PunchDrunkGamer’s Best of 2011 – MMA Awards

BEHIND THE SCENES MMA ARTICLES & INTERVIEWS!

01/23/2012

 

 

PUNCHDRUNKGAMER’S BEST OF 2011 MMA AWARDS

By Justin Bolduc

 

 

 

 

2011 continued the rise and success of mixed martial arts.  The UFC has continued to expand and has broadened its scope by signing a network deal with Fox, Strikeforce was purchased by Zuffa, and fans were treated to amazing fights, knockouts, submissions, and hot prospects.  Below are the best of 2011 awards by PunchDrunkGamer.

 

 

 

Fighter of the Year

 

 

Jon “Bones” Jones

 

2011 Record:  4-0 (1 TKO, 3 Sub)

2011 Victims:  Ryan Bader, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Lyoto Machida

Accomplishments:  Crowned UFC Light Heavyweight Champion

 

 

Jon Jones spent 2010 changing his status from prospect to contender.  He began 2011 against previously undefeated The Ultimate Fighter 8 winner Ryan Bader, ending the fight with a guillotine choke late in the second round.  Jones then challenged Mauricio “Shogun” Rua for the UFC’s light heavyweight title, dominating the former PRIDE superstar to earn a third round TKO stoppage.

 

Jones continued to succeed in an action-packed division when he then submitted former UFC champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson with a fourth round rear naked choke.  Jones then successfully defended his title against another former champion, Lyoto Machida, in his most recent performance at UFC 140.  Jones secured a standing guillotine choke in the second round, quickly putting the “Dragon” to sleep.

 

 

Honorable Mention

 

Dan Henderson

2011 Record:  3-0 (2 TKO)

Wins:  Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante, Fedor Emelianenko, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

Accomplishments:  Crowned Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion

 

 

Nick Diaz

2011 Record:  3-0 (1 TKO, 1 Sub)

Wins:  Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos, Paul Daley, B.J. Penn

Accomplishments:  Defended Strikeforce Welterweight Title x2

 

 

Michael Chandler

2011 Record:  4-0 (1 TKO, 1 Sub)

Wins:  Marcin Held, Lloyd Woodard, Patricky “Pitbull” Freire, Eddie Alvarez

Accomplishments:  Crowned Bellator Lightweight Tournament Champion & Bellator Lightweight Champion

 

 

 

Fight of the Year

 

 

Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua – UFC 139 (November 19, 2011)

 

In what was truly a dream fight, former PRIDE champions Dan Henderson and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua battled in the main event of UFC 139.  The bout was dramatic from start to finish with both fighters giving it their all and fans worldwide cheering the UFC for making five-round non-title bouts happen.  Not only was the bout fight of the year, but it is easily considered as one of the sports’ greatest bouts period.

 

The first three rounds saw Henderson landing heavy shorts, hurting and nearly finishing the Brazilian.  “Shogun” was able to survive and provide enough offense, but Henderson’s power proved the difference maker.  Once round four came around both fighters were visibly exhausted.  Rua began his comeback, using leg kicks and takedowns to edge out the fourth frame.  In the final round Rua scored a takedown and rode Henderson from full mount for nearly five minutes.  Using ground and pound and positional control fans and critics felt Rua earned a 10-8 round to end the bout in the draw, but the judges only scored it a 10-9, giving Henderson the unanimous decision three rounds to one.

 

 

Honorable Mention

 

Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard 3 – UFC 136 (October 8, 2011)

 

Outcome:  The third bout between Edgar and Maynard started a lot like the previous meeting, with Maynard hurting Edgar in the first round and almost finishing the bout.  Maynard showed patience, unlike the second bout, but was too patient.  Once again Edgar rallied, but this time was able to knock out his challenger in the fourth round.

 

 

Diego Sanchez vs. Martin Kampmann – UFC Live 3 (March 3, 2011)

 

Outcome:  The Ultimate Fighter 1 winner Diego Sanchez met up with Martin Kampmann earlier in the year, and both fighters left it all on the line.  When the bout was over Sanchez’ face was a bloody mess and Kampmann looked like he had to fight off three guys by himself.  Many fans and critics felt Kampmann won, but Sanchez’ aggression was enough to earn him a unanimous decision from the judges.

