(2014: The year that Dana White buys this dog. For Bjorn Rebney. Too soon?)
When former CagePotato.com contributor Jason Moles announced his retirement in 2013, it appeared that there wouldn’t be a “Crazy Enough to be True” predictions column for 2014. Rather than let the opportunity to make outlandish assumptions about the state of our favorite sport pass us up, we’ve decided to offer our wildest ideas in the form of a CagePotato Roundtable. Read on for our picks, share yours in the comments section, and please continue to send your ideas for future CagePotato Roundtable topics to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Though the UFC once laid claim to the title of fastest-growing sport, the promotion has begun to hit its ceiling in the United States. And they know it — which is why they’ve been pushing so hard for World Fucking Domination lately. After finding major success in international markets like Canada and Brazil, the UFC has been busy laying the groundwork in overseas locales as far-flung as Singapore, India, Turkey, and Poland.
The problem is, none of these upcoming markets have the talent pool available to produce a world champion in the foreseeable future. Or a top contender. Or a fighter who could credibly compete anywhere on a pay-per-view main card. That’s why I’m predicting that 2014 will see the unveiling of individual UFC titles for countries/continents. I mean, Vitor Belfort is already the middleweight champion of Brazil, right? They might as well give him a belt and make it official.
Case in point: TUF China debuted last month. Coached by a UFC near-washout and a guy you’ve never heard of, the season will produce a completely irrelevant winner, who’s only fit to beat up other irrelevant curtain-jerkers from countries that aren’t the U.S., Brazil, Canada, or England. While the novelty of seeing native Chinese fighters (or Turkish fighters, or Polish fighters, etc.) will get local fans tuning in, eventually the UFC will have to throw these people a bone to keep them happy, because watching your home country’s fighters get smashed as soon as they face legitimate competition isn’t fun.
And so, the UFC will do the smart thing and have these guys/gals fight exclusively within their own borders for secondary titles. And maybe, if one of these regional champs goes on a long win streak, he/she will be called up to the prelims of a UFC on FOX Sports 1 card, where you might actually get to see them compete. Until then, us North Americans will only be able to watch the UFC’s new regional superstars on that digital subscription service thingy they’re selling, and if you think we’re coughing up any more money to the UFC for that bullshit, you are out of your got-damn mind.
It is well known that UFC President Dana White is a loose cannon when he is in front of a camera or a microphone. The “Baldfather” has no filter and basically shoots from the hip no matter the topic, the fighter, or the reporter in his crosshairs. He has taken some heat for profanity-laced rants in the past, but there has never been any real punishment from the Fertitta brothers (at least not publicly).
After Georges St. Pierre’s somewhat cryptic and confusing comments with Joe Rogan following his UFC 167 victory, Dana White launched into a diatribe at the post-fight press conference saying that GSP owed the UFC something more. Fast forward a day or two and Lorenzo Fertitta backtracked on White’s words by basically apologizing (even though he never actually said “Sorry”). In the past, Fertitta has never come to cover White but after the amount of flack being thrown because of White’s comments, it was evident that some things needed to be clarified.
Though White’s obscenity-filled tirades have been far and few between as of late, it is only a matter of time before Mount Dana erupts. When he does — because of falling ratings, a network deal that has not produced as expected or a slew of other factors — I believe that the Fertittas will in fact publicly chastise White. Whether it is a fine or a suspension or just a good old fashioned public tongue lashing, White will finally be the one on the other end of a heated lecture (and he will have earned it after the years of insensitive comments he has made).
Between 2010 and 2011, Matt Brown went 1-4 in the octagon, with all of those losses coming via second round submission. Although not one member of the MMA media dared say it to his face, they had all but written him off as just another slightly above-average TUF alum who couldn’t hack it in the big leagues. “Get out of here!” they’d shout once he had turned his back, “Why can’t you just go back to where you came from?
I don’t know if Brown wished upon a shooting star or sold his soul to the SKOAL Gods in return for Jax fists, but something amazing happened when he reemerged in 2012. Something…supernatural. Come to think of it, it was probably voodoo.
