MMA 2011, A Year in Review

I realize that I do these year in review things quite often, but you know what, I don’t care. And neither should you. Anyway, I actually think I watched more MMA events in 2011 than I saw movies. Hell, in terms of UFC events only, I watched more fights than saw movies. That’s ridiculous, yet incredibly awesome. I’m not reviewing each event I watched this year, because that would take for fucking ever, and I honestly can’t remember every single fight. I’ll just be listing my Fight of the Year, KO of the Year, Submission of the year, stuff like that.

Here’s the list of events that I watched. I divided them up into 3 categories; UFC, Strikeforce and other. Other will include things like BAMMA, Bellator, Tachi Palace Fights, things like that.

UFC 125: Resolution
UFC: Fight For The Troops 2
UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort
UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones
UFC Fight Night: Noguiera vs. Davis
UFC 129: St-Pierre vs. Shields
UFC 130: Rampage vs. Hamill
The Ultimate Fighter: Team Lesnar vs. Team Dos Santos Finale
UFC Live: Kongo vs. Barry
UFC 132: Cruz vs. Faber
UFC 133: Evans vs. Ortiz
UFC Live: Hardy vs. Lytle
UFC Fight Night: Shields vs. Ellenberger
UFC 135: Jones vs. Rampage
UFC Live: Cruz vs. Johnson
UFC 136: Edgar vs. Maynard 3
UFC 137: Penn vs. Diaz
UFC 138: Leben vs. Munoz
UFC on Fox: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos
UFC 139: Shogun vs. Henderson
The Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale
UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida
UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem

Strikeforce Challengers: Woodley vs. Saffiedine
Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley
Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson
Strikeforce Challengers: Gurgel vs. Duarte
Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Masvidal

Bellator LIV
Bellator LV
Bellator LIX
BAMMA 7: Trigg vs. Wallhead
Tachi Palace Fights
Tachi Palace Fights 9
Tachi Palace Fights 10
ProElite 2: Big Guns

35 total events that I watched this year. That’s a fucking shitload. I’m not including events that I watched after they had already happened. These are events that I saw live as they were happening. Real time shit right there. And what a fucking great year it was. Some of the best fights I’ve personally ever seen happened this year, and as fate would have it, I have a new favorite and second favorite fight ever, both of them happened within a week of each other as well!

Fight of the Year
1. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Dan Henderson, UFC 139. November 19th, 2011.
WOW. It’s been 2 months since this fight and I’m still in shock at how incredible it was. From the moment the very first round started, I knew that I was watching something historic. That thought was only solidified as the fight went on, and by the end of the fight, I knew in my heart that this was the greatest fight of all time. Certainly earned it’s place as my new favorite fight ever, that’s for sure.

2. Clay Guida vs. Benson Henderson, UFC on Fox: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos. November 12, 2011.
If Shogun and Hendo hadn’t gone out and blew my fucking mind with their fight a week after this, I would’ve had this firmly in place as the Fight of the Year. Even after seeing that fight, I still hold this one in a very high regard. It was frantic, it was balls to the wall, nonstop action. These two guys went absolutely batshit crazy, and it’s really unfortunate that they didn’t get their time in the spotlight on the televised broadcast. I fully understand why they weren’t shown, but I still think they should have. As His Dudeness himself once said, “The Dude abides.”

3. Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard, UFC 125. January 1, 2011.
Leave it to the little guys to go out and start the new year off with a huge bang. I’ll admit, when this fight was announced, I groaned at the thought. To be honest, I almost didn’t even go and watch this entire event because I thought this fight would turn out to be boring. I thought Maynard was going to go in there and grapple fuck his way to a win, and it was going to absolutely suck. I will sit here, in my dorm at 12:32 AM on January 23rd, 2012, and admit that I was dead wrong. Absolutely dead wrong. This fight was incredible, and made me a fan of both Edgar and Maynard, and from now on, I’ll eagerly anticipate their next fights.

4. B.J. Penn vs. Nick Diaz, UFC 137. October 29, 2011.
What a disappointing card UFC 137 was. It had all the makings of the card of the year, even after all the injuries and replacements happened. I have a feeling that this card wasn’t actually all that bad, it just happened to be a victim of too much hype. That being said, the main event saved this card from being a total letdown. Diaz proved wrong everyone who said that he didn’t belong in the UFC, that he couldn’t beat anyone in the top 10, that he only fought cans in Strikeforce. He beat Penn worse than anyone ever has. He deserves to be in the UFC for sure, and he truly is one of the best 170 pounders in the world today.

5.  Wanderlei Silva vs. Cung Le, UFC 139. November 19, 2011.
Due to the fact that Wandy is my favorite fighter ever, I may be biased in putting this fight here. Then again, take into account the fact that I had reservations on this fight. I wanted to watch it, but I had a gut feeling that I would just have my heart-broken again, because let’s face it; Wandy’s chin isn’t like it used to be. He was facing one of the more skilled strikers in MMA today, and the outlook was grim, even to a die-hard fan. That doubt reached a fever pitch when he got dropped by the spinning back fist. Then the knees came, followed by the barrage of attacks. Cung Le crumpled, and we finally got to see the Wandy from Pride in the UFC. It was beautiful. I don’t have a favorite moment category, but if I did, this would for sure win it.

