The Octagon (Phil Lambert/Combat Press)

Things to Be Thankful for in Today’s MMA

The month of November has always been very special to me. All the good things in life seem to come together into one big melting pot. Family, turkey, football and the crisp feeling in the air—all of those things make the month so special. (It also happens to be the month in which I was born.) There are so many traditions to look forward to, but there is also one thing missing from Thanksgiving Day: a major MMA event.

We know the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys will always host an NFL game on Thanksgiving. The NBA will trot out a lineup of games, too. But wouldn’t it be great if there was a UFC card to watch as well? If not an entire card, how about just one fight that could take place during halftime of the Cowboys game? After all, the game would already be televised on Fox. Am I dreaming? Well, yes. It’s certainly something we won’t see any time soon.

Although I’ve written a lot over the last few weeks about what’s wrong with MMA, there’s so much to be thankful for as well. So, as you’re starting to shake off your Thanksgiving Day hangover, I’d like to share a few things I’m thankful for as it relates to our beloved world of MMA.


Bellator MMA

If it wasn’t for Bellator, where would we still be able to hold on to the nostalgia of seeing people like Tito Ortiz and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson fight in main events? At times it seems like Tim Sylvia may be one phone call away from jumping into the fray himself. In all seriousness, though, we should be thankful for Bellator. Imagine if the company put together a “Legends Division” and gave all the old-timers another shot in the spotlight. Doesn’t seem too far-fetched, does it?

Ronda Rousey

Yes, we’ve read enough about Rousey over the last year to feel like we’ve been roommates with her. Imagine if there wasn’t a Rousey. Where would the UFC hype be this year? Who would have carried the headlines? I’ve gone on rants time and time again about how the UFC does an even poorer job than Major League Baseball in marketing its superstars, and that’s really bad. If you go ask 10 random people who Chris Weidman is, I’d be shocked if more than two answered correctly. Ask those same people who Rousey is and you’ll get closer to six out of 10 being able to identify her. Rousey has been everywhere, and she still amazes us each time she fights.

Mark Hunt

Prior to Hunt’s loss to Fabricio Werdum at UFC 180, he made us believe that perhaps all you needed to win the heavyweight title was a big heart and a heavy hand. Hunt, who still has just a 10-9 professional record, brought us back to the days of Tank Abbott, a fighter who you knew was going into the Octagon to knock somebody’s head off. We need fighters like Hunt in the UFC. Everything from his power to the way he looks inside the cage portrays much of what the UFC was founded upon.

Shannon Knapp

The Invicta FC president has been on my list of gratitude for quite some time. The way Knapp came onto the scene and helped build Invicta from the ground up is truly amazing, especially considering the obstacles the promotion overcame to make it to where it is today. Did anyone think after Invicta’s first “pay-per-view” debacle on Ustream that the company would eventually be in a partnership with the UFC? If there is anybody other than Rousey who has helped make women’s MMA what it is today, it’s Knapp.

Combat Press

Last, but certainly not least, I am thankful that there are websites such as Combat Press that value quality journalism over the click-bait articles that get so much traffic on the web. It’s easy to create an article titled “5 Bras Ronda Rousey Has Nearly Slipped Out Of.” It might draw more traffic than one of the many great interviews our own Neil Rooke has penned, but it’s not something you’ll ever see here.

I’ve dabbled with writing in other places, but on those sites it was never about the quality of work. Instead, it was about what would make somebody click on a link. I’m thankful for Combat Press for trying to do things the right way. There are so many good people here at Combat Press who have a passion for MMA as well as a love for writing. When we hit “publish,” we are genuinely excited to share what we have to say.

I’m thankful to have the opportunity to continue developing my craft with so many great writers on this team. With three young daughters, coaching obligations and a full-time job, it’s sometimes hard to get to everything I want to express here on a weekly basis, but hopefully you’re enjoying this labor of love we put forth.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.