Browsing all articles tagged with Vitor Belfort
Jan
20

2011 MMA Awards

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.

Jan
6

Strikeforce to Limp Another Year

In a somewhat surprising recent press release Strikeforce announced it had renewed its Showtime deal for 2012. Strikeforce promises up to eight events and to retain its marque fighters. They also promise to “put on some really amazing events”, which seems unlikely when they’ve lost so many fighters that they’re giving Keith Jardine a title-shot (against current middleweight champion Luke Rockhold). It’s really hard to see the positive for any players involved in this deal.

Matthew Tosh flickr

This is bad news for the UFC. Dana White has said the UFC is going to stop cherry-picking the elite talent from Strikeforce. So, instead they’re going to have the few remaining top talents in Strikeforce go to waste, laboring another year in crumbling organization? UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre have nearly run out of opponents. Those weight classes could use an infusion of some new contenders. Light-heavyweight kingpin Jon Jones ran through four top-ten opponents in 2011. Right now, there are only three fighters who can realistically be considered a top contender for his belt. And one of them just left Strikeforce.

This isn’t really good news for Strikeforce. Sometime last year, Bellator overtook Strikeforce as the number two North American promotion. Of Strikeforce’s five men’s weight classes, only two have champions. The other three divisions lost their belt-holders to the UFC. Apparently, after the current heavyweight tournament is over that division will be disbanded. But does anyone care about the SF championship anymore? Let me state this again, Keith Jardine is getting a title fight. Jardine who lost his last four fights in the UFC and should have lost his only fight in Strikeforce (it was a Draw on a terrible decision). Defending your belt against him means nothing.

Which is why keeping world-ranked fighters like Gilbert Melendez, Luke Rockhold, and Daniel Cormier in Strikeforce for another year, amounts to a waste of year for them. Sure, they won’t be thrown to the lions right away like they would be in the UFC, but no one in Strikeforce gets them closer to a UFC title-shot. They’re losing valuable experience and a year in their prime by being forced to stay in Strikeforce. I know I’m beating a dead horse, but Luke Rockhold would benefit more by fighting on a UFC undercard against someone like Demain Maia or Vitor Belfort than by defending his Strikeforce belt.

Strikeforce began as an admirable attempt to stage world-class fights outside of the UFC. At the time it was needed, because the UFC stranglehold on the sport could have killed its momentum. Because of Strikeforce, the UFC had deliver quality, it had to continue to increase its presence on cable, and it had to treat its fighters fairly. But now, Strikeforce is just a part of UFC and an increasingly less relevant one. Like a fighter past their prime, Strikeforce should have ended before it got embarrassing to watch. Or it should have been turned into a minor league. Instead MMA fans get to watch a year of a formerly important organization become a joke.