MMA: 20 Things We Learned from the First Half of 2012

Dan HiergesellFeatured ColumnistJuly 18, 2012

MMA: 20 Things We Learned from the First Half of 2012

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    As it is in life, things happen for a reason in mixed martial arts.

    From historic title defenses to highlight reel knockouts, the sport possess its own way of naturally working things out.

    So when looking back on the first half of 2012, it's only natural to question the things we have learned.

    Here are 20 truths that have self-manifested over the last six months.

       

20. Mark Hominick Has the Worst Kind of Luck

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    It seems like Mark Hominick just can't win inside the Octagon.

    A product of the UFC/WEC merger back in 2010, "The Machine" has gone 1-3 throughout his second stint in the UFC, with his most recent defeat coming at the hands of Eddie Yagan back in April.

    Granted, one of those losses came against featherweight champion Jose Aldo. 

    In Hominick's case, a veteran who many still consider to be one of the best 145-lb. fighters in the world, his world-class striking hasn't equated to UFC success.

19. Brazilians Have the Best Knockouts

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    It seems like every time a ultimate knockout is landed inside the Octagon, a Brazilian-based fighter is involved.

    Edson Barboza did it against Terry Etim at UFC 142 with a spinning wheel kick, featherweight champion Jose Aldo did it against Chad Mendes at the same event with a powerful knee with one second remaining in the first round and heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos did it against Frank Mir to retain his title.

    More than often, the highlight reel finishes you scrambling to show your friends come at the hands—or knees—of a talented Brazilian.

18. Jamie Varner Still Has It

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    The UFC lightweight division was already crowded before Jamie Varner jumped back on the map and secured a TKO victory over Edson Barboza at UFC 146.

    Varner's comeback has dumbfounded many people around the organization, especially considering it came against arguably the most heralded prospect in the UFC.

    Remember, Varner went 3-1 in lightweight title fights in the WEC, only losing to the current UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson in 2010.

    Bottom line, "C-4" still has it.

17. Swedish Boxers Can Brawl

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    Following a decisive April finish over the formidable Thiago Silva, Swedish-based light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson has turned numerous heads.

    His striking is not only one of the best offenses in the division, but his crisp standup game seems like the only one in the weight class ready to take on champion Jon Jones and his unorthodox approach.

    Add in the fact that "The Mauler" has finished four of his last five victories before the third round, and you have one of the biggest prospects in the sport today.

16. Glover Teixeira Was Worth the Wait

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    When a heavy-handed Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt dominates in his UFC debut, people are going to wonder who the hell he is.

    Now while only a few know the true answer to that riddle, it takes nothing away from newcomer Glover Teixeira's overall potential.

    This is a guy who hasn't lost since 2006 and is a light heavyweight threat more well-rounded than some of the top contenders in the division today.

    No matter where he's been, what visas he needed to square away to fight in America or how long it actually took him to make his UFC debut, the wait was completely worth it.

    Rampage Jackson is next in line.

15. Cub Swanson Is out for Blood

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    Cub Swanson has arguably been the hottest fighter in the first half of 2012.

    With back-to-back second-round TKO victories over George Roop and Ross Pearson, the former top featherweight contender is proving that he's ready to make another run at gold.

    At 28 years of age, Swanson is still young enough to put it all together at the right time.

    When he's on his game, his standup is some of the best in the division, making him a serious threat to KO any fighter on any night.

14. Stipe Miocic Is Ready for the Big Show

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    When will people realize that Stipe Miocic may be the best overall prospect in the UFC today?

    Sure, his name isn't as flashy as a Rory MacDonald or Alexander Gustafsson, but the guy has literally squashed every fighter Joe Silva has put in front of him.

    As a heavyweight, it's been difficult for Miocic to gain significant ground in a top heavy division, but as a fighter who mirrors the great Mirko Cro Cop, the UFC can't hold him back anymore.

    Miocic's next opponent is the always unpredictable Stefan Struve.  If he can get past the "Skyscraper" and his various submissions, Miocic's resume would warrant a future bout with a top-five heavyweight.

13. Antony Pettis Should Be Fighting for the Title

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    If it wasn't for this hidden rule that once a champion loses his title he automatically gets a rematch, Anthony "Showtime" Pettis would be fighting Benson Henderson at UFC 150 instead of Frankie Edgar.

