The last day of 2010 upon us, and though the year may not have delivered on the public’s long-standing dream of flying cars and laser-blasters it was certainly a period filled with memorable months from a Mixed Martial Arts viewpoint. We witnessed champions fall in dramatic fashion, rise from the ranks to become divisional kings, and in some cases emerge victorious by the skin of their teeth. We saw shocking signings and ridiculous releases; countless classics and numerous nod-offers; moves in the ring unlike any other before and some hopefully never seen again.
With the close of the calendar, Five Ounces of Pain brings you the final segment of our annual awards featuring the general categories fans have come to expect – Submission of the Year, Knockout of the Year, Fight of the Year, and of course Mixed Martial Artist of the Year.
As always, 5 Oz. invites our readers to offer their own opinions in the “Comments” section on who should have taken home the hardware (or in this case digital love). We would not be here without you, and rest assured the Staff not only appreciates your contributions from a “page view” standpoint, but genuinely enjoys reading our community’s take on topics. Have an incredibly fun, albeit safe, New Year’s Eve!
— Submission of the Year —
Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen / UFC 117: Though the past twelve months delivered a number of memorable BJJ-based victories, including historic moments like Fabricio Werdum tapping Fedor Emelianenko, as well as unique holds like Phil Davis‘ “Wonderbar”, Anderson Silva‘s submission of Chael Sonnen at UFC 117 stood out as the biggest of the year. There was an incredible amount of hype entering their match-up thanks in large part to Sonnen’s gift of gab and the end result lived up to the expectations that had been created. Sonnen abused Silva unlike any fighter had in the Octagon only to see his hopes of winning the middleweight belt slip away in the final two minutes of the fifth round courtesy of the Brazilian’s perfectly-timed Triangle-Armbar hybrid.
— Knockout of the Year —
Mauricio Rua vs. Lyoto Machida / UFC 113: In their first fight at UFC 104, Mauricio Rua and Lyoto Machida engaged in a human chess match where neither man wanted to make a mistake. After leaving it in the hands of the judges and coming up on the wrong end of a controversial decision, Rua had a different game plan in the rematch at UFC 113. Tasting Machida’s power in their first bout and concluding that he couldn’t be hurt, Rua went after Machida in the rematch and did something that some thought was impossible. He countered the ultimate counter fighter and he hit Machida with a big overhand right as Machida leaped in with his patented left straight. The punch dropped Machida to the mat, where Rua quickly pounced on him and delivered the infamous Chute Box choke while pounding Machida unconscious with right hands. The fight-ending series earned “Shogun” the UFC Light Heavyweight Title and the distinction for Five Ounces’ top knockout of 2010.
— Fight of the Year —
Kazuo Misaki vs. Jorge Santiago II / SRC 14: Our selection for this year’s top fight was a match-up a lot of MMA fans likely missed based on location (Japan) and promotion (Sengoku). However, those who have been fortunate enough to see Jorge Santiago’s SRC middleweight title defense against Kazuo Misaki this past August understand exactly how incredible the bout was. The two respected 185-pounders battled for the bulk of five rounds before Misaki’s corner was forced to throw in a towel to stop things with less than a minute remaining in the fight. However, prior to the stoppage, “The Grabaka Hitman” had controlled a good portion of the early action before being dropped in the third then returning the favor a frame later. The championship clash involved near finishes for both and a spectacular, last-minute ending that likely saved Santiago from losing his belt. It may not have been the highest profile fight of 2010, but it was by all means arguably the best of the bunch.
— Mixed Martial Artist of the Year —
Cain Velasquez. There were plenty of stand-out performers in 2010 but no one rose to super-stardom quite like Cain Velasquez. His journey started at UFC 110 against former PRIDE and UFC Heavyweight Champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Even though he had dominated previous competition like Ben Rothwell, Cheick Kongo, Jake O’Brien and other more-forgettable UFC heavyweights, Nogueira was Velasquez’ first true test inside the Octagon. Coming into the fight, many believed Nogueira was back to his old form after displaying his complete array of skills against Randy Couture and that his well-roundedness combined with his experience would give Velasquez more than he could handle. If this was Velasquez’ first real test, he passed with flying colors. Nogueira threw one jab and Velasquez countered with a three punch combination, including a right hook that sent “Big Nog” down to the mat in a heap. A few unanswered punches later and Velasquez had scored his first UFC main event win and a shot at the UFC Heavyweight Title. The “Cain Train” had officially left the station, ready to take out anything in its way.
Enter his next challenge. UFC 121 may have been promoted during “Brocktober,” but the million-plus people that bought UFC 121 saw the former WWE superstar fall victim to a far superior fighter. The UFC promoted this fight as one of the biggest of all time, giving it three weeks of strong promotion with the “UFC Primetime” series going deep into each fighter’s training camp. The UFC knew that Brock Lesnar would draw strong and they took that opportunity to fully introduce their fanbase to the next great Mexican-American sports star. When fight night came around Lesnar came out charging, but Velasquez weathered the early storm to take complete control of the fight. What followed was utter domination and in less than five minutes Velasquez became the UFC Heavyweight Champion, utterly destroying the former champion in such a way that no doubt can be left as to who is the better man. 2010 was an extremely strong year for the heavyweight division and Velasquez led the charge. One year ago he was a strong prospect, and now he’s the top heavyweight fighter in the world.