Posted 01/01/2014 by Derek Suboticki in Subo Says
 
 

2014 MMA Predictions (Or, Things To Laugh About in 365 Days)

One of the few advantages of my lengthy sabbatical from MMA writing (is it still a sabbatical if you don’t choose it? Is mandatory celibacy a form of abstinence?) was a lack of incorrect predictions/analyses. Relative to many of my peers, my slate of prognostications had fewer misses than most. That, however, is a misleading rubric; I also had fewer hits. Well, no more! For as long as MMA Owl continues to pay me (and all signs are good, you little monkeys – I thank each of you for every word you read), my roster of guesses, right or wrong, must expand. If only there were some excuse to make a number of predictions for the sake of this exercise…
(checks calendar)
(smiles)
Anthony Pettis Will Get Injured Again
Let’s do this first: predictions aren’t wishes. In fact, if you are of a more pessimistic persuasion, they are fears made manifest, worst-case scenarios posited as likely outcomes. I don’t want Anthony Pettis to get injured; the lightweight champion, preparing to celebrate his 27th birthday this month, was forced out of his first title defense with a knee injury that will optimistically keep him out of the gym until March or April. To predict that Pettis will remain healthy beyond then, however, is to ignore history. In the 36 months since the disintegration/absorption of the WEC, Pettis has only fought five times, including an eleven month layoff between his triumphs over Joe Lauzon in February 2012 and Donald Cerrone last Jaunary. The aftermath of the latter bout also saw Pettis accept a featherweight title shot, which he then gave up due to (you guessed it) injury. Whether or not Pettis’ weight ambiguity has contributed to his injury history is unknown, but the injury history itself is beyond question. Getting two fights out of Pettis in 2014 will be a stretch.
Travis Browne Will Go Undefeated
Hey, um, I’m not sure if you guys know this or not, and I’m not sure how to break this to you, but JOSH BARNETT LOST, YOU GUYS. I would have been happy if Mike Russow or Nikita Krylov had done the deed, but instead, the divine ecstasy of a Barnett loss was accompanied by the continued ascendancy of a heavyweight contender. Falling in love with Travis Browne wasn’t painless, as he forcefully dislodged my affection from Stefan Struve with an incredibly vicious superman punch; while my heart remains in sync with its suboptimal counterpart in Struve’s chest, that knockout put me firmly in Browne’s camp. After drawing comparisons to Dominick Cruz in his earlier bouts, Browne has settled in as a 6’7″ monster with power from range. Anyone that thought the Gonzaga win was tainted or fluke-y has been shown the light; Browne’s ability to maintain pinpoint accuracy with his anti-takedown elbows will give all other wrestlers in the division pause.
There remain fighters ranked above Browne, and with good reason, particularly in the cases of Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos and Fabricio Werdum. With Velasquez out with a shoulder injury, Browne seems all but set to take on one of the other two names. I’m picking him to beat either one, but any title shot resulting from a victory will likely have to wait until 2015. Time will tell whether this is a prediction borne out of empirical evidence or Barnett hatred.
Holly Holm Will Sign a UFC Contract (and Cyborg Santos Will Not)
If Ronda Rousey had lost to Miesha Tate – or Liz Carmouche, for that matter – then women’s MMA would have been declared a dead flash-in-the-pan fad, irrevocably damaged by the loss of its undefeated superstar champion. Since she won, however, the concern for WMMA instead turns to her next opponent, despite the immediate removal of ambiguity, as the fighter and date have already been announced (Sara McMann at UFC 170). The narrative that WMMA’s fortunes are tied directly to Rousey’s success – and the fears of her absconding, Carano-style, to make poorly received movies with poorly dubbed lines – will likely last as long as she does. And, to be fair, after McMann and perhaps Alexa Davis or Germane de Randamie, there aren’t a great deal of challengers on the horizon.
Enter Holly Holm, everyone’s favorite female fighting GIF pornographer. As the women’s landscape in the UFC continues to evolve and thrive, we’ll see that injections from other promoters – as with the men, before Zuffa acquired virtually everyone of note – serve a vital function in feeding the scene during its nascent development. Shields and Diaz provided new challenges for GSP when contenders were few and far between; it seems only natural that Holm, after another win or two for smaller organizations, would be brought on board for, at the very least, a title eliminator. Cyborg, on the other hand, seems like a lost cause: regardless of her inability/unwillingness to make 135, her business relationship with Tito Ortiz (a five word phrase that has historically boded poorly for those involved) probably renders her persona non grata either way.
PPV Numbers Will Fall, But Revenue Will Rise

Yes, this one is optimistic. It’s also a function of rewatching the rapidly increasing number of foreign cards over the last few years. The “World Fucking Domination” graphic and loose talk of surpassing soccer someday are (rightly) regarded as humorous promotional fodder, but there’s an undeniable hunger for live UFC events in numerous overseas locations. The crowds arrive early and stay interested; the television numbers in countries like Brazil are exploding relative to their earlier position; the new UFC Fight Pass sets the stage for “minor” cards to achieve “major” gate numbers and market penetration on a near-monthly basis. Losing Georges St Pierre and Anderson Silva will impact the total number of PPV buys, particularly in Canada, but between the myriad draws Brazil has to offer and the new commitment to holding international cards more frequently, it seems that Zuffa is acting on its long-voiced belief that PPV revenues do not represent the future of the company – or the sport.

I promise to come back to this next year, if only to see how wrong I was. Enjoy oversaturation, everyone!

 

 

 


Derek Suboticki

 
Derek Suboticki is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also co-hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET at FightFansRadio.com, also available as a podcast via iTunes. Previous work includes being former editor at Head Kick Legend and Fightlinker and contributor for Watch Kalib Run and Cageside Seats.