I couldn't find an actual kimura trophy, so this is going to have to do as we hand out the Keyboard Kimura Awards for 2009.
In addition to distributing hardware for all the usual suspects—Fight of the Year, Submission of the Year, etc.—we'll also mix in some awards for the best of the worst of 2009.
Let's get started...
Fighter of the Year: Jose Aldo
Four fights. Four wins. Four opponents utterly dominated.
Beginning with his January destruction of Rolando Perez at WEC 38 and culminating with his capturing the WEC featherweight title at WEC 44 in November, Jose Aldo cut through the competition in the 145-pound division in 2009.
In addition to claiming the belt and becoming a part of the pound-for-pound discussion, Aldo earned three Knockout of the Night bonuses, including one for his Knockout of the Year candidate against Cub Swanson.
The scary thing about Jose Aldo is that he's only getting better, and, as good as 2009 was, 2010 could be even better.
Honorable Mentions: Lyoto Machida, Marius Zaromskis, Gegard Mousasi
Worst Fighter of the Year: Jose Canseco
The former steroid slugger also takes home the prize for "Worst Promotional Idea" as part of the DREAM Super Hulk Tournament, as the presence of Canseco could have easily set the sport back several thousands of years.
Now, of course the expectations were pretty low for Canseco heading into his bout with Hong Man Choi, yet Canseco managed to come in below them, starting with his entrance, where he was accompanied by...his girlfriend. No coaches, no corner man; just the missus.
From there, the spectacle that this was supposed to be ensued and thankfully only lasted 77 seconds before Canseco feigned injury and submitted to strikes.
Event of the Year: UFC 100
This one is not up for debate.
In addition to being a pretty loaded card featuring some highly entertaining fights, the historical implications of this event make it a unanimous winner as Event of the Year.
While it wasn't actually the 100th event in UFC history, the fact that a company and sport that was once banned from pay-per-view and forced underground reached their centennial show is outstanding.
When we look back in a few years to determine where and when mixed martial arts finally cracked the barrier into the mainstream, UFC 100 will go down as one of the defining moments and key events.
Honorable Mentions: Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Rogers, WEC 41, DREAM 11
Worst Event of the Year: UFC 97
Hear me out on this one.
First off, we had the province of Quebec coming in and trying to change the rules at the last minute. While a major crisis was averted, small concessions (no foot stomps) had to be made and the province certainly didn't come out looking very good.
Secondly, the main event was horrible.
It's not Anderson Silva's fault that Thales Leites didn't want to engage; very few people want to engage "The Spider," but that doesn't mean it wasn't painful to watch.
Finally, the remaining fights on the card were just OK.
We saw Chuck Liddell get knocked out again and sent to dance with pseudo-stars, a handful of not-overly-exciting decisions, and a 4-3 night for the Canadians on the card, including the final UFC appearances (for now) of Jason MacDonald and David Loiseau.
Submission of the Year: Toby Imada, Reverse Inverted Triangle on Jorge Masvidal, Bellator 5
The description alone should be enough to earn this move a unanimous decision as Submission of the Year. Then you see it, and it's even better.
Imada was being dominated by Jorge Masvidal but was given a small opening when Masvidal tried to lift him up for a slam. While on "Gamebred's" back, Imada locked in a super-tight triangle, and the rest is history.
Masvidal wilts, Imada scores the win, and Bellator had another YouTube highlight sensation.
Honorable Mention: Jake Shields' Standing Guillotine on Robbie Lawler, Brad Pickett's Peruvian Necktie on Kyle Dietz, Sakuraba's Kneebar on Zelg Galesic.
Knockout of the Year: Dan Henderson on Michael Bisping, UFC 100
Was there anything better? I think not.
Not only because Bisping talks all kinds of smack and ends up laid to waste, but because, as Jon Anik said on MMA Live's recap of the event (and I'm paraphrasing here), everyone and their mother knows not to circle into Dan Henderson's right hand.
Except Michael Bisping.
Honorable Mentions: Fedor Emelianenko on Andrei Arlovski, Fedor Emelianenko on Brett Rogers, Nate Marquardt on Demian Maia, Lyoto Machida on Rashad Evans, Jose Aldo on Cub Swanson...honestly, there are a ton!
Most Improved Fighter: Mauricio "Shogun" Rua
If you look at Rua's three fights over 2009, he looks like a different fighter.
First up was his "my cardio is worse than your cardio" contest with Mark Coleman in Dublin, Ireland, at UFC 93. Bah-rutal!
Then came his UFC 97 knockout of Chuck Liddell, where we saw the power of the "Shogun" of old, but we didn't really get a long enough fight to determine whether or not he was 100 percent back.
Finally, UFC 104 and the most controversial fight of the year. While the results are still debatable to this day (though I'm personally tired of talking about it), there is no question that we saw the best Mauricio Rua we've seen in some time.
The guy who went the distance with Lyoto Machida looked nothing like the guy who fought Mark Coleman.
Maybe I'm cheating here, but whatever—they're my awards!
Honorable Mention: Dan Hornbuckle, Nate Marquardt, Jon Jones
Worst Fight of the Year: Kimbo Slice defeats Houston Alexander, TUF 10 Finale
This should also be a unanimous decision for anyone who hands out awards this year.
Honestly, I don't even think I need to explain this one.
Fight of the Year: Miguel Torres vs. Takeya Mizugaki, WEC 40
If there could be a blueprint for what an entertaining title fight should look like, this would be it.
Mizugaki took the fight on short notice when Brian Bowles got hurt and proceeded to take two rounds from the heavily-favored champion, becoming the first fighter to ever go the full five with Torres.
To his credit, Torres showed why he was the champion at the time, battling back from losing two rounds early to claim the fight in the championship rounds.
It's fights like this that have made me such a huge fan of the WEC and make me wonder how some people still have no interest in the organization.
Honorable Mentions: Diego Sanchez vs. Clay Guida, Hideo Tokoro vs. Abel Cullem, Ben Henderson vs. Donald Cerrone, Martin Kampmann vs. Carlos Condit
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