Brock Lesnar to Anderson Silva: The 10 Best MMA Moments of 2010
2010 has already been a busy year in MMA, and we are only halfway there.
From Anderson Silva's clown show at UFC 112, to Chael Sonnen's racist remarks, and the arrival of new kid on the block Moosin MMA, there has been plenty to talk about.
So what better time than now, to sit back and take a look at the defining moments we have witnessed so far this year.
I present the 10 best MMA moments at the halfway point of 2010.
Please feel free to share your opinions on the subject…
The Wizard of Oz has had a cracking 2010.
He backed up his win over Joe Stevenson in a fight of the night performance at UFC 110, with a solid victory over Kurt Pellegrino at UFC 116.
He is undefeated in the UFC after six fights, with an overall MMA record of 13-2.
Evan "Velcro" Dunham:
Has also had a great start to the year. With strong recent wins over (previously unbeaten) Efrain Escudero, and Tyson Griffin, he has taken his MMA record to 11-0.
You can expect to hear a lot more about this promising lightweight in the immediate future.
The newest player in the MMA game put on an impressive display in their debut card, Moosin: God of Martial Arts.
With charismatic Eric 'Butterbean' Esch at the helm, the card featured big names like Tim Sylvia, Yves Edwards, and Travis Lutter, as well as MMA legend Bas Rutten on the microphone.
The event was well organized and the future looks bright for Butterbean and Co.
10. The English Hitman Arrives In America
Former English rugby player John Hathaway has only been training in MMA for four years, after watching his first UFC event on TV in 2005.
Since his MMA debut in 2006 he has racked up 10 wins on the trot fighting in English promotions, Cage Rage and ZT Fight Night.
Although the opposition pales in comparison to the top MMA promotions in the US, he secured a contract to fight local boy Thomas "The Tank" Egan at UFC 93 in Dublin, Ireland.
After an impressive first round TKO over Egan, Hathaway followed up his UFC debut with two more wins at UFC 99 in Germany, and UFC 105 in England, leaving him un-defeated in MMA and taking his overall record to 13-0.
Yet Hathaway was still virtually unknown to American fight fans, and he entered his American UFC debut in Las Vegas as a serious underdog against fan favorite and TUF 1 middleweight winner Diego Sanchez.
Sanchez had never lost in Las Vegas, and had almost all of the 15,081 fans behind him at UFC 114; however it made no difference in the end.
The 22 year old "Hitman" from Brighton, England, stunned Sanchez with a huge right knee to the face, as Diego charged for a takedown in the first round, and he nearly ended the fight early with some solid ground n' pound.
Full of confidence, Hathaway dominated all three rounds and went on to take a comfortable unanimous decision victory
After the fight, Sanchez admitted he knew nothing about Hathaway, although I doubt his next opponent will make the same mistake.
John "The Hitman" Hathaway has arrived. America take notice.
9. The Forgotten Man
Controversy has dogged Chris "The Cat Smasher" Leben since he came into the MMA spotlight through the original Ultimate Fighter reality TV show.
His time on the show was punctuated by fits of rage, bouts of tears, excessive drinking, punching windows and urinating on a teammate’s bed.
In a bizarre way it was the act of soiling his teammate Jason Thacker's bed that propelled Leben into the UFC spotlight.
Both fighters had been eliminated before the final, however when Thacker found out what Leben had done, he demanded a grudge match at TUF finale.
Dana White obliged and the heavy handed Leben defeated Thacker comfortably by TKO after 95 seconds.
This coupled with an MMA record of 11-1 prompted DW to give Leben a shot at the big time, and he justified DW's decision by racking up four more wins on the trot through the Ultimate Fight Night events before running into Anderson Silva at Ultimate Fight Night 5.
Silva destroyed Leben within a minute and started a downward spiral for Chris that saw him lose four of his next seven fights and fade quickly from the spotlight.
The Cat Smasher has bounced back superbly in 2010.
After an impressive performance in a unanimous decision win over Jay Silva, Leben followed up with a KO of the night performance against Aaron Simpson on the main card of TUF 11 finale.
At UFC 116 Wanderlei Silva was scheduled to fight Yoshihiro Akiyama, but pulled out two weeks prior to the fight due to a knee injury suffered in training.
After having fought only 14 days prior, Chris Leben stepped up against the highly fancied Japanese Judoka and submitted 'Sexyama' in a fight of the night performance, taking him to 3-0 in 2010.
The forgotten man is back.
8. Introducing Mr. Toney
James "Lights Out" Toney is one of the biggest names in professional boxing.
In a career spanning two decades, Toney lasted 46 fights before tasting his first defeat at the hands of Roy Jones Jnr.
He is the current IBA and NABO heavyweight world champion and has a professional record of 72-6-3.
