The best thing about sports is how it sometimes feels like a crazy Hollywood script in a movie that no one would ever believe. Of course the underdog would beat the undefeated titan of the football world. Of course the struggling powerhouse would somehow manage to beat this year's remaining unbeaten team. Of course a massive trade comes down the pipes without warning sending superstars across country. That's the best part of sports.
It seems like every sport got together decided each would have crazy game or two no one would have predicted. Games like the 3-5 Cincinnati Bengals upsetting a now teetering New York Giants team, what started as a potential return to the Super Bowl now may be in danger of losing all their momentum and getting thrown out early. Then we move down south where the New Orleans Saints have been struggling all season. So seeing the undefeated Atlanta Falcons coming into town on the schedule you almost just write the game off as another loss for the Saints. And then the game actually happens and the Saints win. The Falcons always struggle against their in division rival and were so close this time. But they entered the city an undefeated team and leave with the knowledge that they left their typical rival ended their magical season.
Other surprises included an actual tie game. The San Francisco 49ers and the St. Louis Rams have some of the best defenses in the league and on Sunday night fought back and forth. The 49ers came back in the 4th quarter by scoring 17 points just to go into overtime. Then as the time ticked away and neither team had scored the Rams lined up for a last minute winning field goal. The ball was snapped, the kick was good, and the penalty backed the Rams up 5 yards and had to rekick, which they missed. Ending the game in the first tie since 2008.
Not to be outdone the NCAA wanted to shake things up a bit. #1Alabama has been rolling even beating a highly ranked LSU team at home, a notorious place to play let alone win. And then they go home and lose to Texas A&M, ending their shoe in for the championship and their undefeated season. It would take the three other teams losing to get them back into the position to have a chance again. Speaking of those other teams we have Kansas State sitting at first, Oregon sitting at second, and Notre Dame at third. Kansas State only has #15 Texas to worry about at home. Oregon has two ranked teams in Stanford and Oregon State left which should test them solidly and at the very least, if they win, they'll be in the big game. And then Notre Dame also has one test remaining in two weeks going against preseason overrated favorite #18 USC.
Wait a second, I thought this season had ended? But that doesn't mean trades can't happen. Ok yeah, trades are usually boring. Some ok baseball player goes to some bad team for "players to be named later". So exciting. But this one is exciting.
The Miami Marlins reinvented themselves during the last offseason. A taxpayer provided stadium, a new manager, new uniforms, new players, all of which provided a new energy and excitement. Then after just one season a deal to send stars like pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, shortstop Jose Reyes, catcher John Buck, and all around player Emilio Bonifacio to Toronto to play for the Blue Jays. In return they get some decent players but in reality they did it to free up salary space. Is it to go after bigger stars or more productive players? It doesn't really matter. Because it means the Marlins let the area spend millions of dollars on the team and now seemingly are abandoning their plan after just one year. Either way it's a crazy big deal and makes the Blue Jays the happiest team in the world.
Strikeforce will cease operations after their final card on January 12, 2013 at the Cheseapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. Since Zuffa, owners of the UFC, purchased Strikeforce on March 12, 2011 Dana White created yet another meme with his “business as usal” talk. In time business was kind of usual, a majority of Strikeforce headliners like Nick Diaz, Alistair Overeem, and Dan Henderson were soon brought over to the UFC. Through various circumstances that made them free of their previous contracts. For the remaining top talent the Strikeforce cage continues to be a gilded cage for fighters like Gilbert Melendez, Luke Rockhold, Nate Marquardt, Daniel Cormier, and Ronda Rousey. Prior the the buyout Strikeforce was paying extremely well with lax restrictions, something the UFC would not likely offer on a first contract. All the gold in the world doesn't stop fans from wanting the best fighters in Strikeforce to jump ship to the UFC’s octagon and fight the best their. That is one of the many selling taglines the Ultimate Fighting Championship uses to promote it’s legitimacy. The remaining “stars” have became like a band of survivors from the Walking Dead. Only The Walking Dead gets good ratings.
If Strikeforce is going to go out, they are going to do it as loud as possible with a triplet of title fights and what would have been Daniel Cormier’s final fight in Strikeforce anyway. When the press release came out it did bring up bad memories of the promotions second card on CBS, Strikeforce: Nashville. That card also featured three title fights as well as an unscheduled brawl. Gilbert Melendez vs. Pat Healy has been rescheduled for this card and remains to be one of the best fights Strikeforce could make. Luke Rockhold vs. Lorenz Larkin has also been pushed to this card after the original card was canceled as well. Nate Marquardt will make the first (and final) defense of his newly one welterweight title against Tarec Saffiedine, one of the few homegrown stars Strikeforce made. All of these fights are logical, well made fights, that fans would want to see. Then your eyes drift down to the opener for the broadcast Daniel Cormier vs. Dion Staring and you wonder, why? Daniel Cormier, 2 time Olympian, widely regarded as a top 5 heavyweight went from fighting Frank Mir, a good but clearly flawed fighter, to Dion Staring. It is understandable not giving Cormier a UFC fighter since he will be in the promotion after this fight. Seeing it though is a little deflating. Even with a less than optimal heavyweight bout. Womens bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and the rest of her division appear to be going over to the UFC in early 2013.
Cung Le picked up his biggest victory over the weekend. A round 1 knockout (Nate Quarry style) of former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin at Cotai Arena in Macao. Franklin through an unenthusiastic leg kick and had his hands at his waist giving Le the perfect opportunity to land a big right. The martial arts film star might not be a title challenger but can easily carve out a niche in the middle of the division with exciting fights. Thiago Silva and Dong Hyun Kim also picked up much needed victories.