The year that was 2012 is in the books and we’ve made the transition into 2013 for what has the potential to be one of the most important years in MMA to date.

I was asked to give my thoughts on some of the most important things going into 2013 on the latest episode of the ProMMAnow Radio Show. I suggest you check it out as we talk in depth about 2012 and the landscape moving forward, but here I want to pinpoint five huge questions going into 2013. Check it out below:

How will the competition between Bellator and the UFC help the sport of MMA?

The Bellator MMA promotion is considered the number two promotion behind the UFC now that Strikeforce has announced they’ll be closing their doors after their January 12 show. Bellator will be transitioning over to Spike TV which is the former home of the UFC. Spike has sort of a ‘built-in’ audience for MMA fans as they were able to continue to show UFC content(they had rights to the UFC library through 2012) this past year even though the UFC had moved on to the FOX network. Spike TV also reaches a larger audience than the former home of Bellator with a team of producers that are familiar with producing MMA content. Bellator plans to launch some variation of a MMA reality show in which Spike has experience with as that’s where “The Ultimate Fighter” debuted in 2005. Bellator also plans to host their LIVE events on Thursday nights, whereas the UFC will air “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show on Tuesday nights. So we’ll constantly hear about ratings and compare that information this year since it’ll be more apples to apples because of the amount of homes Spike TV reaches compared to FX. It’s no secret that competition makes things better and the UFC will be forced to stay on their toes as Bellator makes a major move.

Which Strikeforce fighters will be given the opportunity to transition over to the UFC?

There are obvious choices like Strikeforce lightweight, welterweight, and middleweight champions Gilbert Melendez, Nate Marquardt, Luke Rockhold, and Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix champion Daniel Cormier. However, there are a slew of talented fighters on the Strikeforce roster that could come over and compete in the UFC. Fighters like Gegard Mousasi, Pat Healy, Tyron Woodley, Josh Barnett, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Josh Thomson, Tim Kennedy, KJ Noons, Rafael Cavalcante, and many more. However, UFC President Dana White has stated that only some of the Strikeforce fighters would be given the opportunity to make the transition. These fighters mentioned would certainly added some needed depth in shallow divisions, and give solid fighters to compete on MMA’s largest stage. Stay tuned…

Will Ronda Rousey become a legitimate PPV draw for the UFC?

I’ve touched on this already with a piece I wrote about two weeks ago. Rousey has the potential to become a legitimate PPV draw because she has the ability to get on promotional platforms that male fighters don’t have access to. Also, she has already proven that she can draw eyeballs by averaging around 500,000 viewers on Showtime with its limited distribution. I supposed we need to state what would becoming a legitimate PPV draw means. The baseline for domestic UFC PPV’s is around 225,000 over the past couple of years. If she can do 300,000 or better that would be comparable to what Anderson Silva did during his early UFC as UFC middleweight champion. I know for a fact that a Rousey/Cyborg fight would do more than 300,000 but the question would be could she do it on a consistent basis?

Will Invicta FC will around on January 1, 2014?

Invicta FC burst on the scene in 2012 when Shannon Knapp put on three events in about a six month span. All of the shows were streamed online and received rave reviews as the all female promotion churned out exciting fight after exciting fight. However, Invicta FC will have their fourth show on Saturday but the promotion has decided to move to a PPV format as we go into 2013. Now, the price is only $7.95 which is certainly affordable and if they could get 150,000 viewers to buy the stream that would equate to almost 1.2 million dollars. I’m sure they would have to pay something in regards to hosting fees or whatever, but that would certainly be better than putting the show on for FREE. Also, Invicta FC had a good working relationship with Strikeforce and the Japanese women’s promotion JEWEL. How will Strikforce going to defunct status and the UFC having a women’s bantamweight division affect them? Invicta FC plans to start crowning champions for their divisions starting with their next show in January 5, so the promotion is certainly worth watching to see if it’ll continue to be a viable place for women to gain exposure and to be treated on a professional level.

Which regional promotion will separate itself from the others in 2013?

There were a couple of regional shows that put themselves on the map in 2012. Which promotion will go above and beyond to attract better fighters by being able to reach more people, pay their fighters better, and increasing their brand name recognition? The XFC(Xtreme Fighting Championship) and the RFA(Resurrection Fighting Alliance) set themselves up for success in 2012. The XFC has done a good job of signing solid local talent from the areas in which they’ve held shows(mostly Tennessee and North Carolina lately). The grassroots approach seems to be working well as they have planned to hold more shows in 2013 and their shows air LIVE on AXStv. The RFA has done exactly what their name states, resurrecting the careers of MMA veterans as well as signing up and coming talent. Their shows also air LIVE on AXStv and it’ll be interesting to see their plans in 2013. Then their are promotions like LFC (Legacy Fighting Championships), and the ROC (Ring of Combat) that could potentially make some noise.

Overall, 2013 could be a great year in terms of expansion with women’s MMA, UFC expansion internationally, and Bellator gaining a stronger foothold as the number two promotion. It’ll be interesting to see look at these five questions at the end of the year to see what transpired and where MMA as a whole will be a year from now.

Until then, enjoy the fights and be sure to make ProMMAnow ( your home for MMA news, fight analysis, expert commentary/opinion, and the ProMMAnow Radio Network.

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