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Five Ounces 2011 Year-End Awards: The Meat and Potatoes

The first week of 2012 has arrived, and though 2011 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, prospects rise from the ranks to become divisional kings, and numerous fighters 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 year, Five Ounces of Pain is bringing you our annual awards as we wind things down and get ready for the adventures the coming twelve months will undoubtedly bring.

Today we’ve arrived as the “meat and potatoes” otherwise know as Knockout of the Year, Submission of the Year, Fight of the Year, and Fighter 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.

And HAPPY NEW YEAR!

- Knockout of the Year -

Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort: “OHHHHHHHHH, HE FRONT KICKED HIM IN THE FACE!” – Joe Rogan.

For once, the commentating crew’s blatant stating of the obvious was forgivable, as there simply was nothing else Rogan could have said in that instant to describe what had just happened.

After spending the better part of three minutes engaging in a staring contest, Silva and Belfort remembered they were in a fight. “The Phenom” was the first to draw blood by scoring with a one-two, but it was a combo that seemed to have awakened the beast. After a quick takedown, both fighters regained their feet, where Silva somehow had the audacity to drop his hands while standing in front of one of the most feared strikers in MMA history. Seconds later, Belfort found himself staring at the ceiling courtesy of a front kick to the jaw. From there, Silva nonchalantly walked over, threw his compatriot’s legs to the side, and finished him off with a couple of extra punches.

It was truly one of the most amazing displays of technique, speed, timing, distancing and creativity you’re ever going to see in this sport.

- Submission of the Year -

Frank Mir’s Kimura of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: There were other contenders to be sure but no tap-out had the drama of Mir’s stomach-turning submission of “Minotauro” at UFC 140. Leading up to the fight there was a bit of animosity between the two stemming from Nogueira’s excuses about losing their first encounter. Shortly after action started in the second scrap it seemed apparent Nogueira would win, dropping Mir and nearly pounding him out before making the ill-fated decision to go for a Guillotine Choke instead. As fate would reveal, Mir then rolled out of it while procuring a Kimura he ultimately broke the Brazilian’s arm with based on the veteran’s refusal to tap. In the process Mir, often overlooked as one of MMA’s greats, not only solidified a likely 2012 shot at winning the title but also became the first man to submit Nogueira (while already being the first to TKO him).

- Fight of the Year -

Mike Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez (Bellator 58): Alvarez was considered to be a top five, if not top three, lightweight in the world when he stepped into the cage on November 19 while Chandler was just a prospect who was in over his head at this point in his career. Alvarez was the long reigning Bellator champion and the poster boy of the organization while Chandler was just another fight who Eddie could put on a show against. The only problem was, nobody told Chandler that it wasn’t supposed to be his time to shine, and the result made for the best fight of the year.

From the opening bell, Chandler wanted to prove that he wasn’t impressed with Alvarez’s accomplishments by immediately charging out and throwing a barrage of punches that had the champion on the defensive and nearly out of the fight. Alvarez managed to survive the early flurry though, compose himself, and get back into the fight before getting dropped again at the end of the first round. It was a round that proved Chandler wouldn’t be backing down despite the experience difference and told Alvarez that he was in for the toughest fight of his life.

The one minute break between rounds served Alvarez well as he found his rhythm in the second round and started to get the better of the young challenger with his hands. It looked as if Chandler may have blown himself up in the first round as he dramatically slowed down in the second round, but still kept things competitive with his wrestling.

The third round was seemingly the turning point of the fight as Alvarez really turned up the pressure and nearly put Chandler away with a variety of combinations and shots to the chin and body. At one point, Chandler reached down to check his foot after throwing a kick, a sign that he was hurt and was moments away from being done. Despite looking completely gassed out and getting hit with every punch in the book, Chandler never once went down, but did look out on his feet for the majority of the round.

Alvarez appeared to be in complete control heading into the championship rounds, but like the champion did between rounds one and two, the challenger used the one minute break between rounds three and four to refocus himself and get an extra wind. All of a sudden, Chandler looked like he was back in the first round, pressing Alvarez and forcing the champ to fight his fight. The end came when Chandler dropped Alvarez with an overhand right, got on top, improved his position, got the back, and sunk in a rear naked choke for the tap out.

