Here they are. The long awaited BJPenn.com end of year MMA awards. Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments sections. Enjoy!
FIGHTER OF THE YEAR – Matt Brown
Rattling off 4 straight wins on an international stage is an inspiring feat for any fighter, but what makes Matt different than the rest is that he did it in one year, and all in the Octagon. What cinched this for Matt is his knockout of Mike Swick on December 8th of this year. Matt is evolving in to a dangerous opponent for anyone who steps in to the cage with him. Matt Brown is Fighter of the Year.
FIGHT OF THE YEAR – Joe Lauzon vs. Jamie Varner at UFC on FOX, August 4th.
I know I will get a lot of flack over this choice. There were others that almost took the spot like Jung vs. Poirier, Ellenberger vs. Sanchez, and the list goes on. What made this bout my choice was the heart, pace, and determination of both fighters. Varner fought like a lion, but in the end he came up short and Joe Lauzon announced to the world he was going to remain near the top of the lightweight food chain by submitting Varner at 2:43 of round 3. Joe Lauzon is one of the best in the world and he proved it in this fight.
KNOCKOUT OF THE YEAR – Lyoto Machida Knocks out Ryan Bader at UFC on FOX, August 4th.
Ryan Bader was, and arguably still is, one of the most promising prospects in the UFC. Granted he had a slip up when he was submitted by a desperate Tito Ortiz. On the other side of this fight was Lyoto Machida who is still trying to bring back the “Machida Era”, but with Jon Jones sitting atop the ladder it is not likely to happen anytime soon. Bader stood in Lyoto’s way on the August UFC on FOX card and Machida flattened him with a one punch KO that made some fans jump out of their seat – okay I was one of them.
SUBMISSION OF THE YEAR – Chan Sung Jung defeats Dustin Poirier via Submission at 1:07 of Round 4
A war took place in the Octagon in what was almost my fight of the year. Chan Sung Jung aka The Korean Zombie pulled off a slick submission over top contender Dustin Poirier in the 4th round. An uppercut from Jung hurt Dustin and the dazed fighter shot in for a takedown. Jung caught him in a D’arce choke and Poirier was put to sleep.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS OF THE YEAR – RIP Strikeforce, Cung Le knocks out Rich Franklin
For me it is a tie between the imminent doom of the Strikeforce organization and Rich Franklin’s loss to Cung Le. Without Strikeforce the UFC has a choke hold on the mainstream fight game again. Bellator is great and I watch it whenever I can, but let’s be honest they are not on the same level as Zuffa when it comes down to it.
Franklin has always been a gamer and a company man. He will fight anyone and everyone. He is a former champion, and one of the elite class of fighters to fight at two weight classes and achieve success. His fight against Cung Le this year was supposed to be the start of his comeback in the middleweight division, but Le flattened him with a vicious punch that sent Franklin limp to the canvas.
HOTTEST PROSPECTS – Rory McDonald, Johny Hendricks, and Luke Rockhold.
McDonald just handily defeated BJ Penn, Johny Hendricks put away Koscheck and Kampmann this year, and Luke Rockhold is 9-0 in Strikeforce with Anderson Silva calling him out. All three of those fighters are deserving of this distinction. I personally cannot wait for Luke to enter the Octagon.
BIGGEST BUZZ MAKER – Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey is the hottest commodity in MMA. She is one of the few mainstream crossover athletes outside of the cage known to non MMA fans. In addition to being the first woman to sign with the UFC she is also its first female champion.
BIGGEST HEAD SCRATCHING MOMENT – Nick Diaz getting shot at GSP
Nick Diaz loses to Carlos Condit and becomes the number one contender after Condit falls to GSP. In what world does that make sense? The pay per view buy rate / money one I guess. Johny Hendricks is the consensus number one contender by most accounts far and away. In 2012 he defeated Josh Koscheck and Martin Kampmann. Those two wins make it 5 in a row for Johny and an impressive 9-1 in the UFC overall. It’s a real head scratcher as to why Dana did not book that fight.
MY PERSONAL FAVORITE MOMENT – Yves Edwards KO of Jeremy Stephens
I am a true old school fan and a long time supporter of the Yves Edwards war wagon. From the days of eating cheeseburgers on the scale at weigh-ins to his spectacular knockout of Josh Thomson. Edwards of today knocking out Jeremy Stephens in brutal fashion showed the modern MMA crowd flashes of Edwards’ past greatness. Yves is still very dangerous and deserving of more respect than he gets as a fighter.