As another year closes Inside the Cage has listed some of the most memorable performances and disappointments of 2010.
Best Fights of 2010
1. Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva. UFC. Fantastic fight the build up was great with Sonnen playing himself as the bad guy and Anderson was coming off some disappointing performances and was looking to redeem himself. For 4 ½ rounds Sonnen took the fight to Silva, until Anderson pulled out a triangle choke then an arm bar.
2. Anthony Pettis vs. Ben Henderson. WEC. What a way to end off 2010 and WEC with this great lightweight title fight. The Action was back and forth and pretty even to the 5th round where Pettis nailed an amazing Matrix style kick off the cage.
3. Billy Evangelista vs. Waachiim Spiritwolf. Strikeforce. It was a match that no one expected fireworks from, happened on a lower card, and was the day before the big fight between Lesnar and Velasquez.
4. Diego Sanchez vs. Paulo Thiago. UFC. Great fight, both fighters came off devastating losses and needed the win. Sanchez went back and started training with Greg Jackson again and went back to the Diego we all know and love.
5. (Tie) Chuck Liddell vs. Rich Franklin. UFC. Two legends finally meeting in the octagon, Liddell was trying to prove he still had what it takes to compete and Franklin was moving to the light heavyweight class.
5. (Tie) Chris Leben vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama. UFC. Leben came off a great performance just two weeks prior to this match. Akiyama was in control until Leben was able to take advantage of Akiyama’s fatigue and pull of a submission to win the fight.
Honorable mentions: Joe Warren vs. Joe Soto, Jason Brilz vs. Antonio Rogèrio Nogueira, George St. Pierre vs. Dan Hardy, Leonard Garcia vs. Chan Sung Jung, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. Lyotto Machida .
1. Anderson Silva armbar submission over Chael Sonnen, UFC. Was pulled out of nowhere, where Silva was losing all 5 rounds.
2. Brock Lesnar arm triangle choke over Shane Carwin, UFC. Come on did anyone really see him pulling that move off.
3. Fabricio Werdum triangle choke/armbar submission over Fedor Emelianenko, Strikeforce. Werdum stuck to his game plan of just focusing on working Fedor on the ground and not try to stand with him.
4. Cody McKenzie guillotine choke against Amir Khillah, Marc Stevens, and Aaron Wilkinson, UFC. Simply put… amazing. You know what his strength is and no matter what you do he still manages to pull off a guillotine.
5. Jim Miller kneebar over Charles Oliveria, UFC. Jim Miller was coming in as a big under dog in the fight and Charles Oliveria was the next big thing.
Honorable mentions: Chris Leben vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama, Dan Miller vs. John Salter, Phil Davis vs. Tim Boetsch, Ben Henderson vs. Donald Cerrone.
Best TKO’s and KO’s
1. Cain Velasquez TKO Brock Lesnar, UFC. What looked like was going to be an epic battle turned into Velasquez dominating Lesnar with his stand up.
2. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua KO Lyotto Machida, UFC. The first match went to a decision, “Shogun” decided this time it would not go to all the way.
3. KJ Noons TKO Jorge Grugel, Strikeforce. Grugel was dinged at the end of the first, most thought that was the end of the fight. When the second round started it was clear that Grugel was still out of it, Noons let his hands fly and scored the TKO victory.
4. Joe Warren KO Joe Soto, Bellator. Soto was coming in the boxer and Warren the wrestler, Soto controlled the first round but looked to be toying with Warren. In the second Warren made him pay for the mistake with a knee to the face.
5. Paul Daley KO Scott Smith, Strikeforce. After being banned from UFC and a few fights for smaller promotions Daley made people realize how great of a striker he is.
Honorable mentions: Dan Henderson vs. Renaldo “Babaloo” Sobral, Robbie Lawlor vs. Matt Linland, BJ Penn vs. Matt Hughes, Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
1. Jose Aldo, UFC. Went to Urijah Faber’s hometown and totally decimated him, then made short work of Manny Gamburian. Oh yeah one more thing he’s only 24.
2. Cain Velasquez, UFC. Earlier in the year beat the legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and beat, quite handedly, one of the baddest men on the planet.
3. Joe Warren, Bellator. To say Warren is a trash talker is an understatement, his words cut deep into Joe Soto that he let his emotion get the best of him. But, Warren stood in the fight and ended Soto’s win streak.
