"______ of 2008" awards candidates

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11/30/08 9:59:51AM
With just about a month to go, I thought it was time to start talking about candidates for 2008 standouts.

My Fighter of the Year Candidates:

Eddie Alvarez

4-0 in 2008, with wins over Ross Ebanez, Andre Amade, Joachim Hansen, and Tatsuya Kawajiri. Alvarez might have had a stronger case for some end-of-year awards, but events caught up with him. Although he qualified for the final of DREAM Lightweight Grand Prix against Shinya Aoki with his KO of Kawajiri, he was forced to withdraw due to an injury (a cut over his eye). Then his EliteXC title fight against Nick Diaz scheduled for November - a "Fight of the Year" candidate, on paper - was canceled when the entire promotion slipped beneath the waves. Alvarez could have ended the year 6-0 with two belts, cementing his place as Fighter of the Year, but unfortunately we can't credit him for poor luck. To my knowledge, his next fight is scheduled for January '09.

Thiago Alves

3-0 in 2008, with wins over Karo Parisyan, Matt Hughes, and Josh Koscheck. With a 7-fight win streak, Alves put the exclamation point on his quest for a title shot in 2008, earning the clear "#1 Contender" position in the UFC's Welterweight division. Unfortunately, he'll have to cool his jets while BJ Penn jumps the Welterweight queue, and if Penn defeats champion Georges St. Pierre, Alves will then have to wait for Penn to defend his Lightweight belt against Kenny Florian (frankly, it's for this reason that I'm pulling for GSP to retain the belt, but don't tell Penn I said so).

Shinya Aoki

4-1 with 1 No Contest in 2008, with wins over Gesias Calvancanti, Katsuhiko Nagata, Caol Uno, and Todd Moore. The cut over Eddie Alvarez's eye probably opened the door to Aoki for consideration, although his surprising TKO loss to Joachim Hansen in the DREAM LWGP final might have closed it again. Still, after a 15-minute war of attrition with Caol Uno, Aoki's loss to Hansen could merely be 'exhibit A' for why same-night tournaments are a bad idea. If the fighters had been given 60 days between fights, we'd have seen a fresh Aoki take on a healed Alvarez in a Fight of the Year match. Like Alvarez, though, we can't give Aoki credit for what didn't happen. Aoki has signed on with the Fields Dynamite New Year's Eve show, although his opponent hasn't been set. If he gets, and wins, a rematch with Hayato “Mach” Sakurai, who defeated him in 2005, Aoki could vault back into the Fighter of the Year picture.

Kenny Florian

3-0 in 2008, with wins over Joe Lauzon, Roger Huerta, and Joe Stevenson. The match against Stevenson was billed as the "#1 Contender" fight before it even began, but Florian grabbed it (and Stevenson) with both hands and didn't let go. The emphatic victory set him on the road to a 2009 tilt with BJ Penn. He also opened a gym in my hometown, which counts for nothing here, but I think it's cool.

Joachim Hansen

3-1 in 2008, with wins over Kotetsu Boku, Shinya Aoki, and Kultar Gill. "Hellboy" is the guy who hit the lottery when Tatsuya Kawajiri opened a cut over Eddie Alvarez's eye, and he cashed in the ticket with an upset win over Shinya Aoki in the final of the DREAM Lightweight Grand Prix. He's scheduled to battle Gesias Calvancanti at the Fields Dynamite show on December 31st, and a win would keep him squarely in the middle of this discussion (while a loss would drop him out of it, imo).

Gegard Mousasi

6-0 in 2008, with wins over Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos, Steve Mensing, Denis Kang, Dong Sik Yoon, Melvin Manhoef, and Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza. His win over Jacare, via a staggering up-kick that Jacare acknowledge was no fluke, earned him the DREAM Middleweight Grand Prix championship. Mousasi has signed to fight in a K-1 event on New Year's Eve, but it won't be an MMA match.

Anderson Silva

3-0 in 2008, with wins over Dan Henderson, James Irvin, and Patrick Cote. Anderson's year came in like a lion and went out like a lamb, unfortunately. Still, for this discussion, we can't discount his greatest accomplishment just because it happened several months ago, as he became the only guy not named Nogueira to submit the former PRIDE FC dual champion. While his match against Irvin wasn't a title defense, Silva made himself a potential Light-Heavyweight contender with one punch.

