PunchDrunkGamer’s Best of 2012 – Mixed Martial Arts Awards

PunchDrunkGamer’s Best of 2012 – Mixed Martial Arts Awards

By Christopher Jester and Dave Carpinello





2012 was quite the year for fans of mixed martial arts and combat sports.  The UFC saw its chokehold on the sport increase greatly in conjunction with their network deal with FOX. Glory Sports International revived DREAM and with Strikeforce closing it’s doors, Bellator MMA has secured their standing as the number two MMA organization on the planet. Women’s MMA also crashed the party with the emergence of Invicta FC and the first female fighter to join the UFC. Despite many injuries and fight card fuck-ups, mixed martial arts fans were still treated to some amazing fights, knockouts, submissions, and the rise of new fighters both male and female.  Below are the best of 2012 Mixed Martial Arts Awards presented by PunchDrunkGamer.




Male MMA Fighter of the Year



Benson “Smooth” Henderson

2012 Record:  3-0 (3 Decisions)

2012 Victims:  Frankie Edgar (twice), Nate Diaz

Accomplishments:  Crowned UFC Lightweight Champion


Benson Henderson had a productive year. The former WEC Champion came into the UFC with his back against the wall, after losing his title and numerous UFC fighters stating that the WEC guys were beneath them. They couldn’t have been more wrong. Benson Henderson came into the Frankie Edgar UFC Lightweight championship fight as an underdog, but he proved that with his technical leg kicks and formidable wrestling he can beat the best of any organization. It was closely contested, but a thunderous up-kick changed the tide of the battle. In the end, Henderson became the new UFC Lightweight Champion.


The back-and-forth battle warranted a rematch for the former UFC champion in Frankie Edgar. The second fight was even closer, but it appeared that cleaner shots were Henderson’s key to victory as he scored a split decision victory over Edgar. Henderson may not have gained many fans from that narrow win performance, but it was his December 8th title defense against the hungry Nate Diaz at UFC on FOX 5 that proved that was indeed THE threat at Lightweight. The UFC Lightweight Champion dominated his challenger for the entire length of the fight with superior wrestling and smothering top-control. “Smooth”  Benson Henderson cruised to an unanimous decision victory over an opponent who had the striking and submission prowess to make this a highly contested battle. The manner in which he demolishes his opponents may not be the most exhilarating (sometimes) but it is how he dismantles them that makes it so frightening. Capturing the belt and defending it twice against tough opponents solidifies why Benson Henderson is the PDG Male MMA Fighter of the Year.


Honorable Mention:


Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson

2012 Record:  2-0-1 (2 decisions, 1 draw)

Wins:  Ian McCall (1 draw, 1 decision), Joseph Benavidez

Accomplishments:  Crowned first-ever UFC Flyweight Champion


Jon “Bones” Jones

2012 Record:  2-0 (1 decision, 1 SUB)

Wins:  Rashad Evans, Vitor Belfort

Accomplishments:  Defended UFC Light-Heavyweight Championship twice


Daniel Cormier

2012 Record:  1-0

Win:  Josh Barnett

Accomplishments: Became the Strikeforce’s Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion




Female MMA Fighter of the Year



Ronda Rousey

2012 Record: 2-0 (2 Submissions)

2012 Victims: Sarah Kaufman, Miesha Tate

Achievements: Crowned Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion and UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion


“Rowdy” Ronda Rousey exploded onto the women’s mixed martial arts scene in 2011 with four straight submission victories, all by arm-bars in the first round and she continued the same in 2012. She kicked of the year with another devastating arm-bar submission victory against Miesha Tate at Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey, claiming the Strikeforce Bantamweight Championship.  Ronda then successfully defended her title with another submission victory, this time only taking fifty-four seconds to defeat Sara Kaufman.


At the UFC on Fox 5: Henderson vs. Diaz pre-fight press conference UFC President Dana White announced that Rousey would indeed become the first female fighter on the UFC roster and that she would be the organization’s inaugural Bantamweight Champion. Outside of the cage, Rousey was featured in ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue and has made it known to her opponents that her trash talking style of promotion is here to stay until someone can beat her. At UFC 157, Rousey and Liz Carmouche will fight for Rousey’s belt in the first ever female main event in UFC history.


