The holidays are upon us, and whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa or Tiamat’s birthday (dust off your old Monsters Manual, son; she’s the queen of the Chromatic dragons), it’s hopefully a time for giving and receiving. Well, I’ve given a lot to the sport of MMA this year – a book on underground fighting, articles for MMA Convert four to six times a week, blog posts on the local MMA scene and enough Tweeted results from live shows to sink a battleship. Plus, I painstakingly sat through every episode of the Ultimate Fighter, and my monthly bill for UFC pay-per-views is through the roof. I think it’s time I enumerate to Santa exactly what it is I wish for in return. And yeah, sure, the obligatory “peace on Earth, goodwill towards men” should be on there, but this is my list, dammit. Ultimately, I don’t think jolly Saint Nick/Hanukah Harry/Zeus/the Great Pumpkin cares.
-I wish promoters would stop giving Jens Pulver fights. At this point, it’s clear the former UFC lightweight champ isn’t angling so much for a graceful retirement as a painful and debilitating permanent exit from the cage. Which means it’s up to the promoters of the world to stop giving Pulver fights. Yes, he’s beloved and charismatic, and at one point his name was synonymous with “stand and bang”. But alas, those days when he could be competitive – and take a punch – are gone. So please, anyone out there with matchmaking duties, just cut it out. Let the man ride off into the sunset in peace.
-I wish MMA would get sanctioned in New York. Don’t get me wrong, I love underground fight shows. But there comes a time when you look around at the other states with athletic commissions and wonder how the in the hell your supposedly “progressive” state is so behind when it comes to sanctioned mixed martial arts. Seriously, it’s embarrassing. I want a UFC at Madison Square Garden, a Strikeforce at Nassau Coliseum, a Bellator in the ballroom at the Crowne Plaza in Times Square and a Ring of Combat at the Beacon Theater. Is that so much to ask for?
-I wish “Big Nog” would tap more often. Yes, I get it, the Brazilian legend is so durable, not even getting run over by a truck as a child can slow him down. However, watching the man get his arm snapped, and knowing that he’s going to need so many pins and screws to put it back together that he can legally be considered a cyborg… that’s… that’s too much. And I say this is a fan. Dude, just tap next time.
-I wish for more cheesy C-grade promotions on pay-per-view. Remember Moosin? MMA Pit Fight? All these one-off pay-per-view offerings that cost like 24 bucks a shot, they’re good for weekends when there’s no UFC soaking up your dollars. And they’re GREAT for laughs. I swear, I think Bas Rutten was drunk when he commentated for Moosin. Or at least he should have been.
-I wish for good health for Daniel James Miller. UFC middleweight Dan Miller’s son Daniel James was born with a host of medical issues, and like a trooper (and like his dad would in the cage), the little guy has been battling them back. To help defray some of the costs of his treatment, Zuffa ponied up, and Dan Sr.’s team helped out with a fundraising seminar – all of which is a credit to the MMA community. But in the end, I just want Junior to keep smiling. And folks, I’ve seen his smile. It’s precious.
-I wish for a fresher TUF. Supposedly, with the UFC’s marriage to FOX, we’re going to get this. Supposedly. However, if we get more lameness… I might just go Travis Bickle on the FOX studios.
-I wish some UFC lightweights would pay Strikeforce a visit so Gilbert Melendez can be challenged. Right now, the only person on the Strikeforce roster who has a chance at defeating Melendez is Cris “Cyborg” Santos. And the word on the street is Scott Coker offered Melendez that fight and he wisely turned it down. (Just kidding.)
-I wish for Eddie Alvarez and Mike Chandler to rematch. I love Bellator’s whole tournament motif. To death. But they caught lightning in a bottle with Alvarez/Chandler I; that rematch needs to happen immediately.