Ok, we’ve only existed as a page for the last two months of the year but its not as if we suddenly discovered MMA and decided to write about it. Hopefully next year well be able to do an awards thing voted for by our readers but for this year just as a bit of fun, let’s see who the Kumite boys thought made a mark on MMA in 2012.
Male Fighter of the Year
(As your might expect, this is to reflect the fighter that we thought was most dominant and impressive in 2012)
Chris – Benson Henderson
Benson won three UFC world title fights this year. Nobody else can say that. He’s also growing into the role as an ambassador for the sport and the company, conducting himself like a class act at all times. Oh yeah, and apparently competing with a toothpick in his mouth. Nutter.
Ross – Benson Henderson
Winning the title and defending it twice including the systematic destruction of Nate Diaz last week (UFC on FOX 4.)
Iain – Johnny Hendricks
This has been the year that he has put all the pieces together to become a formidable force in the WW division.
Female Fighter of the Year
(In the interests of equal coverage, the girls get a fighter of the year award as well.)
Chris – Jessica Penne
Partially because I know everyone else will pick Ronda, I’m gonna shine a wee spotlight on someone else who’s got two wins this year and has a shiny belt to show for it. I give you, the first ever Invicta FC champion at Atomweight. There is more to WMMA than blond, mouthy judokas with effective armbars.
Ross – Ronda Rousey
For winning the Strikeforce title, taking WMMA to the next level and being the first ever UFC Women’s champion, it’s got to be Ronda.
Iain – Ronda Rousey
Breakthrough Male Fighter of the Year
(The outright Fighter of the Year award tends to go to fighters who are champions, who dominate divisions. The Breakthrough award is for competitors who’ve moved up from being just another fighter or not even on the radar, to looking like the next big thing.)
Chris – Alexander Gustafsson
For me, the Mauler has been one of the coming men at 205lbs for a while, but this year he really stepped up and showed he’s got the skills and maturity to beat top guys in the UFC. With ageing former champions and plucky Middleweights running short, the UFC are surely going to give him his shot in 2013.
Ross – Rory MacDonald
Especially after last weekend (the UFC on FOX win over BJ Penn) he has now really broken out as one of the top fighters to watch for the future.
Iain – Glover Teixera
After two fights in the UFC, it looks as though no other LHW is keen on facing this dude
Breakthrough Female Fighter of the Year
(Just like the guys, this is for the girl fighter who’s burst onto the scene this year.)
Chris – Joanne Calderwood
From making her debut to fighting on three continents, going undefeated and being in a position to turn down an Invicta FC title shot because her coaches didn’t think it was the right match to take at this time, Jo has blazed a trail through WMMA this year. Hell, when did you ever hear of someone being legitimately ranked in the top ten of their weight class after four fights AND taking time to go an win a Muay Thai world title on the side?
Ross – Joanne Calderwood
Being the only female professional MMA fighter in Scotland and already breaking into the international market, big win in Invicta debut and throw in her Muay Thai world title for good measure. Slightly biased yes but still not undeserved.
Iain – Ronda Rousey
I’m awarding this as she has broken mainstream in 2012
British Fighter of the Year
(We’re a UK based site, so we like to throw some light on British fighters. What’s wrong with that?)
Chris – Jimi Manuwa
Part of me really wanted to give this to one of the wildly impressive Dinky Ninjas, be it Graham Turner, Robert Whiteford, Steven Ray, or Jo Calderwood. Another part of me wanted to show some love for the new breed of Irish champions in Cage Warriors, Chris Fields and Conor McGregor. However, having been at UFC Nottingham and seen a truly awe inspiring beating on the tough as nails Kyle Kingsbury, I have to shout out to Jimi Manuwa who looks like he could really make waves in the UFC.
Ross – Brad Pickett
I wrestled with this one, was all set to give it to Graham Turner for his 2 title wins and impressive performance at CW on Saturday, then also considered Dan Hardy for his comeback year, but with 2 big wins putting him back into title contention I’m going to go with Pickett.
Iain – Paul Craig
I could go for Bisping, however I’m going for Scottish Hit Squad Fighter Paul Craig, I see a huge future in this talented fighter
Fight of the Year
(Pretty self explanatory, this is for the fight from the past year we could watch of and over again, that we’d use as an example to someone new to MMA about what was great about the sport.)