Honorable Mention:


Liz Carmouche

2012 Record: 2-0

Wins: Ashleigh Curry, Kaitlin Young

Achievements: Became the second female fighter to join the UFC


Jessica Eye

2012 Record: 4-0

Wins: Zoila Frausto Gurgel, Angela Magana, Anita Rodriguez, Kelly Warren


Jessica Penne

2012 Record: 2-0

Wins: Lisa Ellis, Naho Sugiyama

Achievements: Crowned Invicta FC Atomweight Champion




2012 Fight of the Year



Jim Miller vs. Joe Lauzon – UFC 155 (December 29, 2012)


Two of the UFC’s toughest lightweights put on the perfect fight to save what was becoming a dull and disappointing year-end event at UFC 155. The two scrappy young men put on a war of attrition. Within the first round, Lauzon was bleeding and the faucet of a cut that came from his head only made the spectacle much more of a beauty.


Whether it was Jim Miller’s endless aggression with his crisp elbows or Joe Lauzon’s sneaky craftiness with his submissions, the fight never disappointed. On the feet, the two brawled like one stole the other’s lunch money. On the ground, their superior jiu-jitsu was a work of art that was extremely entertaining. Even in the later end of the third round, with all the blood he had lost, Joe Lauzon still put up a spirited effort to end the fight.


With a near locked in submission, Lauzon almost finished the fight but Miller’s craftiness helped his escape. Miller would go on to win the fight by unanimous decision. However, the fans witnessed a brutal and bloody show that night, and it left a lasting impression that was without a doubt the fight of the year.


Honorable Mention:


Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Brandon Vera – UFC On Fox 4 (August 4, 2012)


Outcome: What many likely assumed would be easy pickings for Shogun Rua turned out to be a battle that no one expected, with each man gaining the better of his opponent. Brandon Vera showed heart on unimaginable levels as he received a multitude of damage on the feet and on the ground. What truly made this a spectacle is that even though Vera was badly bruised and broken, he kept fighting no matter the amount of punishment he took. The fortitude he showed in this bout is what kept this exhausting battle alive. Even though his heart kept him in it for four rounds, Vera would later succumb to a barrage of punches that scored a TKO victory for Shogun.


Chan Sung Jung vs. Dustin Poirier – UFC on Fuel TV 3 (May 15, 2012)


Outcome: Chan Sung Jung, the “Korean Zombie” lived up to his name once again. The Korean Zombie and Dustin Poirier put on a fight where each was wobbled early and often. Even though the Korean Zombie absorbed a heavy amount of punishment, he kept on coming – even locking in a triangle choke at the end of the second round. Even after being saved by the bell, Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier still continued to pour it on. The two would battle until a fourth round uppercut, flying knee combo that led to a D’arce choke submission victory for Chan Sung Jung.


Eddie Yagin vs. Mark Hominick – UFC 145 (April 21, 2012)


Outcome: No one can say that Mark Hominick doesn’t show up to fight. This was classic Mark Hominick as he came out storming Eddie Yagin but he was caught early with a right hook. This is the sort of battle it was throughout the three-round fight. Hominick’s boxing was his bread-and-butter but throughout the fight it kept getting him in trouble as was tagged by Yagin’s power shots and counter-punches. A rapid quantity of punches along with ground and pound appeared to tire out Yagin by the third round. It was here that Hominick finally found his groove and he rocked Yagin at the end of the third. It was a bit too late for Hominick though as Eddie Yagin scored a spit decision victory.




2012 Knockout of the Year



Edson Barboza def. Terry Etim by spinning wheel kick – UFC 142 (January 14, 2012)


This exciting fight taking place on Brazilian soil, was a contestable bout leading up the spinning wheel kick that was heard around the world. It is not like people don’t throw a spinning wheel kick because they do. It is just not that often that it lands. But this proves that when it does land to the face, it can be quite lethal. When the wheel kick landed, Etim fell back like his lights were shut off. There was no need for the referee to step in, Etim wasn’t getting back up.