This fight had everything. Dramatic momentum swings in both directions, both fighters showing a ton of heart, striking, wresting, grappling, a title on the line, and a conclusive finish. Alvarez vs. Chandler is truly what MMA is all about.

Make sure to check out the bottom of this article for complete video of the 5 OZ Fight of the Year!

- Fighter of the Year -

Jon Jones: Was there really any other choice?

Jeremy Lambert: “Bones” Jones not only had the best year of any fighter in 2011, he may have had the best year of any fighter ever. He won four fights, one man was undefeated at the time, the other three were former champions, and he finished all four opponents. In a year where he was supposed to just be built up as the next contender in the division, he immediately jumped into the title picture thanks to a Rashad Evans injury and never looked back. The way he handled top lightweights such as “Shogun” Rua, Quinton Jackson, and Machida was once in a lifetime beauty. He absolutely destroyed Rua, turning him into his personal punching bag. He made Jackson look like a one-dimensional amateur. And, facing a bit of adversity for the first time in his career, he choked out Machida with a Standing Guillotine Choke, which is an extremely difficult hold to finish against a top level fighter like “The Dragon”

Think of all the great years fighters like Chuck Liddell, Georges St. Pierre, Fedor Emelianeko, Wanderlei Silva, “Spider” Silva, and Kazushi Sakuraba put together when they were at their best. None of those years compare to what Jones did in 2011. It’s rare that a top guy fights four times a year, it’s even more rare that he looks as impressive as Jones, especially considering the level of talent he faced.

Samer Kadi: When 2011 began, Jones was widely regarded as the hottest prospect in MMA, and many tipped him to be the next ruler in the heavyweight division. However, few could have imagined it would happen as early as it did. In fact, Jones himself couldn’t have possibly anticipated such overwhelming success in a calendar year. A lucky break saw former teammate and now bitter rival Evans pull out of his scheduled bout with champion “Shogun” Rua, and Jones was called upon to serve as a replacement.

Just five weeks after his handling of Ryan Bader, Jones turned in the performance of his career and a violent beatdown of the much more experienced Rua, eventually stopping him with strikes in the third round in what was a brutal display of domination from start to finish. From there, Jones cemented his status as one of the absolute best fighters on the planet by out-classing “Rampage” Jackson four three-and-a-half rounds before submitting Machida inside two rounds to cap off what could well be the most sensational year in MMA history for a single fighter.

Brendhan Conlan: There’s not much to be said beyond what Lambert/Kadi have mentioned but a few points to further demonstrate why Jones’ 2011 was so impressive. 1.) He out-wrestled Bader, a NCAA wrestling champion, 2.) He was the first person to finish Jackson in more than five years, 3.) He was the first person to submit Jackson in a decade, 3.) He was the first person to ever stop Rua with strikes, and 4.) He was the first person to ever stop Machida via submission. Jones’ 2011 was akin to the greatest feats in any sport and unquestionably made him the year’s top fighter.

As a special treat, courtesy of Bellator, you can re-live Alvarez vs. Chandler below:

9 COMMENTS
  • edub says:

    The lack of respect/press given to Maynard-Edgar 2 astounds me (not just here but everywhere in the MMA community). It had probably the best two LWs in the world, maybe the best comeback of all time, fast paced action for 5 rounds, knockdowns, slams, submission attempts, and a result that literally could’ve gone either way.

    Honestly, for how great Alvarez-Chandler was (which it was a damn good fight), it was just a lower class version of Maynard-Edgar 2.

    The main reason I think it gets overlooked everywhere is it happened at the very beginning of the new year, and that to me is sad.

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  • qat says:

    i agree with edub, the maynard-edgar fights were great and seem to fly under the radar a bit. and i would give knockout of the year to kongo. silvas kick was impressive, but lets face it.. it was “just” a perfectly timed front kick.., not something really outlandish like the showtime-kick of pettis.

