PUNCHDRUNKGAMER'S BEST OF 2009 AWARDS
PUNCHDRUNKGAMER'S BEST OF 2009 AWARDS
Event of the Year
UFC 100 (July 11, 2009)
Mid-year the UFC put on their 100th numbered event which featured two championship bouts, a knockout of the year candidate, and wars and upsets.
In the main event Brock Lesnar used size, power, and technique to shut down Frank Mir's half-guard and pounded out a second round stoppage. Right alongside the heavyweight title bout was Georges St. Pierre's one-sided decision over top contender Thiago Alves. St. Pierre utilized striking to set up takedowns and used superior wrestling to keep his Muay Thai based opponent on his back.
UFC 100 also featured Dan Henderson's bomb on the chin of Michael Bisping which was followed up but the highly debated tomahawk to a dreaming Bisping. Jon Fitch ground out a decision to avenge teammate Josh Koscheck against Paulo Thiago, Jim Miller stepped up and defeated TUF winner Mac Danzig, hall of famer Mark Coleman outworked TUF finalist Stephan Bonnar, Yoshihiro Akiyama battled Alan Belcher in a stand-up war, Dong Hyun Kim upset T.J. Grant, and Jon Jones submitted Jake O'Brien.
Semerzier Eyes Magnificent Encore against Taurosevicius
Producing what was arguably MMA’s grandest upset of the year in 2009 will be of little consolation to Mackens Semerzier if he falls short Sunday against Deividas Taurosevicius, a chiseled submission specialist who has trained under Renzo Gracie.
Keenly aware that you’re only as good as your last fight in MMA, Semerzier has grown tired of talking about his breakthrough win over highly-regarded Wagnney Fabiano – a defeat so resounding it prompted the Brazilian to drop a weight class. Semerzier doesn’t want the triumph to be the signature win of his career and is focused on getting past the hard-nosed Lithuanian in a main card bout that will be televised on the VERSUS network (9pm ET / 6pm PT).
Guymon’s Highway from Hell to the Octagon
Closing the book on 2009 was a bittersweet experience for Mike “The Joker” Guymon. In those 365 days the 35-year-old turned his life around 180 degrees, climbing out of the depths of despair to reach the pinnacle of his ten-year mixed martial arts career by signing with the UFC.
The rocky road Guymon took to realize his longtime dream of fighting in the Octagon could have just as easily ended as a nightmare if it weren’t for the support of his friends and family who stood in his corner as he fought the fight of his life on September 7.
Following an argument with his wife Nicole, having come to the determination that his deteriorating marriage – much like his financially struggling gym and stalled fight career – was destined to eventually implode, Guymon decided it was time to throw in the towel and reached for a gun with the intention of ending his own life. Realizing in the nick of time what he was planning to do as she intuitively looked in on Guymon in their bedroom as he chambered around, Nicole wrestled the firearm away from her husband and tried to talk him out of making any further rash decisions.
Jesse Lennox – Continuing the Year of the Ox
Like many first-time UFC fighters, Jesse Lennox was overwhelmed by his first experience in the organization last August. Unlike his fellow debutants though, Lennox got that awestruck feeling out of his system before the opening bell rang for his match against Danillo Villefort. In fact, that feeling was gone by Wednesday of fight week.
“The first day you get off the plane and see all these people that you’ve never seen before other than on TV,” Lennox recalls. “And on TV they’re bigger than life, and you’re like ‘oh wow, there’s that guy and that guy.’ I had one day of it when I was star struck, and the next day I woke up and was like ‘#$% it man, I didn’t come here to be a fan, get autographs or to see anybody. I came here to beat the #$%$ out of Danillo Villefort, and that is it.’ It was a light switch after that.”
Nik Lentz: No More Mr. Tough Guy
A former pre-med major with a penchant for video games – or as he’d tell you in his own words, “kind of a nerd” – Nik Lentz is the last person you’d expect to sign up for a fight on a whim.
