Competitors became companions, the youngest UFC champion in history was created while Strikeforce got one of their oldest and a California Kid made his presence felt in the Octagon. Let’s look back at March 2011, one of the busiest and most important months in recent MMA history.
March 2011 – The Most Important Business Month Ever?
Most MMA fans will remember where they were when they got the news that Zuffa had purchased Strikeforce, putting the UFC’s top competitor under their control. News broke unusually on a random Saturday afternoon, done via a video with MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani.
We all had more questions than answers. Would the UFC and Strikeforce immediately merge? What about the champions? Why did they buy them? Was this good for the industry? As the year would play out, we got our answers but still have a lot of questions as we cross into 2012.
But in many circles, that wasn’t even the biggest story of the year. That would come later on in the year.
Just a short time after the UFC/Strikeforce news, the UFC saw one of its power players complete his journey as Jon Jones became the youngest champion in UFC history with a dominant TKO victory over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 128. Weeks after he had earned the shot due to a win over Ryan Bader and an injury to top contender Rashad Evans, Jones found himself with a shiny belt and an aura of invincibility.
Following the win, Dana White decreed that Jones would face Evans next and after hearing his friend say he would fight him, Evans was more than willing to step in against him. The Jones/Evans feud would play out throughout the year with everyone associated getting involved, including coaches. It turned out to be a sad situation and because of injuries, fans are still waiting for this rivalry to play out in the Octagon.
After his crowd-pleasing KO win over Michael Bisping at UFC 100, Dan Henderson famously left the organization for Strikeforce. The move eventually paid off as he knocked out Rafael Cavalcante, giving him the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight title and a renewed vigor as a champion in the sport. But without any real divisional depth, Kid Nate wanted Hendo to fight Fedor Emelianenko…and he’d eventually get it.
Other Stuff That Happened
At UFC 128, Urijah Faber made his UFC debut count over Eddie Wineland and earned a shot at Bantamweight Champion and rival Dominick Cruz in the process…Phil Davis remained undefeated and Anthony Johnson ensured that Dan Hardy’s struggles continued…Chan Sung Jung submitted Leonard Garcia with an awesome looking twister, which Eddie Bravo broke down.
Japan was hit by a massive earthquake, which affected the ailing Japanese scene and martial arts community as a whole…Thiago Silva admitted he cheated on his pre-UFC 125 drug test…Matt Lindland suffered some reefer madness…Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley was booked for Strikeforce’s April show, even with Daley’s tenuous standing with Dana White…Diego Sanchez got beat up by Martin Kampmann but still squeezed out a decision…it was announced the 14th season of TUF would feature 135 and 145’ers for the first time…Cristiane Santos was rumored to be in conversations with WWE.
March’s full archive of stories
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