The last few years have been a breakout success for the UFC. No longer branded as "human cockfighting," the UFC and mixed martial arts exploded, especially aided by the first season of the TV hit "The Ultimate Fighter" in 2005. With an ever-growing fan base, the UFC has hosted events in multiple cities and countries around the world. As the number of states that regulate mixed martial arts grows, the swell of support for the UFC only seems to get larger.
This was a great year for the promotion of the sport. It began with the return of BJ Penn to champion status, the introduction of Brock Lesnar to the UFC, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogeuira being the first man to claim a title from both PRIDE and UFC. Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre established themselves as among the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world; Silva won three fights in 2008; and St. Pierre demolished Matt Serra to reclaim his championship belt before winning all five rounds of his defense against Jon Fitch.
And while 2008 also marked the departures of veteran fighters such as Tito Ortiz, Tim Sylvia, and Andrei Arlovski, a new wave of younger fighters have entered the scene, led by "The Ultimate Fighter" cast mates such as Nate Diaz, Joe Lauzon, and Gray Maynard.
One may ask the question, though—what's in store for the UFC in 2009? Rumored fight cards are taking place in the Phillipines and Germany for starters, but what about particular fights? Although some of the following fights may be rumored, unconfirmed, or just wishful thinking, here are the top 10 fights to watch for in 2009.