Six months of mixed martial arts action across the globe is officially in the books. Without further ado, here is the first half hardware (continued).
Best Submission: Fabricio Werdum’s triangle armbar on Fedor Emelianenko
For those who felt Fedor was invincible, this result had to be quite astounding.
More shocking than the actual result was how the fight transpired. Nobody in their right mind could have predicted the ease at which Werdum was able to pull off the unthinkable.
After a brief exchange on their feet, Werdum fell onto his back. It was not clear whether he was briefly stunned, simply lost his balance, or fell backwards on purpose in an effort to play possum and entice Fedor into his guard.
From there it was rather elementary as the usually cerebral Fedor made crucial positioning errors. His poor submission defense coupled with his careless over-aggression turned out to be a detrimental combination.
Werdum locked in the arm in triangle choke and Fedor was eventually forced to tap. It was a beautiful display of technical skill from the jiu-jitsu world champion.
It took a mere 69 seconds for “The Last Emperor” to taste defeat for the first time in nearly a decade.
Furthermore, it will go down as one of the biggest upsets of all-time, likely just below Matt Serra’s stunning victory over the heavily favored Georges St. Pierre at UFC 69.
Honorable mention (in no particular order): Shuichiro Katsumura’s brabo choke on Masakatsu Ueda (Shooto: The Way of Shooto 2), Cole Miller’s modified kimura on Dan Lauzon (UFC 108), Scott Jorgensen’s guillotine choke on Chad George (WEC 47).
Worst Decision: Frankie Edgar over B. J. Penn
This bit of judging blasphemy did not get nearly enough criticism due to the overshadowing “spectacle” put on by Anderson Silva in the main event of UFC 112.
Throughout the fight it was clear that Edgar was the quicker fighter and appeared to be more active with his constant movement.
That is fine and dandy until you truly examine the nature of the altercations. Penn’s counter left hook and jab were both landing clean and clearly inflicting more damage.
Edgar was no doubt the aggressor, but his punches lacked the authority needed to win exchanges and rack up points. He was simply taking more damage.
When the 25 minutes of action was completed the judge’s scorecards read as follows: 50-45, 48-47, and 49-46. All were in favor of Edgar, who won the unanimous decision and was subsequently crowned the new lightweight champion.
For reference, on fight night I scored the bout 49-47 Penn. I gave the first three rounds to Penn, the fourth round a 10-10, and the final round to Edgar.
My scoring was echoed by the folks at FightMetric, among many others. At the very least it should have been scored a draw.
Moving forward, this fight will likely be referenced quite often by advocates of cage-side television monitors for judges. To this day, the television audience at home still has the best vantage point.
Conversely, the actual paid judges have to look through a fence and around posts and cameramen. They also do not have the benefit of multiple angles or replays.
Lost in the dysfunction were the belt Penn had to give up and the hit his legacy was forced to endure. It was his first loss at 155 pounds in roughly 8 and a half years.
The good news is that he will have an immediate chance to right the wrong. A rematch is scheduled for August at the UFC 118 event in Boston.
Honorable mention: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira over Jason Brilz (UFC 114), Joe Warren over Patricio Freire (Bellator 23), Jamie Varner split draws Kamal Shalorus (WEC 49), Leonard Garcia over Chan Sung Jung (WEC 48), Pat Curran over Toby Imada (Bellator 21).
Biggest Upset: Fabricio Werdum over Fedor Emelianenko
See above. You get the picture. It was kind of a big deal.
Honorable mention: Manny Gamburyan over Mike Brown (WEC 48), Frankie Edgar over B.J. Penn (UFC 112), Pat Curran over Roger Huerta (Bellator 17).
*** Part 3 of 3 will feature the Breakout Fighter, Best Comeback, and Best Event. ***
*** If you missed Part 1 click here for the link. ***