Since I seem to have lost the ability to sleep, I figured “why should I be the only one to suffer?” You know who else is going to suffer? You, the reader.
I handed out personal MMA awards for 2009, which was really just a convoluted excuse to come up with a bunch of movie references, throw a few jokes together, and call it a day.
The Royce Gracie Award for “Submission of the Year”
Gotta be Toby Imada over Jorge Masvidal, AKA the above picture. It’s not every day you see an inverted triangle. There were tons of amazing submissions in 2009, but that one's just too good.
The Olaf Alfonso Memorial “He Walked Right Into It!” Award
I mean…this one has to go to Demian Maia, right? He actually got ’09 off to a good start by submitting wrestler/annoying real estate tycoon Chael Sonnen back in February.
But when he was introduced to Nathan Marquardt’s right hand by throwing an ill-advised kick, his entire body spun around like he was a floating hologram or something. Hell of a moment.
The Answering Machine Scene in Swingers Award for “Most Embarrassing and Cringe-Worthy Moment”
It goes to either Forrest Griffin or Jose Canseco. I’d give the edge to Griffin because both he and Ando Silva were and still are perceived as top fighters, whereas Jose Canseco is broke and needed mad money to pay off his bookies or catch up on one of his five mortgages.
Nevertheless, that was a relatively humiliating minute and nine seconds against behemoth Hong Man Choi.
But that Silva-Griffin KO really WAS something. You know it’s an embarrassing KO when even the announcer has to say it.
Honorable mention goes to Tim Sylvia, who was knocked out in 9 seconds by a prehistoric Ray Mercer and came in well over the fighting limit of six thousand pounds.
The Cosmo The Chinese Guy in “Boogie Nights” Award for “Best Random Character”
And the winner is…drumroll, please…the one, the only, Mr. Michael Schiavello! Catch some of his work on HDNet sometime…it’s like an ongoing SNL skit.
Unquestionably the king of the “Did he really just say that?” remark. The best part is how Guy Mezger never sells his jokes.
He’ll say something like “He’s taken more shots to the mouth than Belladonna!” and that will be followed by three seconds of dead silence. Gets me every time.
He’s actually become my favorite MMA announcer, though. He knows kickboxing and MMA inside and out, he’s Australian and probably drinks Fosters, he has a cool nickname (“The Voice”) and he has at least one line every fight where you can’t even believe he’s saying it as he’s saying it.
Since I know you were about to ask, heres’ my favorite:
“Easter Island just called. Tell Hong Man Choi the statues want their head back.”
The “Tiger Woods Leaving a Voicemail to Jaimee Grubbs” Award for “Worst Idea”
You know what? To save space, I’m going to narrow this down to four words: Chuck vs. Tito III.
Actually, a few more words, because I just thought of a pithy comment to make. Are you ready? I hope you’re sitting down. Okay, here goes.
Remember how bad Another 48 Hours was? Imagine if they had made a third one. Exactly.
The Steve Bartman Award for “Most Irrational Hatred Directed At Someone For No Valid Reason”
Um…this would be Roy Nelson. Easily. It’s not just that MMA fans don’t like Nelson; hell, I understand that. It’s that they talk about the guy like he’s just some boring, unskilled yee-haw with a big gut who lays on top of people.
They crucify Nelson for having the gall to agree to appear on the show, like it was his fault that the UFC offered him a pretty good chance at a big contract and national exposure.
Like you wouldn’t do this. Especially considering who he was up against.
Heres’ the thing, though: Nelson can defeat far more than his housemates from TUF 10.
In case you haven’t noticed, the UFC’s heavyweight division hasn’t exactly lit my socks on fire this year, and people get all incredulous when I suggest that Roy would beat more than half of them.
I like a lot of the UFC’s heavies (Carwin, Cain, Big Nog), but in my opinion it is currently the weakest division in the UFC.
He’s both an excellent offensive and defensive boxer; he has good footwork and head movement for a big man; he has superb takedowns; and he’s tough as nails.
What more do you want? I guess he’s like the Daniel LaRusso of MMA: there's just something about Roy Nelson that rubs people the wrong way.
The Midnight Run Award for “Best One-Punch Knockout”
As much as I enjoyed Fedor-Rogers, something about Henderson knocking Michael Bisping into his next fight particularly delighted me. I’m not the biggest Hendo fan anymore, but man…maybe that right hand really DOES look like a takedown.
I had to name this award after Midnight Run because of how many times a character was knocked completely unconscious with one punch in that movie. Guys were just getting knocked out left and right.
Marvin Dorfler (played exquisitely by John Ashton…remember Taggert from Beverly Hills Cop? ) alone gets KTFO twice, and beaten up another time. He was like the Yoshiki Takahashi of the late ‘80s.
The Frank Reich Award for “Best Comeback”
Has to go to Scott Smith, who suddenly has two comeback wins against good fighters and a memorable KO (vs. Pete Sell) on his resume.
Cung Le is the only fighter I’ve ever watched that can actually make me feel indifferent by throwing repeated spinning back kicks to the head. Guys just don’t see it coming.
He does it over and over and over. In short, it’s mesmerizing to watch. And it must be hell to train for. How do you replicate Le’s arsenal in practice?
Le’s first round against Smith was one of the most one-sided rounds I’ve seen this year. The thing is, Smith was punching back, which Le’s previous opponents had generally not shown the ability to do.
Still, I thought Smith was done, and so did you, and so did everyone else. It was one of those rare occasions where the announcers dusted off the old “Smith needs a knockout, he has to know he’s too far behind on points to win a decision” routine late in the fight…and then the fighter actually delivered. Nice win for Smith.
The Roddy Piper vs. Keith David in They Live Award for “Best Fight”
The toughest call on the list. There were a lot of good MMA battles in 2009…but there weren’t too many great ones. I narrowed it down to these five.
Diego Sanchez vs. Clayton Guida
Donald Cerrone vs. Benson Henderson
Miguel Torres vs. Takeya Mizugaki
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Randy Couture
Hideo Tokoro vs. Abel Cullum
All were memorable battles, but Big Nog over Randy gets the nod here because it’s my list.
Ongoing questions about his durability and whether or not his career was winding down had me worried as hell for Nog here. I mean, how many beatings can a man take? How big can a man's heart be?
And then he comes out and puts on this performance. He pretty much lit Randy up for three rounds, nearly finishing him multiple times with both strikes and submissions.
A virtuoso Nog performance from start to finish and my pick for the fight of the year.