Expectations early next year will be as high as they've ever been for Bellator when the promotion starts its 10th season in the mixed martial arts business.
The Viacom-owned production deserves to have that sort of weight on its shoulders as it exits a successful 2013, especially off a season that featured notable winners across six weight classes, as well as a big shift in the look of its title picture.
Say what you will about Cheick Kongo's viability, he's a name. People know him. And he fought with some life throughout the single-elimination event. He'll challenge for the belt next against new titleholder Vitaly Minakov, who at a minimum looks like a solid heavyweight. A win over Kongo will help validate Minakov (at least somewhat).
Will Brooks fully recovered from his only loss, making good on his talent at 155 pounds. He'll have to wait a bit for a title shot, as there's a logjam here with Michael Chandler and the injured Dave Jansen.
The season delivered a ratings boost for Bellator and Spike TV, which picked up momentum during a crazy November stretch that began with the pay-per-view that never was.