I'm going to level with you: 2012 hasn't been a banner year so far for MMA. Extended injury layoffs for top stars, legal troubles for some of the sport's most famous faces, big-time retirements, multiple failed drug tests, disappointing TV ratings and anticlimactic main events have all combined to blunt the edge of the year's narrative.
The hits keep on coming, too, and alas it's all true. But is it really fair to characterize 2012 as what the kids would call an epic fail?
Yeah, maybe so. But only if you're one of those types who only skims the headlines. If you're reading for the articles, you'll know 2012 has a terrific story to tell.
To continue the metaphor (sorry, I'll stop soon), MMA owes a debt this year to those who live below the fold. The undercard warriors, underdog promotions and up-and-coming fighters who are not yet—and may never be—household names are carrying the proverbial team this year.
In the following list of the 15 best fights of 2012 so far, you'll see many feature members of MMA's unwashed masses.
Hard to pinpoint a definitive formula for a great fight. It helps if the fight was evenly matched. It helps if there was a lot of action. It helps if the stakes and skill levels were high. It helps if the fight deviated from a hackneyed script. It helps if the fight was memorable for some reason.
But it's subjective at the end of the day. You know it and I know it. Got a fight or 12 you think belong on this list? Holler them out if you have the notion. And hey...here's to 2012, baby.
I also have a brand-new Twitter account. Follow me @ScottHarrisMMA.