As voted on by the followers/readers of Sean Ross Sapp
(With the exception of Newcomer of the year, Awards are limited to major promotions)
FIGHTER OF THE YEAR
Only two years ago, Ben Henderson was on the receiving end of one of the most replayed kicks in MMA history, in a WEC title loss to Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis. At the end of 2012, however, Henderson looked unstoppable in his second defense of the UFC Lightweight title.
After going 3-0 in 2011, the former WEC Champion earned a UFC title shot against Frank Edgar, who was coming off of three defenses of his title. Not only did he defeat Edgar to earn the championship, but also emerged victorious in the subsequent re-match. Henderson would defend his title yet again in December, with a one-sided victory over challenger Nate Diaz.
With a revolving door among the top 10 in the lightweight division, Henderson’s future remains unclear, although potential bouts with Strikeforce champion Gil Melendez and a re-match with Anthony Pettis may be in the cards.
FEMALE FIGHTER OF THE YEAR and BREAKOUT FIGHTER OF THE YEAR (Dual Winner)
Who else could win this? Despite only fighting twice in 2012, Ronda Rousey made her presence- and her armbar- known within MMA. First round victories over Miesha Tate and Sarah Kaufman, both via armbar, took Rousey from a relative unknown, to the biggest female star that MMA has ever seen, it’s no shocker that our followers voted her not only ‘Female fighter of the year”, but also “Breakout fighter of the year”.
Prior to her awesome 2012 run, UFC President Dana White was sour on the idea of women competing in the UFC. Due to her impressive victories, and crossover ability, 2013 will see the debut of the 135 pound women’s division, as Rousey will face Liz Carmouche in February. A super fight with Cris Cyborg is the bout that the fans seek, and the UFC looks to make, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a re-match with Miesha Tate before that occurs.
COMEBACK OF THE YEAR (Fight)
It’s a shame how Tim Boetsch’s 2012 ended, given the incredible 2012 run he had previously been on. Boetsch went from an average light heavyweight to an exceptional middleweight, with big victories over Hector Lombard and Yushin Okami. Had you tuned in at the beginning of the third round against Yushin Okami, you wouldn’t believe Boetsch would be anywhere near the middleweight title picture.
After losing two decisive rounds, Tim Boetsch fought the way any desperate fighter should in a third round. Forcing a clinch, Boetsch landed strikes that caused Okami to backpeddle, and forced him against the cage wall. From there, Boetsch blasted Okami with 7 European style uppercuts that would drop Okami, and give Boetsch the win. Boetsch’s heart, which was also on display to his recent loss to Consta Phillipou, earned him the ‘Comeback of the year’ award.
COMEBACK OF THE YEAR (Career)
In 2010, Dan Hardy was on top of the world. Main event in a major pay-per-view against Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre, ‘The Outlaw’ was riding a 7 fight winning streak. His lopsided loss to GSP instigated a downward spiral, in which the entertaining Hardy lost to Rumble Johnson, Carlos Condit, and Chris Lytle.
Most UFC fighters are cut after three consecutive losses, but Hardy was given a longer leash, and was still booked after dropping four straight. After nine months out of the octagon, Hardy returned, and earned Knockout of the Night in his UFC 146 fight against Duane Ludwig. That fight being a momentous occasion in itself for Hardy, he would return four months later to defeat Amir Sadollah in England. While his victories aren’t over top 10 talent, it was a far cry from the losing streak he had previously experienced.
KNOCKOUT OF THE YEAR
Edson Barboza (over Terry Etim)
No other knockout received more than one percent of the voting in this category. Edson Barboza, at the time undefeated, landed one of the most beautiful kicks in MMA history, with a spinning wheel kick to the face of Terry Etim. The KO would put Barboza at 10-0, and fueled his hype train, until it was derailed by the returning Jamie Varner in May.
SUBMISSION OF THE YEAR
Chan Sung Jung
This year’s supposed featherweight title eliminator would pit two young, up and coming stars against one another in Chan Sung Jung and Dustin Poirier. As of writing, Poirier has two wins via D’arce choke. In May, during their UFC on Fuel main event, the tables were turned, as Sung, “The Korean Zombie” landed a huge victory with the D’arce choke.
The Korean Zombie has yet to fight since the victory, and featherweight champion Jose Aldo has had three fights cancelled due to injury. Poirier would go on to win his next fight via D’arce choke.
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR (Male)
If you haven’t had the opportunity to witness Michael Page in action, behold. He made waves within the MMA world with an impressive 720 degree kick in February that would knock his opponent out. The kick (shown above) followed what are now his signature theatrics.
While his level of competition hasn’t been too high, he managed a 3-0 record in 2012, and is now signed to Bellator FC. Page looked dominant, and entertaining, in all three of his fights. If you have some free time, take the chance to marvel at his talents.
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR (Female)
Only two percent separated Invicta FC’s Jessamyn Duke and Joanne Calderwood in this category, and they were the only two fighters to even receive votes! While Calderwood had four impressive victories in 2012, Kentucky’s Jessamyn Duke has been a walking highlight reel for Invicta FC in 2012. With big wins over Suzie Montero and Marciea Allen, Duke provided some of the most memorable moments in women’s MMA for the calendar year. See the above finish for a perfect example.
I was fortunate enough to visit her camp weeks ago, and I can say with full confidence, Duke will be a major problem for the 135 pound women’s division to handle. Supremely conditioned and eager to work, I would expect to see Jessamyn Duke in the UFC within the next two years.
FIGHT OF THE YEAR
Joe Lauzon vs. Jamie Varner
Just over a year ago, Jamie Varner contemplated retirement, following a series of losses. Eventually using his better judgment to decide against it, Varner found his way back into the UFC, with a huge short notice upset of the aforementioned Edson Barboza. Fast forward a couple of months, and Joe Lauzon, repeat winner of any and all available fight night bonuses is Varner’s opponent.
Jamie Varner would break his hand in the bout, leading to him to use the takedown to neutralize Lauzon. However, this ended up being detrimental, as Lauzon would catch him in a triangle choke to earn his fifth submission of the night award, as well as his fifth fight of the night award.
Months later, Lauzon would be in another Fight of the Year candidate, against fellow lightweight Jim Miller.
MOMENT OF THE YEAR
Anderson Silva defeats Chael Sonnen
While the Jose Aldo victory over Chad Mendes came close to winning this poll, it seems the magnitude of Anderson Silva’s inched it ahead, winning the vote by four percent.
A re-match with two years of trash-talk, build up, and anticipation, let to emotions being at a fever pitch among the fighters, as well as fans. The first round went much like the initial bout, with Chael Sonnen controlling Silva on the ground following a takedown. One missed spinning back fist, and an Anderson Silva knee to the chest later, a magical moment was made.
What made the situation even more relevant, was immediately following the fight, the UFC Middleweight Champion invited his bitter rival over to his home for a cookout. I didn’t make that up.
There you have it folks, the 2012 1Wrestling.com MMA awards, as voted on by you, and the twitter followers of Sean Ross Sapp. Speaking of, don’t forget to follow me! http://www.twitter.com/SeanRossSappMMA