Honorable Mention:


Johnny Hendricks def. Martin Kampmann by punch  – UFC 154 (November 17, 2012)

Melvin Manhoef def. Denis Kang by knee to the body – Dream 18 (December 31, 2012)

Cub Swanson def. Charles Oliveira by punch – UFC 152 (September 22, 2012)

Ryan Jimmo def. Anthony Perosh by punch – UFC 149 (July 21, 2012)




2012 Submission of the Year



Dustin Poirier def. Max Holloway by triangle armbar – UFC 143 (February 4, 2012)


It is hard not to give Submission of the Year to someone who was attacking for so many submissions at once. What initially was an armbar, Poirier then snatched up a triangle choke. Gaining a mounted triangle, Poirier also grabbed for an armbar from the top. Choked from triangle and getting his arm hyper-extended, there was no choice for Max Holloway but to tap.


Honorable Mention:


Ronda Rousey def. Miesha Tate by armbar  – Strikeforce 39 (March 3, 2012)

Nate Diaz def. Jim Miller by guillotine choke – UFC on FOX 3 (May 5, 2012)

Charles Oliveira def. Eric Wisely by calf slicer – UFC on FOX 2 (January 28, 2012)

Joe Lauzon def. Jamie Varner by – UFC on FOX 4 (August 4, 2012)




2012 Event of the Year



UFC 146: dos Santos vs. Mir (May 26, 2012)


The first all-heavyweight main card in UFC history, this event was expected to deliver heavyweights with brutal knockouts. Without a doubt, UFC 146 did not disappoint. In the main event, Junior Dos Santos aimed to defend his Heavyweight title against Alistair Overeem, but the main event was changed after Overeem failed a pre-fight drug test. Instead, Frank Mir stepped in to replace Overeem. Mir looked to capitalize on takedowns early on in the fight but he could never get the Brazilian bomber to the ground, instead Dos Santos picked apart the former UFC Heavyweight champion Frank on route to a second round TKO victory.


The co-main event would mark the biggest statement on the card, as Cain Velasquez returned after losing his title to Junior Dos Santos. In his bout against Antonio “Big Foot” Silva, Velasquez immediately took the bigger man down and instantly sliced open Silva’s forehead with elbows by ground-and-pound. It ended up being one of the bloodiest fights in UFC history, and the referee stopped the fight at 3:36 of the first round.


In the other notable bouts, Roy Nelson earned Knockout of the Night in his fight against Dave Herman. Stipe Miocic continued his winning streak by defeating Shane Del Rosario. Stefan Struve submitted Lavar Johnson by armbar. Jamie Varner made his return to the UFC/Zuffa by upsetting the betting favorite and undefeated Edson Barboza by TKO in the first round. Another impressive debut was that of Glover Teixeira who submitted Kyle Kingsbury by arm triangle choke in the first round. Furthermore, Brits Paul Sass and Dan Hardy won in impressive fashion; particularly the latter who finally won again after suffering a three-fight losing skid.


Honorable Mention:


UFC on FOX 4: Shogun vs. Vera (August 4, 2012)


Notable Bouts: Mauricio Rua vs. Brandon Vera, Lyoto Machida vs. Ryan Bader, Joe Lauzon vs. Jamie Varner, Mike Swick vs. DaMarques Johnson, Rani Yayha vs. Josh Grispi, John Moraga vs. Ulysses Gomez


UFC 144 (February 25, 2012)


Notable Bouts: Frankie Edgar vs. Benson Henderson, Mark Hunt vs. Cheick Kongo, Hatsu Hioki vs. Bart Palaszewski, Anthony Pettis vs. Joe Lauzon, Takanori Gomi vs. Eiji Mitsuoka, Vaughn Lee vs. Norifumi Yamamoto, Yushin Okami vs. Tim Boetsch


Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey (March 3, 2012)


Notable Bouts: Miesha Tate vs. Ronda Rousey, Lumumba Sayers vs. Scott Smith, Ronaldo Souza vs. Bristol Marunde, Sarah Kaufman vs. Alexis Davis, Pat Healy vs. Caros Fodor, Ryan Couture vs. Conor Heun, Josh Thomson vs. KJ Noons


Invita FC 2: Baszler vs. McMann (July 28, 2012)

