We love the UFC because we love combat. And even with all the bad judges’ decisions, drug test failures and horrid Reebok fighter kits, we still love the sport. And we want more of it.
This new year is shaping up to be another great one for the UFC. From the possibility of a Madison Square Garden show to the inevitability of UFC 200, the UFC is on fire in 2016. So what could possibly make it better?
Here you go:
5. Sign Cris Cyborg
The cat’s out of the bag. As greatest basketball announcer of all-time Chick Hearn used to say when Los Angles Lakers’ games were over: “The door’s closed, the lights are out, the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard and the jello’s jiggling.” The Ronda Rousey era is over. Sure, she may start another one, but who is betting on that? With the whole Ronda-doesn’t-want-to-move-to-145-Cyborg-needs-to-come-down debate now over since Ronda’s struggling to eat an apple these days, it’s time to stop building the MMA women’s narrative around what Rousey can and cannot do. Holly Holm is the champion (for now) and Cris Cyborg needs a fight. The greatest UFC women’s fight of all-time just might be Cyborg vs. Holm. I can guarantee it won’t last more than a round. Let it be at a catchweight. Cyborg vs. Holm needs to happen (if Holly beats Miesha Tate, that is), but before that, the UFC needs to sign the woman that Rousey was avoiding (and now we clearly know why).
4. Sign Ben Askren
It’s incredibly ridiculous that Ben Askren is not in the UFC. The undefeated former Bellator welterweight champion and current ONE FC champion should be fighting in the Octagon instead of the Philippines. Get this guy in the cage with Robbie Lawler ASAP and watch Askren force Lawler on his back. (Lawler may still knock him out from that position, but at least Askren will force the fight to the ground). If the UFC is home to greatest fighters in the world, Askren belongs there.
3. Dan Henderson Needs to Retire
He’s one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time. But it’s dangerous for him to be in the cage, and not for the other opponent. Yes, Dan Henderson could beat some guys. He’ll always have that great knockout power. But as you get older, you get slower. Your reflexes diminish. Your chin goes. Your cardio depletes. Your testosterone drops. It’s normal and natural. Henderson should enjoy 2016 getting inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame and enjoying an office job. No one wants to the 45-year-old Henderson getting knocked out by Vitor Belfort. Not even Jesus.
2. CM Punk Fights
If CM Punk doesn’t fight in 2016 he might as well try out to play for the Chicago Blackhawks. I’d have more interest. It’s time for the Chicago badass to step inside the cage and prove all the confused keyboard warriors wrong or get his ass kicked like a man. Punk will fight in 2016 and it will be glorious. The “Cult of Personality” music hits, Punk walks to the cage looking like he’s about to open the door to see the guy in the “Scream” mask staring at him, as the crowd shouts “CM Punk, CM Punk, CM Punk.” It’s one of the greatest moments of all time. CM Punk, that outcast rebel who TURNED DOWN A WRESTLEMANIA MATCH WITH TRIPLE H steps into the Octagon to do what no one thought he could. It’s a historic moment for wrestling fans and Colt Cabana. Two minutes later Punk is either going to get carried out on a stretcher or he’s gonna cement himself as the new Toughest SOB on the Planet. (Sorry, Stone Cold, shooting elk no longer qualifies as tough in 2016). Either way, it’s gonna be great. Punk had the guts to try, the UFC was dumb enough to pay him, and all the haters are gonna hate, while all the Punk fans are going to celebrate knowing that, win or lose, CM Punk is a legitimate badass for getting that far.
1. Sign Fedor
If the UFC is smart it will sign Fedor Emelianenko for a farewell tour. Give him as much money as he wants because the UFC will earn it back. Then book Fedor against Fabricio Werdum, (who’s going to lose his title soon, anyway) in the rematch of rematches. After Fedor avenges that loss, sign Fedor vs. Jon Jones in Jones’ first fight in the heavyweight division. That match would break all records. And it doesn’t really matter who wins (Jones). Fedor deserves that spot on the grand stage. No matter if he ever wins again, the Last Emperor’s legacy is cemented. He is one of the greatest heavyweight fighters off all time. Let him get in the Octagon and give the crowd what it deserves. Not signing Fedor at this stage of his career is just dumb and petty. And it’s not all on the UFC to make the deal. Fedor needs to understand that he’s had plenty of opportunities to join the UFC now. What he needs at this stage of his career is legacy, not money. The UFC can help build his legacy even larger.