    Not for nothing, but Pettis has already defeated Henderson when the two met in the WEC.  In fact, that was the infamous bout that showcased Pettis running up the cage and landing a flying leg kick to the side of Henderson's head.

    I realize a loss to Clay Guida last year slightly derailed Pettis' championship hopes, but back-to-back victories over Jeremy Stephens and Joe Lauzon should have landed "Showtime" a chance at the belt.

12. Chan-Sung Jung Is in Fact a Real Zombie

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    If Chan-Sung Jung's potential Fight of the Year against Dustin Poirier showed us anything, it's that "The Korean Zombie" should be an extra on the always entertaining The Walking Dead series.

    The guy literally fights like a persistent corpse in search of brains.  He never seems to slow up, always charges forward and simply can't be knocked out.

    Poirier landed absolutely everything he had against Jung when the two met at UFC on Fuel TV back in May, but to no prevail.

    "The Korean Zombie" has only been knocked out once in his career and seems like the best bet to take down featherweight champion Jose Aldo sometime in 2013.

11. Cung Le Is a Boss

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    When's the last time you saw a 40-year-old movie star back kick his way to a unanimous decision over a hungry 32-year-old world-class boxer?

    Probably never.  That's why Cung Le's dominate performance over Patrick Cote at UFC 148 was so special.

    Did he look winded after the first round?  Sure.  Did he get tagged on occasion?  Absolutely.

    But there's no way in hell you can bash Le's performance against one of the best strikers in the middleweight division.

    At the end of the day, Le is a Hollywood powerhouse who just so happens to be an Octagon boss.

10. Illegal Knees Are Actually Legal

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    Anderson Silva fans would consider his knee on a downed Chael Sonnen at UFC 148 legal.

    Sonnen fans would disagree.

    For anyone left out in neutral land, a decisive finish over the biggest trash talker in UFC history was enough.

    Now I'm not saying Silva's second-round TKO was ill-willed in respect to the rules, but in what world was his knee completely legal?

    Bias aside, I think at least a mutual stand-up was in order.

9. Clay Guida Can Be Boring

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    Believe it or not, Clay Guida can actually be boring.

    His uncanny performance against Gray Maynard at UFC on FX 4 was borderline putrid.

    Shuffling right, ducking left, strafing around the cage, Guida looked like a chicken without its head.

    After that loss to Maynard, "The Carpenter" revealed that his strategy was to score points and not get beat up like he usually does.

    News flash, Clay, fans don't pay money to watch you hop around as if your hands were tied behind your back.

    Let em fly, bro.

8. Rashad Evans Should Move to 185

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    As long as Rashad Evans is pondering the idea of moving down to middleweight to challenge Anderson Silva, we'd better help him along in the process.

    Right now, after dropping a championship bout to Jon Jones, Evans has been bumped to the back of the title-contending line.

    With budding threats like Alexander Gustafsson and Ryan Bader climbing the divisional ranks, alongside already prominent ex-champions such as Mauricio Shogun Rua and Lyoto Machida, it seems as if Evans will have to wait at least a year before a rematch with Jones is even discussed.

    Keeping that in mind, it makes sense for him to drop down to 185, assuming he commands his strength and cardio, and challenge the G.O.A.T. for the championship.

    Now I know Chris Weidman, Michael Bisping, Tim Boetsch, Brian Stann and Hector Lombard are all worthy middleweight contenders, but those guys don't even compare when matched up against someone like Evans.

7. Chris Weidman Is a Perfectionist

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    If Rashad Evans decides to stay at light heavyweight, undefeated Chris Weidman seems like the best bet to take on Anderson Silva.

    The New York-based power wrestler has been beyond impressive throughout his five-fight UFC career, finishing three of those bouts early.

    But his most recent finish over Mark Munoz at UFC on Fuel TV 4 has been his golden moment.  Weidman escaped that fight unscathed, creating opportunities for himself on the ground before landing a vicious standing elbow that left Munoz dreaming.

    Remember, before an injury back in January, "The Filipino Wrecking Machine" was one fight away from a title shot. 

