Baldness here, and as the resident MMA guru here with the Junkies, I wanted to cover what could have been one of the most entertaining years in MMA in recent memory. It definitely was one of the more profitable years in MMA, as Lorenzo Fertitta released information saying that the UFC and parent company Zuffa Inc. will rake in a record $600 million this year.
Several monster fights took place this year, as well as some out of the cage battles as well. What may be the biggest story of the year, and a great place to start, is the struggle that Jon “Bones” Jones went through.
It has been a well-documented struggle with success that Jones has had since his meteoric rise to UFC light heavyweight champion. In May 2012 he pled guilty to DWI, in December 2014 he tested positive for cocaine in his system, and then in April, Jones fled the scene of an accident he caused, in which a pregnant woman suffered injuries. Jones was arrested and subsequently stripped of the UFC title on April 29.
This set up a fight between Daniel “DC” Cormier and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson for the vacant strap at UFC 187, a fight which Cormier won via submission. Jones avoided jail time in the incident, and the UFC officially reinstated him effective October. This will set up a rematch of the fight from UFC 182 in which Jones beat Cormier via decision in a very boring match.
The second pay per view offering in January saw the return of former unofficial “pound for pound” champion Anderson “the Spider” Silva, as he took on MMA bad boy Nick Diaz in UFC 188. Silva, who went almost unchallenged in his reign as UFC middleweight champion, was coming off two consecutive losses to Chris Weidman. Silva fairly easily dominated Diaz in a stand up match that saw only one takedown attempt (by Diaz) and no submission attempts. The real story came after the match, when it was announced that Silva tested positive for a PED, and was suspended for one year. (He’s set to return in February.)
No story in 2015 seemed to gather as much interest as women’s bantamweight champion Rowdy Ronda Rousey. She took the MMA world by the throat, and became the biggest star in the company. She tore through opponents with almost effortless precision. Her first two fights of 2015 saw her destroy Cat Zingano in :14 with a usual Rousey armbar, and then knocking out loudmouth Bethe Correia in :34. NO ONE in the MMA world (except me, of course) gave Holly Holm a shot at beating Rousey, but. come Nov. 14 the two undefeated fighters squared off, and that night saw Holm secure the “upset of the year” with a devastating head kick knockout of Rousey :59 into round 2.
May 23 saw what may have been the best card of the year for the UFC. Anthony Johnson and Daniel Cormier squared off for the vacant UFC light heavyweight title. Chris Weidman defended his title against Vitor Belfort. Donald Cerrone demolished John Makdessi (who filled in for an injured Khabib Nurmagomedov) and got hit so hard that he called a time-out during the match, which was treated as a tap-out submission. The night also saw heavyweights Andrei Arlovski and Travis Browne go at it in a war in which Arlovski stunned Browne with a :21 KO in round 1.
July 11, saw the rise of the most controversial fighter in the UFC, to the position of interim champion. Conor McGregor, the “Notorious”, defeated Chad Mendez in fairly easy fashion via 2nd round KO just 3 seconds in. This fight was supposed to be against featherweight champion Jose Aldo, but Aldo was injured during training and was forced to back out. This started a war between Aldo, and McGregor that would be ended in December (which I will cover later on) and shot McGregor into the stratosphere as the new “Bad Boy” of the UFC.
Who is the most dominant fighter you have probably never heard of in the UFC? Demetrious Johnson. The flyweight champion is the most dominant champion in the UFC. He hasn’t lost since his loss to Dominick Cruz back on Oct 1, 2011. He continued to blast through the competition in 2015. His best win of the year came over the man who gave him his toughest fight to date, John Dodson. Johnson defeated Dodson via unanimous decision at UFC 191 and cemented his place as the pound for pound best fighter in the world.
Saturday, November 14th… Melbourne Australia…. Two undefeated fighters entered the cage to decide who will walk out with the women’s bantamweight championship. Holly Holm, the undefeated kickboxer and professional boxer, took on the undefeated and, some said, unbeatable women’s champ, Ronda Rousey. Rousey had taken on Floyd Mayweather in the press, and had beaten all comers. Movie star, UFC golden girl, Rousey came in as an overwhelming favorite. She left the cage that night without the belt, with a busted lip, and with her first loss of her career. Holm, the virtual unknown, had done the unthinkable and beaten the giant. The 2nd round KO via head kick, was the close on a story that wasn’t really close to begin with. Holm came in and dominated throughout, and scored the UPSET OF THE YEAR for sure.
December saw what may go down as the most shocking of fights. The end of the road, once and for all. The hype leading up to McGregor vs Aldo was intense. McGregor spent the better part of 11 months dogging the featherweight champ around the world. Getting in his face, antagonizing him in interviews, and even ripping the belt from Aldo during a press event. All the while, people were wondering what or how, Aldo will respond. Well, we found out on December 12. On a night that saw former unbeaten middleweight champ Chris Weidman lose his belt to Luke Rockhold (which on any other night, would have been HUGE) Conor McGregor did EXACTLY what he spent 11 months saying he was going to do. He ended the fight. QUICK. In sensational fashion, McGregor scored the fastest knockout in UFC CHAMPIONSHIP history, with a single left hand, He put the former champ to sleep, leaving no doubt who the new king of the division was. 13 seconds was all it took for the title to change hands, and it sent Conor McGregor to the elite status of UNDISPUTED UFC CHAMPION.
BALDNESS 2015 MMA Awards-
Fighter of the Year: 1. Conor McGregor 2. Demetrious Johnson 3. Holly Holm/Luke Rockhold
Fight of the Year: Robby Lawler vs Rory Macdonald 2. Arlovski vs Browne 3. McGregor vs Aldo
Rookie of the Year: 1. Holly Holm 2. Sage Northcutt (Watch this kid) 3. Alex Oliveria
The “Please hang them up” award: 1. Dan Henderson 2. Shogun Rua 3. BOTH Nogueira Brothers
Pound for Pound King: 1. Demetrious Johnson 2. Conor McGregor 3. Rafael Dos Anjos 4. Robbie Lawler 5. TJ Dillashaw 6. Luke Rockhold 7. Jose Aldo 8. Daniel Cormier 9. Fabrico Werdum 10. Cain Velasquez