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Even though March is only 11 days old, Martin Kampmann’s come-from-behind, last minute submission win over Thiago Alves in the main event of the UFC on FX 2 event in Sydney, Australia marked the end of the first quarter of the event calendar in the UFC.
With the Octagon not scheduled to make another appearance until it lands in Stockholm, Sweden for the first time in mid-April, I thought this would be a great time to look back at the highlights from the first three months.
From the explosive knockouts and stunning submissions to the great fights and genuinely entertaining moments, here’s a look back at the best of best so far in 2012.
Best of 2012 so far…
Edson Barboza KO, R3 (Spinning Wheel Kick) vs. Terry Etim — UFC 142
Not only was this easily the best knockout of the year thus far, Barboza’s finish in Rio de Janeiro stands as one of the best knockouts in UFC history. The unbeaten Brazilian connected on a beautiful spinning wheel kick, stiffening Etim on impact, sending the Liverpudlian crashing to the canvas as everyone watching picked his or her jaw up off the floor.
Barboza earned Knockout of the Night honors for the performance, and took home his third straight Fight of the Night award as well, making his next bout likely to be one of the most anticipated lightweight contests on the calendar.
Stephen Thompson KO, R1 (Front Leg Round Kick) vs. Dan Stittgen — UFC 143
If not for Barboza’s ridiculous finish a month earlier, “Wonderboy” would be leading the Knockout of the Year race for his first round finish of Dan Stittgen in his UFC debut back in February.
The decorated kickboxer and undefeated welterweight connected with a combination he and his coaches call “The Moneymaker,” a right cross followed by a lead-leg round kick that — if delivered properly — the opposition doesn’t even see coming. Such was the case with Stittgen, who leaned out of the way of the right hand only to be laid out by the right leg of Thompson that landed flush on the side of his head.
Next up for the 28-year-old South Carolina native is a meeting with TUF 7 alum Matt Brown at UFC 145 in April.
Nick Denis KO, R1 (Standing Elbows) vs. Joseph Sandoval — UFC on FX 1
“The Ninja of Love” didn’t waste much time making an impact in the UFC’s bantamweight division.
Denis needed just 22 seconds to put away Sandoval in the opening bout of the UFC’s inaugural event on FX, grabbing a half collar tie with his left hand while unleashing a barrage of elbow strikes to the side of the Texas native’s head with his right.
The Ottawa, Ontario native who holds a Masters degree in biochemistry will return to action against TUF 14 semifinalist Johnny Bedford in May on the UFC on FOX 3 undercard.
Honorable Mentions: Issei Tamura KO, R1 (Punch) vs. Tiequan Zhang — UFC 144; Anthony Pettis KO, R1 (Head Kick) vs. Joe Lauzon — UFC 144.
Dustin Poirier SUB, R1 (Mounted Triangle Armbar) vs. Max Holloway — UFC 143
After going the distance in his first two UFC appearances, the 23-year-old featherweight contender has shown off his submission skills in each of his last two outings.
In February, Poirier followed up his second-round submission win over Pablo Garza with a beautiful mounted triangle armbar finish of young Hawaiian Max Holloway on the Condit vs. Diaz undercard.
A purple belt under TUF 7 alum and UFC middleweight “Crazy” Tim Credeur, Poirier returns to the cage in May to face “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung in the main event of UFC on FUEL TV 3 in Fairfax, Virginia.
Charles Oliveira SUB, R1 (Calf Crusher) vs. Eric Wisely — UFC on FOX: Evans vs. Davis
The energetic 22-year-old Brazilian made his featherweight debut a memorable one by earning Submission of the Night honors for this first round finish.
Wisely defended a series of submission attempts from Oliveira, avoiding both a heel hook and a kneebar before getting caught in the unexpected hold, which saw Oliveira triangle his legs around Wisely’s calf and pull him to the ground, putting immense pressure on the calf, as well as torquing his knee simultaneously.
Oliveira looked comfortable making the cut to 145-pounds for the first time, rebounding from a three-fight winless skid after winning 14 straight as a lightweight.
Vaughan Lee SUB, R1 (Armbar) vs. Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto — UFC 144
The diminutive Birmingham native dealt the Japanese crowd a blow with his slick finish of hometown favorite “Kid” Yamamoto at UFC 144.
