There’s no question UFC President Dana White and fellow chief executives Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta have been essential to the rise of Mixed Martial Arts. While their accomplishments often go unnoticed, at least when compared to inflammatory statements on the former’s part, they continue to grind seven days a week to help make the sport a global power. The MMA world is lucky to have such passionate, driven individuals behind a beloved product. Bellator can be hit or miss at times and the company’s business practices occasionally leave a lot to be desired. However, having a secondary organization operating on a major level is in general a really good thing for Mixed Martial Arts. With Strikeforce going under, established veterans and up-and-comers alike were in need of an opportunity to shine on television and Bellator answered the call. You also have to give the company credit for attempting to book a PPV even though the planning wasn’t exactly perfect. Women made their mark in the Octagon this year thanks to the presence of Rousey and have been a welcome addition to every event. In many instances, female fighters stole the show, and if not they at least opened a lot of eyes in terms of showing they have as much to offer on an athletic/entertainment level as their male counterparts. Without Rousey, the same women being featured in the Octagon would be involved with online PPVs from Invicta FC, overseas, or competing in one-offs on the regional scene. Not only are her peers in Rousey’s debt, but so are fans who have been fortunate enough to watch the ladies shine on the sport’s biggest stage. 2013 was a great year for rising stars like Johny Hendricks, Alexander Gustafsson, Renan Barao, Anthony Pettis, Chris Weidman, and so many more worth listing. Meanwhile, a lot of the members of the UFC’s “old guard” – guys like Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre, Josh Koscheck, Frank Mir, Dan Henderson, etc. – saw their stocks decline, some more so than others. It’s clear the future of MMA is bright with increasing intensity as the years go by due the sport’s growth from an underground endeavor to billion dollar business. FOX has been great for UFC and in turn Mixed Martial Arts as a whole. The sport was heavily featured during the company’s launch of a new sports-driven network (FOX Sports 1) and drew millions of viewers on network television. While other networks might have been able to provide similar exposure, FOX really does seem to be a perfect fit in terms of their targeted demographic and apparent love of MMA. Giving out a shout out to the 5 OZ community is not a cheap pop by any means. Rather, we genuinely couldn’t be luckier than to have the great group of contributors who frequent these pages with regularity. This year has seen some highs and lows, but one thing has remained constant – the excellence with which our readers respond to any number of topics. We couldn’t do it without you!
It’s not quite time to tear into that drumstick you’ve been eying all day or park on a couch to watch NFL football after expanding your waist size, but Thanksgiving is undeniably here in spirit! The past eleven months have given people in the MMA community plenty of reasons to be thankful including a number of extremely memorable match-ups and highlight-reel finishes. On that note, check out five things we at 5 OZ are thankful for this year (and feel free to add a few of your own in the Comments section if so inclined)… (Photos by USA Today Sports Images)