“It was a sudden idea,” he says. “I looked into what it would take to get myself into a local show and just did it. I won by KO and realized I was well-suited for fighting, so after that, I decided to start training in jiu-jitsu and…”
Wait. Fight first, train later? The so-called geek walked into things with no preparation?
“I mean, I wrestled in college,” he explains. “But yeah, basically.”
Rory MacDonald: The New Breed Has Arrived
For years mixed martial arts analysts, journalists and fans have hypothesized about the plausibility that the skill set of fighters in the future would one day eclipse those of their present day counterparts due to the simple fact that they would be “pure mixed martial artists” who had trained in the hybrid art of fighting from day one.
We imagined a new breed of competitor – an army of fighting wunderkinds trained to strike and grapple like men as children, who, by the time they actually became men would take the MMA world by storm, changing the landscape of the game like Michael Jordan did with basketball, Wayne Gretzky did with hockey and Tiger Woods did with golf.
If the buzz emanating from Canada that surrounds him and the endorsements he has received from a host of the country’s most respected MMA figures are any indication, the new era has a face and a name and it is that of UFC newcomer Rory MacDonald.
Aaron Simpson: The Seasoned Newcomer
Like most fighters, Aaron Simpson doesn’t play fortune-teller when it comes to his career. A typical inquiry about his upcoming game plan against Tom Lawlor yields an equally typical response – an open-ended “I don’t know, anything can happen.”
There’s only one guarantee he can make upon next week’s arrival in Fairfax, Virginia for UFC Fight Night, and that’s this: there will be neither a sloppy body paint job nor a barking man-dog in sight, at least not in his corner
Brad Blackburn’s New Year’s Resolution – A Full Year of Fighting
Every athlete in the UFC has his post-fight ritual. Some raid the refrigerator for a week, some travel, while others just sit back for a while and stay far away from the gym. Welterweight Brad Blackburn has had his own ritual following each of his three bouts in the Octagon, one he’d like to break following his Monday meeting with Amir Sadollah on the UFC Fight Night card in Fairfax, Virginia.
“I haven’t won a UFC fight without having surgery after it yet,” Blackburn says with a smile that only comes after being healed up and ready to get back to work. “So now my goal is to win a UFC fight and not need surgery after it.”
Thiago Tavares – A Brazilian Phenom’s Return
As we all know, mixed martial arts is a high impact sport, one in which fighters have to deal with the pain sustained in training and in fighting all the time . So when a fighter needs to push the pace in preparation for a match, he can sometimes pay with an injury that will sideline him from the bout or force him to step into the Octagon at less than 100 percent.
Thiago Tavares, the Brazilian fighter that will face Nik 'The Carny' Lentz on Monday’s UFC Fight Night card in Fairfax, Virginia, had more than his share of problems with injuries in the last year. After undergoing knee surgery a couple of years ago, he was sidelined from UFN 18 against Melvin Guillard due to a new injury to his elbow. He healed up and was then scheduled to face Jim Miller at UFC 103 before injuring his knee again.
Tired Thiago Silva didn't know what was going on at UFC 108
"I thought he would exchange a little bit more, but he escaped from the exchanging and he went on takedowns.... I knew I was losing. I wasn’t that good on the energy and I tried to provoke him to see if he comes over me, but he didn’t bought it. I knew I was losing, I lost the two rounds. To be tired make a difference, man ... I started to provoke him because he was with the low energy, getting tired.... Wanting or not, he has a heavy hand, there’s some time that we don’t know what’s going on anymore.... I think the energy made the difference, I was pretty tired."
Will WEC 46 Be Urijah Faber's Last Stand as a Star?
...at 31, Faber is in the most danger of losing his status as the WEC’s marquee star since the company’s relationship with Versus started. He’s 22-3 but has lost two of his past three fights, both to former champion Mike Brown.
A win would lead to what could be promoted as the biggest event in company history – perhaps even the WEC’s first pay-per-view main event, as has been discussed internally. A loss would for the first time remove him from title contention. Assuncao is a submission expert, having submitted eight opponents, and is particularly dangerous with the armbar.