Throughout his career Toney has fought the biggest names in the sport of boxing, although he is now considered to be past his prime.
In what could be a sign of the future, Toney has recently been signed by Dana White to an undisclosed multi-fight deal.
His first fight will be on the upcoming UFC 118 card against Randy 'The Natural' Couture, and will be heavily scrutinized by both Boxing and MMA fans.
After stalking and hounding Dana White at multiple UFC events, Toney was actually close to signing a contract with upstart organization Moosin MMA; which is promoted by former professional boxer Eric "Butterbean" Esch.
However, the day before Toney was reportedly signing with Moosin; DW stepped in and offered Lights Out a contract to fight in the UFC.
While most MMA purists give Toney little to no hope against the world class wrestling and ground n' pound of Couture, the result of this fight could have huge implications on the future of MMA.
If Toney pulls of a shock upset win, then it is safe to say the proverbial floodgates will open, and MMA will see a large increase in professional boxers who believe they can make the transition from the squared circle to the octagon.
7. The Miracle Punch
The "Seven Second Man," Todd Duffee, went into UFC 114 against Chicago police officer Mike Russow with high hopes; coming off the back of his quickest KO in UFC history performance against the dumbfounded Tim Hague in his UFC debut.
After his electrifying performance against the Canadian Hague, it's safe to say fans were eager to see Duffee in action again; albeit hoping for a longer fight this time.
Duffee dominated the first round, repeatedly tagging Russow with bombs, yet Russow absorbed the punishment without major discomfort; bringing back memories of legendary rock head "Cabbage" Correira.
The situation didn't change much in the second or third rounds either.
Although Duffee clearly slowed down after the first round, he still dominated the striking exchanges, and easily brushed aside Russow's halfassed take down attempts.
All in all it was an impressive display of technical striking from a man many thought was just a power hitter.
That is until the 2:35 mark of the third round, when out of nowhere Russow landed a heavy straight right, hitting Duffee right on the kisser and putting him to sleep before he hit the ground.
Russow didn't even bother with the ground strikes as referee Josh Rosenthal rushed in to end the fight.
An over excited Joe Rogan labelled the KO, "The craziest thing I have ever seen in over 10 years of calling MMA."
6. Finally! A Title Defence
In 2006 Strikeforce transitioned from a Kickboxing organization to MMA with the Strikeforce: Shamrock v Gracie card.
In 2007 Strikeforce crowned its first and only heavyweight champion in Alistair Overeem, when he defeated Paul Buentello with a rarely seen submission from strikes.
After three losses on the trot in Pride, some were surprised that Overeem was fighting for the championship in Strikeforce.
However the budding organization needed a heavyweight champion and Alistair obliged.
Since the Buentello fight, Overeem has hit a purple patch, with seven wins and a N/C from his last eight fights. The problem is none of the fights have been for Strikeforce.
While Overeem has been on a nice run in the Japanese Dream organization, it has taken him 910 days to finally get around to defending his title with Strikeforce.
And defend it he did.
After cancelling previous title defences against Brett Rogers and Fabricio Werdum due to injury, Overeem finally met Rogers (10-1) at Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery on May 15, 2010.
While it took two and a half years to get him in the cage, Overeem did not disappoint, dominating Rogers from the opening bell and ending the fight by TKO at 3:40 of round one.
5. The Upset
BJ Penn is one of the greatest fighters the sport of MMA has ever seen.
The prodigy has squared off against the biggest names in MMA over his 10 year career, including the likes of Matt Hughes, Lyoto Machida, Diego Sanchez and GSP.
It goes without saying that he was a heavy favorite coming into his UFC 112 bout with Frankie "The Answer" Edgar, both with the bookies and fight fans in general.
Although Edgar came in with an impressive MMA record of 11-1, he had not fought anywhere near the level of competition faced by Penn.
It was Frankie however, who had the answer for BJ.
Edgar is better known for his wrestling ability, and Penn is a natural boxer, with fast hands and crisp strikes; so it was not expected that Edgar would want to stand with BJ.
On the other hand, I'm sure Edgar was aware that BJ Penn is possibly the hardest man in MMA to take down.
Either way, Edgar did more than just stand and trade with BJ.
His stick and move philosophy clearly frustrated Penn throughout the fight, and he won his fair share of the stand up exchanges, although BJ was able to land his trademark jab with consistency.
During the fight Edgar was able to take Penn down twice (albeit for short periods); a feat commentator Mike Goldberg claimed was the first time Penn had been taken down at lightweight in six years.
In the championship rounds, Edgar continued to press the fight, whilst BJ started tiring noticeably, and when the bell rang after 25 minutes it was Edgar who hoisted his hands in the air as a frustrated and tired Penn retreated to his corner.
The judges returned a unanimous decision in favor of Edgar, and a new lightweight champion was crowned.
