The sport of MMA has seen monumental growth in 2009 and no one can attest to this growth more than the UFC President Dana White.
White has orchestrated events in the last year that has helped to blow up the borderline sport, while creating interesting matchups that have proved both disastrous and amazing.
This next year in MMA will be less about questions to answer, like whether it is here to stay, or if it can compete with other mainstream sports.
The past year in MMA has answered those questions.
Rather, this year is more of a year for fight fans. We've already seen sub-par names put on great shows, and this is a trend that can be expected to continue this upcoming year.
Here are ten things fight fans can expect to happen by the end of 2010:
10) UFC finally makes a mainstream television deal
For many years, White has looked for his rendition of "Saturday Night Fights" and 2010 will be no different.
With the death of Affliction, the only true competition White can expect in the next year will be from Strikeforce, as they already have their television deal done with CBS.
Don't rule out Fox or NBC to make a lucrative deal that sends the UFC to the next level.
9) Fedor Emelianenko's eventual downfall
The last year has seen Fedor go through many hardships, beginning with the Andrei Arlovski fight.
While he ultimately won the fight, Emelianenko was being outclassed by Arlovski before ending the fight with a fluke punch.
Next up for Emelianenko was a very game Brett Rogers, who took Arlovski's chink in the armor and opened up a proverbial can of whoop ass on Emelianenko. Emelianenko again eventually won the fight, but lost his aura of invincibility in the process.
Expect some large man (possibly Brock Lesnar?) to end Emelianenko's reign in 2010.
8) Vacating titles will be the newest trend
Beginning with the Olympics in February, many athletes may decide to take some time off from the sport to pursue wrestling opportunities for their country.
Among this list is UFC welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre, who has said that he may decide to vacate his title to pursue this opportunity.
Will this affect GSP's decision to change weight classes and fight bigger names?
Only time will tell, but we've already seen an influx of stars vacating their titles in recent memory due to injuries, disputes, or illnesses.
Lesnar has done so, Couture did so, and GSP may do so as well.
Fight fans, this is something to be on the lookout for in the next few months.
7) Life goes on without MMA
As Quinton "Rampage" Jackson will admit, life without MMA may be tough but it sure is possible.
Others like Cung Le would likely agree with that statement, and only time will tell if Roger Huerta agrees. This trend, however, is something that has hurt the sport and will continue to do so if maintained in 2010.
Whether it be movies, acting in general, or any other non-MMA career, more stars now than ever before are beginning to realize that their time in MMA will eventually come to a close, and having that second day job might not be so bad.
6) New fight camps will make appearances
Congratulations to Greg Jackson and Jackson's MMA team for being named fight camp of 2009.
Jackson has been the figurehead of coaching ever since the Miletich camp eventually died out.
The idea of coaching has never been bigger than now, with shows like The Ultimate Fighter only encouraging would-be coaches to open up facilities in local regions.
From the West Coast and Team Quest to the East Coast and Team Sityodtong, coaching and new camps will be a huge trend in 2010.
5) Regional MMA has hit the big time
Thanks to the huge 2009 Bellator Fighting Championships has had, regional MMA shows have got to wonder if they can duplicate the success shown by Bellator's brand.
Being from the eastern seaboard, I can tell you that MMA has never been bigger than now, and regional shows are looking for chances. This means great entertainment, local talent, and the ability to reach out to localities that bigger markets such as the UFC aren't able to take advantage of.
Be on the lookout fans, as there is likely MMA coming to a local arena near you!
4) Retirement for many of the sport's greats
We thought that 2009 would be a year for some of the sports elders to call it quits.
Even with the fountain of youth well intact, it appears 2010 may be that year.
Expected RIP's include Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Mark Coleman, Mirko Cro Cop, and Kevin Randleman.
Please don't let Ron Waterman ever fight again (circa 1965).
3) Big name signings? Nope.
Even though commodore White opened 2010 with a very nice signing of Takanori Gomi, don't expect this to mark 2010 as the year of big names switching associations.
Dan "Hendo" Henderson has made his move, and is not looking back. Emelianenko seems quite unwilling to sign with the UFC and Shinya Aoki is forever exiled to Japanese MMA markets.
The only significant signings fight fans may expect in 2010 include the likes of Alistair Overeem (to UFC), and possibly Jake Shields and Robbie Lawler (also to the UFC).
Aside from these familiar MMA names, don't expect too much movement to happen, as the #1 thing to expect on this list will give reason to why signings won't be as huge in 2010.
2) Newer cities, same magic
The UFC has begun their globalization domination and newer cities and countries will be big in 2010.
From Boston (Dana White's old stomping grounds) to Vancouver, MMA expansion will increase more in 2010, and can only blow up to other countries like Ireland, Mexico, and China in the next few years.
Many great fights, as seen in the U.S. will be seen in nations like these, and the growth and evolution of the sport of MMA has only begun it's rise to the top of mainstream sports.
1)The youth movement is upon MMA
If there is one aspect of UFC 108 that fans can take to the bank, it's this: the youth of mixed martial arts is upon us.
It's okay if the names Dan Lauzon, Jake Ellenberger, and Mike Pyle don't give you goosebumps when you hear them being called in their respective fights.
It is also okay if you weren't drastically overwhelmed with excitement when Dustin Hazelett and Paul Daley weighed in the night before UFC 108, or that Junior Dos Santos and Jim Miller's wins weren't by what typical fight fans would call superstars.
However, this will be a theme that will dominate the year 2010 and beyond, simply because the younger fighters are getting better at a miraculous rate.
Some of the best fighters in the UFC and other organizations are under the age of 30.
Thanks to the pioneers of the sport like Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Royce Gracie, and so many others, the newer, younger breeds are the future. Of course, the future is now, and it shows.
Young assassins like Cain Velasquez, Tyson Griffin, Joe Lauzon (don't base it off of UFC 108), Todd Duffee, Frankie Edgar, and so many others, are what will make up the sport for years to come. This will lead to lesser needs to sign big names, and more of a need to breed youth.
This is the #1 thing to expect in MMA in 2010.
Side Note: Just wanted to throw this out there, but mark my words, in one year's time, Jon "Bones" Jones will be the UFC's Light Heavyweight champion. Just food for thought.
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