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Hindsight’s a Bitch: Things We Knew For Sure (Until We Didn’t) in 2009

At the beginning of every year there are always nuggets of conventional wisdom that seem absolutely unassailable in January and are laughable by December. This has always been the case, and not just in the world of MMA. For instance, in January of 1941 Pearl Harbor was a nice, calm, wonderfully exotic place for U.S. servicemen to be stationed. By December it was fodder for a horrible Michael Bay movie. Just goes to show that we never know as much as we think we do, though it doesn’t stop us from making definitive statements that will later seem totally ridiculous. Here now are some of the MMA truths that became lies in 2009…

Lyoto Machida is the most boring fighter in the UFC

At the start of 2009 Machida had finished just two of his last seven fights (one of them a TKO due to exhaustion), and had cemented his reputation as the fighter who was too "elusive" to be interesting. The UFC seemed intent on keeping him away from a title shot, but inked him for a showdown of undefeated Brazilians against Thiago Silva at UFC 94. That’s when "The Dragon" showed his fangs or claws or whatever it is that dragons have, and after knocking out Rashad Evans to claim the light heavyweight title in similarly ferocious fashion a few months later, we were forced to abandon our belief that Machida would forever be MMA’s version of Ambien. Too bad that our revised position didn’t fare much better…

Lyoto Machida is damn near unbeatable

The “Machida Era” was supposed to be a reign as dominant and prolific as that of middleweight champ Anderson Silva, which left many of us scratching our heads when “Shogun” Rua got the nod as his first challenger. Rua was 2-1 in the UFC at that point and he hadn’t beaten anyone even near their prime since leaving Pride. Despite coming in as a heavy underdog, Rua gave Machida all he could handle for five rounds and seemed to be on his way to a decision victory before the judges decided to discount leg kicks altogether. Machida survived with the belt, but not with his aura of invincibility.

If it wasn’t for bad cardio, B.J. Penn would have no cardio at all

“The Prodigy” got off to a rough start in ’09. After UFC Primetime made him look like a rich kid slacker he got pounded into an exhausted mass of blood and pulp by GSP at UFC 94, thus proving once and for all that he doesn’t have the gas tank to be a truly dominant champion. That all changed when Penn rededicated himself to the 155-pound division and got with Marv Marinovich for his training camps. He rounded out the year with one-sided victories over Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez, both of which required him to go into the late rounds, making us think that maybe Penn isn’t the best worst conditioned fighter in MMA after all.

Strikeforce will never be more than a local mom-and-pop operation

Scott Coker’s San Jose-based MMA promotion had done well for itself while flying mostly under the UFC’s radar up through the end of 2008. They had a late-night offering on NBC, drew strong local crowds in the Bay Area, but seemed content with being a minor leaguer while letting the EliteXCs and Afflictions of the world fight it out with the UFC. That all changed in 2009 when Strikeforce bought the contracts of Pro Elite’s top talent, landed live TV deals with CBS/Showtime, and signed the world’s best heavyweight (courtesy of co-promotion with M-1 Global). Just like that, the organization went from small time to primetime. Not coincidentally, Dana White went from praising them to vaguely threatening to destroy them.

Gina Carano is women’s MMA

If you only knew one female fighter at the start of 2009, chances are that fighter was Gina Carano. A girl-next-door smile and a body that could bring men out of comas made her the jewel of the MMA world, and the thinking went that as her career went, so went MMA. Then she got her pretty faced pounded by “Cyborg” Santos and decided to take a break from the sport to film movies and not get punched for a little while, and lo and behold women’s MMA still hasn’t fallen apart completely. Could it be that the female division is, like the men’s, bigger than any one person?

Tito Ortiz will never fight for the UFC again

Perhaps no two people in MMA seemed as hopelessly separated by irreconcilable differences as Dana White and the HBBB. Any time you so much as mentioned one to the other it was guaranteed to provoke a torrent of semi-coherent expletives. Ortiz badmouthed DW to ESPN and sputtered nonsense as an Affliction commentator, either of which would have been more than enough to get most people banned for life. And yet, like two lovers who hate each other too much to stay separated and let the other person have a shot at happiness, they wound up back together before the year was out. Ain’t life beautiful and strange, especially when money is involved?

