Fighter Of The Year
Duan: Anderson Silva
If this guy retired now, he would go down as the greatest MMA fighter of all time and probably never be surpassed.
Alan: Anderson Silva
I can only begrudge the man for so long. He looked on another planet in his fights this year, and I also have to concede he was the best flag-bearer for UFC this year too.
Big D: Cain Velasquez
Left two of the biggest and most bad ass heavyweights in a pool of blood. This man owns the division now. I would’ve hated to see what he would’ve done to Fedor.
Heidi: “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey
She’s a media darling wih brutal force who’s strung together 9 dominant wins and made history as the first woman champion in the UFC. She’s graced the cover of the ESPN Body Issue, been on Conan O’Brien, and rode out to Sons of Anarchy premiere this calendar year. Ronda’s breaking boundaries that no one else can in MMA right now. In 2012 she went 2-0, earning the title over Miesha Tate and defending it against Sarah Kaufman.
Stevie J: Johny Hendericks
I may be pushing this one slightly since I’m including December 30th of 2011, but since he had three big wins in the span of a year and one was only 2 calendar days away from being in 2012 I think he deserves the nod. Having knocked out 2 of the top 3 welterweights in the world, Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann, both in UNDER A MINUTE, nobody’s star has risen faster or burned brighter than that of Mr. Hendricks. He had already cleaned out the lower ranks of the division, now he’s cleaning out the upper ranks too. Sporting an impressive 14-1 record with a five fight win streak it’s pretty clear he’ll be challenging GSP for the title before long. (Maybe even March if Nick Diaz flakes out yet again.)
JP: Anderson Silva
There were more prolific fighters in the year 2012, but Anderson used the year to cement his status as the best fighter alive. In a year where GSP was mostly on the shelf and Jon Jones’ reputation came crumbling down, Anderson shined. The Spider took his revenge on Chael Sonnen in hysterical fashion (worst spinning elbow attempt in combat history) and then stepped up to 205 to dominate Stephan Bonnar. At an age when full time athletic prowess is difficult to maintain, Anderson at 37 had his best year yet.
Cactus Jim: Bigg Rigg Johny Hendricks
I’m straying away from the obvious picks and calling Hendricks on this one. He’s on a great winning streak and established himself as a title contender in 2013.
GG: Anderson Silva
I looked at Ronda Rousey here. And had I not thought Ben Henderson lost his second fight to Frankie Edgar, I’d have taken him. But it has to be Silva. He won the biggest fight of the year in serious fashion and when the UFC needed a main event badly, he stepped in at heavyweight and put on another show. The man is just excellent. He’s the Willie Mays of MMA.
Show Of The Year
Duan: UFC 142
In a year where few PPV cards ever really came to life, this one certainly did. A hot crowd, spectacular performances, lots of finishes and a great feel good vibe to the show.
Alan: UFC 154
Big D: UFC 151
A fantastic night of fights capped off by a main event that nobody will ever forget. (Ed. Note – This is like the BBWA not putting people in the baseball hall of fame this year.)
Stevie J: UFC 146
People predicted gloom and doom for this PPV – an all heavyweight show would just result in a bunch of big, slow, methodical fights that would go the distance with each fighter tiring out from the sheer enormity of their bulk and falling over gassed out before the horn even sounds. Not only did that not happen, but even last minute changes to the line-up could not shake up this show. As an added bonus, Dan ‘The Outlaw’ Hardy won his first fight in a long time on the FX prelims via knockout, which really set the right tone for the show. Anybody who doubted what Cain Velasquez would do in UFC 155 +clearly+ didn’t see him dismantle Bigfoot Silva on this show, and Struve nearly took home Lavar Johnson’s arm as a trophy. Stipe Miocic emerged as a promising young gun of the division, Big Country got another big knockout, and Junior beat Frank Mir to set up the rematch we all wanted to see. Literally not a bad moment of action at any point of this show.
JP: UFC 146
The Heavyweights came through with a highly entertaining card that was meant to be heavy on finishes. Four knockouts and one submission, the longest match was just over eight minutes. The event itself was shallow in meaning but was immensely fun to watch.
Cactus Jim: UFC 146
Duan will probably never speak to me again for picking an event headlined by Frank Mir, but this card had some great fights, great finishes and set up the Velasquez versus Dos Santos title fight.