Notable Bouts: Shayna Baszler vs. Sara McMann, Alexis Davis vs. Hitomi Akano, Liz Carmouche vs. Kaitlin Young, Amanda Nunes vs. Racquel Pa’aluhi, Sarah D’Alelio vs. Vanessa Porto, Carla Esparza vs. Sarah Schneider




2012 Breakout Fighter of the Year



Renan Barao

2012 Record:  2-0

2012 Victims:  Scott Jorgensen, Urijah Faber

Accomplishments:  Crowned Interim UFC Bantamweight Champion


Renan Barao had already been on an impressive winning streak long before he defeated Scott Jorgensen and Urijah Faber in 2012. However, none of his opponents were considered top-tier fighters like the ones he faced in 2012. Typically, Barao steps into his fights looking for the knockout or a quick submission. It was the fighting style that he had become known for. Impressively, Renan Barao changed his style and implemented a technical grace that was not previously seen in his repertoire.


Coming into the Jorgensen fight, Renan Barao was facing a perennial Bantamweight contender and a tough test in scrappy brawler. However, Barao slowed his usual fast pace and increased his amount of significant strikes. According to FightMetric, Barao out-landed Jorgensen 129 to 82 and in each round he landed more significant strikes than Jorgensen leading to the unanimous decision victory.


After UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz was injured, his bout with Urijah Faber was scrapped and so the UFC decided to create an interim championship instead and Barao was chosen as Faber’s opponent. Although their fight was met with boos from the crowd at UFC 149, it did not dissipate the fact that Barao put on one of the most technical performances of his career. Barao defeated the multi-weight-class perennial contender Urijah Faber by unanimous decision . Putting on two impressive performances in his 2012 fights has led Barao to a UFC title and PDG’s Breakout Fighter of the Year.


Honorable Mention:


Luke Rockhold

2012 Record:  2-0

Wins:  Keith Jardine, Tim Kennedy

Accomplishments:  Defended Strikeforce Middleweight Championship twice


Johny Hendricks

2012 Record:  2-0

Wins:  Josh Koscheck, Martin Kampmann

Accomplishments:  Became UFC Welterweight #1 Contender (later removed)


John Dodson

2012 Record:  2-0

Wins:  Tim Elliot, Jussier Formiga

Accomplishments:  Became UFC Flyweight #1 Contender




Heavyweight – Fighter of the Year



Cain Velasquez

2012 Record:  2-0

2012 Victims:  Antonio Silva, Junior Dos Santos

Accomplishments:  Crowned UFC Heavyweight Champion for the second time, avenged first career loss


2011 ended very disappointingly for Cain Velasquez who had returned from an injury but also re-injured himself before his title defense against Junior Dos Santos, only to get knocked out in a minute and four seconds. That sort of loss can eat at a man’s soul, or it can revitalize the fighting spirit. For Cain Velasquez, that loss did the latter. Cain Velasquez returned to the Octagon at UFC 146 and stormed through Antonio Silva like a man possessed. With sharp and accurate ground-and-pound, Velasquez brutalized Silva to a bloody pulp.


Many may say his immediate title shot against Dos Santos was unwarranted, but no one wanted that opportunity more than Velasquez. He came out in the rematch and shocked the world by knocking down the assumed better striker in Dos Santos. The rest of the fight would be a complete and utter beatdown. From striking to wrestling to ground-and-pound, Cain Velasquez owned the Octagon and for 25 minutes and gave Junior Dos Santos the worst beating of his career. Cain Velasquez would avenge his only career loss and he regained his UFC Heavyweight belt.