In the past two years, Matt Brown has gone 6-0 in the octagon with 5 TKOs. Five. Brown has fought like a man possessed (by voodoo), scoring wins over young guns (Jordan Mein), crafty veterans (Mike Swick), and previously undefeated hype machines (Stephen Thompson) alike. His last performance against Mike Pyle was, by definition, a flawless victory. Of all the career comebacks we witnessed in 2013, Brown’s was far-and-away the most impressive, if only because of the utter mediocrity that preceded it. In fact, of the nominees we listed in our “Most Unexpected Career Comebacks” roundtable last March, only Brown and Cub Swanson have managed to remain undefeated to this day. No, GSP *doesn’t* count, because he was defeated by both Johny Hendricks and old age.
What is the point of all this hyperbolic, redundant, and mostly fabricated backstory? Only that Brown has entered the prime of his career and is destroying whoever is placed before him with a combination of Zen-like tranquility and Pedro Lopez-like brutality. The dude is untouchable, “Immortal” you might even say (*crickets*). Like Bernie in Weekend at Bernie’s 2 when conga music is playing (which again, voodoo). And now that GSP has decided to step away from the sport, the UFC’s welterweight division has transformed from a grappler’s purgatory into a brawler’s paradise. Lawler vs. Hendricks will most likely be a slugfest for the ages, and when title fights are suddenly being decided by who can stand and trade leather the longest, Brown is as good a candidate as any to get that gold.
Until he done went and slipped his disc again, that is, forcing him out of his fight with Carlos Condit and the title shot that would’ve come after he won via murder. But rest assured, the year of
The Rhino The California Kid “The Immortal” is coming. And that year is 2014.
Believe it or not, things are actually much worse for TNA Impact! Wrestling than they were merely two months ago when I first wrote about their sad state of affairs. As in, “holding shows in high school gymnasiums” worse. I firmly believe that 2014 will be the year that this company finally kicks the bucket, to the apathy of nearly every wrestling fan on the planet. And the wrestlers proudly featured in the company’s final pay-per-view main event when this happens? Don’t hold your breath waiting for one of them to be AJ Styles. Same goes with Jeff Jarrett. Ditto Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels, Abyss, and anyone else whose name was once synonymous with the company.
No, Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz will be the ones headlining TNA Impact! Wrestling’s final pay-per-view.
Yeah, I know how everyone this side of Parts Unknown rolled their eyes at Rampage and Tito’s appearances in TNA last year, but the company is losing so much money and has so few wrestlers left that I think Viacom sends these two once-strong pay-per-view draws back to TNA Impact! Wrestling as a last-ditch effort to find people willing to buy a TNA pay-per-view. Sure, even the most brain-dead among us *looks directly at Jared…who is holding up a mirror. Well played.* can see the holes in this logic, but desperate times call for desperate measures; this is especially true when you consider that Viacom brought in Rampage and Tito to headline a pay-per-view in the first place. This will obviously end badly — even for a company that considers 50,000 buys a smashing success — leading TNA Impact! to close its doors shortly afterwards.
Sure, the idea of Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz headlining the final TNA Impact! Wrestling pay-per-view is completely ludicrous, but if you expect anything different from Dixie Carter, you’ve clearly never actually watched one of her company’s shows. Oh how I envy your ignorance.
And finally, here’s Doug “ReX13″ Richardson to wrap things up.
Frustrated by dwindling PPV buys, Dana White starts hinting at “big fucking changes, like, huge” coming to Fox. Speculation abounds.
Zuffa announces that it is resurrecting Strikeforce for a new weekly primetime show on FS1. In a stunning move, Scott Coker returns to captain the ship, and “Wednesday Night Strikeforce” is born. His decision to include occasional kickboxing bouts in the broadcasts is hailed as visionary, as “WNS” quickly outstrips viewership numbers from the TUF lead-in. Meanwhile, UFC PPV cards are cut back to eight per year, and buy rates promptly skyrocket.
Coker leads the fight for better pay of fighters, proposing a tiered salary system that guarantees a minimum $48K to fighters under the Strikeforce banner. He suggests a format change to the now-ubiquitous Ultimate Fighter program, which now sports no less than eight spinoffs across the world. His idea, a weekly interview and highlight show recounting the various incarnations of TUF worldwide, is embraced by the blogosphere, but roundly rejected by White, as is the salary gambit.
Tensions between Coker and White continue to mount for the remainder of 2014. In December, Dana White and Scott Coker both start hinting at “big fucking changes, like, huge” coming to Zuffa. Speculation abounds.
Have your own “crazy enough to be true” predictions for 2014? You know what to do.