Thanksgiving. There’s no other time of year when everyone can gorge themselves on turkey and stuffing, all while saying what they’re most thankful for in life.

Well, here at The MMA Corner, we’ve gathered our troops at the Round Table to give our thanks. Over the last year, we’ve had to upgrade that table with more members joining our wonderful family here at The MMA Corner. As is the case with any holiday get together, not everyone could make it. But we’re thankful for each and every one of our staff members, from those who join us here to those who are away at the moment—Garrett Derr and Monta Wiley—to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu writer Gianni Grippo, TUF blogger Bristol Marunde and photographers Phil Lambert and Jeff Vulgamore. And we’re also thankful for you, the readers.

But the central focus of this gathering is to look at what we’re thankful for in the year 2012 in the world of mixed martial arts. It could be anything—a particular event, fight, fighter, promotion or even an announcement. Whatever it may be, it’s time for us to share.

We’ve resurrected the gloved turkey hand for this occasion and it points first to the man who made this all possible, The MMA Corner Owner and President, Josh Davis. So, as we say Happy Thanksgiving to all, we’ll start with him and make our way around the table…

Josh Davis, The MMA Corner Owner/President: The year 2012 has been a big year for MMA and for The MMA Corner. There are so many things that I am thankful for. Obviously, I am very thankful for my family and the life that we live outside of MMA, but again this has been a great year for MMA.

There are a few things that I am thankful for as it relates to MMA. I am thankful for Nate Diaz vs Benson Henderson. This is a fight that I have been looking forward to for a while and believe that it has potential to be “Fight of the Year.” Furthermore, I am thankful that Nick Diaz will be off of suspension in three months and will be back in action soon.

Last but not least, I am thankful to have the best staff and team of writers in MMA. While The MMA Corner may not be the biggest or most recognized media site out there, I do believe that we have the best team of writers and we produce some of the best quality MMA coverage available, and I am thankful for every member of the team that puts out endless effort to bring quality coverage to the masses. In addition to the best staff in MMA, I would also give special thanks to Rob Tatum, News Manager/Assistant Editor, and Bryan Henderson, Editor-in-Chief. Without the endless and tireless effort of these two individuals, The MMA Corner would not be the site that our readers have come to know and love. These two are the backbone of The MMA Corner and I am very thankful to not only have these two on The MMA Corner staff, but to also call them friends.

Every year at this time, I sit down and reflect over the year that was and this year I can honestly say was one of the best for MMA, and one of the best for The MMA Corner.

Bryan Henderson, Editor-in-Chief: If there’s one thing that I’m thankful for this year, it’s the emergence of Invicta FC. The all-women’s promotion took the MMA world by storm, and it’s only three events into its run. Invicta managed to do with women’s MMA what every promotion that came before it could not. It gathered the majority of the best female warriors out there under one common banner, and it formed relationships with the Japanese Jewels promotion and Zuffa’s Strikeforce wing in order to bring even more top talent together.

What Invicta proved this year was that the doubts about depth in women’s MMA were largely unfounded. EliteXC and Strikeforce had already demonstrated to the world that the ladies could put on a show, but both of those promotions were only willing to scrape the surface of what was possible. With stellar matchmaking, Invicta took women’s MMA to the next level, providing a launching pad for fighters making their professional debuts and creating pairings that allowed mid-tier veterans to put on a “Fight of the Year”-worthy effort.

As much as UFC President Dana White loves Ronda Rousey, I believe that without Invicta there to show White and company what was possible beyond one superstar, White would not have so quickly shifted his opinion on bringing the ladies to the Octagon. It’s hard not to be grateful for such a pioneering entity.

Rob Tatum, News Manager/Assistant Editor: What am I thankful for this year? The same thing I’m thankful for every year of late: more MMA!

To say that 2012 has been the biggest year for MMA would be an understatement. While Zuffa has battled the injury bug for a good portion of the year—even canceling events for the first time in its history—the sheer volume of fights that have taken place this year is astounding. By the time the year is done, there will have been a UFC, Strikeforce and/or Bellator event during 42 of the 52 weeks on the calendar. And that doesn’t even account for the hundreds of regional, international and upstart promotions that have filled our plates during those off weeks for the bigger shows.

Without question, MMA is a sport that never sleeps. There is no offseason. And thanks to its global reach, there are always fights taking place somewhere, no matter what the date might be. Don’t expect that to let up anytime soon. Zuffa has already laid out plans for six events in the first two months of 2013 and Bellator will certainly follow suit as it moves to Spike TV after the new year.