Also worthy of props, but haven't quite made my list:
Josh Barnett, Michael Bisping, Mike Thomas Brown, Nate Diaz, Brock Lesnar, Demian Maia, Jim Miller, Miguel Torres, and Jaime Varner.

Hopefully I'll have time to post my picks for Fight of the Year and KTFO of the Year later, but I have to go eat breakfast and watch Arsenal-Chelsea.
11/30/08 10:35:00AM
really good list. all the talk around here as far as fighter of the year goes seemed to focus on florian and alves but more and more i think gegard needs to be in the thick of that conversation, he had a monster year against excellent competition.
11/30/08 10:39:54AM
Mousasi or Alves for me. Id Probably give the nod to Gegard though becouse of Alves missing weight for his fight with Hughes and hes fought alot more. I think Alves has beaten the better competition overall though.
11/30/08 12:07:40PM
Gegard Mousasi is my choice. Thiago Alves is a close second, but Mousasi has bigger wins over better opponents.
11/30/08 1:06:49PM
not 2 b a "ufc nuthugger" or anything but I think I have a split 3 way tie between Silva, Kenflo, and Thiago.... everybody has made good arguements and EVERYBODY on this list is here 4 a good reason... it's just a fact that the UFC is the place to be....(some-times unfortunately)
11/30/08 3:36:50PM
alves and mousasi
11/30/08 3:48:29PM
Gegard Mousasi by far...most wins (6-0) over high level comp, entered MW Grand Prix as a contendar and left a top 10-5 in the world. Huge year!!!!
11/30/08 5:26:28PM
Alvarez, went from a no name to the #2 LW in the world within the last year.

Biggest jump out of any fighter.
11/30/08 6:23:05PM
Definately Gegard Mousasi in my opinion.
11/30/08 6:29:44PM
no doubt in my mind it's Gegard Mousasi. most wins over high level competition
11/30/08 9:43:03PM
For me its Alves.
11/30/08 11:01:19PM
not a lot of people knew much about alvarez before 2008,

i thought hed make it through the first round or 2 of dream, and then lose, much less take it by storm.

now he's a consensus top 10 pick, i'd say him. he was an underdog is just about every fight, and put up 2 fight of the year candidates.
11/30/08 11:22:23PM
Personally, I'd put Alvarez as the "breakout star of the year"

After careful consideration it's really hard to deny Mousasi the fighter of the year award. Although it's too bad some of his best wins are over somewhat one dimensional fighters in Jacare and Manhoef.

11/30/08 11:42:08PM
Mousasi gets my vote for fighter of the year. (Alves runner-up)
KO of the year goes to Rashad Evans. (Anthony Johnson over Speer runner up)
Sub of the year Shinya Aoki mounted gogo (Hazelett over Burkman runner up)
Fight of the Year Torres vs Maeda (runner up Alvarez vs Hansen)
Breakout Fighter of the Year Alvarez (Maia runner-up)
12/1/08 3:06:17AM
Mousasi. I thought Jacare had his numbers and f'd myself over.
12/1/08 3:41:56AM
Thiago Alves gets my vote
12/2/08 9:10:39AM
In the "It Ain't Over 'Til it's Over" category, Eddie Alvarez and Shinya Aoki are penciled in to fight each other at K-1's New Year's Eve show. Does the winner of that match become the front-runner for Fighter of the Year? It certainly can't hurt, especially if it's a decisive finish. And if it isn't a walkover for either guy, it's probably a Fight of the Year candidate, as well. We win either way, I guess.
12/2/08 1:02:19PM

Posted by AchillesHeel

In the "It Ain't Over 'Til it's Over" category, Eddie Alvarez and Shinya Aoki are penciled in to fight each other at K-1's New Year's Eve show. Does the winner of that match become the front-runner for Fighter of the Year? It certainly can't hurt, especially if it's a decisive finish. And if it isn't a walkover for either guy, it's probably a Fight of the Year candidate, as well. We win either way, I guess.

I agree with this consensus.
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