2015 in Review: MMA History in the Making

Demetrious Johnson 2As the UFC is still considered to be in its infancy in comparison to other mainstream sports, the idea of breaking a record has held little promotional value in the past. Breaking a record before likely meant that you were setting the bar for fighters yet to grace the Octagon. As long as it’s not an inaugural record, declaring yourself the “fastest” or “longest” has minuscule chances of being a longstanding record. Ronda Rousey will forever be the first female UFC champion. However, in 2015 fans watched her not just lose to Holly Holm, but with the MMA world witnessing Conor McGregor’s 13 second knockout finish of Jose Aldo, fans also watched Ronda lose the title of holding the record of ‘fastest championship finish’ in the history of the UFC. McGregor toppled Ronda’s 14 second armbar finish of Kat Zingano, a record many fans said would likely only be broken by Ronda herself. As the promotional value from statistical hype has came to the forefront in 2015. The prevalence of UFC record breaking is a valuable resource to illustrate that the sport is forever evolving. In 2015 many of us watched record breaking attendance numbers (56k+) as a betting underdog won in Holly Holm at UFC 193. Toppling the previous 55,724 UFC attendance record that stood from the April 29, 2011 at Rogers Centre in Toronto that was headlined by then-welterweight champion GSP’s title defence against Jake Shields. However that event remains to be the biggest paid gate in UFC history at 12.1 million USD. Another promotional record also was broken according to the UFC when Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone’s unanimous decision win over Myles Jury at UFC 182 and his unanimous decision win over Benson Henderson at UFC Fight Night: McGregor vs. Siver elapsed only 15 days pronouncing it as fastest winning turnaround in UFC history. Wait a minute?! Didn’t Royce Gracie win 3 times in one night?! Well records are meant to be broken. As Yoda would put it- And broken those records will be by young Jedi they will. With continuous swirling talks of the UFC considering Cowboy Stadium in Texas and Croke Park in Ireland as both are 80K+ capacity venues. The attendance record will ultimately always be in jeopardy. There is, however, a record-setting accomplishment that will never be broken — barring a rule change on the amount on the maximum amount of rounds for a UFC fight. It’s a legitimate record being ‘the latest finish in UFC history’ and it relatively went unnoticed in 2015. Its not as impressive to the casual UFC fan because of who accomplished it and against whom he accomplished it. Much of the 2015 record breaking allure went McGregor’s 13 second performance alongside talks of him being a potential two division champion. UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrius ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson’s 24:59 finish received little accolades as it was witnessed live by very few. Johnson armbarred Kyoji Horiguchi at UFC 186 with just one second left in the fight, stamping his place in the UFC record books with no signs of slowing down. Despite popular belief that’s brought about by McGregor’s promotional hype. Demetrius Johnson has a better chance of being a concurrent two division champion in UFC then any other fighter on the roster, if he chooses to do so. After watching TJ Dillashaw dismantle Renan Barao primarily with his speed advantage, how couldn’t you help but think Mighty Mouse could have done the same thing? Mighty Mouse forcefully started his UFC career as an undersized 135-pounder, as there was no 125 pound flyweight division in the UFC at the time. With Dominick Cruz and TJ Dillashaw set to face off on January 17th for the title. A matchup against either must be appealing in late 2016 for Mighty Mouse. As he almost most certainly will have had cleaned out the division by then. However, it’s arguable that Johnson didn’t win one round against Cruz in their first matchup back in 2011 in an uneventful but high-paced championship fight. Although that was Cruz’s second to last fight, it happened over five years ago. Johnson has vastly improved since then, winning championship fights decisively, and he’s worthy of a second chance. This is an idea the UFC has been very reluctant to even entertain in recent years until the emergence of McGregor. Despite many capable fighters over the decades flirting with the idea such as Jon Jones, Dan Henderson, Anderson Silva, Randy Couture, Vitor Belfort and Frankie Edgar, the last true championship superfight in the UFC was Georges St. Pierre versus BJ Penn 2. However no fighter has been able to defend two UFC championship belts at the same time. It remains to be MMA’s most coveted record yet to be conquered since the inclusion of weight classes. Chances are MMA fans could be witness to not just one superfight in 2016 but potentially multiple. Lastly I would like to shift the focus to 2016 and the records that I would be willing to bet on that will be broken. The two substantial records I’m expecting to be broken in 2016 will occur at one event. That being the already much hyped event – UFC 200. Set to take place in the new 20,000 person capacity Las Vegas Arena in early July. There is no doubt in my mind barring any injuries the UFC will attempt to stack the deck with the most popular fighters of this era in Rousey and McGregor. With the slight possibility of of the MMA debut of CM Punk to a GSP return to MMA. With a landmark event in the shadow of the highly successful UFC 100 the promotional possibilities are endless for the UFC. When the time comes you can almost expect the UFC highest PPV sales record and paid gate record will be broken. The current PPV record being that of UFC 100 at 1.6 million PPV buys. Ronda and McGregor’s star power can push those numbers over the top. Most recently UFC 194 was the most lucrative gate sales in US history generating 10 million USD. The worldwide record as previously mentioned was $12.1 million set when George St. Pierre beat Jake Shields in Toronto — a fight that was watched live by more than 55,000 fans at the Rogers Centre. By comparison, the MGM Grand Garden Arena’s capacity is a more modest 16,800. However, with UFC 200 scheduled in the larger Las Vegas Arena you can fully expect that the gate record with be broken for that monumental event. Giving UFC fans around the world yet another thing to look forward to in 2016.

Written by Betting Bruiser

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