Kimbo Slice is done with this MMA nonsense

After Ferg’s loss to Seth Petruzelli in the fall of 2008, rumors swirled that Slice would leave MMA for a career in boxing. This seemed reasonable enough. A guy who can’t handle Thai-style leg kicks or weak jabs doesn’t have a future in this sport, and it’s not like he would realistically consider taking Dana White up on his offer to earn a spot in the UFC on “The Ultimate Fighter.” Imagine, Kimbo going to live with a bunch of meatheads for weeks just to get beat up by actual fighters. Absurd. Right? Guys?

Josh Barnett is America’s most beloved heavyweight

Between his general love for nerd culture and his propensity to argue it out on MMA message boards with the commoners, Barnett had built up a lot of capital with U.S. fans. The consensus belief was that eventually he’d square off with his buddy Fedor and it would be the heavyweight clash of the year. That never happened, and it was entirely Barnett’s fault. A third positive steroid test derailed the fight, destroyed Affliction’s MMA promotion, and saw Barnett go from hero to villain in the span of a week. Enjoy your Japanese pro wrestling career, Baby Face.

Randy and Kim Couture is a forever kind of love

Naw, we’re just kidding. Of course that wasn’t going to last. What, you thought Randy meant it when he said ‘till death do us part’? We’re surprised he can even say it with a straight face anymore.


Cagepotato Comments

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CheckHisPee- January 2, 2010 at 5:13 am
@Big Jumpin Dad,
Speaking of "putrid stupid" jokes- Overeem, really? Please tell me you're just trolling.
Get Off Me- January 2, 2010 at 3:58 am
@831 Son
All organizations are inferior to the UFC right now......I can't wait to see the UFC in Japan and Russia in the near future, you're so sure they will be able to pull this off without co-promoting with another inferior organization like Dream or M-1.
The fact is I don't like it either, but think about the thought of what the UFC in Japan or Russia would mean for Dana White.
Why is it not necessary for the UFC to co-promote? Can they go anywhere in the world and put on a fight these days??
U missed my point with co-promoting, it was not about dynamite, it was about breaking barriers down, globalizing the sport so as we may see it in the olympics one day with unified rules, better judging too(machida/shogun).

U guys all know your stuff, UFC is it right now for sure and nobody with a brain will dispute this. My point is I see Dana going on his rants almost every other interview about how his main goal is to get this sport global, to have it in the olympics one day(like boxing). The only way this will happen for him is to co-promote(like boxing), the benefit for the fans is tremendous both short and long term.

skeletor- January 1, 2010 at 9:03 pm
Gomi officially signed with the UFC

Big Jumpin Dad is a retard, no further explanation needed.
Hulk Smash- January 1, 2010 at 7:52 pm
Big Jumpin - dude, you gotta educate yourself some more before coming on here with challenges and declarations and shit.
ghostboner- January 1, 2010 at 7:23 pm
@Big Jumpin Dad - Shields??? Overeem??? Your drugs are the best dude. UFC is not Abu Dhabi. Gegard might do ok. I still don't see him beating some of the larger 205ers and prob even some of the 185ers. Zaromskis maybe. I don't really see him cleaning up too hard in the UFC either. We will see.
punchy puncherson- January 1, 2010 at 7:16 pm
Missing from the list:

No coach will ever have a worse season on TUF than Shamrock did
MediumRare- January 1, 2010 at 5:56 pm
Jumpin Dad = total troll or 8 yrs old or agent for Sheilds and Overeem.

"First of all, Allistair Overeem has never touched an illegal substance in his life"

"Jake Shields CAN and WILL beat every fighter in the UFC, regardless of weightclass"

I blame myself for taking the trolls' (or pre-pubescent boy's) bait.

"i forgive 831 son but i dont forgive mediumrare. He just shit in the one apple pie that knows how to shit back"

Please forgive me Jumpin Dad. I just realized how formidable an apple pie that knows how to shit back (wtf?) is.
robthom- January 1, 2010 at 5:48 pm
@ mthomas, I agree.