While the former K-1 Hero’s standout was getting the best of things in the stand-up department, he made a mistake on the ground late in the opening frame, and Lee capitalized. The 29-year-old British bantamweight grabbed Yamamoto’s arm, and transitioned from a triangle choke into an armbar, becoming the first person to submit Yamamoto.
The win leveled Lee’s record at 1-1 in the UFC, and sets the British submission specialist up as someone to watch in the coming months.
Honorable Mentions: UFC on FX 2 Submission Trio — Daniel Pineda SUB, R1 (Triangle Choke Armbar) vs. Mackens Semerzier; TJ Waldburger SUB, R1 (Armbar) vs. Jake Hecht; Martin Kampmann SUB, R3 (Guillotine Choke) vs. Thiago Alves
Frankie Edgar vs. Benson Henderson — UFC 144
Regardless of whom you had winning this fight, there is no denying that it was one of the most exciting of the year thus far.
Once again, Edgar showed the heart of the champion and the incredible resiliency that carried him through the dire opening rounds of his two engagements with Gray Maynard last year, continually pressing forward, never slowing down. Across from him, Henderson stood his ground, a calm look on his face, casually clearing the hair from his eyes between throwing heavy punches and kicks.
The judges saw the fight in favor of Henderson, making him the second former WEC champion to claim UFC gold already this year, but each round was closer than the final scores show. For a third straight year, Edgar will fight in a rematch, as the two will meet again later this year in a bout that will most likely join this one on a list of the best fights of 2012.
Demetrious Johnson vs. Ian McCall — UFC on FX 2
The flyweights finally made their UFC debut at the start of the month in Sydney, Australia, and the first fight in the history of the 125-pound division was one of the best of the year.
As expected, former bantamweight title challenger Demetrious Johnson and Ian McCall, the top-ranked flyweight in the world, paired off in a spirited affair that revved up to 100mph right out of the gate and never backed off the gas pedal.
Like Edgar and Henderson, McCall and Johnson will also meet for a second time later this year. The fight, which is officially ruled a draw, should have advanced to a “sudden victory” round, but a transcription error led to the contest being declared a majority decision for Johnson.
Three more rounds of “Mighty Mouse” vs. “Uncle Creepy” later this year? Sounds good to me.
Mike Easton vs. Jared Papazian — UFC on FX 1
These two bantamweights went toe-to-toe, meeting head on in the center of the Octagon in the middle of January before spending the next 15 minutes trading punches and kicks all over the cage.
Easton emerged victorious, earning the majority decision with scores of 29-28, 30-27, and 29-29 to push his record to 2-0 in the UFC and 12-1 overall. “The Hulk” returns to the Octagon on May 15 to face Yves Jabouin on UFC on FUEL TV 3.
Papazian, who took the fight on short notice after Ken Stone was forced from the bout due to an injury, put up a valiant effort, and established himself someone to keep an eye in the bantamweight ranks.
Honorable Mentions: Matthew Riddle vs. Henry Martinez — UFC 143; Jake Ellenberger vs. Diego Sanchez— UFC on FUEL TV 1.
10 ADDITIONAL HIGHLIGHTS FROM 2012 THUS FAR
Jose Aldo celebrates with the crowd
After defeating Chad Mendes and defending his UFC featherweight title in the main event of UFC 142, the dynamic Brazilian champion ran from the Octagon and celebrated his victory amongst the crowd assembled at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro. This was one of the most genuinely entertaining post-fight celebrations ever.
Jorge Rivera goes out with a win
Heading into his fight with Eric “Red” Schafer at UFC on FX 1, TUF 4 alum and UFC veteran Jorge Rivera announced he’d be calling it quits after the bout.
Through the first round, it looked like the Milford, Massachusetts native would end his career on a three-fight losing streak, but in the second, Rivera took charge, earning the stoppage win just 91 seconds into the round. The 40-year-old finished his career with a 20-9 record overall, and an 8-7 mark in the UFC.
WEC Champions Become UFC Champions
Both Carlos Condit and Benson Henderson wore gold during their days in the WEC. This year, the two World Extreme Cagefighting alums became UFC champions, Condit claiming the interim welterweight title at UFC 143, while Henderson earned lightweight gold at UFC 144.
Counting featherweight champion Jose Aldo and bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz, four of the organization’s current champions are former WEC title holders. Flyweight tournament finalist Joseph Benavidez could become the fifth later this year.