So as 2012 winds down and promotions reveal their agenda for next year, there really is no better time to be involved in MMA. Whether you’re a fan, writer, promoter or even a fighter, you should join me in giving thanks to the sport that means so much to all of us.

Paige Berger, Staff Writer: This has been a big year for MMA in general, but the one thing I’m most thankful for is The Ultimate Fighter: Sonnen vs. Jones announcement. TUF has been a staple in the UFC for years and is arguably the thing that saved the sport from extinction. That said, the show is a shell of what it once was.

The announcement of Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen as coaches of the next installment may be exactly what the struggling franchise needs in order for the show to stave off extinction itself. Jones gives credibility to the show, serving as the first current champion to coach since GSP in season 12, while Sonnen will bring a much needed breath of fresh air and excitement—something that hasn’t been a guarantee in who really remembers how long?

The year 2012 has also seen a vast expansion, not only with the number of promotions that have surfaced, but in terms of geography as well. If the UFC continues to expand at its current rate, it will need to rely on TUF to bring in new fans the way it did in the early days, as well as the ability to produce top-notch fighters. Whether you love reality TV or not, there is no better way to expose your product, and I have no doubt that if anyone can return the show to what it once was, it’s Jones and Sonnen.

David Massey, Staff Writer: I’m not particularly a fan of Ronda Rousey outside of her work in the cage, but her rise to prominence this year is something I am thankful for. She gave WMMA the boost it needs to be seen as a viable commodity.

The hardcore fans know how great the women are in this sport, and Rousey makes a good poster child. She got UFC President Dana White to take notice and she’s the first woman to be signed to the UFC. Without her, WMMA would have had a much harder climb into a wider consciousness.

Corey Adams, Staff Writer: There are many things that the sport of mixed martial arts has offered us this year to be thankful for, but for me, I’m most thankful for the addition of the UFC’s flyweight division.

Many casual UFC fans are into the headlining heavyweight bouts—guys such as Junior dos Santos or Cain Velasquez—but if it were up to me, I’d rather see a bout at 125 pounds any day. It’s not that I don’t enjoy heavyweights bouts. It’s just flyweights are guaranteed to give fans a show. With the addition of the 125-pound division, guys such as Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez were able to drop to their normal weight and still be at the top of the division. I’m very excited to see how the division plays out in 2013, as many up-and-coming flyweights are emerging to challenge the champion, Johnson.

It’s hard to argue against my fellow MMA Corner writers, but I’m a firm believer that the acquisition of the flyweight division is one of the best things that has happened to the promotion, in terms of making fights that will never be boring. I hope that not only our staff, but everyone reading this has a great Thanksgiving!

Brian McKenna, Staff Writer: Bellator Fighting Championships is an organization that has really been upping its game with each year that passes, and I am thankful that the promotion is finally getting the exposure that it deserves with its move to Spike TV in January. The UFC established Spike TV as a major MMA market, and following the yearlong absence of live MMA on the network, it will finally have a new promotion to call it home.

Competition always drives the best out of companies, and with Bellator making the jump to the new channel, it is going to force the hand of not only the UFC, but all other promotions that are regularly on television. In what is soon to be a post-Strikeforce world of MMA, it is good to see that Bellator will get more exposure on a network that reaches more homes than where it has resided for the last two years.

Eric Reinert, Staff Writer: By the end of 2012, the UFC will have put on 31 events for the year. This is the most in company history for any one year, and it appears the number will keep going up. There were four months that went by in between UFC 1 and UFC 2, and for a little while the company couldn’t even find a home on pay-per-view (where people could still order hardcore pornography), so I’m thankful that in 2012 the sport we all love so much was broadcast nearly three times a month.

Furthermore, the emergence of the sport in the last few years enabled the UFC to showcase more than half of its 2012 events (18 of 31 in 2012) on network or cable TV. In other words, there has been such a growing demand for MMA that television networks and advertisers who once saw the sport as unsellable are now investing heavily. The UFC’s partnership with Fox/FX and Nike’s signing of Jon Jones, not to mention that both Bud Light and Miller Lite are now UFC sponsors, all reflect the ways MMA has made inroads into the mainstream sporting community. We should all be thankful that mixed martial arts is, now more than ever, part of the American sports landscape, and the future looks pretty bright.

Dan Kuhl, Staff Writer: I am thankful for a lot in 2012, the year of the MMA curveball.

