Conclusions are supposed to provide answers. So why does the close of business for MMA in 2012 feel less like a payoff and more like groundwork for things (good and bad) to come?
UFC made plenty of noise and news over the last week in Seattle, where the fourth Fox card of the year pulled in a reported 3.4 million viewers. We'll focus on the immediate aftermath for several fighters on the card in a moment, but let's pose some questions first.
Q: How much longer can Dana White throw fighters under the bus?
A: When announcing that Ronda Rousey would defend her UFC bantamweight title for the first time against Liz Carmouche in February, White led people to believe that Sara McMann, Meisha Tate and Cristiane Santos all declined to fight Rousey.
McMann and Tate outright denied that they were offered the fight. Cyborg, meanwhile, is managed by Tito Ortiz, whom White claimed advised her against saying "yes" to fighting Rousey. Ortiz later denied that she was offered the chance, and explained that he told her fighting at 135 pounds would be a mistake.
White also said on Saturday that Dan Henderson's knee isn't healing as well as it should, and his fight with Lyoto Machida is in jeopardy. Yet Henderson took to Twitter and said his knee was "doing great" and that he was slowly gearing up for training camp.
This is an unbecoming habit.
Q: Is Alexander Gustafsson the best fighter to emerge out of Europe in a decade?
A: Such was the tagline hung around the Swede's neck by UFC and Fox. Never mind that Fedor Emelianenko is Russian, and thus European. How about guys who just fought in the UFC? Does he deserve such distinction over Alistair Overeem, Michael Bisping or Stefan Struve?
No question that Gustafsson is a dangerous rising contender with unique physical attributes. He's young and improving. His attitude is perfect. Does that render down to the best European fighter in a decade ... or is that a leap?
Q: What's the value of being "UFC No. 1 contender"?
A: This was something I wondered after the UFC announced Nick Diaz would jump ahead of Johny Hendricks to fight Georges St-Pierre. It was something I wondered when Chael Sonnen got shoehorned into a title shot against Jon Jones -- it should have gone to Dan Henderson. Something I wondered when White announced the winner between Gustafsson and Mauricio Rua would get a crack at the light heavyweight belt next.
There have been more than a few fighters over the years promised title shots in the UFC, only for it to never happen. This isn't new, just magnified in the wake of dubious matchups made, somewhat cynically, with ratings and pay-per-view dollars at the forefront. Promoters can get away with this sort of stuff for a spell, but it won't take long before the well dries up. This is bad precedent for the UFC.
A: You probably know the answer. But I'd guess the majority of people watching on TV didn't know anything about it, and they still don't because his arrest wasn't mentioned during Saturday's broadcast. A true disservice to viewers. Of course, Stephens' night fell short when Edwards put him away in the opening round.
Q: How does one go about making a superfight?
A: Following the initial shock of seeing boxing great Manny Pacquiao fall face-first to the canvas against Juan Manuel Marquez, schadenfreude kicked in regarding the hundreds of millions of dollars that won't be made (in other words, lost) for a Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight. Even UFC chairman Lorenzo Fertitta chimed in on Twitter.
"Gotta strike when the iron is hot boxing! Lost manny/Floyd 4ever. #gspvssilva #silvavsbones #superfights!"
Time to get 'em done then, Zuffa. Anderson Silva-GSP has been promised for the past three years. If UFC can't get the fight made, that's bad mojo. Maybe karma, even.