It’s that time of year again. With the final shopping days ticking away before Christmas this coming Sunday, as well as a major snowstorm arriving in time for the holiday weekend, it’s crunch time for all the procrastinators who, for whatever reason, think they can wait until Christmas Eve to buy presents.
In MMA, however, Santa Claus and his band of elves have already made a list, checked it twice. This year, nobody’s been naughty. The year in the cage has been quite nice.
Let’s Look Under The Tree in MMA!
Just as was the case a year ago at this time, the jolly old man in the red suit has left presents under our tree in MMA and has entrusted yours truly, Drew Zuhosky, to hand them out to all the good little boys and girls who follow the sport, as well as the fighters and promotions themselves.
Before you continue with this article, get into the holiday spirit! Get some Christmas cookies. Put on your favorite ugly sweater. Hang your decorations. Play Twisted Sister’s cover of O Come All Ye Faithful. (Yes, there is a cover of that song by that band.)
This is important: As we look under the tree, we have to be extremely quiet about it. There’s a chance that we might get caught, so tread lightly.
To: Dalton Rosta. From: Bellator MMA.
Bellator MMA middleweight Dalton Rosta (8-0 MMA, 8-0 Bellator) certainly has had a busy 2022. Upon taking over nine months off from the spring of 2021 to the beginning of this year, he’s made the most of his opportunities inside the cage.
He fought three times in 2022, winning every time, including a third-round knockout of Romero Cotton (6-1 MMA, 6-1 Bellator) during the featured preliminary of Bellator 283 on July 22. Santa Claus has given Rosta something he richly deserves this year for his efforts for Christmas.
Rosta Now Firmly In Bellator Middleweight Championship Conversation
With his Dec. 9 victory against Anthony Adams (9-3 MMA, 1-1 Bellator) by unanimous decision in the opening bout of Bellator 289’s main card, Dalton Rosta now stakes claim to the No. 5 ranking at 185 lbs. Earlier this year, in a Zuhosky’s Take, we mentioned that Dalton Rosta has what it takes to be the next big star in Bellator.
Now, less than 10 months later and with an undefeated 2022 in the rear-view mirror, Rosta has a seat at the table when it comes to the Bellator MMA Middleweight Championship. Within the next 12 months, he may be the man to beat in the weight class.
There are still more gifts to open up, so why waste time? Let’s keep going.
To: ONE Championship: From: Broomfield, CO (Good for Week of May 5, 2023.)
Earlier in 2022, Singapore-based combat sports promotion ONE Championship signed a multi-year deal to stream a series of cards on Amazon Prime Video inside the United States and Canada once a month on Friday nights. Subsequent to the deal being announced, the promotion revealed its intentions to hold cards in American markets in the future.
This year, Santa has given ONE Championship some airplane tickets. Destination: Colorado.
On the evening of May 5, Broomfield, CO will serve as the host city for ONE on Prime Video 10. As of now, that night’s main event is forecast to be a trilogy fight for the ONE Flyweight (135 lbs.) World Championship between incumbent titleholder Demetrious Johnson (24-4-1 MMA, 4-1 ONE Championship) and challenger Adriano Moraes (20-4 MMA, 11-4 ONE Championship.)
Heading into the trilogy bout, the all-time series is level at 1-1. Moraes took the first head-to-head confrontation with a second-round knockout in April of 2021 on TNT. Johnson returned the favor this past August in the ONE on Prime Video 1 main event with a fourth-round knockout.
Colorado Best Fit For ONE’s Rules
Atypical of other MMA promotions, ONE Championship permits knees to a downed opponent’s head as a legal blow. More than a year and a half ago, in July of 2021, the Colorado Office of Combative Sports approved such shots as fair game.
This didn’t sit well with everybody. Marc Ratner, the UFC’s Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, vowed that the world’s top MMA organization wouldn’t be doing business in the state as long as knees to a downed opponent’s head were legal.
With ONE and Colorado’s rules for downed opponents identical, the promotion will be headed stateside this spring.
Speaking of the UFC, the last gift under our tree is for them. Let’s see what it is.
To: The UFC. From: The Sports World.
Finally, this holiday season, Santa Claus has delivered the UFC the gift of longevity. In 2023, the promotion will celebrate its 30th anniversary.
The journey began for the UFC as a one-night only event in Denver in November of 1993. Its purpose was simple: UFC 1 (later retroactively retitled UFC 1: In the Beginning) would be a single-night tournament to determine which style of combat would be most advantageous to a competitor in a fight.
Legendary jiu-jitsu fighter Royce Gracie answered the question posed by Art Davie when the former submitted three opponents over the course of the evening, including Ken Shamrock, to take the tournament title. What was supposed to have been a one-shot deal in 1993 has grown to a worldwide brand with over 600 lifetime events to its credit.
Popularity Surges With ESPN Deal
Back in 2018, the UFC left its former television home, FOX Sports, to begin its current linear media and streaming rights deal with ESPN beginning in 2019. Initially set to expire after 2023, the UFC’s pact was extended by two years to 2025 in just the third month of the contract’s life.
After the extension, ESPN’s direct-to-consumer streaming platform, ESPN+, secured exclusive United States rights to the UFC’s monthly pay-per-views. The UFC and ESPN have become two iconic brands in the sports world.
This deal has been perfect for both parties involved.
We’ve spent a few minutes opening presents, but now it’s time to talk about a true gift, you, our audience. On behalf of everyone here at Overtime Heroics, thank you for your support today and every day.
Whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year, may you have a happy and safe one. Here’s to good luck and even better fights in 2023.
Featured Image Credit: Getty Images