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Don't fight it: 2012 is MMA's year

January 04, 2012|By Ted Gruber | For RedEye

I'm sure you've noticed 2012 resolution makers hitting the gym, trying to achieve their goals for the new year. The sport of mixed marital arts is no different, as fighters look to find a way to grasp that title shot. In what should be a busy year for the burgeoning sport, here are a few highlights to circle on your shiny new 2012 calendar.

  UFC returns to Chicago

After a three-plus-year absence, the UFC returns to Chicago on Jan. 28 at the United Center—the event also happens to be a Fox broadcast. The two signed a seven-year deal in August. In the co-main event, Chael Sonnen takes on Mark Munoz; in the main event it's Rashad Evans facing Phil Davis. The matchups should make for an exciting night on Madison Street.

Strikeforce makes its move?

It wasn't looking good for Strikeforce during its parent company's contract negotiations with Showtime, but that changed in December. Showtime renewed its dedication to MMA and locked up Strikeforce through 2014. It was an early Christmas gift for MMA fans and Strikeforce, which doesn't get near the publicity of the UFC. The Showtime deal should help Strikeforce bring in some new talent and probably some new fans as well—not to mention ratings.

The return of Anderson Silva

Since his dominant performance against Yushin Okami at UFC 134 in August, the "Spider" has been recovering from a shoulder injury. The hope is Silva, the middleweight champ, will be ready in March or April to take on the winner of the Sonnen-Munoz bout in Chicago. And just imagine if Sonnen does win, what better place to have the fight than in Brazil? With all the smack talk Sonnen has done about the country and Silva's overall popularity, a Silva-Sonnen pay-per-view would break records.

UFC president Dana White knows how big it would be.

"If we can get Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva, that will probably be held in Brazil in a stadium," he said on Fuel TV on Tuesday. "Everyone in the world will want to watch that."

Ted Gruber is a RedEye special contributor.

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