Welcome to the first annual (hopefully) Washington Sportsjam year-end awards! Alright, so I know this is very late, but I watched a lot of MMA in 2011 and think I have a good perspective on the year. Let’s look at the best fights and best fighters of last year.
Fight of the Year: Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Hua at UFC 139
This is the one of the best fights I’ve ever seen. Henderson dominated the first two rounds, tagging Hua multiple times. Somehow, Shogun was able to stay conscious and continue fighting. Hendo won the third round and landed even more shots, but it wasn’t as lopsided as the first two rounds. Then Hua came on and dominated the last two rounds, ironically out-wrestling the All-American and landing a few shots of his own. In the end Henderson won on the cards, but both fighters left it all in the ring.
KO of the Year: Anderson Silva vs Vitor Belfort at UFC 126
With one swift leg kick to the head, Silva KO’d Belfort. Belfort is known for his standup game, but watching this KO, it looked as if Anderson could have ended the fight at any time he chose.
Runner-Up: Lyoto Machida vs. Randy Couture at UFC 129
Submission of the Year: Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueria at UFC 140
This was one of the sickest submissions I’ve ever seen. After Nogueria had rocked Mir with shots, Mir was able to get him to the ground and get a hold on him. Mir kept rolling Nogueria over, making the kimura tighter and tighter, until Big Nog’s arm literally snapped. It was gross and violent in a way that reminded you how dangerous MMA can be.
Comeback of the Year: Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard at UFC 136
Two times in 2011, Gray Maynard almost finished Frankie Edgar in Round 1 of a title fight. Maynard wasn’t able to finish Edgar either time. On the 1st occasion Edgar forced a decision draw, but in the comeback of the year he came back and TKO’d Maynard.
In Round 1 Maynard rocked Edgar with an uppercut and Edgar struggled just to survive the round. Round 2 was very close, really hard to say who the judges picked. However, Maynard let Edgar recover in Round 2. By Round 3 Edgar had regained confidence in his boxing and was slipping-and-ripping effectively. By the 4th round Edgar connected enough to TKO Maynard. It was one of the best comebacks ever in MMA and an incredible show of a champion’s heart.
Fighter of the Year: Jon Jones UFC Light Heavyweight Champion
This was the easiest decision. Jones was unstoppable in 2011 winning all four of his with stoppages. The first was a contender matchup, the second was a title fight, and the last two were title defenses. During that stretch he dispatched three MMA legends violently. His domination was unmatched in 2011.
Newcomer of the Year: Douglas Lima Bellator Welterweight
Before 2011, Lima has never fought in Bellator. By the end of 2011 he was the Bellator Welterweight Tournament Winner and had a title shot lined up. In the tournament final he had an impressive KO win against UFC vet Ben Saunders.
Runner-Up: Benson Henderson UFC Lightweight
Comeback Fighter of the Year: Josh Koscheck UFC Welterweight
In 2010, Koscheck failed miserably in his title-shot against welterweight king Georges St-Pierre. For five consecutive rounds, GSP punished Koscheck’s face with jabs, eventually breaking his orbital bone. He looked like a broken man after that fight and was out for a long recovery.
At UFC 135 in September he faced UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes. Hughes went for the same eye GSP did with jabs, but Koscheck was able to outbox Hughes, and KO’d him with one second left in Round 1. Though he was clearly the superior standup fighter, it still took guts to stand there and risk taking another beating.
So, those are awards for 2011. Agree, disagree, did I overlook something? Let me know in the comments section.
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