Chris – Jim Miller vs. Joe Lauzon
It might be just because its the one that freshest in my mind, seeing as Im writing my picks in the aftermath of UFC 155 but this fight had everything. Tremendous amounts of heart and skill from both guys, a wafer thin decision and tremendous mutual respect from two top quality competitors. This fight is a great testament as to why I love MMA.
Ross – The Korean Zombie vs. Dustin Poirier
Despite promising many big fights 2012 has been a bit low on the spectacular, but this was a cracking fight so going with that.
Iain – Georges St Pierre vs. Carlos Condit
Well worth the wait and did not disappoint
KO of the Year
(For that strikes based finish which had us jumping out their seats, feeling the pain through our TVs and just a little fearing for the hearing of the guy who got knocked out.)
Chris – Jose Aldo (vs. Chad Mendes)
There have been a few nice KOs this year, but this one from January stuck in my mind because of the way it was set up. Aldo wriggled free from Mendes who had his back against the cage and as the grappler was unbalanced forwards and probably looking to re-establish grappling contact ASAP, Jose knew he’d be leaning forward. Aiming a left high kick AS HE SPUN out of the hold, Aldo landed a shot clean on Mendes face which sent him out cold and prompted one of the most memorable celebrations of the year.
Ross – Edson Barboza (vs. Terry Etim)
Way back in January and was always going to be hard to beat, still a shame it was against Terry though.
Iain – Cung Le (vs. Rich Franklin)
Just purely for Rich’s face-plant.
Submission of the Year
(The grappling finish that lit us up the most, either as a display of slick grappling or because it just seemed so right or important.)
Chris – Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (vs. Dave Herman)
Just because Herman said that jiujitsu didn’t work on him, before fighting Nog, in Brazil. H HAD to get subbed and he was, and all was right with the world.
Ross – Ronda Rousey (vs. Meisha Tate)
There have been some fantastic subs this year so this was also a tough choice, but when you take this as the great submission it was and add that it pretty much took WMMA into the limelight then it just pips the competition in my opinion.
Iain – Matt Riddle (vs. Chris Clements)
Even though it is officially a NC (despite a usage exemption), a standing arm-in triangle choke was awesome
Referee of the Year
(The third man in the cage is a tough, lonely place to be. This award is for the ref that you breathe a sigh of relief when you realise they’re gonna be in charge of your most anticipated match on a card and its not going to be marred by a bad ref call.)
Chris – Herb Dean
With the luxury of going last I can see who the other guys have given nods to, and while I totally agree that Mrk Goddard is a great ref, I think its only fair to give some props to the guy that I like to see working any of the cards in the US that Marc doesn’t do. You’re always glad to see Herb, especially in a match between big hitting fighters, safe in he knowledge that he’s got the experience to call the finish at the right time and the sheer size to pull one guy off the other.
Ross – Marc Goddard
Not only is he a 1st class referee and incredibly consistent but he also spends his time away from the cage coaching both fighters and potential judges/referees as well as generally promoting the sport in this country and trying to push it forward with initiatives like SAFE MMA.
Iain – Marc Goddard
Never seen him give a truly awful decision, unlike Steve Stopagatti
Promotion of the Year
(The promotion that we feel does MMA correctly and is presenting the sport in the right light. Not necessarily the biggest…)
Chris – Invicta FC
From nowhere to one of the most important promotions in the world in three events. Invicta has opened up a major platform for female fighters, especially at the less fashionable weights below 135lbs to showcase their talents. Showing that all-female cards can be compelling and marketable and that the girls can stand on their own rather than being a sideshow afterthought on predominantly male cards, Invicta did great things for MMA this year.
Ross – Cage Warriors
Really established themselves as arguably the top MMA Promotion in Europe and the Middle East, consistently great cards, doing things the right way and generally being a shining light for MMA in the UK especially, the UFC would usually be a shoe in for this but 2012 has been rough for them so I think CW deserve it this year.
Iain – Vision FC
Very impressed with the professional look and set-up from this fledgling promotion.
Event of the Year
(The event that will live longest in the memory, for a clutch of awesome, important fights)
Chris – Cage Warriors 50
It has to be the stunning Cage Warriors show in Glasgow, the biggest MMA event ever in Scotland. To see competitors like Wilson Reis in my hometown was just awesome and the performances by the likes of Graham Turner, Dan Hope and Alan Johnston really made the night. The Scots are coming. Be afraid.