The top ten things I’m thankful for, in no particular order, are: 1- the rise of WMMA, including the takeoff of Invicta and the announcement of Rousey’s contract with the UFC, 2- with injuries at an all-time high, the sport was still able to put on some great shows, 3- the minor promotions like Maximum Fighting Championship, Resurrection Fighting Alliance and Score Fighting Series put on some fantastic cards, 4- Chael Sonnen created worldwide buzz for the sport, outside of just the MMA circles, 5- the paring back of Strikeforce events and final cutting-off of the promotion altogether, 6- Rich Franklin’s incredible comeback in Brazil, followed by Cung Le’s devastating knockout of him only a few months later, 7- being able to interview so many great fighters and learn about them outside of what is seen on TV, 8- the cancellation of UFC 151, only because it, hopefully, opened Zuffa’s eyes to the importance of having greater depth in fight cards, 9- meeting Rob Tatum on the plane back from UFC 146, leading to my addition to The MMA Corner team, and, finally, 10- my baby boy! (a future mixed martial artist)

While my list is by no means exhaustive, I’m just thankful that the sport continues to grow and thrive. It is important that the momentum keeps going towards building the same credibility that any other major sport has garnered, both nationally and globally. MMA is the real deal, and will not fizzle out like the ’80’s kickboxing fad. We not only owe it to the fighters, camps and promoters, but to the state regulators who help keep the sport honest and credible.

Kyle Symes, Staff Writer: I know we’re supposed to only pick one thing to be thankful for, but I’m going to stretch the rules a bit and pick three things. What I’m thankful for in 2012 in the world of MMA are Chael Sonnen, Anderson Silva and Jon Jones. Allow me to explain my reasoning before the fanboys get wild on their keyboards.

I’m thankful for Sonnen because he adds a certain element of excitement to the sport. Pardon me, but hearing every guy say they have so much respect for their opponents and want to be all nice about it is boring. If you want to have the guy over for a sleepover and to watch some chick flicks, just invite ‘em. Sonnen’s brand of trash talk provides entertainment that breaks up the monotony of some of the boring personalities found in the sport. I may not always agree with what he says, but either way, “Chael P. Sonnen” is always good for a laugh or two.

I’m thankful for the UFC light heavyweight champ not because I’m on the bandwagon, far from it. I’m thankful that he’s still young and stupid like the rest of us. At this point, there’s no reason to dissect a Jones title fight, they all look similar with the champion using his freakish frame to control the action. But when Jones screws up big time in the PR department, it gives us writers something new to write about and new angles to cover the champion. We all make mistakes when we’re young, Jones’ mistakes just happen to be in front of a national audience.

Finally, I’m thankful for the UFC middleweight champion, Silva, because of how great he is. I didn’t get to see Mike Tyson in his prime (honestly never heard of the guy until he appeared on WWF programming in 1997) and Silva is about as close to Tyson in terms of a once-in-a-lifetime fighter as MMA has. I can see where some fans would get tired of all the antics, but Silva always brings something special to every fight.

Riley Kontek, Staff Writer: I am thankful that Strikeforce will officially come to an end following its final event in January. It’s not that Strikeforce was a bad company, far from it. However, since Zuffa purchased the company, the talent has migrated to the UFC and the cards have been few and far between. It was a company that’s time had come to close.

With that, I am also thankful that all the meaningful talent that Strikeforce possesses will now find a home within the most talented roster in the MMA world. Adding names like Daniel Cormier, Gilbert Melendez, Luke Rockhold, Nate Marquardt (again) and many others will make the UFC roster even more competitive than it already is. From Strikeforce’s ashes comes an even stronger future for the UFC.

Dale De Souza, Staff Writer: You’d think with the way ratings have gone this year, the UFC on Fox would fall far from the top of the list of things to be thankful for, but for my taste, it hits the top of the list. That’ll surprise people who have enjoyed my opinions over the course of this year, given my support of the flyweight division (which I’m still thankful for, by the way), but like most, I had high hopes about the Fox deal, and while the ratings disagree, I believe those efforts this year suggest a sign of things to come as the UFC aims to cement itself in the mainstream.

Whether the UFC does or not will prove a different being altogether, but one can’t fault the promotion for its attempts to accomplish such a task. While pay-per-view cards struggle, the UFC cards on Fox have attracted a number of heads to the sport through stacked nights of fights. Naturally, the UFC has not perfected the formula just yet, but it will begin to show signs of perfection in 2013, and as the Fox deal progresses over time, the promotion will do just about all that it will need to do in order to help the world witness what this sport is really all about. That one revelation makes this Fox deal something that fans should truly be thankful for this year.

