As I've mentioned before and pretty much everyone has to agree that 2008 has been a banner year for MMA. The sport itself has grown tremendously(not just the UFC) with the regional/local scenes in various states picking up steam. I know we still have UFC 92 as the final big MMA event for this year, but I just wanted to share what my top ten moments in MMA are for 2008. In no particular order:
1. MMA on CBS-Zombie Elite was able to hold the first MMA show on prime time network television with very good ratings. In fact, they were able to hold three shows this year with 2 of them doing very well for a MMA promotion with little to no name brand recognition among casual fans.
2. Kimbo Slice Getting KTFO-EliteXC had spent the majority of their time and efforts into building Kimbo Slice into the next big thing in MMA. It's not so much that he got KTFO as that can happen to anyone, it's the manner in how it all went down. Not to mention what that whole debacle did to cripple the organization into what it has presently become.
3. Anderson Silva Unifying The PRIDE/UFC MW Titles-As MMA fans, we all want to see the best fight the best. At UFC 82 that's exactly what we got when Anderson Silva squared off against Dan Henderson in a MW unification title match. It's rare when you can look at one fighter and decisively call him the best fighter in his division.
4. UFC 84-So far this was the best MMA event in my opinion. You had all the drama of Tito Ortiz leaving the UFC with a one sided beat down. Wanderlei Silva returning to form in an absolute do or die fight against Keith Jardine. A LW title fight between Sean Sherk and BJ Penn, and some of the most impressive UFC debuts in a long time. Plus, we got to see 9 fights on the PPV card.
5. Randy Couture Returning To The UFC-I was one of Couture's harshest critics, simply because I'm pretty big on keeping my word. To me that's exactly what a contract is, and since Couture decided not to honor that contract it kind of erked me to say the least. However, him returning to the UFC was a great moment and I'm happy he decided to come back.
6. The Emergence Of Brock Lesnar-I've been on the Lesnar bandwagon since his debut, because it was apparent to me the guy was way more than just a WWE wrestler. I even picked him against Heath Herring when many so called experts didn't think he had a chance in hell. This guy can do wonders for the sport of MMA if he continues to improve at the rate he's currently going. Especially at a time when the old guard of UFC stars are reaching the end of their road. If he gets past the winner of Nogueira/Mir with a victory? The sky is the limit.
7. Gina Carano-I'll admit that I was very anti-women's MMA prior to watching Gina Carano. I really didn't think their was a market for women's MMA, but boy was I wrong. In that Carano has proven herself to be a star in the making. Hopefully the contractual issues with zombie Elite will be resolved soon and we can see her in action again.
8. Emergence Of The WEC-The WEC put on some outstanding events this year, and all of them were FREE.
9. Fedor Emelianenko KOing Tim Sylvia-The knock on Fedor(myself included) was that he hadn't fought a credible top HW in years. Well Sylvia is a top ten HW and Fedor ran through him like castor oil, pretty much silently the critics. He's even fighting two ranked fighters in a row when he'll be taking on another former UFC HW champion in Andrei Arlovski.
10. UFC Fight For The Troops Event-Not only was this the first UFC event held in North Carolina in over a decade. Not only were the fights exciting, but the event helped raise over 4 million dollars for a very good cause that goes toward helping our military veterans.
I'm pretty sure there are some other outstanding moments I left out there on the table. Be sure to drop your top ten MMA moments for 2008 in the comments section. I'd love to hear from you.