Nobody should miss this year’s World MMA Award show, so mark January 11th on the calendar. Any event hosted by Chael Sonnen is bound to entertaining and this event will be no exception. The nominees have been announced and fortunately, they all seem worthy of being on the list. Now while I usually make predictions for the winner, I’ll be selecting the nominee that I feel is the most deserving of the award. Let’s face it, voters don’t always get it right.
Comeback of the Year
- Alan Belcher (career)
- Mike Swick (career)
- Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (UFC 140)
- Tim Boetsch vs. Yushin Okami (UFC 144)
- J.P. Joubert vs. Norman Wessels (EFC Africa 15)
All the nominees have such a strong argument as to why they should win. For me it’s a toss up between Tim Boetsch and his comeback win over Yushin Okami, or J.P. Joubert and his comeback over Norman Wessels. It all comes down to who was being dominated more until they ultimately turned the fight in their favor. Although I doubt it will get the necessary votes in order to win, it should go to J.P. Joubert, who was outclassed by Norman Wessels for ninety five percent of the fight. Although there were parts of the fight that weren’t necessarily exciting, Joubert was being outclassed just the same. Eventually he was able to land a combination that hurt Wessels, which gave him the adrenalin boost needed to unleash a relentless combination of punches until Wessels dropped to the canvas. One could make the argument that Tim Boetsch was in the same scenario, but unlike Joubert, Boetsch controlled the third round from the very beginning and continued to do so until he found the knockout. In other words, Yushin Okami wasn’t as dominate over Boetsch as Norman Wessels was over Joubert before the comeback.
Pick : J.P. Joubert vs. Norman Wessels (EFC Africa 15)
Submission of the Year
- Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (UFC 140)
- Charles Oliveira vs. Eric Wisely (UFC on FOX 2)
- Rousimar Palhares vs. Mike Massenzio (UFC 142)
- Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate (Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey)
- Chan Sung Jung vs. Dustin Poirier (UFC on FUEL TV 3)
I have to dismiss three nominees for several reasons. Chan Sung Jung’s submission over Dustin Poirier was impressive, but it was a fight he was clearly in control of. It was almost as if the crowd was just waiting for the submission to come, or for Poirier to have a tremendous comeback. Charles Oliveira’s submission over Eric Wisely was the same scenario. He was clearly controlling the fight and submitted Wisely with a calve slicer while taking his back. Rousimar Palhares had yet another fast leg lock submission, like he always does, one reason I doubt he’ll get the votes to win. For me, it’s between Ronda Rousey’s armbar win over Miesha Tate and Frank Mir’s Kimura win over Antonio Nogueira; two astounding submissions that literally broke bones. I won’t complain if either of the two win, but in my eyes, Frank Mir is more deserving. Not only is Mir’s win nominee for comeback of the year, which always makes his submission win that much more impressive, but he submitted one of the most decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in MMA. It’s the only time Nogueria has ever been submitted, and that alone is more than enough reason for Mir to be the most deserving of submission of the year.
Pick : Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (UFC 140)
Knockout of the Year
- Adam Khaliev vs. Alexei Belyaev (League S-70)
- Edson Barboza vs. Terry Etim (UFC 142)
- Stephen Thompson vs. Dan Stittgen (UFC 143)
- Anthony Pettis vs. Joe Lauzon (UFC 144)
- Brian Rogers vs. Vitor Vianna (Bellator 61)
I had originally thought that Edson Barboza’s insane wheel kick knockout was not only the greatest UFC knockout, but also the most impressive knockout in MMA. While I still think Barboza’s aspiring kick is the most impressive UFC knockout to date, Adam Khaliev’s Tornado kick knockout was equally as stellar, and even more flashy. I give my pick to the slightly more flashy kick from Khaliev. One thing for sure, these two nominees are the only obvious options. If any other nominee wins the award, it will be the perfect example of biased opinion and favoritism.
Pick : Adam Khaliev vs. Alexei Belyaev (League S-70)
Fight of the Year
- Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (UFC 139)
- Michael Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez (Bellator 58)
- Jake Ellenberger vs. Diego Sanchez (UFC on FUEL TV 1)
- Dustin Poirier vs. Chan Sung Jung (UFC on FUEL TV 3)
- Jamie Varner vs. Joe Lauzon (UFC on FOX 4)
Easiest category to pick a winner, in fact, everyone called this award winner the moment the fight was over. All are worthy nominees, but the UFC 139 main event produced one of the greatest and most memorable fights in UFC history. Dan Henderson vs. Shogun wasn’t just an epic fight, it’s one of those fights that can be watched over and over again. I will be absolutely shocked if this fight doesn’t end up winning fight of the year.
