Now that it is 2013, the slate has been wiped clean for MMA, and we have a whole year ahead of us for new developments. With each passing year, the sport of MMA has evolved. It has continuously grown by leaps and bounds, and it seems each week brings a new dynamic. Last year alone, many changes took place that have altered the course of MMA and continued to push it into the mainstream.
The UFC is the largest and most successful MMA promotion and thus has served as a pioneer for the sport. It has served as an ambassador into the homes of millions and inspired a new wave of athleticism. While the UFC is not the only promotion out there, it has shown the right business model to take a near-bankrupt company and turn it into what it is today.
MMA has made its way onto major television networks and has continued to do very well on PPV. It has branched into the video game market, the toy market and clothing, as well as the sports scene. Big endorsements, such as Bud Light, Harley Davidson, Nike, Burger King, Under Armour and many more, have embraced the MMA scene and its athletes. This support has helped us get to 2013 in great stride.
So what does 2013 have in store for us? We do not really know for sure, but there are certainly some things we would like to see happen.
The talk of the town recently has been superfights. With Georges St-Pierre back in action, Anderson Silva still doing his thing and Jon Jones establishing himself, superfights are of great interest. Some people are clamoring for them, others believe they won’t happen. Regardless, there are some great matchups on the way, especially with the Strikeforce roster migrating over to the UFC.
Everyone hopes 2013 is not plagued by injuries like 2012 was. Headliners and big fights were lost due to injuries, and rankings had to be worked around. An entire UFC PPV event even had to be canceled. It is inevitable that injuries will occur, but hopefully they will not be as frequent, ill-timed or severe.
As MMA has grown, the sport has indeed faced challenges. Most of the United States has sanctioned MMA events, but there are still holdouts, most notably New York. Once MMA is allowed in New York, the northeast can look forward to a huge UFC debut event at Madison Square Garden, with a Fan Expo to accompany it at the Javits Center.
The UFC had an incredible journey of growth last year, especially with the addition of the flyweights. 2013 will be the year that Women’s MMA makes its debut in the UFC, while promotions like Invicta FC have also breathed new life into female MMA fighters.
This year also brings the possibility of another wave of changing of the guard. Retirement has popped up for some of the big name fighters from the “old days,” and we may see official retirements from many more. BJ Penn has declined, and Rampage Jackson, Matt Hughes and others stand on the outskirts, determining what might be next for them. We saw the exodus of Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture and more, and we can expect some other names to drop off the radar by this year's end as well.