A sport as new and mutable as MMA goes through a lot of changes on a regular basis. The coming year will be no different for the sport's leading promotion. With a new division set to compete for the first time and plenty of interesting possibilities simmering on the stove, 2013 should be another exciting year for the UFC.
Here are seven bold predictions for the next 12 months.
After Georges St-Pierre wrecks Nick Diaz and outpoints Johny Hendricks (and with Tristar teammate Rory MacDonald ready to challenge), he will reconsider moving up to the middleweight division. Problem is, Anderson Silva vs. Jon Jones will be in serious discussions, and fans (at least those south of the border) will no longer care as much about Silva and GSP.
GSP will learn a valuable lesson about striking when the iron is hot.
John Dodson will take the flyweight title from Demetrious Johnson and, to the chagrin of many who find Dodson grating, hold the belt for quite some time.
In the bantamweight division, with Dominick Cruz now probably out for all of 2013 with a knee injury, Renan Barao will defend his interim title—and lose it to Michael McDonald.
The featherweight division will be the most chaotic. Frankie Edgar will best Jose Aldo at UFC 156, but will then lose later in the year to "Korean Zombie" Chan-Sung Jung. Meanwhile, Aldo will announce a move up to lightweight.
Everyone is beatable. MMA has taught us that time and time again. Ronda Rousey is no exception. If she gets past Liz Carmouche at UFC 157 in February, Cyborg Santos or a rematch with Miesha Tate looms. It's entirely possible that someone will finally derail the straightforward attack of the UFC's first female champion.
Chael Sonnen is a very good fighter, but he's an even better commentator. Sonnen's star will never be brighter than it will be after his turn coaching The Ultimate Fighter opposite Jon Jones. However, after Jones wrecks Sonnen to retain the light heavyweight belt, Sonnen, 35, will have a much clearer (and less painful) path to success in the media world.
Benson Henderson will be too much for Gilbert Melendez in the Strikeforce champion's UFC debut. Melendez will ultimately have a good, but not great, run in the Octagon.
The Empire State legislature will finally muster the will to allow professional MMA within its borders.
Madison Square Garden, here we come.
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, B.J. Penn, Wanderlei Silva and Rich Franklin will all hang up their gloves in 2013. Only Dan Henderson and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (who will battle injuries this year) will remain as the last bastion of the sport's "golden age."