Pick : Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (UFC 139)
International fighter of the Year
- Michael Bisping
- Alexander Gustafsson
- Chan Sung Jung
- Martin Kampmann
- Stefan Struve
Bisping has a win, loss, win going for him, so the lack of consecutive wins prevents him from getting my vote. Kampmann had wins over elite fighters Thiago Alves, and Jake Ellenberger, but most fans consider those wins, nothing more than lucky combacks. On top of that, his fight with Ellenberger was extremely controversial due to multiple claims of an early stoppage. Had Kampmann won his most recent fight against Johnny Hendricks, I would’ve picked him to win the award hands down, but that’s not the case. Gustafsson’s win over Shogun is argument enough for him win. As if the win over Shogun wasn‘t impressive enough, his prior fight was a dominating victory over former elite light heavyweight, Thiago Silva. Chan Sung Jung was my first initial pick, his last two wins were over Mark Hominick, who was just coming off a title fight, and Dustin Poirier, who was possibly one win away from a title fight. The Korean Zombie finished both fights, and received a bonus award for each one. Stefan Struve has more wins in the contest timeline than all the other nominee, three of his four win were fight that I incorrectly predicted that he would lose. He has been the most well rounded in his fights, winning by knockout, and two different submissions . His last two fights were against two heavy handed up and comers, which Struve was able to derail their ride to the title. After winning and finishing more fights than the other nominees, and doing so in multiple ways, I consider Struve the most deserving of the title International fighter of the year.
Pick : Stefan Struve
Breakthrough Fighter of the Year
- Renan Barao
- Michael Chandler
- Luke Rockhold
- Ronda Rousey
- Chris Weidman
This award will be closely contested, because all five nominee has three wins during the contest timeline, and four of the nominees won the title during this time. Had Weidman not beaten Mark Munoz, he wouldn’t be on the list, and I don’t consider Munoz as highly ranked as others did during the time of their fight. For Chandler and Rockhold, they took the belt from fighters, who at the time, were ranked in the top ten of their weight classes. However, their first title defenses were against fighters who were nowhere near deserving of a title fight. Rousey had three first round armbar wins, very impressive, but most people were picking her to armbar Miesha Tate to win the belt. No other female fighter, has been seen as truly dominate. Barao faced Brad Pickett in his UFC debut, talk about a tough first fight, but he won in the first round via submission. He picked apart Scott Jorgensen and did the same to Urijah Faber. Barao has faced and beaten three elite fighters, beating Faber has given him an achievement that makes him my choice for breakthrough fighter of the year.
Pick : Renan Barao
Female Fighter of the Year
- Jessica Aguilar
- Sarah Kaufman
- Sara McMann
- Ronda Rousey
- Miesha Tate
Ronda Rousey has beaten two of the nominees, both by first round armbar. She is a nominee for breakthrough fighter of the year and fighter of the year, there’s no reason for Rousey not to win female fighter of the year. The only other fighter that I can see even remotely deserving the award is Jessica Aguilar for her victory over Megumi Fujii, but still, not as impressive as Rousey.
Pick : Ronda Rousey
Fighter of the Year
- Daniel Cormier
- Benson Henderson
- Nate Diaz
- Jon Jones
- Ronda Rousey
After he refused to fight Chael Sonnen and had similar feelings for a rematch with Lyoto Machida, I’d rather not see Jon Jones win fighter of the year. However, as much as I hate to say it, I have to admit that he is the most deserving of the award. In four consecutive fights, Jones defeated four former champions, submitting three of them. None of the other nominees had faced the quality of opponents that Jones did. I’d like to see Cormier win, only because I don’t believe that Henderson deserves the award due to his two controversial fights with Frankie Edgar, two fights that I scored for Edgar. Henderson destroyed Diaz, so obviously, I won’t vote for Diaz. Bottom line, I have to be unbiased, and Jon Jones deserves the award based on his superior accomplishments in the octagon.
Pick : Jon Jones
- Ryan “Fight Freek” Poli