Okay, okay, it’s not official. I apologise, but I had to get you here, right? The world we live in, ladies & gents.

Ah, the UFC. For some (most, if the internet is to be believed), the year 2016 has been a nightmare of bad politics, primate shoot-outs and, still, Kim Kardashian’s rather large face being splashed on any ink-bearing surface. A lot of people I’m sure will be glad to see the back of this year, and would probably even pay the bus fare to see it on its way. Bye-bye 2016, thanks for nothing. See ya.

Not the UFC, however. Oh no, for the world’s premier mixed martial arts entertainment organisation, 2016 has been an absolute screamer. Think McGregor-Diaz, think the mighty Jonny Bones’ return (and subsequent suspension), and we even crowned our most lovable champion yet, in the form of the adorable, somewhat unlikely, somewhat lewd Michael Bisping. He finally made it, aww.

We learnt that it is in fact possible to train oneself to swing whilst unconscious, as demonstrated by Ms Holm in the epic battle where Miesha ultimately choked her way to victory. Ryan Bader expertly showcased, to every single MMA fighter and fan in the world, the dangers of the “panic shoot” (against Rumble no less – ouch). We even got to see the two cowboys rough-and-tumble it out. We’ve witnessed some incredible, emotional, awesomely entertaining battles this year, people.

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Man, I love those guys. But moving swiftly on.

Let’s look at the business – the numbers. By the time 2016 is done, there will have been 22 title fights. Word on the street is that this year alone will have generated upwards of $16million in revenue. We’ve just finished a cracking (albeit essentially pointless thanks to DJ’s literally superhuman cardio) season of The Ultimate Fighter, and Dana has been busy allll year making some pretty fun shows for Fight Pass. He even smiled a couple times this year, and has learned to look a little less exasperated, in my opinion. I guess fat stacks of cash will do that to you.

It’s been a massive year, one that certainly isn’t over yet, and I am definitely getting away from the point of this article.

How do I even put this?

Saturday December 10. Holloway versus Pettis. Interim belt.

What? And most importantly, WHY?

Why are we fabricating another belt whilst there is both an active champion, AND AN ACTIVE INTERIM CHAMPION? Yes, I did mean to bold AND UNDERLINE that. Why are we fabricating yet another belt where there is none? Why so many belts? I NEED ANSWERS.

The fact is, the UFC has become a money-making machine and it’s kind of annoying. Don’t get me wrong – Holloway Pettis is an awesome fight which I’m looking forward to; both are fighters I have followed for a long time and generally admire. But here’s the thing: Holloway should be working on an ACTUAL title shot and, my apologies but, Anthony Pettis simply isn’t the level for any kind of title shot right now. I think even he’d agree with that. Poor chap.

So why is there an interim belt on the line? Here’s what happened:

Daniel Cormier (once again) had to pull out of a PPV due to injury. This left the UFC not only down a main event, but down potentially millions of dollars in pay-per-views.

But, a title fight, even just an interim one? Hey, well that’s okay – worth both tuning in AND paying for, happily even (so they say). SO a little rearranging here, a few phone calls there and now poor Mister McG gets shafted a belt, Aldo gets an upgrade, Holloway gets “his shot”, Pettis gets a payrise AND the UFC sets itself up for a huge, insane, unadulterated, Champion versus Champion brawl for some time in the future.

Here’s my prediction, cats. Heed my words:

The Jose Aldo versus Connor McGregor 2, Champion versus Champion, old foe versus old foe superfight will be announced in early 2018. It makes so little sense that it makes absolute sense.*

The UFC, rightly so to an extent, is a money-driven, money-making organisation these days. The fact that they’re willing to throw an interim belt into the mix simply to save their pay-per-view numbers says enough; that they would allow McGregor to make history simply to swipe it from his clutches a couple of weeks later demonstrated the lack of weight they believe their ultimate prize, the belt, to actually carry.

I’m bitter, yes. I really don’t think the 206 interim title fight makes sense. BUT, I adore MMA, and although I hate to admit it – I love the UFC. I love everything about their production, I love the stories, the drama – shit, I even love the freaking “Tale of the Tape” jingle on the live shows. That shit gets me going. I’ve been lucky enough to see various events live; from Bendo beating up Thatch back in Denver, to Holm operating on Rousey’s face with her foot, the UFC knows how to put on a show. And I reckon the new owners just might keep the train rolling.

You have my money, guys.

Now please start making reasonable, rational, not-mildly-irritating decisions again about these guy’s futures. Let me love you as much as I deign to, Ultimate Fighting Championship. Don’t let me down, Dana. Keep spreading the love, Herb.

With some crazy fights already set for 2017, the fastest growing sport in the world is ready for a wild year, and I for one cannot wait to watch.

Mark my words:

Aldo vs McGregor, C vs C, hombre vs hombre.

*The irony of it all is that this is the fight that should have happened anyway – stripping Connor, reinstating Jose and then having ANOTHER interim fight makes Aldo’s losing the belt originally all for nothing… But that’s an article for another time 🙂

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