Ross – UFC 146 – Dos Santos vs. Mir
Despite having my reservations at first I ended up really enjoying this card and it was probably the most fun one of the year
Iain – UFC 146 – Dos Santos vs. Mir
Apart from the Dolloway v Miller fight this did not disappoint.
MMA Personality of the Year
(This one goes out to the MMA fighter, promoter, journalist or hanger on that made the biggest impact this year.)
Chris – Dr Johnny Benjamin
After his starring role in the pre UFC 155 vlogs, I was almost tempted to go for ‘Nick the Tooth’ but I have to give a nod to MMA Junkie’s resident MMA doctor for his continuing campaign of saying unpopular things which need to be said for the health of the fighters and good of the sport. Carry on that man.
Ross – Chael Sonnen
Just ’cause he is Chael Sonnen
Iain – Chael Sonnen
Love him or hate him as a fighter, or what he says, he is always entertaining
Hero of the Year
(The MMA figure who has been most inspirational, by example, ethic and/or effort this year.)
Chris – Shannon Knapp
They said it couldn’t be done, but she did it. In the space of twelve months, Shannon has revolutionised the landscape of WMMA and helmed an all-female promotion to being one of the most interesting and exciting promotions on the planet. What’s more, she’s done it in such a way that the fighters have remained centre stage the whole time, promoting her brand, the concept of high level WMMA and her fighters ahead of herself, most unlike the vainglory which seems to affect many male promoters. For a job well and classily done, against all the odds and even though there is yet far to go, I salute you ma’am.
Ross – Brian Stann
I don’t think you can fail to respect and like Stann, quality inside and out of the cage, class act.
Iain – Brain Stann
For not continuing to punch Alessio Sakara when he was clearly out, great sportmanship
Villain of the Year
(MMA isn’t pantomime or even pro wrestling, so there shouldn’t really BE villains. However, some personalities and fighters have unfortunate character traits, a tendency to play the heel, a downright petulant side or just end up being the one taking the fall for unpopular events. Here’s who we’re blaming for the ills of the MMA world this year…)
Chris – Nick Diaz fanboys
For propagating the trend of calling an evasive striker ‘scared to fight’ when defeated by more effective tactics, for talking trash about MMA in general, for getting busted when he didn’t need to, for convincing an army of fanboys to argue that marijuana shouldn’t be considered an illegal substance even though it is clearly labelled as such in the rules, and for managing to squeeze himself back into a title shot despite coming off a loss and a years suspension. Hell, I’m not even naming Nick as the villain, because he’s just himself and he came across REALLY well in the Primetime series. It’s his fanboys, the kind of folks who just want to see wars at the expense of skill, who want heels and feuds rather than top level competition, who think the rules and concepts of earning a title shot should be waived for their preferred ‘thug’ fighter. WWE Raw shows every Monday night, you should find that more to your liking…
Ross – Jon Jones
After the cancelation of UFC 151 he became the pantomime baddy of 2012
Iain – Dana White
Because everyone loves to hate the boss.
(Our last award goes to the fighter we’d most like to give an award to for being game, for being the never give up, keep moving forward, I shall not tap kind of fighter we all love, even if they aren’t always the most winning.)
Chris – Fabio Maldonado & Junior dos Santos
Fabio for his immense heart in refusing to buckle under the immense onslaught of Glover Texeira and to keep coming back, even looking like he might score a KO off the back foot before the doctor stepped in.
Again, perhaps because its fresh in my mind – Junior dos Santos for gutting out five rounds against Cain Velasquez when anyone in their right mind, with any thought of self preservation would have just sunk to their knees anytime after the middle of the first round and let the finish come.
Both of these guys showed incredible amounts of heart, which is something you can’t train.
Actually, in that vein I want to shout out to Chris Bungard of the Scottish Hit Squad who took a fearful beating at the Vision Fight Night in October but kept getting back up and moving forward. Heart of a warrior, that boy.
Ross – Georges St-Pierre
For fighting back from the brink of injury ending his career to put on one of the fights of the year while maintaining his consummate professional attitude, a true martial artist.
Iain – Pat Barry
He’ll go in there and give his all, despite the deficiencies in his game
That’s all from us and please remember this was a short notice, light hearted attempt at an awards article. All the best in 2013 from the Kumite Team.