UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon “Bones” Jones had one of the most memorable years in mixed martial arts. And that could be said even prior to his title defense against former champion Lyoto Machida on Saturday, Dec. 10. Jones probably could of requested to take the rest of the year off, but instead risked his championship to face a dangerous striker. Machida's unorthodox striking confused and frustrated the still-young Jones for the first time in his career. Despite two of the judges giving the first round to Jones, Lyoto staggered the champion and forced Jones to face some serious adversity. The sold-out Toronto crowd was firmly in Machida's corner, but Bones scored the takedown in the second round and caused a deep gash on Lyoto's forehead. After doctors checked the cut, Bones dropped Machida with a big punch and finished the fight with a standing guillotine choke. The 18,000-plus who booed Jones then showed respect for the Jackson’s MMA fighter and seemed to acknowledge that Jones is one of the UFC's elite champions. Other than his first round struggle with Machida, Bones has almost looked unstoppable in his career. Frankly, Jones is a fighter the sport has never seen before, with abilities that could make him the crossover athlete the UFC has been looking for.
Other action featured a Heavyweight rematch between Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira. Their first encounter displayed Mir's improved boxing that knocked down Nogueira several times. Mir eventually finished the fight, completing the impossible by becoming the first fighter to do so against Nogueira. In the sequel, Nogueira hit the dazed Mir and went for the finish on the ground, but Mir countered and locked in a gruesome kimura. The prideful Nogueira waited until his arm was injured to tap and gave Mir the honor of becoming the first fighter to submit him. The victory gives Mir three wins in a row and makes him a relevant contender in the division. If any Heayweight main event gets hit with the injury bug, Mir could easily become a replacement and sneak into a title shot.
Eli Manning may have a Super Bowl ring, but fans and media continue to deny him the respect he truly deserves. Maybe after engineering the New York Giants’ comeback against the Dallas Cowboys, that could change. Dallas had a 34-22 lead in the 4th quarter after the Cowboys capitalized on an Manning interception. But Manning blocked out the previous mistakes and helped the Giants score 15 unanswered points to take the lead in the final seconds. The Cowboys had a chance to take the game into overtime, but Jason Pierre-Paul blocked a game-ending field goal, saving the Giants’ playoff hopes. If the Giants can end the season with a winning streak, they can be a legitimate threat come mid-January.