Sal Derose, Staff Writer: While I can be thankful for a lot this year, whether it be the introduction of flyweights or the closure of Strikeforce, what I’m most thankful for is that we finally had a resolution to Carlos Condit versus GSP.

Not only was it a great fight that brought the fighter out of St-Pierre in his return, it finally got rid of that awful moniker, “interim champion.”

Now the welterweight division is finally unclogged, we have the resolution to a fight we have been waiting a little over a year for and now have a possible superfight between Anderson Silva and GSP. All this from unifying the belt.

Vince Carey, Staff Writer: The year 2012 has been a great year for all things MMA, but the thing I’m most thankful for is Georges St-Pierre’s health.

It’s extremely hard for any athlete to return from a major knee injury like the one that GSP overcame this year, but the way that the welterweight champion came back and looked like he hadn’t missed a beat during his fight with Carlos Condit this weekend is incredible.

It would have been a terrible thing if St-Pierre’s storied career was stopped short from injuries, and as a fan, I’m glad he was able to come back in full form.

Richard Wilcoxon, Staff Writer: I am thankful for two things this year.

First, I am thankful for the fighters with the courage to step up and take on opponents on short notice. After watching both UFC 151 and Strikeforce: Cormier vs. Mir collapse because fighters refused to take on the challenge, it really drove home how lucky we are to still have guys like Anderson Silva and Stephan Bonnar, who saved UFC 153, or Junior dos Santos and Frank Mir, who never complained when opponents changed. They just went out and did their job. But it isn’t just the main event fighters, almost every card this year saw fighters taking on someone on short notice for the fans’ entertainment from the top of the card down to the opening preliminary fight.

I am also very thankful for the announcement that Strikeforce is finally closing it’s doors. Strikeforce was, at one time, a great promotion, but once Zuffa stepped in and took control, things changed fast. Zuffa let talent walk away, including Fedor Emelianenko and Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal, while transferring other top draws like Jake Shields, Nick Diaz, Dan Henderson and the heavyweights to the UFC, leaving Strikeforce with bare bones. They stopped holding the Challengers events for up-and-coming talent. They scraped together a few shows, but more times than not recently, the shows were canceled after an injury or two. If Strikeforce wasn’t going to be allowed to be a real promotion any longer, it is time for it to go.

Gregory Chase, Contributing Writer: I am thankful for the great staff at the MMA Corner! Cheesy right? Still true though.

But in the grander scheme of things, I am thankful for the athletes. Being able to watch guys like Jon Jones do his thing and bearing witness to Anderson Silva making history with each fight is a privilege as a fan. We get to witness this sport evolve and see these great athletes do what they do best. I am thankful that this sport continues to be one that is closely connected to its fans; in no other sport will you find it easier to connect with your favorite athlete or some of the head honchos of the company.

Aline Baktchejian Djehdian, Brazilian Writer: As the end of this year approaches, I am most thankful for UFC 146. It was a memorable event, showcasing some of the best fighters in the heavyweight division. And I am thankful for being in Las Vegas to watch an UFC event live. I´m thankful for Junior dos Santos for being such an incredible fighter, especially in his fight with Frank Mir. Also, I´m thankful for nice people that I met while in Vegas, including Rob Tatum, and the UFC Fight Club for giving me the support to be part of some increditable moments like the weigh-in and the event.

I´m also thankful for Cain Velasquez, who did an excellent job against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. This moment I will always remember as the event that opened the door for my journalism career in MMA in Brazil and the United States. I’m thankful for Rob, Bryan Henderson and all of the staff who comprise this incredible site.

Jake Martin, Staff Writer: As 2012 nears an end, I’m thankful for UFC 153. What? Not exactly what you were expecting? With cards being diminished throughout the year (some even scrapped altogether), we can all agree that 2012 has been one rough year for the UFC. And with the Frankie Edgar/Jose Aldo fight being canceled at UFC 153, the greatest fighter of all time stepped in to be the new main event.

So really, I’m thankful for Anderson Silva. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to witness the G.O.A.T. perform in his prime, much like I wish I could have enjoyed Michael Jordan in his. At UFC 153, Silva once again showed why he’s on a whole different level when it comes to fighting. He let Stephan Bonnar punch him in the face against the cage, and once he got bored with that, he finished the fight with a perfectly placed knee to the mid-section. I’m thankful for Silva, and more importantly, I’m thankful there’s a platform for this artist to showcase his skills.

Photo: Glove Turkey (Bryan Henderson/The MMA Corner)

About The Author

The MMA Corner Staff

Your home for all things MMA. News, Interviews, Event Coverage, Editorials. If it is MMA related, you will find it on The MMA Corner.