Some Christmas Wishes for MMA in 2019

If I had to choose one word to describe MMA in 2018 to a casual fan, I would have to go with “convulsive.” There has been no shortage of otherworldly, this-is-why-we-love-the-sport moments, but all too often they’ve been bookended by happenings of the head-scratching, cringe-inducing or gut-wrenching variety.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship signed a landmark broadcast and streaming deal with ESPN in May and then marred the first show on its ESPN Plus platform in controversy by booking domestic violence perpetrator Greg Hardy’s promotional debut alongside Rachael Ostovich’s first fight since (allegedly) nearly being murdered by her estranged husband; the international MMA scene has swelled with seemingly legitimate promotions competing for fighters and market share, only for questions to be raised about the financial viability and sustainability of Asian powerhouse One Championship; Conor McGregor overcame the excesses of his ego and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office to make his long-awaited Octagon return at UFC 229, just in time for his dance partner Khabib Nurmagomedov to spark a post-fight brawl that has thrown both their professional futures — and the 155-pound division — into a state of suspended animation.

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