Honorable Mention:


Stefan Struve

2012 Record:  3-0

Wins:  Dave Herman, Lavar Johnson, Stipe Miocic

Accomplishments: Submission of the Night (UFC 146), Fight of the Night (UFC On Fuel TV)


Daniel Cormier

2012 Record: 1-0

Win: Josh Barnett

Accomplishments: Became the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion


Alexander Volkov

2012 Record: 5-0

Wins: Ricco Rodriguez, Stefan Stankovic, Brett Rogers, Vinicius Queiroz, Richard Hale

Accomplishments: Won Bellator Season 7 Heavyweight Tournament, Crowned Bellator Heavyweight Champion




Light Heavyweight – Fighter of the Year



Jon “Bones” Jones

2012 Record:  2-0

2012 Victims:  Rashad Evans, Vitor Belfort

Accomplishments:  Defended UFC Light-Heavyweight Championship twice


Jon Jones may have had a rough year as far as his public image goes, but as a fighter he has done a few things that people did not think he would be able to achieve. In his first outing of 2012, he took on his rival and former colleague Rashad Evans in a fight where most assumed Evans would have the advantage. Jones held Evans at bay for most of the fight, using his reach as a way to stay away from Evans’ heavy striking and takedowns. Short and quick elbows was Jones’ tool of the trade that helped him score another title defense in an unanimous decision win.


After the cancellation of UFC 151, Jon Jones was matched up against Vitor Belfort. Although “Bones” was the favorite, there was a brief moment in the first round where Belfort nearly proved that the old lion can defeat the young lion. Belfort nearly locked in the armbar but Jones proved that he can withstand a threatening submission. Fighting out of it, Jones would later pick a part the older Brazilian and he would eventually score an Americana to defend his title for the fourth time.


Honorable Mention:


Glover Teixeira

2012 Record:  2-0

Wins:  Kyle Kingsbury, Fabio Maldonado


Alexander Gustafsson

2012 Record: 2-0

Wins: Thiago Silva, Mauricio Rua


Attila Vegh

2012 Record: 4-0

Wins: Dan Spohn, Zelg Galesic, Emanuel Newton, Travis Wiuff

Accomplishments: Bellator Light Heavyweight tournament winner




Middleweight – Fighter of the Year



Luke Rockhold

2012 Record:  2-0

2012 Victims:  Keith Jardine, Tim Kennedy

Accomplishments:  Defended Strikeforce Middleweight Championship twice


Luke Rockhold did the unthinkable when he defeated Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in 2011 for the Strikeforce Middleweight Championship, so he came into 2012 with a lot of expectations coming from his spectators and fans. In his first title defense, Luke Rockhold took on the unorthodox Keith Jardine. Rockhold would stop the UFC veteran in the first round due to strikes and his momentum only moved upwards after that.


With the desire to prove that he wants to fight the best middleweights in the world, Luke Rockhold looked to instill in the minds of all MMA fans why he should be considered one of the best in the world. In his second title defense, Rockhold fought Tim Kennedy to a unanimous decision in which he won easily by a score of 49-46 on all of the judges scorecards.


Honorable Mention:


Cung Le

2012 Record:  2-0

Wins:  Patrick Cote, Rich Franklin

Accomplishments: Knockout of the Night


Costa Phillippou

2012 Record: 3-0

Wins: Court McGee, Riki Fukuda, Tim Boetsch


Ronaldo Souza

2012 Record: 2-0

Wins: Bristol Marunde, Derek Brunson




Welterweight – Fighter of the Year



Matt Brown

2012 Record:  4-0

2012 Victims:  Chris Cope, Stephen Thompson, Luis Ramos, Mike Swick


One of the more active fighters on the UFC roster, Matt Brown not only participated in four fights in 2012 but he finished three of the four. “The Immortal” Matt Brown may not be one of the most well-known welterweights in the UFC, but the skill and the heart he brings into the Octagon each time demonstrates the type of hard-nosed fighter that he is.


Brown showcases a good striking game and an underrated ground game and he was able to utilize all of his tools in the four victories that he achieved in 2012. His fight against Mike Swick was just the type of fight that Brown needed to put his name out there to the public and UFC officials. The two men are highly-respected fighters and each were trying to revitalize their careers. Matt Brown scored the TKO victory, proving just why they call him “The Immortal”. He is simply just not done yet.


