Mixed Martial Arts

My Favorite MMA Stories of 2015

I wrote a lot of stories in 2015. As of today, New Year’s Eve, I’ve published 153 stories for Bleacher Report this year.

It was a cool year for me, professionally speaking, because I was able to spread my wings a little more and delve into some long form stories. I went to Ireland in search of the real Conor McGregor. I spent five months reporting for a story on injuries and what the UFC is doing to prevent them in the future.

In short, I was able to do a lot of really cool things, and it was an encouraging year. I also wrote a few non-MMA things, but I’ll save those for another post.

Here is a collection of my favorite MMA stories from 2015.

Absolute Honesty Is Imperative from the UFC in Jon Jones Cocaine Fiasco (Jan. 7): The year started off with a bang after news broke that light heavyweight champion Jones tested positive for cocaine.

UFC and Reebok: A Detailed Look at the UFC’s New Athlete Outfitting Policy (Jan. 14): I obtained a copy of a document sent to fighters and managers that provided the first detailed information on the new Reebok clothing deal.

Conor McGregor, Next UFC 145lb Contender, Might Be UFC’s Biggest Star (Jan. 19): In hindsight, it feels easy to see McGregor’s rise to the top. But I had a hunch after the Dennis Siver fight in January that the UFC had something special on their hands. I was right.

UFC Must Take Drastic Stand on PEDs in Mixed Martial Arts (Feb. 5): After the test failures of Nick Diaz and Anderson Silva, I wrote that it was past time for the UFC to step up and take a leadership role in confronting PED’s in the sport. Thankfully, they did exactly that.

Josh Koscheck Earns Respect with Decade of UFC Competition (March 22): Koscheck, often a mercurial figure, deserves far more respect than he typically gets from MMA fans.

After Younger Brother’s Abduction and Murder, L.C. Davis Keeps Grinding (March 25): There are moments in this sport that aren’t always easy to write about. This was one of them.

UFC’s Decision to Strip Jones of Title Could Be the Biggest Moment of His Life (Apr. 29): I wrote that the UFC placing Jones on the sideline after his hit and run incident might be the best thing for his life and career. So far, it looks like I was right.

Even with Loss to Stipe Miocic, the Legendary Heart of Mark Hunt Grows (May 10): Hunt, a man who the UFC did not even want after the purchase of PRIDE, has repeatedly shown massive courage throughout his career. This was just another instance.

There Is Only One Ronda Rousey (May 12): Rousey, the biggest cultural star MMA has ever seen, is constantly compared to other athletes. I wrote that it’s time to measure her on her own merits.

Chris Weidman Won’t Back Down (May 22): He dethroned the greatest fighter of all time, but Weidman still has trouble earning respect from the fans. I spent nearly a week with him leading into his summer title defense against Vitor Belfort.

Outrageous Conor McGregor: His Irish Roots and an Improbable American Dream (July 8): I’m extremely proud of this one. I went to Ireland and spent time with McGregor’s family. I talked to dozens of Dubliners of all ages. And I shadowed McGregor as he prepared for UFC 189. I learned about McGregor’s devotion to The Secret and the Law of Attraction, and I discovered that he’s not exactly the national hero he’s made out to be. This was a fun one.

TJ Dillashaw, the Dominant UFC Bantamweight of the Future (July 25): I’ve been high on Dillashaw for years. This year saw him defend his championship and then leave his longtime home of Team Alpha Male. A fight with mentor Urijah Faber likely beckons in 2016.

The Trouble with Rousimar Palhares (Aug. 2): Palhares, the dirtiest fighter in the sport, was eventually banned for two years by Nevada. I wrote about it before that happened.

Justin Wren: The Big Pygmy Returns (Aug. 26): This one came out of nowhere, but it was such a pleasure to write. Wren is one of the best people in this sport. And the coolest part was getting feedback from former star of “The Office” Rainn Wilson.

Nick Newell – A Man in Full (Oct. 16): I was able to dig into the life of Newell, who was born with one arm. He retired shortly after this story was published.

The Cost: MMA’s Injury Epidemic and How the UFC Is Seeking to Fix It (Dec. 1): As mentioned earlier, I spent five months reporting on this story. It was a fascinating subject to dig into, and I did more interviews and research for this one than any story I’ve ever written.

The Legend of “Irish” Joe Duffy, the Last Man to Beat Conor McGregor (Dec. 31): I wrote this profile on Joe Duffy, who is about as different from McGregor as one can be.

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