GG: UFC On Fox 5
It was the one card I looked most forward to since Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen and I think it delivered more than any card all year long.
Fight Of The Year
Duan: Joe Lauzon vs. Jim Miller at UFC 155
So often in MMA we see a fight fall into a pattern and just play out. Lauzon’s refusal to accept that pattern is what made this one great. Every second he was in there, he was taking chances and trying to find something that could turn the fight.
Alan: Tie – Carlos Condit vs. Georges St. Pierre at UFC 154 and Miesha Tate vs. Ronda Rousey at Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey
These were the two fights that sucked me in the most this year.
Big D: Carlos Condit vs. Georges St. Pierre at UFC 154
GSP had become boring and monotonous. He needed this. He needed to be challenged and Carlos took it to him and banged up his pretty face. Loved watching this
Heidi: Joe Lauzon vs. Jim Miller at UFC 155
It could be just because the blood soaked affair is still fresh in my mind. Or maybe it’s because I saw the all out brawl just four rows away from the Octagon enough to watch blood gush, hear the warrior cries and see two gladiators personify what it means to go into Beastmode. Nothing all year compared to the heart Lauzon put on display, managing to fight through a full three rounds with a laceration over his eye that continued leaking blood throughout the war. Miller made a comeback from a six month lay off following his loss to Nate Diaz at UFC on FOX 3. Both fighters are viewed as top athletes in the UFC’s 155-pound division and the three rounds of battle cemented that even further.
Stevie J: Chan-Sung Jung (Korean Zombie) vs. Dustin Poirier at UFC on Fuel TV: Korean Zombie vs. Poirier
This went back and forth for three straight non-stop action packed rounds, then out of nowhere right at the start of R4, Jung rocked Poirier with an uppercut and a jumping knee, then finished him on the ground with a d’arce choke. Not only was it an unforgettable end to a great fight, Korean Zombie sweetened the pot at the end by loudly proclaiming “I WANT JOSE ALDO” in English during his interview. If the MMA Gods are smiling on us in 2013, we’ll at long last get that fight.
Cactus Jim: Joe Lauzon vs. Jamie Varner at UFC on Fox 4
Lauzon always brings it and this one was a war. Fun to watch and a definitive finish.
GG: Joe Lauzon vs. Jim Miller at UFC 155
I hate choosing stuff right at the end of the year because it seems like I didn’t remember anything from earlier in the year. But truly, this was my favorite fight. Lauzon was almost scrappy enough to win in the end. And personally, I thought the rounds were much closer than others reported.
Big Things In ’13
Duan: Gunnar Nelson
Nelson has been well regarded in Europe for a while now, and he really impressed in his UFC debut. His stand up style is different from most of what’s out there and his submission game is killer.
Alan: Ronda Rousey
With the way they’re positioning her, it’ll be hard for her not to get bigger next year.
Big D: MSG
UFC debuts in MSG, the Mecca, headlined by a huge fight. What more could you want!?
Stevie J: A list of them
- Korean Zombie getting that Featherweight Title Shot against Aldo.
- The long-awaited match between GSP and Nick Diaz (if it happens).
- Chael Sonnen vs. Jon Jones on Ultimate Fighter (and the move to Tuesdays).
- Bellator making their debut on SpikeTV following Impact on Thursdays.
- Gilbert Melendez moving to the UFC Lightweight Division.
- Ronda Rousey becoming the first woman to headline a UFC PPV.
JP: Alistair Overeem returns!
The biggest thing there is, Alistair Overeem will make his return following his suspension and will promptly run through the heavyweight division en route to the belt. Provided he doesn’t get popped for substance abuse again.
Cactus Jim: Bellator
With a new cable deal, some non-tournament title fights, and the shrinking number of competitors as UFC rolls the Strikeforce brand into the fold and the possibility of picking up new talent that don’t make the move to the UFC brand, I think Bellator is well positioned to do some big things in 2013. Will they be a threat to UFC? No, but they will be a nice alternative or supplement to those that need more than 20 hours of MMA programming a week.
GG: Ronda Rousey
If she can beat Cyborg in 2013, she may become a big draw. Now, the key is finding other fighters for her to go through. After Carmouche and Cyborg, who’s next? Sara McMann? Maybe bring in Marloes Coenen? The point is, they need to find more credible competitors in order for Rousey to be challenged.