That's unreal isn't it?
The crazy thing is that it's not even the most I've ever done in a year but it's undoubtedly the biggest. I did 34 shows in 2011 but I was writing a lot more. It's not that I don't write as much now but it's different.
I realised quite quickly that, when I started judging a lot more fights, there'd be a clear conflict of interest if I wrote in the way I loved writing. It's not to say I still don't have opinions but there's a time and a place for voicing them and a certain fashion.
Fighters Only is a perfect avenue for me to write about video gaming and other such things because of the angles I can take.
The 29th show this year was Cage Warriors 51 in Dublin on New Year's Eve. The last Dublin show was pretty nuts for several different reasons.
Fights were insane, venue was awesome but the crowd were some of the most passionate mma fans that I've seen for a very long time. Conor McGregor's sprint into the audience after he subbed Dave Hill was anarchy and I got another sense of that collective adrenaline from the moment the first bell rang for this show.
It was awesome to be back at the Helix and, after a day that involved watching War Games whilst falling asleep and eating Toblerone, I was ready to judge some fights.
- No Thin Lizzy? Really? I thought that was a law? I thought that, if you put on an mma show in Ireland, they did a draw backstage if nobody was planning to walk out to Thin Lizzy.
- There were lots of people talking about fighter of the year in 2012 for Cage Warriors but has there been a more consistent CWFC performer than Paul Redmond? TKO'd a tough as nails Yuri Malko, subbed Lewis Long then got a sub on NYE with a rolling toehold against an unbeaten prospect. It doesn't get much better than that. A very impressive trio of victories.
- Jesse Taylor at middleweight is a real handful. It's only ELITE 185ers who are getting past him. Khalidov, Lombard, Rockhold, Leites are all top drawer at that weight class. If you can't stop that grinding wrestling style then it's a very long night for anyone stepping in there with JT Money.
- You can't beat a bit of screaming Scandi metalcore to truly confuse an Irish crowd.
- One thing that divides the great from the good is the ability to get a win despite not performing to full ability on the night. Props to James Brum for that win against a tough opponent.
- Another flawless night from the three men in charge inside the cage. Take a bow Messrs Mitchell, Hall and Goddard. Consistently high level refereeing has been a hallmark of the show this year.
- Curry and Chips at Cage Warriors finally happened. After 10 months of negotiation I was preparing my scorecards and this happened. It was well worth the wait, believe me.
There was only one way that I could finish this epistle and that was to talk about the performance of Conor McGregor.
I worked out the other day that I judged 170 fights (which included 11 as a shadow judge in Nottingham) in 2012.
It's unbelievably fitting that the final fight that I judged in 2012 featured the greatest performance of the entire year and maybe the best performance I've ever seen live. Here's the video. If you haven't seen it then you're in the minority because it's done huge numbers on most of the big sites.
McGregor spoke about his training at Mjolnir in Iceland as giving him a different approach to the mental aspect of the sport and that has the potential to turn the young Irishman from a first class prospect into a world beater. There's nothing at the moment stopping me from thinking that Conor couldn't turn into a massive global star.
The trademark snarling aggression hadn't been diluted but rather focused into a much more efficient form of destruction. Big show potential? It now seems about when rather than if.
Why The Lost Vikings by the way? Isn't it obvious?