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By Matt Pelkey, MMATorch Columnist
It's the fourth Thursday of November, which means its time to let it be known the things we're thankful of. Sure it's as gimmicky as it is lazy, but you're the one reading it, so really it reflects poorly on you more than anything. Without further ado, the (MMA-related) things I'm thankful for this year:
-I'm thankful for the Dan Henderson-Shogun fight. Like my colleague Rich Hansen, I'd begun to feel some MMA burnout in the last year or so. Covering the sport was starting to become tedious and feel strangely like...work. Watching that epic slugfest made me feel like a kid on Christmas morning again, only if my toys were all covered in blood, swelling, and overwhelming exhaustion.
-I'm thankful for Steven Seagal. Without him, we never would've seen the top two knockouts of the year. Don't try to convince me Anderson Silva or Lyoto Machida even knew what a front kick was before Seagal taught it to them. I pity Jon Jones for turning down an opportunity to train with such a master.
-I'm thankful for Nick Diaz's return to the UFC. We'd watched him toil away in Strikeforce versus relatively mediocre competition for long enough. In one (classic) fight with B.J. Penn, Diaz announced himself as officially one of the best welterweights in the world, and a legitimate challenger to Georges St. Pierre's throne. The best in-fight trash talker in the game might actually have a chance if he can get in the champ's head. He's off to a good start.
-I'm thankful for the broadcast team of Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan. They've been together so long and have been the voices of so many prominent memories for me. Whether it was Goldie schilling products or future programming over pertinent action inside the cage, or just his inane questions or comments that were messes Rogan was constantly forced to clean up, they'll always have a special place in my heart. Which leads me to...
-I'm thankful for the impending arrival of Jon Anik as the UFC's play-by-play voice on all non-pay per view shows. I love Joe Rogan's knowledge and enthusiasm, but he gets stretched thin in his duties by having to fill the roles of both pbp and color commentator. Mike Goldberg loves to talk about anything but the action going on inside the cage, which, you know, is the primary job of a play-by-play man. Anik will bring some professionalism into the booth and take a lot of pressure off of Rogan. I can't believe I'm actually day-dreaming about the possibilities of a new announce team.
-I'm thankful for Scott Coker and Mark Pavelich. The two delusional figureheads of rival promotions to the UFC (ok so MFC isn't a rival of the UFC. Damnit! Pavelich is brainwashing me!) provided easy jokes all year long, even after his promotion was swallowed up by the UFC in the case of Coker. These two were the comic relief of MMA this year.
-I'm thankful for the UFC in general. As we suffered through a work-stoppage in football and continue to do so in basketball (I'd be shocked if we see a single NBA game this year), there was one constant in sports: the UFC. They've given us 15 numbered events thus far (with two more before the year is out), several fight nights, and of course The Ultimate Fighter. They've been plagued by a horrendous number of injuries, especially in high-profile fights, but more often than not they filled in with a fight or fighter just as good, if not better. No other professional sports league displays the commitment to their fans that the UFC does. No, they're not perfect, and the pay-per-view model is too taxing and is clearly starting to wear on the wallets of fans, but they try damn hard to give their fans what they want, and a lot of it.
-I'm thankful for the staff and loyal readers of MMATorch. It's been a trying year for me personally (a little peek into my personal life: I became officially divorced on October 24, just a few months shy of what would've been my fifth anniversary), and I've kind of come and gone from the site at certain stretches this year. A special thanks to the staff (particularly Rich Hansen and our fearless leader Jamie Penick, along with the big boss Mr. Wade Keller) for being supportive and understanding, and, as I said, to the readers, especially the longtime ones who've been around for years. You guys are why we do what we do, and you've been just as integral a part of building this site over the years as the people doing the writing and reporting.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving. Now go kiss your family, tell them you love them, and then get fat and pass out watching football. It's the American thing to do.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
STAFF COLUMNISTS: Shawn Ennis - Jason Amadi
Frank Hyden - Rich Hansen
Chris Park - Matt Pelkey
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