2009 UFC Year In Review

Michael AnnunziatoContributor IJanuary 14, 2010

2009 was an exciting year for both the UFC and the sport of MMA.  We saw the rise and fall of fighters and entire Promotions.  The UFC maintained its position as the dominant promotion.  Strikeforce, whose sustainability was questioned in the beginning of 2009 proved to many by the end of the year that it intended to stick around for a while.


As they often say, out with the old and in with the new.  As with everything in life, there is a passing of the torch and a changing of the guard.  Sadly, though not unexpectedly, many of the fighters that were once the backbone of the UFC and the future of the sport were forced to make way for the new guys.  Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell will always be the fan favorite and will fill seats and draw PPV buys for some time to come but they are no longer championship contenders.  There has been an overwhelming emergence of fresh talent that will carry the UFC into its next lifecycle.  Jon Jones,  Rashad Evans, GSP, BJ Penn, Anthony Johnson,  Shogun,  Brock Lesnar, Shane Carwin, Frank Mir, and Lyoto Machida among others.


We have also witnessed an unprecedented dominance in numerous weight classes.  BJ Penn at 155, GSP at 170, and Anderson Silva at 185.  As 2009 comes to a close we have been unable to find a threat to the reign of these champions.


We saw two champions venture outside of their weight class in search of a greater challenge.  BJ Penn tried to knock on the door of the welterweight champGSP and quickly realized he was out matched.  Anderson Silva tested the waters with an unranked yet somewhat dangerous James Irvin, finished him with a stiff jab (for the most part), and then fought Forrest Griffin, a top contender in the 205lb division and embarrassed him with an awkward knockout.   


2009 was also a year that saw an unfortunate number of injuries and scuttled many highly anticipated bouts.  While 2009 was exciting there were many PPV cards that just didn't pack a punch.  I am optimistic that many of the fighters sidelined with injuries will be healthy and ready for action in 2010 and that the UFC will capitalize on a healthy roster and put on fantastic fights.  Lesnar vs Carwin, Lesnar or Carwin vs Mir, Anderson Silva against a top 3 LH, Lyoto Machida defending his belt, and Rampage vs Evans just to name a few.


I would be remiss in my duties not to mention Fedor and Henderson fighting for Strikeforce.  These acquisitions will prove to be key contributors to the success of Strikeforce.  As far as we know, Dana White and the UFC tried everything within reason to sign Fedor.  It is unfortunate that the two parties could not come to an agreement.  But, there is a silver lining in that the success of Strikeforce will force the UFC to produce bigger and better fights to compete for their share of fans and PPV buys.  The success of Strikeforce will also force long term planning and better business practices that should benefit the fighters and the fans for a long time to come.




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