It has been an eventful start to 2015 after a whirlwind of fights and fight announcements to start off the year.
Before we get into any more of the year, we wanted to give you some of our predictions for upcoming 12 months. Some of these are educated guesses, some are just wacky logic.
Let us know what you agree and disagree with. Also let us know some of your predictions for the year.
UFC will be sold – if not partially; all
This is probably the most radical prediction we will make, but hear us out.
The UFC isn’t in great financial straits right now. Their credit rating has gone down which means they owe a lot of money. Part of this is bad luck with champions being injured in 2014. Another problem is that holding more almost weekly events isn’t cheap, especially with the worldwide expansion. We feel the idea of getting rid of individual sponsors to only a major one will hurt them financially due to not getting the benefits from a “sponsor tax”.
The UFC getting rid of their own in house testing was in part because they couldn’t afford it.
I won’t be surprised if they cut a deal with Fox for part ownership, but would be interested to see if Fox buys them out and keeps UFC President Dana White as a figure head.
What if Floyd Mayweather buys it? Crazier things have happened.
Ronda Rousey will end the year undefeated and will “Take a hiatus” from the sport
If the UFC champion beats Cat Zingano next month, it will be hard to find a competitive contender for her.
The next choice would be Bethe Correia but it is hard to see the smaller bantamweight give Rousey a challenge. If Sara McMann beats Miesha Tate, a rematch could be interesting but still the champ just keeps getting better a lot faster.
If Rousey fights three times this year, which seems to be the case, and goes undefeated, we think she will realize that she has basically “cleaned the division” and there is nothing else to do. She is refusing to face Cyborg Justino. With Hollywood calling, she can make more as an action star with less work. Unlike Gina Carano, if there is a person who develops in 2016 that seems to be “the next big thing” at bantamweight she will come back to MMA.
We like the idea because the division needs a year at least to catch up with the champ’s level.
Jessica Aguilar will sign to the UFC
People think this is a done deal, but a few things to consider.
With the a fore mentioned sponsorship and financial situation with the UFC, the World Series of Fighting could outspend the UFC in terms of her contract. Teammate Tecia Torres is already signed to the UFC, and Aguilar doesn’t seem to want to be in the same promotion as her. The thing Aguilar needs to consider what is worth more – being #1 in the division or the money. Not an easy choice.
We are still thinking Aguilar will sign to the UFC because there is not much the WSOF can do for her now in terms of finding credible opponents.
The questions are how she will handle with the new blood in the UFC, and is a rematch with Esparza going to happen in 2015?
Bellator will see resurgence with raising talent from the UFC jumping ship
This goes back to the UFC financial problems and more importantly, the sponsorship deal with Reebok. Fighters will get more money by having several sponsors behind them then they would with only one. The deal doesn’t take in account popularity, only rankings. Mid level talent will find “greener pastures” in Bellator as they can outspend the UFC, especially at this moment. We may see a MMA version of pro wrestling’s “Monday Night Wars” this year. That all started because the WCW got a bigger budget and brought in more popular talent.
Bellator will launch a flyweight division
This is a 50/50 shot.
Bellator already announced they will have another women’s division this year, but have yet to name a weight class. The stated it would be “different” than the UFC’s current ones. This leaves 105 and 125.
Why do we think flyweight? Three major reasons. The first deals with the pool at 125. Our stats this year saw 125 as the most active division in 2014. Invicta has been actively signing talented flyweights as fast as they can the past few months so I am sure they are trying to beat Bellator to the punch. The third reason is if a UFC female fighter leaves the organization, it will be easier for Bellator to get talent from 115 going up and 135 going down.
That being said…
Atomweight matches will double its 2014 fight numbers
There were 50 fights at atomweight this past year, but the year also saw an influx in 105 talent.
In the past, the pool consisted mainly of a few Americans and a lot of Japanese talent. With Invicta the past few years doing its part to highlight the atomweight division with star Michelle Waterson, more smaller fighters are dropping from the ever deepening 115 division, seeing they can have a career at a more comfortable weight at 105.
Several of the TUF 20 strawweight competitors were too small for the division and it showed. We may see them circle back to Invicta and dropping to 105.
The word from Japan is most of the strawweights there have seen the light and can’t compete with American talent at 115. The divisions in the Far East are shifting to 105 with a few exceptions. There is even talk of a pinweight (100 pound) division.
An eight woman atomweight tournament for the vacant DEEP-JEWELS title is already being planned.
Invicta will Get a TV deal… of sorts
InvictaFC president Shannon Knapp has been hinting as of late of an actual tv deal through her connections with the UFC. Here is our thoughts.
One, if not two, events will be broadcast on tv this year with the rest being through UFC Fight Pass. Fox Sports 1 would make the most sense – seeing their success with “The Ultimate Fighter 20”.
With Fox and Fox Sports 1 already seeing some good female matches in the coming months, they should see the value in terms of ratings to bring Invicta into the mix.
Expect More International Talent Signed to Major Promotions
This past year, 253 fighters made their pro debuts. This is a major drain in terms of amateur talent with some making their pro debuts in the next few months.
It is going to take a year or two of the amateur division to regain the numbers, but I have no doubt those women dreaming of taking up MMA fighting will see opportunities.
In the mean time, 47 countries held female matches this year with 41 having pro bouts. The number of countries themselves have expanded since last year, and will look to get over 50 in 2015. You will get to see names you might have never heard of (unless you read our site regularly). A few we can rally off – Jessy Rose (Australian; already signed to InvictaFC), Amanda Lino (South Africa; who won the IMMAF featherweight tournament and named Ammy Fighter of the Year), and Maryna Moroz (Ukrainian; undefeated at strawweight).
Brazil itself has expanded their women’s divisions in 2014 and we can expect more talent from there to make their way to the States.