The year 2013 came to an exciting and shattering close for the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Within two weeks the UFC’s two biggest stars have fallen of the canvas for the foreseeable future.
Former UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva faces a tough road to recovery which has many questioning if he will ever fight again after shattering his leg at UFC 168. While former UFC Welterweight Champion and PPV star Georges St-Pierre temporary retired and vacated his belt due to personal stress and family issues.
“This is the UFC in 2014 we have enough talented fighters male and female to overcome these tough losses and the show must go on,” UFC President Dana White said.
Leading MMA fans all over the world to take a stern look at UFC president Dana White to see what’s in store for the UFC in 2014. The plan is simpler than most people realize.
Everyone knows losing Silva and GSP definitely hurts – but you always need a Plan B in your life because Plan A will mess up.
The UFC’s Plan B will center around three people, Johnny “Bones” Jones, Ronda “Rowdy” Rousey and Johny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks. These three individuals for different reasons have a shot of taking their individual careers and the UFC to new heights in 2014.
In Jones case, the youngest UFC champion is coming off the toughest fight of his career against Alexander Gustafsson and will fight a very dangerous fighter in Glover Teixeira at UFC 172. If he gets through Teixeira – Jones faces possible rematches with Gustafsson or the winner of former UFC champion Rashad Evans and undefeated Daniel Cormier fight.
If Jones gets through a very difficult 2014 he will inherit the throne – and all the hidden pressure that accompanies the top pound-for-pound spot.
Switching gears to the ladies side where undisputed UFC bantamweight champion Rousey is the queen of MMA vanquishing opponents with one arm at a time. The “Rowdy” one capped of her 2013 in spectacular fashion submitting her rival Meisha Tate at UFC 168.
From watching Rousey cage side as I did at UFC 168 one comes away feeling it’s going to take a tough skilled fighter to knock Ronda off her cherished thrown.
Luckily for the UFC – Rousey after fighting in December has agreed to a quick turnaround fight at UFC 170 against Olympian Sarah McMann in February.
“I’ve taken such a long time off, I want to fight again. I’m in the best shape of my life now, so it’s the perfect time to go back,” Rousey said. “We’ll put on another good show for you guys very soon. This is what I love to do.”
If Rousey is fortunate to get through McMann she’ll be slated to fight Cat Zingano who was supposed to coach against her on “The Ultimate Fighter” but blew her ACL.
Zingano in many MMA circles, is being pegged as the woman with the best shot of beating Rousey and pushing her to the max. A win of over such high level competition in 2014 would cement Rousey’s status amongst fans as a legit champion – while sky rocketing her A-list status to an all-time high while increasing the UFC’s profile with main stream America.
Last but not least, the man who many and I include myself feel beat GSP in his last fight Hendricks. With no GSP available the UFC gave Hendricks the next available option by having him fight in his current home city of Dallas, Texas against number two contender Robbie Lawler to be the undisputed Welterweight Champion at UFC170.
If Hendricks win as expected he’ll have the belt he should already own and be in line to become a new star for the UFC and hardworking wrestlers everywhere.
“It never was about GSP, I want that strap,” Hendricks said. “I will do everything in my power to beat Robbie Lawler and get what’s mines (UFC Welterweight Belt) when we fight in Dallas.”
If these stars perform as expected, and the UFC continues to ride the momentum they established in the second half of 2013 expect to see more “Did that just happened moments” and great fights in 2014.
Kendrick Johnson writes for a daily newspaper and is an independent sports television, and print journalist who has covered championship boxing and UFC Fights, the NBA Finals and done numerous one on one’s with some of the biggest names and personalities in sports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kendrickjohnso