Mark La Monica is the deputy sports editor for cross media at Newsday and writes about mixed martial
We're three days into a new calendar year, so year-end countdown lists violate all sorts of protocol, even in the punch-or-be-punched world of mixed martial arts.
So rather than bore you with some fightin' words on the five best moments from 2009, let's count up with five questions that we need answers to in 2010.
When will New York legalize MMA?
The bill to sanction MMA in New York made it out of the Tourism, Arts and Sports Development Committee last summer but stalled before the State Senate could vote on it, thanks to all those party shenanigans by a few of our elected officials. But seeing how Madison Square Garden was included as a venue on the UFC Undisputed 2009 video game, UFC billboards routinely hang in Times Square and UFC president Dana White keeps saying "It's just a matter of time," the No. 1 media market in the world should be hosting a huge card in early 2011 at MSG.
The guess: The bill gets through the State Senate and is signed by Gov. David A. Paterson this summer.
When will Brock Lesnar fight again?
It looks as if we'll have this answer shortly. "Brock's going to the doctor this week, and we'll know how this thing is going to go . . . whether it's over," White said Friday. If the UFC heavyweight champion, who has been suffering from diverticulitis and other undisclosed illnesses, is done, the division will get far more intriguing. But White will need to find a new star who can match Lesnar's pay-per-view appeal.
The guess: Lesnar will fight again, but not in 2010.
Do we need lightweight divisions in both the UFC and WEC?
No, we don't. Both promotions are owned by parent company Zuffa. BJ Penn has no one left to fight in the UFC, and the WEC is more exciting at 145 pounds or less. UFC should absorb WEC's 155-pounders and give Penn more competition, such as Ben Henderson and Jamie Varner, who fight next Sunday to unify the WEC lightweight titles.
The guess: It happens in the summer.
Will someone stop Fedor Emelianenko?
Emelianenko (31-1) hasn't lost since 2000. Even if he's been fighting palookas in weaker promotions before joining Strikeforce last year, that is still an impressive streak.
The guess: Emelianenko will lose in late 2010 to Bobby Lashley.
Who is the next breakout star?
Injuries cost fans several main events at last night's UFC 108, leaving us with Paul Daley vs. Dustin Hazelett to help anchor the Rashad Evans-Thiago Silva bout. Paul who? Dustin what? Hazelett has been around the block a bit, and Daley has fought one round in the UFC. Neither are big pay-per-view draws, which highlights the fragility of MMA. Injuries will continue to decimate future fight cards, and UFC needs more bankable stars. Kimbo Slice will draw nice PPV buys for UFC, but his arsenal of skills may not match his dollar value over the long term.