4. Frankie Edgar, UFC. Though he only faced the same man twice, Frankie Edgar was able to make a statement that he can beat a legend twice. He won the title from BJ Penn and retained it from Penn and now looks forward to his bout with Gray Maynard.
5. Chael Sonnen, UFC. He was able to end 2009 with a bang and started strong by out wrestling and defeating Nate Marquardt. He gave Anderson Silva a run for his money and was a hair strand away from beating him. Now that his suspension has been reduced look for an explosion bout between him and Wanderlei Silva.
Honorable mentions: Anthony Pettis, Chris Leben, KJ Noons, Nick Diaz, Jon Jones, Phil Davis.
Most Overhyped Fights
1. Rashad Evans vs. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, UFC. This original bout was suppose to take place in late 2009, but was held off so Jackson could film his A-Team film. So when it was announced that the two were going meet the advertisements took off on how much they hated each other and the UFC Primetime television series. When they finally met in the octagon it was Evans using his wrestling to control and win the fight.
2. Randy Couture vs. James Tomey, UFC. It was the anticipated match up MMA fans had been waiting for, MMA vs. Boxing. Tomey followed Dana White for months to get a match in MMA. Unfortunately for Tomey he should have used his time to train a bit harder. Couture got Tomey down and was able to submit him for the easy victory, after that Dana White confirmed that was probably the last time we would see Tomey in UFC.
3. Eddie Alvarez vs. Roger Huerta, Bellator. In 2009 Roger Huerta was the top free agent in MMA, so when Bellator signed him it was so there was a chance for the potential match up. In Bellator in order to face the champion you have to win a tournament in your weight division. Unfortunately Huerta lost the tournament, but was able to face Alvarez in a non-title match. Alvarez showed why he was a true champion and dominated the match breaking both of Roger’s orbital bones.
4. Dan Henderson vs. Jake Shields, Strikeforce. This was Dan Henderson debut in Strikeforce and all the advertisements let you know it, you would have thought the most dominating fighter of all time was coming. Although he was able to win the first round Jake Shields came back to win the fight. After that Shields left Strikeforce for a company that advertises their champions.
5. Frank Mir vs. Mirko “Cro Cop”, UFC. Two future legends finally meeting and bored the hell out of their audience. As Frank Mir alluded it’s better to have a “boring victory”.
Honorable mentions: Kj Noons vs. Nick Diaz, Randy Couture vs. Mark Coleman, Anderson Silva vs. Damien Maia, Bobby Lashley vs. Wes Sims.
Most Disappointing Fighters
1. Fedor Emelianenko, Strikeforce. He lost in 69 seconds in round 1, he only fought 1 time this year, and his management company still thinks they have the number one talent
2. James Tomey, UFC. Talked the talk, but could not walk the walk.
3. Todd Duffee, Dream. Plagued by injuries, lost his one and only fight of the year, and attitude problems caused him to be released from UFC. Hopefully he can turn his career around with his next opponent… Alistair Overeem.
4. Nate Marquardt, UFC. This was supposed to be a promising year for Marquardt, but he only managed a 1-2 year. Chael Sonnen out wrestled him and he basically quit fighting hard in the third round losing a decision effort to Yushin Okami.
5. Jamie Varner, UFC. After almost a year layoff Varner came back, but not the same Varner we had seen before. Going 0-3-1 Varner looked to have missed a step; now that WEC has merged into the UFC it looks like Varner was one of the victims cut from the roster.
Honorable mentions: The Nogueira brothers, Joe Stevenson, Bobby Lashley, Lyotto Machida, Brett Rogers, Kimbo Slice, Efrain Escudero, Rousimar Palhares.
Fighters To Watch In 2011
1. Jon Jones, UFC. Will finally get some tougher competition with Ryan Bader.
2. Phil Davis, UFC. Manages to pull off great victories and is moving up the ranks fast.
3. Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, UFC. Great showing against Varner and is looking to becoming a more well rounded fighter.
4. Diego Sanchez, UFC. He looked to be on the downhill slide after his last two fights and then went back to Greg Jackson’s camp and looked like the old Diego of the past.
5. The Ultimate Fighter cast of season 12, UFC. Probably the best cast since season 3, there are guys in there that can fight at 3 divisions featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight.
Honorable mentions: Carey Vanier, Billy Evangelista, Brandon Schaub, Paul Daley, Nate Diaz, Stefan Struve.