The WEC may be gone, but these boys are helping make sure it’s never forgotten.
Round of the Year: Ivan Menjivar vs. John Albert — UFC on FUEL TV 1
It may have only lasted three minutes and 45 seconds, but Ivan Menjivar and John Albert crammed an entire fight’s worth of back-and-forth action into that time in Omaha, Nebraska.
Menjivar came out strong early, only to have Albert turn up the intensity and look like he was close to finishing midway through the fight. “The Pride of El Salvador” weathered the storm, and emerged on the other side to submit the Ultimate Fighter Season 14 alum shortly thereafter, earning Submission of the Night honors in the process.
The Imperial March vs. The PRIDE Theme
Though the fight between Ryan “Darth” Bader and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 144 didn’t quite deliver as much excitement as expected, their choice in walkout songs produced the best pairing of the night.
Bader strode to the cage to the sounds of Rage Against the Machine’s rocked-up version of the Imperial March — the music that announces Darth Vader’s presence in the original Star Wars trilogy — while Jackson came out to the theme from PRIDE.
As a big Star Wars nerd, I’ve always loved the Imperial March. As an even bigger MMA nerd, the PRIDE theme still gives me chills, with Jackson’s entrance in Japan making it even more awesome than normal. Too bad the fight wasn’t as good as the entrances.
Tim Boetsch made a lot of writers delete nearly completed fight recaps in his bout with Yushin Okami at UFC 144.
After being dominated throughout the first two rounds, most believed the former title challenger would complete the clean sweep against Boestch as the third round began. “The Barbarian” had other ideas, coming out of the break looking to finish, and doing just that thanks to a series of uppercuts along the cage that flattened Okami.
UFC President Dana White praised Boetsch’s performance after the event, holding it out there as an example of how he would like everyone who is down on the scorecards to approach the final round.
Pat Barry defends submissions, knocks out Christian Morecraft
The charismatic heavyweight showed that all the time he’s been putting in with the heavyweight wrestling monsters who make up the DeathClutch team in Minnestoa has been paying off.
In his UFC on FX 1 encounter with Morecraft, Barry escaped a pair of submission attempts on the ground before knocking out the 25-year-old New York native. Now that he’s shown everyone he can defend on the ground, Barry has vowed not to cut his hair until he gets a submission win over his own inside the Octagon.
His next chance comes in May on the UFC on FOX 3 card against Lavar “Big” Johnson.
Shawn Jordan’s Backflip
After earning a second-round TKO victory over Oli Thompson in his UFC debut in Australia, Jordan, a former fullback at LSU, landed a perfect backflip in the center of the Octagon.
Maybe he can give welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre some pointers next time he’s down in Albuquerque working with Team Jackson.
Brazilian Dominance in Brazil
Brazilian fighters went 10-4 when the UFC returned to Rio for the first time last August, with three of those losses coming in fights featuring two Brazilian fighters.
In January, the local fighters continued their dominance, posting a 9-3 mark at UFC 142, with a pair of those losses stemming from fights pitting Brazilians against one another.
Overall between the two events, Brazilians are 19-7 inside the Octagon, with five unavoidable losses. We’ll see if the trend continues when the UFC heads back to Brazil for the third time.
All Kinds of Awesomeness Ahead
Jones vs. Evans. “Cigano” vs. “The Reem” for the heavyweight title. Cruz vs. Faber 3. The list goes on and on, making the upcoming schedule filled with outstanding fights one of the biggest highlights of the year so far.
“We didn’t kill Pride. I’ve said this many times, Pride is the only other organization that I’ve ever respected. Pride was an organization here in Japan that did huge sell-out shows. There were tons of Pride fans in the United States. There are a lot of big stars, not just out of Japan, but worldwide that came from Pride. It’s the only other organization that I have ever respected or given credit to.”
When asked if the UFC would consider promoting a future Pride-themed card in Japan just for good ol’ time’s sake – featuring past stars like Dan Henderson, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Fedor Emelianenko – White quickly shot the prospects down.
“Not Fedor,” White mumbled under his breath. “I don’t think so. The Pride thing didn’t work out. We gave it a shot, it didn’t work out.”
“The gentleman that asked earlier that I was the one who killed Pride, it’s completely not true … The UFC will be the events that we bring here. The great history of Pride, there’s no more Pride events.”