 

 

Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley – Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley (April 9, 2011)

 

Outcome:  Paul Daley challenged Nick Diaz for the Strikeforce welterweight championship and seemed like a viable opponent.  Diaz loves to stand and strike and Daley loves to knock people out.  It was a back of forth battle with Daley landing bombs and almost finishing Diaz.  Diaz kept it together and was able to stop Daley with only three seconds left in the first round.

 

 

 

Knockout of the Year

 

 

Patricky “Pitbull” Freire def. Toby Imada – Bellator 39 (April 2, 2011)

 

“Pitbull” punched his ticket into the finals of Bellator’s lightweight tournament when he knocked out Toby Imada mid-way through round one of their semi-final contest.  Freire landed a devastating flying knee which essentially had Imada out on his feet.  After a follow-up blitz, Imada found himself flat on his back with the referee waving off “Pitbull”.

 

 

Honorable Mention

 

Dan Henderson def. Fedor EmelianenkoStrikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson (July 30, 2011)

 

John Makdessi def. Kyle Watson – UFC 129 (April 20, 2011)

 

 

Lyoto Machida def. Randy Couture – UFC 129 (April 20, 2011)

 

Anderson Silva def. Vitor BelfortUFC 126 (February 5, 2011)

 

Cheick Kongo def. Pat BarryUFC Live 4 (June 26, 2011)

 

 

 

Submission of the Year

 

 

Chan Sung Jung def. Leonard Garcia – UFC Fight Night 24 (March 26, 2011)

 

In a highly-anticipated featherweight rematch between “The Korean Zombie” and Leonard Garcia, fans were not only treated to an exciting fight but a rare, exciting finish.  While Jung’s twister was not the first in the sport’s history, it was the first in the UFC and the most high-profile.

 

 

Honorable Mention

 

Frank Mir def. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (kimura) – UFC 140 (December 10, 2011)

 

Vinny Magalhaes def. Viktor Nemkov (mounted gogoplata neck crank) – M-1 Challenge 25 (April 28, 2011)

 

Tito Ortiz def. Ryan Bader (guillotine choke) – UFC 132 (July 2, 2011)

 

Richard Hale def. Nik Fekete (inverted triangle choke) – Bellator 38 (March 26, 2011)

 

Rousimar Palhares def. Dave Branch (heel hook) – UFC Live 3 (March 3, 2011)

 

 

 

Event of the Year

 

 

UFC 129 (April 30, 2011)

 

The UFC ventured into Toronto, Canada for UFC 129 on April 30th and treated fight fans to two title bouts.  The night ended with a pair of knockout of the year candidates, brutal TKO’s, exciting submissions, and great fights.

 

In the main event Georges St. Pierre out-striked Jake Shields to retain his UFC welterweight championship.  Fans felt like St. Pierre could have done more, but Shields’ heart kept him in the fight.  When it was all said and done the judges scored the bout 50-45, 48-47, and 48-47.

 

The co-main event is where the headlining portion of the bill truly shined.  Jose Aldo defended his UFC featherweight championship against Canada’s own Mark Hominick.  Aldo took off to an early lead on the scorecards, even causing a massive lump to form on Hominick’s face.  Showing true determination however Hominick made a strong comeback late in the fight, nearly dethroning the champion in the final round.

 

UFC 129 also featured KO of the year candidates.  On the preliminary card John Makdessi smashed Kyle Watson with one of the most devastating spinning backfists the sport has ever seen.  Later on the card former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida used a front kick similar to Anderson Silva to knock out former UFC light heavy and heavyweight champion Randy Couture, sending the legend into retirement.  Also of note was Vladimir Matyushenko‘s twenty-second knockout of Jason Brilz, Pablo Garza‘s flying triangle against Yves Jaboin, Jake Ellenberger‘s trumping of Sean Pierson, and Rory MacDonald‘s battle with TUF 5 winner Nate Diaz.

