I may not be the biggest fan of Ronda Rousey, but I am a fan nonetheless. If you know her story and dedication to the sport of MMA, it is very hard not to be, especially after reading Ramona Shelburne’s article about Rousey’s return to the Octagon following a hiatus of more than a year when she battles Amanda Nunes for the women’s bantamweight title at UFC 207 on Friday, December 30th. I read that about a week after watching Alpha & Omega, an outstanding documentary detailing what Cat Zingano went through in preparing for fights against Rousey and Julianna Pena following the loss of her husband Mauricio in early 2014. I highly recommend both reading the Rousey article and watching the Zingano documentary because those two women embody what I want from the UFC in 2017. They are true fighters in every sense of the word and something that seemed to be lacking from the organization in 2016. Sure, Zingano fought Pena at UFC 200 earlier this year, but that card to me overall was a bust thanks mostly to Jon Jones, who let everyone down with his carelessness and immaturity when he was pulled from his light heavyweight title bout with Daniel Cormier that was supposed to be the headliner. The year that just quickly passed us by has had no Rousey thus far and no Jones since April. Instead, we have been treated to Conor McGregor’s showboating and shenanigans, as he has found a way to dodge most of the top contenders in two different weight classes en route to winning two championship belts simultaneously. Kudos to McGregor for accomplishing that impressive feat, but I want much more from the UFC in 2017. I want Rousey to return with a vengeance and eventually fight Cris Cyborg for a shot to win two women’s titles simultaneously. I want Jones to come back and get humbled by Cormier, setting up an epic trilogy that would make buying a Pay-Per-View more than worthwhile no matter who else is on the card. I want less of McGregor and more of rising stars like Tony Ferguson and Max Holloway. And I want flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson to set the title defense record and then have a rematch with bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz in a true superfight. While all of that might be too much to ask for in 2017, hopefully the UFC will at least move more toward that direction despite its new ownership and give us much more intriguing matchups than we saw in 2016.
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