For The UFC, 2015 Was Total Chaos

For The UFC, 2015 Was Total Chaos

In 2015, seven UFC championship belts changed hands. Jon Jones plead guilty to a felony and fell from grace. Ronda Rousey got knocked into oblivion by Holly Holm. Deadspin reported that Vitor Belfort was allowed to compete despite suspicious testosterone levels. Reebok ruined everything. And yet, it’s been a damn good year of fights.

Where 2014 went down in UFC history as a year spoiled by injuries, fight cancellations, drugs, and a black hole implosion of star power, 2015 will likely be remembered for rampant chaos at the championship level, questionable-arse decisions on the UFC’s part, and — somehow, despite all that — some incredible goddamn fights. Also drugs. I mean, seriously, here’s a very incomplete list of the bonkers shit that happened in the UFC in 2015:

  • Then-light-heavyweight-champion Jon Jones got busted for cocaine and beat his maybe-it-was, maybe-it-wasn’t addiction in 24 hours.
  • Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz — a past-his-prime legend and a legendary shit-stirrer, respectively — actually fought. It wasn’t the best fight ever, but it was weird as all get-out.
  • Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz both tested positive for drugs. Silva’s legacy may never recover. Diaz’s legacy will stay the same because he tested positive for weed, and he always does that.


  • Brock Lesnar said “nah bruh, fuck that noise” to the prospect of a much-anticipated UFC return and then probably bit the head off a moose or something.
  • Tiny Polish murder machine Joanna “Champion” Jedrzejczyk destroyed then-strawweight champ Carla Esparza after handing her a cookie at the weigh-ins. Despite two solid title defences since and a great personality, she’s not a star yet. This is a tremendous shame.
  • Jon Jones got into a car wreck with a pregnant woman. He fled the scene. He later turned himself into the police. He was stripped of his belt and suspended from UFC competition.
  • Well-rounded but stoic Brazilian Rafael dos Anjos positively slew then-lightweight champion and owner of one of the most legendary kicks in MMA history, Anthony Pettis. The UFC pretty much based their entire first quarter ad campaign around Pettis, so I doubt they were pleased.
  • The UFC struck a company-wide sponsorship deal with Reebok that forced fighters to (among other things) wear only Reebok-branded apparel in the octagon, replacing lucrative third-party sponsorship deals — a staple of the MMA world — with paltry Reebok payouts.


  • Beloved longtime cutman Jacob “Stitch” Duran was let go due to not-entirely-positive (but not particularly inflammatory) comments about the Reebok deal. It began to feel like the UFC sold its soul.
  • The UFC continued to officially regard all fighters as contractors — denying them benefits afforded to full-time employees — despite requiring more of them than ever before. Shit’s fucked up.
  • Some fighters threatened to leave the UFC and fight for competitors like Bellator. Only a few — for instance, light-heavyweight contender Phil Davis — actually did it.
  • In the first half of the year, the UFC put on way too many watered-down events.
  • Cain Velasquez — the man the UFC pinned their Mexican expansion hopes on despite his shitty Spanish and lack of, you know, a personality — lost the heavyweight title to Fabricio Werdum, a resurgent 38-year-old Brazilian… who probably speaks much better Spanish than Velasquez. Velasquez, usually a terrifying cardio monster, looked flabby and listless.
  • UFC champions hung out with an accused Russian war criminal, like ya do.
  • A lot of fights got stopped too late, and fighters took some frightening beatings as a result. There were also egregious early stoppages and some mind-bogglingly abysmal judging decisions. And yet, not a whole lot about MMA officiating changed.



  • Kickboxing, Pride, and UFC legend Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic suddenly retired. He said he made the painful decision due to accumulated injuries. Then he got popped for drugs — which he claimed he was using to treat said injuries.
  • Ronda Rousey cemented her status as a ceaseless immortal badass (and mainstream media darling) by chopping down Bethe Correia like a slightly friskier than average tree in 34 seconds.


  • Holly Holm un-cemented that status by crafting a perfect gameplan and exploiting every weakness in Rousey’s game, ultimately KO-ing her with a perfectly placed head kick. UFC executives likely peed themselves in excitement for the big money rematch — then peed themselves again in fear of what would happen if Rousey lost said rematch.
  • Sage Northcutt — the UFC’s squeaky clean star-in-the-making with all the personality of a tube of un-flavored toothpaste — happened, I guess. Hardly anybody’s calling him Sage Haircutt, even though it’s the perfect derogatory nickname. Come on, everybody. Step up your game.
  • Paige VanZant — the UFC’s other squeaky clean star-in-the-making with all the personality of a tube of un-flavored toothpaste, got completely shut down by Rose Namajunas — a significantly more interesting young talent — and the one the UFC probably should have been hyping to high hell in the first place.