 

 

Honorable Mention

 

UFC 139 (November 19, 2011)

 

Notable Bouts:  Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Wanderlei Silva vs. Cung Le, Martin Kampmann vs. Rick Story, Miguel Torres vs. Nick Pace

 

 

Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson (July 30, 2011)

 

Notable Bouts:  Fedor Emelianenko vs. Dan Henderson, Miesha Tate vs. Marloes Coenen, Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante vs. Bobby Green, Robbie Lawler vs. Tim Kennedy, Tarec Saffiedine vs. Scott Smith, Tyron Woodley vs. Paul Daley

 

 

UFC 134 (August 27, 2011)

 

Notable Bouts:  Anderson Silva vs. Yushin Okami, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Forrest Griffin, Edson Barboza vs. Ross Pearson, Thiago Tavares vs. Spencer Fisher, Rousimar Palhares vs. Dan Miller, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Brendan Schaub, Erick Silva vs. Luis Ramos

 

 

 

Breakout Fighter of the Year

 

 

Michael Chandler

 

2011 Record:  4-0 (1 TKO, 1 Sub)

2011 Victims:  Marcin Held, Lloyd Woodard, Patricky “Pitbull” Freire, Eddie Alvarez

Accomplishments:  Crowned Bellator Lightweight Tournament Champion & Bellator Lightweight Champion

 

Michael Chandler truly had a breakout year.  After notching wins over Marcin Held and Lloyd Woodard in the Bellator lightweight tournament quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively, he outworked highly-regarded Patricky “Pitbull” Freire to win the tournament.  Chandler capped off 2011 in one of the year’s best fights, stopping Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez in the fourth round to remain undefeated and claim the promotion’s divisional title.

 

 

Honorable Mention

 

Daniel Cormier

2011 Record:  3-0 (1 TKO)

Wins:  Devin Cole, Jeff Monson, Antonio Silva

Accomplishments:  Advanced to Strikeforce’s Heavyweight Grand Prix finals

 

 

Alexander Gustafsson

2011 Record:  3-0 (2 TKO, 1 Sub)

Wins:  James Te Huna, Matt Hamill, Vladimir Matyushenko

 

 

Jordan Mein

2011 Record:  5-0 (2 TKO, 1 Sub)

Wins:  Joe Riggs, Keto Allen, Josh Burkman, Marius Zaromskis, Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos

 

 

 

Heavyweight of the Year

 

 

Junior dos Santos

 

2009 Record:  2-0 (1 TKO)

Wins:  Shane Carwin, Cain Velasquez

Accomplishments:  Crowned UFC Heavyweight Champion

 

Junior dos Santos was featured as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter opposite former UFC champion Brock Lesnar.  The initial plan was to have the coaches fight for the number one contender sport, but recurrence of diverticulitis sidelined Lesnar.  Dos Santos instead went toe-to-toe with Shane Carwin, winning a unanimous decision.  Dos Santos then challenged Cain Velasquez for the UFC heavyweight title on Fox, knocking out the champion in only sixty-four seconds.

 

 

Honorable Mention

 

Daniel Cormier

2011 Record:  3-0 (1 TKO)

Wins:  Devin Cole, Jeff Monson, Antonio Silva

Accomplishments:  Advanced to Strikeforce’s Heavyweight Grand Prix finals

 

 

Alistair Overeem

2011 Record:  2-0 (1 TKO)

Wins:  Fabricio Werdum, Brock Lesnar

 

 

Frank Mir

2011 Record:  2-0 (1 Sub)

Wins:  Roy Nelson, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

 

 

 

Light Heavyweight of the Year

 

 

Jon “Bones” Jones

 

2011 Record:  4-0 (1 TKO, 3 Sub)

Wins:  Ryan Bader, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Lyoto Machida

Accomplishments:  Crowned UFC Light Heavyweight Champion

 

There isn’t much more to say about the explosive 205-pounder.  Along with earning PDG’s Fighter of the Year honors and the UFC light heavyweight championship, it is nearly impossible to not give him Light Heavyweight of the Year as well.