"Submission of the Year" winner readies for return; Imada vs. Masvidal 2 on tap
Those MMA fans that saw Bellator lightweight Toby Imada (22-13) submit Jorge Masvidal (19-4) via inverted triangle choke knew immediately that they had witnessed 2009's "Submission of the Year."
That belief was substantiated when Imada's slick finish earned that exact title at this past week's Fighters Only 2009 MMA Awards in Las Vegas.
Now those that weren't lucky enough to see the exciting, three-round contest the first time will get a chance to see the two hook up again.
Tatame: Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort Will Take Place at UFC 112
The fight between Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort is in works to take place at UFC 112, on April 10, at Abu Dhabi. Carlos Santos, leader of Emirates Team, revealed to TATAME.com that both fighters called him to train at his training center in Abu Dhabi in the days before the fight. This will be the first UFC event in Abu Dhabi, and will also have the UFC debut of the legend Renzo Gracie, against the five times welterweight champion Matt Hughes.
NSAC exec says UFC light heavyweight Steve Cantwell's return still possible
When UFC light heavyweight Steve Cantwell was forced to withdraw from a UFC 108 bout in Las Vegas with Vladimir Matyushenko, most MMA observers simply chalked up the loss as another victim of the "curse" that plagued the card.But when UFC president Dana White said Cantwell was in danger of never fighting again, the concerns for "The Robot's" future quickly grew.
Rashad Evans had an 'Oh Sh*t' moment at UFC 108
Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans talks about the close call he had in the third round against the dangerous Thiago Silva in the main event of UFC 108 back on Jan. 2. "Suga" almost dissolved in the third round after getting rocked by the Brazilian; however, Silva was either too gassed or too tentative to seal the deal, allowing the former TUF champion to recover and take home the unanimous decision win.Was the performance enough to convince you he'll be the better man in his eventual grudge match against "Rampage" Jackson? Or will the fighter currently known as BA Baracus send him back to the Spike TV fight nights?
UFC champ B.J. Penn expects next fight at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi
UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn expects his next bout to take place in April at a currently unannounced (but close to finalized) UFC 112 event in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
However, in a short video bjpenn.com today released by the fighter, Penn said no opponent has been determined, and nothing has been signed.
Penn most recently headlined UFC 107 in December and dominated top 155-pound contender Diego Sanchez with a fifth-round TKO victory in the Tennessee event's headline fight.
Penn, arguably the world's top lightweight fighter and one of the sport's top pound-for-pound greats, will most likely fight either Frankie Edgar or fellow contender Gray Maynard (who headlines next week's UFC Fight Night 20 event againt Nate Diaz) in his next title defense. Although he's bounced between weight classes in recent years, his next fight should be at 155 pounds.
"Strikeforce: Miami" gets three more bouts; Hieron vs. Riggs scheduled for prelims
With Strikeforce's first event of 2010 a little more than three weeks away, the fight card is nearing completion.
MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) today confirmed with promotion officials the addition of three preliminary card matchups to the Jan. 30 "Strikeforce: Miami" event.
And with Showtime committed to broadcasting five main-card matchups, a pair of high-profile fighters will likely be left off of the evening's premium cable broadcast – though it will not necessarily go unseen.
The three official additions to the card include Pablo Alfonso vs. Marcos da Matta, Sabah Homasi vs. John Kelly, and David Gomez vs. Craig Oxley. Strikeforce is expected to add at least one more preliminary matchup to the card, bringing the total guaranteed bouts to a minimum of 10.
UFC officials choose June 12 for Vancouver event, UFC 115
Vancouver, B.C., get ready. The UFC is coming to town this summer.
A well-placed UFC source told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that the promotion has penciled in June 12 as the date for an event at the 19,000-seat GM Place.
Back in December, the promotion cleared a legislative hurdle in holding an event within the city limits of the 2010 Winter Olympic host site; the Vancouver city council agreed to sanction events as part of a two-year pilot program.