Honorable Mention:


Johny Hendricks

2012 Record:  2-0

Wins:  Josh Koscheck, Martin Kampmann

Accomplishments: Knockout of the Night


Rory MacDonald

2012 Record:  2-0

Wins:  Che Mills, BJ Penn


Mike Pyle

2012 Record:  3-0

Wins:  Ricardo Funch, Josh Neer, James Head

Accomplishments: Knockout of the Night




Lightweight – Fighter of the Year



Benson Henderson

2012 Record:  3-0

2012 Victims:  Frankie Edgar (twice), Nate Diaz

Accomplishments:  Crowned UFC Lightweight Champion and defended the title twice


Benson Henderson found his way back to a lightweight title. As the #1 contender to Frankie Edgar’s UFC lightweight championship, Henderson figured to have a lot to overcome against the reigning Lightweight Champion. With superior footwork and boxing, Edgar was on track for the first couple of rounds on February 26, 2012 at UFC 144, but an up-kick from Henderson changed the tide. Benson Henderson would continue to implement furious kicks and counter-strikes to steal Edgar’s thunder. In the end, Benson Henderson upset Frankie Edgar by decision and became the new UFC Lightweight Champion.


At UFC 150, the rematch was much of the same but the fight went to a split decision and Henderson remained the champion. However, with the close decision many fans began to doubt the reign of Benson Henderson. On December 8th though, he proved his critics wrong. Benson Henderson put on the fight of his career against the formidable boxer and submission artist. No one outside of Rory MacDonald has manhandled Nate Diaz the way that Benson Henderson did at UFC on Fox 5. Staying out of the way of Diaz’s boxing and submissions, Henderson landed leg kicks that often put Diaz out of range and off balance. With a hefty weight advantage, Henderson was able to control the fight against the cage and on the canvas. He simply beasted Nate Diaz on his way to an unanimous decision victory. With three impressive title fights in one year, Benson Henderson has put himself at the top of the pack as one of the best fighters of the year.


Honorable Mention:


Jamie Varner

2012 Record:  3-1

Wins:  Drew Fickett, Edson Barboza, Melvin Guillard


Rafael Dos Anjos

2012 Record:  3-0

Wins:  Kamal Shalorus, Anthony Njokuani, Mark Bocek


Eddie Alvarez

2012 Record:  2-0

Wins:  Patricky Freire, Shinya Aoki




Featherweight – Fighter of the Year



Cub Swanson

2012 Record:  3-0

2012 Victims:  George Roop, Ross Pearson, Charles Oliveira

Achievements: Knockout of the Night twice (UFC On FX 4 and UFC 152)


Swanson came into this year following a loss to Ricardo Lamas at UFC on Fox 1 back in November 2011. Before that he had taken a few decision wins and losses that seemed unlike the man who was once a bright star in the WEC. Since the Lamas loss though, Swanson seems refocused and determined to not allow any fight to reach the judges. In his three fights in 2012, Swanson has finished all of his opponents.


His fight in January was just the right fight that appeared to reinvigorate Cub Swanson into the man he used to be. By stopping the dangerous George Roop in the second round with punches, Swanson had initiated a streak that would continue throughout the year. Not only that but it was his first win in the UFC since the merger with the WEC.


This new found striking game of Swanson’s would only continue in his next few fights. Ross Pearson would be his next victim and a stunning second round knockout rewarded him Knockout of the Night. When the rest of Greg Jackson’s fighters were winning by decision, Swanson was the one putting an end to any such talk. His last fight of the year came in September when he defeated submission specialist Charles Oliveira who was literally a dead man walking from the punches he received from Swanson. It still remains one of the most impressive knockouts of the year.


Honorable Mention:


Dennis Siver

2012 Record:  2-0

Wins:  Diego Nunes, Nam Phan


Daniel Straus

2012 Record:  4-0

Wins:  Jeremy Spoon, Mike Corey, Marlon Sandro, Alvin Robinson

Achievement: Bellator Season 6 Featherweight Tournament winner


Chan Sung Jung

2012 Record:  1-0

Win:  Dustin Poirier

Achievements: Fight of the Night and Submission of the Night (UFC on Fuel TV3)




Bantamweight – Fighter of the Year



Renan Barao

2012 Record:  2-0

2012 Victims:  Scott Jorgensen, Urijah Faber

Achievements: Crowned Interim UFC Bantamweight Champion


Renan Barao cruised to a 29-fight win streak with his two fights in 2012. A unanimous decision victory over Scott Jorgensen put him in the spotlight for non-hardcore MMA fans. He was already on the brink of title shot as the year began, but the way he outmatched Jorgensen with his speed and technical striking definitely helped matters.