 

 

Honorable Mention

 

Alexander Gustafsson

2011 Record:  3-0 (2 TKO, 1 Sub)

Wins:  James Te Huna, Matt Hamill, Vladimir Matyushenko

 

 

Phil Davis

2011 Record:  1-0

Wins:  Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

 

 

Gegard Mousasi

2011 Record:  2-0-1 (1 TKO)

Wins:  Hiroshi Izumi, Ovine St. Preux

 

 

 

Middleweight of the Year

 

 

Mark Munoz

 

2011 Record:  3-0 (2 TKO)

Wins:  C.B. Dollaway, Demian Maia, Chris Leben

 

Munoz quickly became a fan favorite with two appearances in the WEC.  Since joining the UFC he has only lost twice, and 2011 has been his biggest year yet.  He began the year by knocking out TUF finalist C.B. Dollaway in only fifty-four seconds before earning a unanimous decision over top-ten ranked Demian Maia.  In his most recent bout he stopped Chris Leben after two rounds.

 

 

Honorable Mention

 

Anderson Silva

2011 Record:  2-0 (2 TKO)

Wins:  Vitor Belfort, Yushin Okami

Accomplishments:  Defended UFC Middleweight Championship x2

 

 

Hector Lombard

2011 Record:  4-0 (3 TKO, 1 Sub)

Win:  Joe Doerksen, Falaniko Vitale, Jesse Taylor, Trevor Prangley

 

 

Michael Bisping

2011 Record:  2-0 (2 TKO)

Wins:  Jorge Rivera, Jason “Mayhem” Miller

 

 

 

Welterweight of the Year

 

 

Jake Ellenberger

 

2011 Record:  3-0 (2 TKO)

Wins:  Carlos Eduardo Rocha, Sean Pierson, Jake Shields

 

Since losing his UFC debut by split decision to former WEC champion Carlos Condit, Jake Ellenberger has become the hottest prospect in the welterweight division, and one of the top contenders.  After edging out a split decision over little-known Carlos Eduardo Rocha, Ellenberger stopped Sean Pierson impressively inside the first round.  Most recently he stopped Jake Shields in dominant fashion with a knee and punches, ending the bout in a mere fifty-three seconds.

 

 

Honorable Mention

 

Nick Diaz

2011 Record:  3-0 (1 TKO, 1 Sub)

Wins:  Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos, Paul Daley, B.J. Penn

Accomplishments:  Defended Strikeforce Welterweight Title x2

 

 

Rory MacDonald

2011 Record:  2-0 (1 TKO)

Wins:  Nate Diaz, Mike Pyle

 

 

Johny Hendricks

2011 Record:  3-0 (2 TKO)

Wins:  T.J. Waldburger, Mike Pierce, Jon Fitch

 

 

 

Lightweight of the Year

 

 

Michael Chandler

 

2011 Record:  4-0 (1 TKO, 1 Sub)

Wins:  Marcin Held, Lloyd Woodard, Patricky “Pitbull” Freire, Eddie Alvarez

Accomplishments:  Crowned Bellator Lightweight Tournament Champion & Bellator Lightweight Champion

 

PDG’s Breakout Fighter of the Year, Michael Chandler, didn’t only become a top-ten ranked lightweight and Bellator champion, but did enough to edge out UFC and Strikeforce champions to earn Lightweight of the Year.

 

 

Honorable Mention

 

Gilbert Melendez

2011 Record:  2-0 (1 TKO)

Win:  Tatsuya Kawajiri, Jorge Masvidal

Accomplishments:  Defended Strikeforce Lightweight Championship x2

 

 

Shinya Aoki

2011 Record:  4-0 (3 Sub)

Wins:  Lyle Beerbohm, Rich Clementi, “Razor” Rob McCullough, Satoru Kitaoka

Accomplishments:  Defended Dream Lightweight Champion

 

 

Benson Henderson

2011 Record:  3-0

Wins:  Mark Bocek, Jim Miller, Clay Guida

 

 

 

Featherweight of the Year

 

 

Patricio Freire

 

2011 Record:  3-0 (2 TKO)

Wins:  Georgi Karakhanyan, Wilson Reis, Daniel Straus

Accomplishments:  Crowned Bellator Featherweight Tournament Champion

 

Patricio Freire spent 2011 earning himself a rematch with the only man to defeat him, Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren.  Freire stopped Georgi Karakhanyan with punches early in the third round to win the quarter-finals of Bellator’s featherweight tournament.  He then stopped Wilson Reis in the third round to win the semi-finals before most recent earning a unanimous decision over Daniel Straus to win the entire tournament.

