It led to the cancellation of a multitude of highly anticipated fights. There was also the fiasco surrounding UFC 151, which became the first event cancelled in UFC history.
It definitely had its share of ups and downs, but the year 2012 was still a great year for the UFC.
The promotion introduced the flyweight and women's bantamweight divisions. While Demetrious Johnson won the flyweight title in September, the ladies are expected to make their debut in February 2013.
Perhaps the best moment of 2012 was UFC 148, which has been dubbed as the biggest event in UFC history. Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen met for a second time to end one of the greatest rivalries in the history of combat sports.
There was also the announcement of Strikeforce closing its doors, which opened the way for a plethora of world class fighters to jump ship and compete under the bright lights of the UFC.
The year 2013 is full of promise and the UFC is poised to live up to each and every challenge. Christmas has already come and gone, but the holiday spirit still remains in the air. It's that magical feeling you get in the pit of your stomach, and no, I'm not talking about gas.
Here are five big UFC Christmas wishes for 2013.
Dan Henderson - Esther Lin/MMAFighting
The UFC was devastated with injuries in 2012 and unfortunately, all we can do is keep our fingers crossed for better luck in 2013.
When it comes to athletics, no other form of training is on par with the grueling regimens MMA fighters are exposed to on a daily basis. Fighters constantly push themselves to maintain a physical and mental edge.
There are various opinions regarding the recent spike in injuries in the UFC. While some simply chalk it up as bad luck, others believe there is an underlying issue forcing fighters to pull out and turn down short-notice fights.
A fighter being injured in training is beyond the UFC's control, but perhaps, something can be done to make fighters more willing to step up under tough circumstances.
Former UFC light heavyweight champ Quinton "Rampage" Jackson pointed to losers missing out on a larger payday. If a fighter wins, he or she typically receives a win bonus. What about the loser? It isn't like they didn't train or put in the same effort.
Jackson insists that losers also be given the fight bonus if they show up and put forth a good performance.
The UFC's payment methods are confidential and there is a good chance incentives are already in place for those who lose.
Ultimately, the injury issues start in the gym. Let's all hope for better luck in 2013.
Cruz Return to Health
Dominick Cruz - Esther Lin/MMAFighting
Perhaps, the most heartbreaking story of 2012 was UFC bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz suffering a torn anterior ligament cruciate (ACL).
People tend to forget how devastating a torn ACL can be to an athlete. Every case doesn't have the same "Cinderella" ending as UFC welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre.
Most athletes are never the same again after tearing an ACL. Cruz, who hasn't competed since October 2011, is expected to miss all of 2013 after undergoing a second major surgery.
During an interview on FUEL TV's "UFC Tonight," Cruz choked back the tears when discussing the injury and the possibility of being stripped of the UFC title.
Renan Barao is the reigning interim bantamweight champion. Hopefully, Cruz's second surgery is successful and he is able to return to training by the end of next year.
Weidman, Hendricks and Overeem Title Shots
Chris Weidman, Johny Hendricks and Alistair Overeem - Esther Lin/MMAFighting
One of the most anticipated fights in 2012 was the heavyweight title bout between Junior Dos Santos and Alistair Overeem.
Unfortunately, Overeem tested positive for elevated testosterone levels and the bout was immediately scrapped. Despite his worldwide success, Overeem still faces an abundance of skeptics who can't seem to let go of his past inconsistencies.
A heavyweight showdown against Dos Santos or Cain Velasquez would go a long in debunking critics or proving them right. Overeem is slated to face Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva in February 2013. A win would likely earn him the next shot at the UFC title.
Johny Hendricks is becoming the UFC's blue-collar workhorse. In his last four bouts, he has defeated Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck, Martin Kampmann and Mike Pierce. After all of those big wins, Hendricks still finds himself on the outside of the UFC title picture.
Nick Diaz, who is coming off a loss to Carlos Condit, managed to leapfrog Hendricks for a March 2013 title bout with Georges St-Pierre. Hendricks is scheduled to face Jake Ellenberger on the same fight card in a bout that could finally grant him a welterweight title shot.
While Overeem and Hendricks seek their first UFC title shots, Chris Weidman hopes to do the same at middleweight.
The rising 28-year-old star has proven to be the complete package in ousting respected contenders Demian Maia and Mark Munoz. Could a showdown with Anderson Silva be on the horizon?
If Michael Bisping loses to Vitor Belfort in January, the path will be cleared for a possible Weidman title shot.
Cowboy Stadium Super Fight
Cowboy Stadium - Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
For months, Dana White has entertained the possibility of doing a UFC event at Cowboy Stadium in Dallas, Texas.
Considering the size of the venue, the event would call for a super fight as a headliner. There have been talks about Anderson Silva facing either Georges St-Pierre or Jon Jones, but neither of those proposed bouts seem likely at this point.
Still, nothing is ever set in stone in the UFC. If St-Pierre defeats Nick Diaz in March, there is always a chance the UFC offers him another big money fight against Silva.
A super fight of some sort is highly anticipated, but it isn't a necessity. The UFC's bolstered roster gives White plenty of wiggle room for assembling an all-star lineup for a historic fight card.
UFC 154 - Esther Lin/MMAFighting
It has never been a more exciting time to be an MMA fan.
The UFC has bolstered its ranks with the flyweight and women's bantamweight divisions.
World class fighters like Gilbert Melendez, Daniel Cormier, Josh Barnett and Luke Rockhold are expected to jump ship when Strikeforce closes its doors in January 2013. The network deal with FOX is proving to be a major success.
The list of success and accomplishments goes on and on for the UFC.
Hopefully, the sport continues to grow and garners more respect in the mainstream market. It would be nice to flip the channel and see ESPN covering MMA with the same enthusiasm and understanding as they show with various other sports.
As the sport continues to flourish, fighters will continue to see a better financial return for all their hard work, and younger athletes will begin choosing MMA over football, basketball and baseball.
Dana White has always been the subject of harsh criticism, but he should be commended for leading a dying sport to the promised land.