I’m not going to go into detail about why I selected the KO’s or Submissions. I figure, if you really want to see why they’re here, you should take the liberty and look them up for yourself, you certainly won’t be disappointed.

Knockout of the Year
1.  Anderson Silva over Vitor Belfort, UFC 126. February 5, 2011.
2. Dan Henderson over Fedor Emelianenko, Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson. July 30, 2011.
3. Cheick Kongo over Pat Barry, UFC Live: Kongo vs. Barry. June 26, 2011.
4. Junior Dos Santos over Cain Velasquez, UFC on Fox: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos. November 12, 2011.
5. Johny Hendricks over Jon Fitch, UFC 141. December 30, 2011.

Submission of the Year
1. Frank Mir over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, UFC 140. December 10, 2011.
2. Tito Ortiz over Ryan Bader, UFC 132. July 2, 2011.
3. Joe Lauzon over Melvin Guillard, UFC 136. October 8, 2011.
4. Chris Lytle over Dan Hardy, UFC Live: Hardy vs. Lytle. August 14, 2011.
5. TJ Waldburger over Mike Stumpf, UFC Fight Night: Shields vs. Ellenberger. September 17, 2011.

Event of the Year
1. UFC 139
Top to bottom, this card was absolutely outstanding. There isn’t enough praise that I can throw on this card that will do it justice. Buy the DVD, watch the replays, do whatever you can to see this card. You will not regret it at all.

2. UFC 141
I may be in the minority here, but this card was great fun the entire night. I might be a little biased because my least favorite fighter got KTFO in 12 seconds (Thank you very much Johny Hendricks), but still, a damn good event.

3. UFC 126
How can this not be in my top 5? Anderson Silva front kicking the living shit out of Vitor Belfort, Jon Jones beginning his perfect year. It was a surefire good card on paper, and it exceeded those lofty expectations still.

4. UFC on Fox 1
It was the night all UFC fans had been waiting for, the debut of UFC on a major network station. And boy did it not disappoint. It was a great card all around, highlighted easily by Guida vs. Henderson and Dos Santos winning the belt.

5. UFC 125
The fact that this card made it in my top 5 proves one thing and one thing only; one fight is enough to make a card on of the best of the year. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the other fights were great as well!

Fighter of the Year
1. Jon Jones
No contest. Dominated previously undefeated Ryan Bader, absolutely demolished Shogun to win the belt, dominated and submitted two former champions in Rampage and Machida, all in one calender year. How anyone can disagree with me is simply preposterous. Dare I say that Jones had perhaps the best year of any fighter in MMA ever.

2. Dan Henderson
Let’s see what he’s done; KO’d Feijao to win the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Championship, KO’d Fedor in the first round, came back to the UFC, put on and won the greatest fight of all time with Shogun. Yeah, aside from Bones, Hendo had a pretty fucking good 2011.

3. Junior Dos Santos
While I didn’t see the Carwin fight as it happened, I did see the aftermath of it IE Carwin’s face after Dos Santos fucked his shit up. Then, he went on to win the Heavyweight Championship, arguably the most prestigious belt in combat sports, in front of a record-breaking audience, in the main event of the first network card the UFC had ever done. All in all, I think he’s had a pretty good year indeed.

4. Benson Henderson
Despite getting off to a lackluster start of the year at UFC 129 against Mark Bocek, Henderson kicked all the shit into overdrive when he absolutely throttled Jim Miller, then went on to put on a Fight of the Decade worthy contender with Clay Guida, which he also won, lining himself up to fight for the belt in April. For a guy who went from losing a shot at the UFC belt to Anthony Pettis at the end of 2010, to being perhaps the favorite to hold the belt throughout 2012, that’s pretty damn impressive if I do say so myself.

5. Donald Cerrone
I know, everyone else on this list went undefeated in 2011, and Cowboy lost his last fight of the year to Nate Diaz. But you all need to remember that before that fight, he went 4-0 against worthy opposition, and 3 of those 4 fights were taken on short notice. He submitted Paul Kelly on short notice, then decisioned Vagner Rocha, then blasted Charles Oliveira on short notice, then fucked Dennis Siver’s shit up on short notice. Oh, and did I mention he won fight night bonuses in 4 of those 5 fights? 2 Fight of the Night awards for the Kelly and Diaz fights, 1 Submission of the Night award against Siver, and a Knockout of the Night award against Oliveira. With a 2011 record like that, 4-1 for the year doesn’t sound too bad after all.

There you have it. I think it goes to show how much more interested I was in writing this post than I was writing my review of film. It’s only taken me about 2 hours to do this entire thing, whereas it took me almost a month to finish my film blog.

Stay Hairy my friends.

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