"who will be the first "best pound for pound" to fall in 2010? BJ? GSP? Silva? Machida? Lesnar? Every champ seems unbeatable as we start the year."

Definitely Lesnar.
Mir wont beat him but he'll lose to nog if/when they fight. Assuming neither of them rots to pieces before it can happen. And Nog will beat Mir in a rematch also.

Honestly I'm not sure how the Brock qualifies for pound for pound anything though. Unless you just going by weight.

Happy New Years fellas.
May all of our wildest dreams come true.
Hulk Smash- January 1, 2010 at 5:25 pm
Jumpin Dad,
Dude, i encourage you to run a Google search on Overeem. Go back 3 or 4 years, and you'll see that he was barely heavy enough to be a middleweight. Then look at him today, and you'll see what I mean.

I agree that Overeem will not fight in the UFC until he can pass a steroids test, and the outlook for that looks pretty dismal. Also, even if he does get in to the UFC, guys like Velasquez, Dos Santos, Mir, Carwin and Lesnar (if healthy) will tear right through him. Further, he'd have to beat all the fighters I just listed to even have a chance at the title - and everyone everywhere will agree that he won't be able to do that.

I see you like Jake Shields. Alright. If you think he could be a contender to take the MW title from Silva, well...OK. Keep telling yourself that.

Somebody we all want to see in the UFC is Gegard Mousasi. Now there's a competitor.

Right now the most exciting fighters to watch, in no particular order, are GSP, BJ Penn, Gegard Mousasi, Anderson Silva, Nate Marquart and of course Fedor.

Big Jumpin Dad- January 1, 2010 at 3:47 pm
Has been doing some serious dad jumpin and has came to this conclusion, i forgive 831 son but i dont forgive mediumrare. He just shit in the one apple pie that knows how to shit back
Big Jumpin Dad- January 1, 2010 at 3:42 pm
@ 831 son
@ MediumRare

First of all, Allistair Overeem has never touched an illegal substance in his life, Youre thinking of Hose Conseco, the ex mlb player turned reality tv star turned nothing, turned super hulk fighter you dweeb. And Jake Shields CAN and WILL beat every fighter in the UFC, regardless of weightclass.. yeah im looking at you lesnar, man up and face my boy shields.

ANd 831 Son, there was absolutly no need for youre rude comment. It was completly uncalled for and you have no business putting youreself in the middle of mine and mediumrare's convos. I forgive , but i never forget 831 son, remember that..
mthomas- January 1, 2010 at 2:40 pm
"Talons, dragons have Talons"

Best comment here!! Happy New Year!
richorama- January 1, 2010 at 2:28 pm
Holy shit, Elian Gonzalez is an mma blogger?
skeletor- January 1, 2010 at 12:17 pm
At the beginning of 2009 we all thought cage potato was the place to go for MMA coverage with a side of witty and sarcastic humor to go along with it. Then they hired Elian Gonzalez to write the most boring, dry, cut and pasted articles on the face of the fucking planet for them. Also Don Zimmer will be the break out star of 2010.

Happy fucking new year!
831 Son- January 1, 2010 at 11:56 am
@MediumRare---- Hahahaha. I also laughed so hard when I read those comments of Big Jumpin Dad. What an idiot he is.
MediumRare- January 1, 2010 at 11:49 am
@ Big Jumpin Dad

"Overeem would definitily be the UFC heavy weight champ"

lolololololololol. Hate to break the news to you, son. Overeem is juicing hard. He wouldn't even be a HW without the 'roids. If they agreed not to test him at all he would be a contender in the UFC HW div but it is a very long stretch to say he'd def be the champ.

"Shields could easily be a contender for middleweight"

lol even harder. Sheilds would struggle in the UFC welterweight div, let alone middleweight. You'll prolly come to this realization when Hendo caves his skull in while barely breaking a sweat.
MediumRare- January 1, 2010 at 11:43 am
Happy New Decade, fuckers!!

Want two pieces of current conventional wisdom that will be ridiculous in one year?