Another thing that helped was the injury of UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz. With the champion out for some time, the UFC put together an interim title fight between Barao and Urijah Faber. He controlled Faber for the entire fight. With his technique looking precise and imposing, he used his speed and takedown defense to keep Faber away from where he was most comfortable. Barao, easily won a unanimous decision victory and became the Interim UFC Bantamweight Champion.


Honorable Mention:


Erik Perez

2012 Record:  3-0

Wins:  John Albert, Ken Stone, Byron Bloodworth


Eddie Wineland

2012 Record:  2-0

Wins:  Scott Jorgensen, Brad Pickett

Achievements: Fight of the Night (UFC on FX3)


TJ Dillashaw

2012 Record:  2-0

Wins:  Walel Watson, Vaughn Lee




Flyweight – Fighter of the Year



Demetrious Johnson

2012 Record:  2-0-1

2012 Victims:  Ian McCall (1 draw, 1 decision), Joseph Benavidez

Achievements: Crowned first-ever UFC Flyweight Champion, Fight of the Night (UFC on FX2)


While Demetrious Johnson’s year may have started off with a bit of controversy, the 26-year-old flyweight ended his year as the inaugural UFC Flyweight champion. Initially, his first fight against Ian McCall ended in a controversial decision, where the judges announced a majority decision for Demetrious Johnson. However the judges had made a mistake when tallying up the points. The fighters were expected to go to a fourth round if there was a draw and that is what should have happened. Their rematch took place June 8th to decide who would be the opponent to challenge Joseph Benavidez in the UFC Flyweight Tournament.


The second fight was much more controlled by Demetrious Johnson who implemented his wrestling better against his opponent. Winning the decision, Johnson would soon move on to face Joseph Benavidez. On September 22nd in his fight against Joseph Benavidez fans were rewarded with a highly contested fight that went back and forward for five rounds.


Johnson would defeat Benavidez via split decision, and become the first UFC Flyweight champion. A controversial ending with Ian McCall became a satisfying victory in the end and for that, Demetrious Johnson deserves his spot at the top of the Flyweight division.


Honorable Mention:


John Dodson

2012 Record:  2-0

Wins:  Tim Elliott, Jussier Formiga


Joshua Sampo

2012 Record:  3-1

Wins:  Czar Sklavos, Carson Gainey, Antonio Banuelos


John Moraga

2012 Record:  5-0

Wins:  Matthew Garcia, Maurice Senters, Jose Carbajal, Ulysses Gomez, Chris Cariaso

Achievements: Submission of the Night (UFC 155)




2012 Kickboxer of the Year



Semmy Schilt

2012 Record: 6-0

2012 Victims: Brice Guidon (twice), Errol Zimmerman, Rico Verhoeven, Gökhan Saki and Daniel Ghiţă

Achievements: Won the Glory Heavyweight Title +95kg, Crowned Glory 2012 Heavyweight Grand Slam Champion


Semmy Schilt used 2012 to reinforce his hold on the heavyweight kickboxing division. After losing to Peter Aerts at the K-1 World Grand Prix 2010 Finals, Schilt made his return to kickboxing in March of 2012, defeating Brice Guidon and winning the Glory Heavyweight Title. Then at the 2012 Glory World Series: -70kg First 16 event, he battered Errol Zimmerman to win the vacant Glory World Heavyweight Title.


Schilt returned to action on New Year’s Eve in Japan for DREAM 18 and GLORY 4 Tokyo – New Year’s Eve 2012 Special as a participant in the Glory 2012 Heavyweight Grand Slam. In one night, Schilt defeated Brice Guidon, Rico Verhoeven, Gohkan Saki and then Daniel Ghiţă as he claimed the Heavyweight Grand Slam tournament and the Grand Prize of $400,000. With yet another dominant year under his belt, Semmy Schilt is the 2012 PDG Kickboxer of the Year.