    So by not landing one significant strike on Weidman earlier this month, it speaks leaps and bounds about "The All-American" and his potential moving forward.

6. Martin Kampmann Is the Comeback Kid

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    Time and time again, Martin Kampmann has proved that Octagon comebacks are all they're cracked up to be.

    "The Hitman" has not only pulled off a recent comeback finish over Jake Ellenberger at TUF 15 Finale, but he secured a late third-round submission over Thiago Alves back in March.

    It seems as if Kampmann has to be down in a fight to bring out the big guns.  As if he thrives on being rocked early only to make a miraculous turnaround and finish top opponents in fashion.

    Whatever floats the Dane's boat is fine by me.  Kampmann has become one of the most entertaining fighters in the UFC today, and there's no reason he can't keep it up.

5. Jon Jones Is Untouchable

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    When is it time to consider Jon Jones the best in the world?

    It depends.  People will always immediately crown Anderson Silva just because he's Anderson Silva, but you have to look at the entire picture.

    In such a short time, at such a young age, Jones has taken the MMA world by storm.

    This includes four straight title victories against ex-champions Mauricio Shogun Rua, Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida and most recently Rashad Evans.

    That's a class of fighters that Silva has never seen.  Still, he seems to be the better fighter. 

    If Jones finishes the legendary Dan Henderson at UFC 151, however, he'll be considered an untouchable champion.

4. Rory MacDonald Is Gutsy

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    At what point do you tell Rory MacDonald to stick a sock in it?

    Probably the same time his mouth started to murmur the name BJ Penn.

    For a young prospect like MacDonald to call out a legend of the sport like Penn, it speaks wonders on how confident he really is.

    His decision to do so is either going to be really really stupid or really really smart.

    Regardless, whenever somebody calls out Penn and professes his willingness to fight him inside a cage, you have to consider that person certifiably ballsy.

3. It's a Heavyweight World and We're Just Living in It

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    On a scale from one to 10, UFC 146 was a 146.

    It simply can't be put into words.

    On one hand you had UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos make Frank Mir look like an amateur, and on the other hand you had Cain Velasquez pummel UFC newcomer Antonio Silva in what can only be considered the bloodiest fight of all time.

    Throw in Roy Nelson and Stipe Miocic knockouts, a Stefan Struve submission and a Jamie Varner finish over Edson Barboza and you have one of the best events of all time, let alone 2012.

    Can you remember the last time all five fights on a PPV card ended in the first or second round?

    Didn't think so.  It's just a heavyweight world and we're lucky to be living in it.

2. Anderson Silva Is the G.O.A.T.

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    There was one blemish, if you want to call it that, on Anderson Silva's resume before his rematch with Chael Sonnen at UFC 148.

    That was the four rounds of misery the middleweight champion endured at the hands of Sonnen's world-class ground and pound at UFC 117, before catching the mouthy contender in a fifth-round triangle choke.

    But as any great fighter knows how to do, Silva rebounded with one of his best performances to date.

    His recent second-round TKO of Sonnen earlier this month can only be considered epic.

    It's the fight that reminded us that Silva is in fact the greatest fighter of all time.  One that has defended his UFC title 10-straight times.  One that hasn't lost in over six years.  One that hasn't defeated every relevant middleweight fighter in the world.

    One that has truly transcended the sport of mixed martial arts.

1. The TRT Epidemic Has Begun

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    Tito Ortiz has reached out to the world of mixed martial arts to stop the usage of testosterone-replacement therapy, better known as TRT.

    Ortiz's disgust with the therapy stems from his recent loss to Forrest Griffin at UFC 148.  Not only because it was the legend's last fight ever, but more importantly because news broke that Griffin had been granted permission to use TRT before their co-main event bout.

    But Griffin doesn't seem to be the only fighter nowadays gaining an advantage on fight night.  Relevant UFC contenders like Chael Sonnen, Dan Henderson and Frank Mir have all be granted this grand pass for TRT therapy.

    It just doesn't seem right that a select list of fighters are legally allowed to increase their testosterone levels.  Fighters like Alistair Overeem have been suspended in the past for doing so without exemption.

    Any playing field, especially MMA, should be equal through and through.  There's absolutely no wiggle room.

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