1. Strikeforce is a viable promotion.

Strikeforce will go bankrupt or be purchased by the UFC in 2010. This is as much hope as prediction but they just can't seem to make sound business decisions. They can't even get their HW champ to fight. The UFC management are businessmen first and MMA fans second and for a promotion to succeed that's the way it has to be. When the UFC buys them we may finally get to see Fedor vs Lesnar/Mir/Carwin, Moussasi vs Machida/Shogun/"Bones" Jones and Diaz/Zaromskis Vs GSP.

2. Fedor is immortal.

Anderson Silva is a similar natural weight to Fedor and would beat him down. Lesnar is just as fast and more powerful and would beat him. After the UFC buys Strikeforce the truth will be revealed.
csuders- January 1, 2010 at 11:42 am
what will we be saying we messed up this time next year?

who will be the first "best pound for pound" to fall in 2010? BJ? GSP? Silva? Machida? Lesnar? Every champ seems unbeatable as we start the year.

on a side note: some would say Machida doesn't belong on the list, but even when the guys gets beat, he doesn't loose the fight. so maybe he is the most unbeatable?

side from upsets, could we see Fedor in the UFC? will the fall of Strikeforce be the reason for it? will Brock even fight this year? can Kimbo beat anyone who isn't there just to loose to him? can Kimbo be in an exciting fight? will anyone care about big country? will anyone care to see tito and chuck coach? will rampage win an Oscar and never fight again?

CP readers, what say you? any predictions? does anything above seem possible, besides that last one which we all know is inevitable :-)
Big Jumpin Dad- January 1, 2010 at 11:26 am
Hendo could be the UFC middle weight champ, Overeem would definitily be the UFC heavy weight champ, Shields could easily be a contender for middleweight, and theres a few more that would do pretty good. So basicially 831 son, you are nothing more than a putrid stupid joke that everybody hates but me, I love you
steampunk22- January 1, 2010 at 11:24 am
Co-promoting is a good idea for the smaller promotions, its not necessary for the UFC though you are right.

The small promos definitely benefit from being able to swap, its a good way of bolstering the presence of fighters across markets. re; Shinya Aoki and Marius Zaromskis fighting for Strikeforce in early 2010
831 Son- January 1, 2010 at 11:12 am
Co promoting wont do shit besides help M-1. And we dont need co promoting with some inferior organization to gain a global audience. All strikeforce fighters would get smashed in the UFC anyway, excluding Fedor.
robthom- January 1, 2010 at 10:15 am
"...and they are not afraid to pay fighters either. "

Neither was affliction from what I heard.

Let the japs and the russians co-promote with strikeforce.
Then I can watch Lyoto/Shogun or Penn/Sanchez and you can watch Overeem/Fujita and Gegard/Goodridge.
That way everyone's happy.
Smitty- January 1, 2010 at 10:00 am
Happy New Year everyone!!! Let's not forget about the release of the UFC game "Undisputed". That was a freakin jackpot! Let's see what MMA has to offer us for twenty ten!!
Get Off Me- January 1, 2010 at 9:23 am
Happy New Year!
at the start of 2009....

Lyoto was not the most boring fighter, Fitch was and he held the title down nicely.

Strikeforce was not "mom and pops", NBC and CBS held them over the coals for TV deals and they still around putting on good cards. As the MMA talent pool grows, Strikeforce will keep getting better and they are not afraid to pay fighters either. I would love to see 2010 bring the first UFC/Srikeforce co-promoted event, Dana needs to understand that the only way he will get his global audience and international MMA rules done, is by co-promoting events, he'll never be in Russia or Japan unless he plays ball with other promotions.

Lastly, the photo of Carano looks like she is showing up to her first "adult" party and Cyborg is looking at her like a fresh piece of meat. Poor thing.
itsgalf- January 1, 2010 at 8:42 am
haha another great article, CP.
Machida era should have lasted a long time, but everyone overlooked Shogun.

"making us think that maybe beating Penn isn’t the best worst conditioned fighter in MMA after all." -Ben, the word "beating" shouldn't be there