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  • I think Henderson vs. Rua should’ve taken fight of the year. Im not in blatant disagreement to where i feel Alvarez and Chandler was overlooking the Henderson/Rua fight but I do believe two of the greatest LHWs of all time going toe to toe for four straight rounds and even with Hendo being mounted in the 5th and still trying to beat up Shogun all the while taking bombs and never quitting was just a notch above the fast paced LW brawl. I also could’ve seen Edgar vs. maynard 2 as a contender.

    Sub of the year was spot on if nothing else because Big Nog, the BJJ master of MMA had his arm broken by the only man that was debated to even have near the ability to do it. Mir escaped the dreaded Anaconda choke that Nog puts everyone away with and went chop for chop with him on the ground before outclassing him and snapping his arm like a twig. Even The Zombie’s twister couldnt stack up to that.

    KO could’ve been Kongo, Lyoto or Anderson. I also suppose Junior could’ve been granted it just because Cain looked indestructible up until Cigano’s right hand hit him flush.

    Damn what an awesome year in MMA for all this to be up for discussion.

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  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    I agree with all the picks but I think Lyoto’s scissor kick on Randy beats Silva’s front kick. I think Hendo vs Shogun was good too as far as fight of the year and I dont agree that Maynard and Edgar are the two best LWs in the world. I thought there first fight was boring apart from rd 1 but the 2nd was pretty good.

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  • Creature says:

    Pretty much what everyone else said, id have went with Hendo/Shogun for FOTY with maynard/edgar 2 in close 2nd. both those fights were just crazy plain and simple. KO of the year i gave to Kongo, seriously that had me going “holy shit” for the next 2 days straight. Sub goes to Mir as much as i hate to say it

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  • fanoftna33 says:

    Shogun vs Henderson was great but not like Chandler vs Alverez, Henderson basically did nothing for the final 10 minutes of that fight wheras Chandler vs Eddie was all out action, and even Edgar vs Maynard wasa better all around fight I felt than Shogun vs Hendo- and I LOVED that fight.

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  • edub says:

    MMALOGIC- Their first fight was in April 2008, which was pretty boring. Nothing about either of their second or third fights was boring.

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  • Dufresne says:

    I had Edgar/Maynard II as my FotY all the way up until Henderson/Rua. It may not have been as constant of action as in Edgar/Maynard or Chandler/Alvarez, but it had two of my favorites almost finishing each other over the course of 25 straight minutes of toe-to-toe action.

    I agree with Silva’s KO over Belfort instead of Machida’s over Randy simply because Silva did it first. Machida’s was a bit flashier and it ended the fight with no need for follow up, but because he did it so shortly after Silva it just didn’t seem quite as amazing (by maybe 0.1%). If Lyoto had done it before Anderson, he’d be getting my vote no question.
    As for Kongo, it was damn impressive, but it would have been more impressive to me if he had intentionally aimed that shot and hadn’t been swinging and praying for survival.

    I have to give my submission of the year to Richard Hale in Bellator for two reasons.
    1) Seeing a LHW lock in an inverted triangle is just ridiculous. I know I just said Lyoto didn’t get the vote because his kick was the second time we’d seen it and Hale got his inverted triangle almost 2 years after Imada first showed off the move, but Imada is 50 lbs lighter than Hale. 50 lbs!
    2) I didn’t get to see UFC 140 :(

    Fighter of the Year is obviously Jones. The only other fighter that I can think of even deserving being in the discussion was Cowboy, and even if he had dominated Lil’ Diaz it would have been a long shot. Instead he lost the fight and with it lost his chance at being my fighter of the year. (I know, he’s got to be devastated that an unnamed internet poster didn’t vote for him in my mind for an award I can’t actually give him, but he’s a tough kid, he’ll get over it.)

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  • MCM says:

    KO of the year – Hendricks over Fitch. Even if you hate Fitch, like 98% of MMA population, you’ve got to admit that he’s one of the toughest guys in the business. He hadn’t been KO’d in almost a decade and even if you were wishing the KO would happen, you know you never thought it actually would. And to be landed in 12 seconds with the first punch was INSANE. I know it wasn’t as flashy as AS but I’ve seen that kick a million times since 1984 and landed it a couple of times myself (though not with nearly the same affect.)

    Sub of the year – tough to argue with Mir/Nog but I like Dufs choice too.

    I agree with the rest.

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