Honorable Mention:


Murthel Groenhart

2012 Record: 6-0

Wins: Harut Grigorian, Maximo Suarez, Marc de Bonte, Yasuhiro Kido, Mike Zambidis, Artur Kyshenko

Achievements: Crowned K-1 World MAX 2012 World Championship Tournament Champion


Daniel Ghiţă

2012 Record: 8-1

Wins: Hesdy Gerges, Sergei Lascenko, Jamal Ben Saddik, Mourad Bouzidi, Jhonata Diniz, Dževad Poturak, Wendell Roche, Brian Douwes

Achievements: Crowned 2012 It’s Showtime World Heavyweight Champion


Tyrone Spong

2012 Record: 2-0 Kickboxing, 1-0 MMA

Wins: Melvin Manhoef, Peter Aerts, Travis Bartlett

Achievements: Reigning WFCA Cruiserweight Muay Thai Champion




2012 Ring Card Girl of the Year



Jade Bryce (Bellator MMA)


As we have pointed out in the past, it is really hard to pick one girl from such a large pool of hotness and you really can’t go wrong with any ring girl.  I mean, these women are for the most part all smoking hot.  So with that being said, here is professional model, actress, PDG Ring Card Girl of the Year and Bellator MMA Cage Girl Jade Bryce!


*Click here for Bellator MMA Ring Girl Jade Bryce – Photo Gallery Volume I (35 Photos)*



Honorable Mention:


Brittney Palmer (UFC)


Shannon Ihrke (Invicta FC)


Chrissy Blair (Strikeforce)




MMA/K-1 Highlight Video of the Year



UFC – Emotions By Machinemen


Honorable Mention:


MMA – This Beautiful Sport by FlyWin Evolutions


Antônio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira – MMA Highlight 2012


Machinemen Presents “Live Forever MMA”




Additional Thoughts and Notes on 2012:


* The destruction of UFC fight cards due to injuries! It seemed as though it was a weekly occurrence in 2012 that fights were being cancelled due to injuries. For the first time ever, an entire event (UFC 151) was canceled when Dan Henderson was injured and Jon Jones wouldn’t fight Chael Sonnen. Overall the injuries led to a number of un-spectacular fight cards and UFC President Dana White asking that the fighters tone down the intensity of their training.


* The UFC expanded its global reach with its reality show The Ultimate Fighter filming two seasons abroad with The Ultimate Fighter Brasil and The Ultimate Fighter Austraila.


* Another year, another year of failed drug tests in mixed martial arts. 2012’s list of offenders included Alistair Overeem, Nick Diaz, Stephan Bonnar, Rafael “Feijao” Calvancante, King Mo Lawal, Chris Cyborg Santos, Dave Herman, Thiago Silva, Matt Riddle, Francisco Rivera, Jake Shields and more!


* DREAM was resurrected by Glory Sports International just in time for the annual New Year’s Eve extravaganza. According to GSI officials, they are making preparations to hold three to four DREAM events in 2013.


* The Death of Strikeforce and the Rise of Bellator MMA. In late 2012, Zuffa officials stated that the Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine event on January 5, 2013 would be the last Strikeforce event forever and that several fighters would make the move to the UFC. With Strikeforce out of the picture, Bellator MMA signed on with former UFC dance partner Spike TV starting in January of 2013, cementing the tournament formatted organization as the second largest promotion behind the UFC.


* “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko retired from competitive mixed martial arts following a three-fight win streak culminating with a knockout of Pedro Rizzo at M-1 Global: Fedor vs. Rizzo. Once thought of as unbeatable and indestructible, Emelianenko lost three fights in a row (Fabricio Werdum, Antonio Silva, Dan Henderson) under the Strikeforce banner, effectively ending any chance of seeing him fight in the UFC. Although, the Russian Sambo master will always be considered one of the best fighters in MMA history following a career that included a 28-fight unbeaten streak, the WAMMA Heavyweight Championship, the PRIDE Heavyweight Championship, the PRIDE 2004 Heavyweight World Grand Prix Champion, the RINGS Openweight Champion and numerous Fighter of the Year awards.



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!



  1. Couldn’t agree more with the Benson pick and the Jade Bryce pick but what happened to Weidman in your MW picks?

  2. Jessica Eye would have been a good choice for FFOTY instead of the paparazzi trash talking Rousey. I hope Carmouche smashes her but I doubt that will happen.