There’s some terrible, no-good, awful-arse stuff on that list. Clear signs of organizational corruption, drugs, crime, domestic violence, a dud of a Reebok deal, belts changing hands so quickly that stars don’t have time to rise, let alone fall — it’s chaos.

In 2015, however, the UFC thrived on chaos. Thanks to newborn stars (figuratively speaking; there are no babies in the UFC aside from Sage Northcutt) like Rousey and McGregor, the UFC weathered an early year storm to emerge seemingly much stronger than before. Despite a stunning lack of dominant champions, more mainstream eyes than ever are paying attention, and McGregor’s motor mouth — the pride of Irish engineering — has forced two divisions to take a whiplash-inducing turn for the interesting. On top of that, many of the other new champs are intriguing individuals with action-heavy fighting styles.

To be frank, though, it feels like the UFC succeeded (mostly) despite its own decisions and actions, not because of them. Gambling on McGregor was, in hindsight, the smartest thing they could’ve done, but Reebok, the way they treat fighters, most of their attempts at manufacturing stars, their inconsistent drug policies, and their generally more corrupt elements seem poised to come back and bite them. In many ways, the UFC lucked out in 2015. The organisation is now trending upward, but they have positioned themselves on a precarious perch. One wrong move — and they’re already making a lot of questionable ones — and they could fall. 2015 was an improbably great year for the world’s biggest MMA organisation, the follow-up they needed after a floundering 2014. 2016, on the other hand, could be fantastic, but it could also be an unmitigated disaster. Either way, I suppose it probably won’t be boring.

Image credit: Getty.


  • Why did you go out of your way to click the link and ask a stupid question? Mma articles have been on here heaps lately and they’re interesting and well researched/written so why not? Though if you don’t like that answer how about because it’s associated with a video game and with another one around the corner this is the perfect time to post an article about it!!

    • Hey guy, UFC is not associated with computer gaming culture. Just because you have a video game in your suite of products that you sell to dumb c*nts who like watching watered down martial arts fights.

  • “…go out of your way to click the link and ask a stupid question?”
    You’re stupid.
    “…Mma articles have been on here heaps lately”
    Great, this is a video game website, not an MMA website, chinesefood is right, it doesn’t belong here.
    “…and they’re interesting”
    That’s an opinion.
    “…it’s associated with a video game”
    So is Barbie, and pretty much everything else you can possibly think of.

    Ironic that your first question could literally be directed at you, no?

  • While I agree the UFC has made some super sketchy decisions this year (the Reebok deal pay structure), a few of the things are out of their control.
    The inconsistant judging & referees; These people are employed by the various state/national athletic comissions, which means the UFC are largely at their mercy. Dana White has been known to either pay loosing fighters backroom bonuses if they got “robbed” by judges or say that he won’t consider a particular fight a loss on their record.

    This also also explains the Anderson Silva/ Nick Diaz situation.
    When Nick Diaz fought Anderson Silva he was drug tested three times on the night, twice by a World Anti Doping Agency approved lab (tests 1 & 3) and once by a non WADA lab. The first and third tests showed marijuana metabolite levels less than half of the allowed level, the second test showed a level more than 5 times the allowed level. The Nevada State Athletic Comission chose to accept a local non WADA lab test (where the sample had the athletes name on it) over 2 WADA tests despite it not being possible to test so high and then come in under the allowed level within 2 hours. Diaz got banned for 5 years because he challenged the NSAC’s decision making, not the UFC’s. Anderson got a slap on the wrist becuase he was a first offender, despite a disorganised and laughably confused defense.

    I agree the Stitch situation sucks, the UFC needs to accept that when they make a major decision, whatever it may be, some people are going to bitch about it for a bit. Honestly they need to ignore the initial bitching and realise most will get over it and the mma media will find another story.

    The Sage Norcutt/ Page Van Sant situation is sadly predictable, they have two “stars” who are cookie cutter caucasian idealised versions of an athlete and they desparately want to use them to appeal to middle america in the hopes they will tune in to watch. Ignoring that, a reasonable portion of the people living in the US are Black and/or Hispanic or people who do not necessarily want to look up to Karate versions of Barbie & Ken, with personalities to match.
    People tune into watch blonde haired/ blue eyed Ronda Rousey because she has definite personality, even if you’re tuning into watch her lose. That fact she is pretty is a bonus.

    Conor & Ronda are bankable for three main reasons; they have actual personality, they work hard to actively promote fights and then when they step in the octogen the fight finishes in a definitive exciting way.

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