UFC welcomes Roger Gracie as latest contract
Former Strikeforce light heavyweight, Roger Gracie (4-1) has signed a multi-fight contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, according to GracieMag. The migration to the UFC may come as a bit of a surprise to some, considering the talented Gracie was knocked unconscious just five months ago by former Strikeforce title holder, Muhammed Lawal at Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov.Prior to the defeat, Gracie had showcased a lethal submission attack. In four professional victories, all four of his foes found themselves ensnared in Roger’s lethal grasp. What makes that feat all the more impressive is the competition with which Gracie was able to overcome: Ron Waterman, Yuki Kondo, Kevin Randleman and Trevor Prangley.Gracie’s been sidelined since coming up short in his collision with Lawal, though he’ll certainly bring a unique skillset to the UFC; few light heavyweights can lay claim to possessing a submission attack as strong as Roger’s, which could throw a major monkey wrench into the upper echelon of the division.
Condit vs. Diaz II ?
Is a rematch between newly crowned interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit and Stockton bad boy, Nick Diaz truly a bout that needs to happen? As a longtime Diaz fan, it hurt me a bit to score the pairs initial encounter last weekend at UFC 143 in favor of Carlos Condit. I’ve been chomping at the bit for a collision between Diaz and sidelined champion, Georges St. Pierre for ages, and over the course of 25 minutes, that fantasy collision remained just that, a fantasy.
For the better portion of five rounds Carlos Condit moved in reverse, while Diaz stalked forward, constantly walking down his enemy. It was the moments in which the two would engage that would negate Nick’s unrelenting pressure, as Condit, time and again managed to pepper Diaz with an assortment of punches, kicks, elbows and the occasional knee before sliding out of harms range, and keeping his back off the cage. “The Natural Born Killers’” lateral movement also proved detrimental to Diaz’s onslaught. With the exception of one tremendous flurry from Nick, and a fifth round takedown, followed by secured back control, Condit kept himself out of harm’s way while unleashing enough counter attacks to convince the cageside judges that he was indeed the more effective of the two.
Credit is certainly owed Diaz, who clearly believed that the pressure he’d been applying would see him earn the victory. I don’t particularly recall the advice Nick was given between rounds, but it doesn’t seem as though his corner alerted him of the urgency he faced heading into the bouts fourth frame. Diaz continued to march forward, absorbing some flashy strikes and one particularly powerful kick to the face; he was, unsurprisingly unfazed, but it sure didn’t do him any favors in regards to points. In a last ditch effort, Diaz came out strong in the fifth round. Despite absorbing a few flush strikes, Diaz bombarded Condit with plenty of kicks, and closed the round out by taking Carlos down, seizing back control, and working for a rear naked choke, and subsequently an armbar. It was a fine way to cap off the fifth frame, but by most critical eyes, it was just too little, too late.
In the end, the judges agreed, awarding Carlos Condit the unanimous decision victor with scores of 49-46 (twice) and 48-47. It may not have been the outcome so many had predicted, but there is certainly evidence to back up a win that many are now discrediting. According to Fight Metric, Carlos Condit out landed Nick Diaz: 159 total strikes to 117. In regards to significant strikes, The Natural Born Killer held a significant edge with 151 strikes landed against Diaz’s 105. While, visually the fight appeared to be quite close, the fact remains that Condit, despite moving in reverse for the majority of the bout, consistently out struck Diaz, and delivered the most damage inside the allotted championship time frame.
Immediately following the bout both men took to the microphone to speak with Joe Rogan. Condit presented himself in professional fashion, praising his foe, acknowledging the dangers he presented, and in general, spoke quite fondly of both Diaz and current champion, Georges St. Pierre. Diaz also issued respect to Condit, but his emotions soon got the better of him, as he derided the judges for what he perceived a terrible decision. He also went on to express the fact that he’s, “done with this sh*t”. That’s right: a highly emotional Diaz announced his retirement. Given the warrior spirit that thrives inside of Diaz, I don’t expect the rash decision to stand long, this man is still just a fight or two away from a collision with his nemesis, Georges St. Pierre.