 

 

Honorable Mention

 

Dustin Poirier

2011 Record:  3-0 (1 Sub)

Wins:  Josh Grispi, Jason Young, Pablo Garza

 

 

Jose Aldo

2011 Record:  2-0

Wins:  Mark Hominick, Kenny Florian

 

 

“The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung

2011 Record:  2-0 (1 TKO, 1 Sub)

Wins:  Leonard Garcia, Mark Hominick

 

 

 

Bantamweight of the Year

 

 

Bibiano Fernandes

 

2011 Record:  3-0 (1 TKO, 1 Sub)

Wins:  Takafumi Otsuka, Rodolfo Marques Diniz, Antonio Banuelos

Accomplishments:  Crowned Dream Bantamweight Grand Prix Champion

 

Former Dream featherweight and featherweight tournament champion Bibiano Fernandes had a strong 2011, claiming another tournament title.  In the quarter-finals he submitted Takafumi Otsuka with a forty-one second rear naked choke.  He was then able to dispatch Rodolfo Marques Diniz in a decision and stop Antonio Banuelos with strikes in one night.  Fernandes is considered by many to be the best bantamweight and featherweight outside of the UFC.

 

 

Honorable Mention

 

Dominick Cruz

2011 Record:  2-0

Wins:  Urijah Faber, Demetrious Johnson

 

 

Renan “Barao” Pegado

2011 Record:  2-0 (1 Sub)

Wins:  Cole Escovedo, Brad Pickett

 

 

Scott Jorgensen

2011 Record:  2-0 (1 TKO)

Wins:  Ken Stone, Jeff Curran

 

 

 

Mixed Martial Arts or K-1 Highlight of the Year

 

 

The Best Damn Nick Diaz Highlight by FlyWin Evolutions

 

 

 

 

Honorable Mention

 

K-1 “Imagine” Highlight by StillWill

 

Mixed Martial Arts – Marching On By Machinemen

 

Paul “Semtex” Daley – I’ll Be Back One Day! Highlight by Hello Japan

 

 

 

Ring Girl of the Year

 

 

Brittney Palmer

 

Well, you can’t really go wrong with any ring girl.  I mean, these women are professional hotness.  So here are a ton of pics of Brittney Palmer!

 

 

 

Additional Thoughts on 2011:

 

* Ian McCall is the world’s premiere flyweight.  In 2011 he went 3-0 with one submission, with wins over Jussier da Silva, Dustin Ortiz and Darrell Montague.  With the addition of the 125-pound division to the UFC, expect to see more of McCall.

 

 

* Miesha Tate deserves to be regarded as the best female fighter of 2011.  Despite only fighting once in the year, Tate submitted Marloes Coenen to earn the Strikeforce women’s title.

 

 

* The UFC signing the deal with Fox to bring MMA to the world’s largest network, as well as to FX and Fuel, was huge for the sport.  This simply means more fights and continued growth.

 

 

* There has been a lot of clamoring about comeback of the year, which would easily go to Cheick Kongo.  At UFC Live 5, Kongo was almost knocked out by Pat Barry.  Barry continued his assault, but instinct kicked in and it was Kongo who had his hand raised moments later.

 

 

* It is worth mentioning Chris Lytle as one of the best stories of 2011.  Despite losing his first fight of the year to Brian Ebersole, Lytle’s last bout was a submission win in a one-sided fight against Dan Hardy.  It was Lytle’s last fight, as he retired following.  It was nice to see Lytle leave the sport not only on his terms, but also on a win – although it is also saddening as he has consistently been one of the most entertaining fighters to watch.

 

 

 

Post your comments directly below! You can also discuss the latest MMA & Video Game News in the PunchDrunkGamer Forums and don’t forget to Follow PDG on Twitter @PunchDrunkGamer and Like the PDG Official Facebook Page!

Beebald