We are already a few weeks into 2014 and the WMMA community is buzzing with what has already been announced.
Coming off an action packed year, it’s time to look ahead to what is going to happen this year and what to look out for.
The Ultimate Fighter 20 Will Draw Huge Numbers
This isn’t necessarily a prediction as much as a really educated guess. Here is why.
The first female cast had better numbers then their male counterparts on The Ultimate Fighter 18. Some could say the live viewers were lower than previous years, but you need to factor in DVR ratings, online viewing, and it was on Fox Sports 1, which isn’t on a basic cable channel.
What this season has going for it is established stars and a cast that is known far in advance. The media exposure is over a longer term, giving it some momentum and build into the season.
The international cast from Australia, Scotland, and Brazil will draw a lot of viewers international.
Most importantly, the personalities are bigger and the stakes are higher with a title belt on the line. A lot of drama will bring in a big female audience.
This all factors into what will be a big season.
InvictaFC Will be on a TV Network Before Summer
This is pretty much fact as InvictaFC President Shannon Knapp told us she has been offered several deals by networks to have the promotion’s cards on TV. The hope seems to be this will happen within the next two cards, with a trial run possible.
Internet ppv is on the outs for now, as way too many complications have forced them to give back much needed income. Satellite and cable PPV will still be around if a tv deal isn’t done on the next card.
Veterans Will Return to the Cage
Kelly Kobold was supposed to debut last month at Invicta, but will the third time be the charm for her to actually make it to the cage?
One person we do know is coming back to MMA is Jen Tate. She told us on the Wombat Sports podcast she will be juggling between boxing and MMA, with her first MMA match in four years in April. She also told us she is dropping to 115.
A solid rumor is Kerry Vera will be returning this year. One of the stars of “Fight Girls” (as was Tate), Vera is 2-0 with a notable win over Leslie Smith. She took some time off due to injury, but there was a video of her last year training and she looks better than ever.
The Year of the Atomweights and Lightweights will Make their Mark
With strawweights and bantamweights in the UFC, it will serve as an opportunity for Invicta to develop other divisions. The atomweights will see a lot of new blood this year, as more amateur American 105ers make their move to pro, and many 115ers drop down once again. We have seen an influx in both late last year.
After getting themselves organize last year, it’s only a matter of one or two Invicta cards before we see the debut of the lightweights. Having had some fights last year in other promotions, the 155ers are ready for the big time. I am also predicting they will be ranked this year (probably in the fall) once the Invicta opportunities start coming.
Another factor is featherweights having to cut so much weight. This gives fighters like Veronica Rothenhausler and Cyborg Justino a better, less dangerous cut to 155.
The Best in BJJ Will Crossover into MMA
Last year, ADCC under 60 kg winner Michelle Nicolini stated she is going to re-start her MMA career, and ADCC runner-up Luana Alzuguir stating she will also seek the cage in 2014. Nicolini (1-0) made her MMA debut in 2011 with an armbar over Cristina Mejia in the first round. Alzuguir has yet to fight MMA, but is training to do so.
There isn’t much money or exposure in BJJ in general, with the ladies not getting any opportunities in the Metamoris BJJ pro league.
MMA offers exposure, sponsors, and money to these top level BJJ fighters, and with the success of Ronda Rousey, they may see just as much success in the cage.
Female Kickboxing Making Huge Strides
Lion Fights started something in 2013. The prominence of kickboxing was mainly outside the U.S. before the promotion brought a regular televised platform to the U.S. With Tiffany Van Soest and Cyborg leading the charge, LFP will look to continue expand their female roster and with matchmaker Christine Toledo at the helm, we can always expect some exciting female bouts.
GLORY may follow suit. They have held undercard female bouts under K-1 rules, but there is a solid demand from fighters and fans to get the ladies on the main card. Could we see a full fledged tournament? Probably not. Could we see Marloes Coenen go back to her kickboxing roots? We are making the bold prediction she will.
Can Women’s Boxing Breakout to TV?
The women’s boxing divisions are starting to get it.
It’s not about just fighting hard anymore. It’s about making a statement, and with the social media culture, it is getting better for female boxers to argue their case. This can be best illustrated with Kaliesha West’s viral video to Floyd Mayweather.
The question will be if a promoter will be brave and bold enough to put female fighters on a televised card. Mayweather could be the personality to do so, but we won’t be surprised if some newer promoter will break the boxing mold in the U.S.
TV networks are open to the idea. Boxer Ana Julaton did a great blog post on how tv execs stated they haven’t been approached, and with female boxing generating 40,000 live fans in Argentina, it’s an untapped gold mine.
Someone just needs to pull the trigger, and 2014 seems as good of time as any.