How many people can say they saw that one coming?
4. WEC On The Big Stage
On Saturday the 24th April 2010, WEC joined the big boys by hosting their first pay-per-view event. It was a resounding success.
Every single fight on the card was entertaining. When was the last time you could say that?
The card also featured one of the most exciting fights ever seen, although more on that later in the slide show.
The PPV numbers were estimated at 200,000 hits. The break even point for Zuffa was 75,000, so it’s safe to say the event was a financial success.
Whilst the PPV numbers are low by UFC standards, they dwarf any rival MMA organization’s PPV events, and it's worth noting that it took the UFC years to crack the 100,000 mark.
On the big stage, the little men of the WEC proved that size does not matter, and that talent is still talent regardless of weight class.
There were huge knockouts, great submissions and flat out wars.
If you have ever been curious about WEC, then WEC 48 is the event to watch.
The event was called by the UFC's Rogan/Goldberg team and announced by the veteran Bruce Buffer. No expense was spared for the PPV debut.
Whilst there was a conspicuous lack of any WEC branding at the event (the show was simply called Aldo v Faber), it was never the less a hit with fans and viewers alike, and has set the bar for future WEC promotions.
3. He Is Human After All
Most MMA fans know the story.
The original Lesnar v Carwin matchup was scheduled for November 21st 2009 at UFC 106.
However, in October of 2009 it was reported that Brock had fallen ill and the fight was therefore postponed until UFC 108 in early 2010.
Late in 2009 it was revealed that Brock was suffering from mononucleosis and was seriously ill, so the fight scheduled for UFC 108 was also canceled.
As more information came to the surface, it was reported that Brock also had a case of diverticulitis; an intestinal disorder that would require surgery, and meant he would not be able to defend his belt in the immediate future.
To prevent the heavyweight division from becoming stagnant, Dana White set up an interim H/W title match between Frank Mir and Shane Carwin at UFC 111.
Carwin comfortably defeated an out of sorts Mir by KO in the first round, taking his record to an ultra impressive 12-0, and crowning him the interim heavyweight champion.
Now all fight fans were eagerly awaiting news of Lesnar's recovery, so planning could get under way for a mouth watering match up between the 2 giant heavyweights, to unify the championship.
Fortunately for Brock, his family, and fight fans in general; he made a full recovery and eventually fought Carwin on July 3rd 2010 at UFC 116.
The smart money appeared to be on Carwin leading up to the fight, with talk of Brock's ring rust and health concerns, coupled with Carwin's undefeated record and string of devastating first round KO's.
The result is now in the history books.
Three things were discovered about Brock Lesnar after he successfully unified the heavyweight title by submitting a gassed Carwin in the second round.
1. He has a granite chin, worthy of his genetically superior frame.
2. He has the heart of a champion.
3. He is human after all.
2. The Fall Of The Last Emperor
The Last Emperor.
One of the greatest heavyweights to ever strap on the four ounce gloves. Many people say the greatest MMA practitioner of all time.
Regardless of your opinion, there is no denying Fedor's record. He has amassed countless medals in Judo and Sambo, and more impressively, he has never really been beaten in 34 MMA fights.
For years MMA fans had been waiting for Dana White and team Fedor to come to an agreement that would bring the most dominant fighter in the world, to the most dominant MMA organization in the world.
Much to the chagrin of fight fans, it never happened, and now it looks like it never will.
At the recent Strikeforce event: Fedor v Werdum, the last emperor was submitted in the first round by BJJ specialist Fabricio Werdum, ending his 10 year reign at the top of the mountain.
While Fedor’s legacy is guaranteed, there is no denying he has lost some of his aura with the recent defeat.
While team Fedor is said to be working on a rematch with Werdum, the man himself is rumored to have been contemplating retirement and a possible tilt at Russian politics.
So the question has to be asked. Will the last emperor rise again?
1. The Fight Of The Century
Leonard Garcia v The Korean Zombie (Chan Sung Jung).
Ok now before you blow a gasket, allow me to explain the title.
This fight was so epic that commentator and self proclaimed world's biggest fight fan Joe Rogan, described it as the fight of the decade.
Fellow commentator Mike Goldberg, in his excitement, went one better; labeling it the fight of the century.
Even UFC matchmaker Joe Silva weighed in on the subject, describing the fight as the best he had ever seen.
So why was everyone so amped?
Picture an all out haymaker filled slug-fest between two featherweights with granite chins.
Picture this taking place over the entire three rounds.
Now picture an animated and (at times) deafening crowd, which spent the majority of the fight on their feet.
Lastly, imagine if the world's greatest nickname (The Korean Zombie) accurately described a fighter.
I'm not even going to attempt to describe the fight itself. All I will say is it was no oil painting, but action junkies seriously got their fix.
Watch the video. You will not be disappointed.