The next 30 days in the MMA world will deliver some great MMA fights, ProFightNetwork looks at the rumored cards below
UFC on FUEL TV 1: Ellenberger vs. Sanchez – February 15 (Omaha, NE)
UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson – February 25 (Saitama, Japan)
UFC on FX 2: Alves vs. Kampmann – March 3 (Sydney, Australia)
UFC 145 – March 24 (Montreal, Canada)
UFC 141 Main event:
265 lbs.: Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem
UFC 141 Main card
170 lbs / Jon Fitch vs. Johny Hendricks
155 lbs / Nate Diaz vs. Donald Cerrone
145 lbs / Jim Hettes vs. Nam Phan
205 lbs / Alexander Gustafsson vs. Vladimir Matyushenko
Spike TV Prelims:
145 lbs / Ross Pearson vs. Junior Assuncao
155 lbs / Danny Castillo vs. Anthony Njokuani
155 lbs / Efrain Escudero vs. Jacob Volkmann
170 lbs / Luis Ramos vs. Matt Riddle
170 lbs / Dong Hyun Kim vs. Sean Pierson
145 lbs / Manny Gamburyan vs. Diego Nunes12/10/2011 The UFC light heavyweight title is on the line for the third time this year tomorrow night (Dec. 10, 2011) as champion Jon Jones looks to defend his strap against former division deity Lyoto Machida in the main event of UFC 140.From humble beginnings, Jon Jones has exploded to the top of the MMA world in 2011. He’s already handed Ryan Bader his first loss, dethroned Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and knocked off “Rampage” Jackson. If “Bones” can put a stop to Lyoto Machida tomorrow night, it will cap off perhaps the most impressive one year run in MMA history.Lyoto Machida wants to make the most of his opportunity. Coming off one of the most exciting knockouts of the year against UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture, he’s had plenty of time to prepare for Jon Jones. Many analysts have speculated that Machida’s defensive karate style could be the perfect counter to “Bones.” We’ll find out the answer to that question on Saturday.Will the 24-year-old Jones continue his torrid run through the gauntlet of light heavyweight champions? Will Machida’s unique fighting style pose problems, or has Jones figured him out just like everyone else? What’s the path to victory for each man come tomorrow night? 11/29/2011
- UFC bans Leben for 1 year after failed drug test
- Pellegrino, Freire make weight for Bellator fight
- UFC grants Jackson’s request to fight in Japan
- Source: Alves, Kampmann will meet in March
- Koscheck to fight Condit at UFC 143 in Vegas
- Henderson edges Rua at UFC 139 | Epic bout
- Sources: UFC live event to be held in Chicago
- Gulliard, Miller agree to Jan. 20 fight in Nashville
- Lightweights Pettis, Lauzon to fight at UFC 144
- UFC’s parent sues, says N.Y. MMA ban unlawful
- Featherweights Koch, Poirier to fight at UFC 143
Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz slated for Super Bowl Saturday
October 30th, 2011
UFC president Dana White announced during the “UFC 137: Penn vs. Diaz” post-fight press conference that Carlos Condit has willingly stepped aside to allow the planet’s premier mixed martial arts promotion to arrange the biggest welterweight showdown in history.
Following Nick Diaz’s convincing win over BJ Penn on Saturday night, Mr. 209 used his post-fight celebratory speech to not only call out reigning UFC 170-pound king Georges St-Pierre (Pictured), but also question the legitimacy behind GSP’s injured knee and hamstring.
“I don’t think Georges is hurt,” Diaz emphatically stated. “I think he’s scared to fight everybody right now.”
According to White, St-Pierre ain’t scared, homie. After being put on blast, White claimed he’d never seen St-Pierre as upset as he was after UFC 137 wrapped and knew he had to comply to his champion’s demands.
“I’ve known GSP since 2004, he’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met,” White said. “GSP flipped out tonight when Nick was in the ring. Nick needs motivation, he’s got it. He’s gonna fight GSP.”
Although St-Pierre didn’t get the opportunity to rock the mic himself, White relayed the French-Canadian’s irate message for him.
“He’s the most disrespectful human being I’ve ever met, and I’m going to put the worst beating you’ve ever seen on him,” White told the media on St-Pierre’s behalf.
Although Diaz claimed nothing good came from his win over Penn because he was initially scheduled to fight St-Pierre in the first place, it was clear he was excited about the opportunity.
White said their shootout will go down Super Bowl Saturday (February 4th) in Las Vegas, Nevada – assuming St-Pierre doesn’t suffer any setbacks in his rehab process.
Condit has asked to compete on the same card. He will get next dibs at the title if he beats his yet-to-be announced opponent.