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).
Breakout Fighter: Marlon Sandro
Sandro has quietly thrown himself into the discussion of the best fighters in the world that mainstream MMA fans have no clue about.
One could easily argue that he is the No. 2-ranked featherweight in the world behind his Nova Uniao teammate and current WEC champion Jose Aldo. That distinction would certainly not be a stretch by any means.
Nevertheless, because of his impressive 2010 campaign, he is starting to build some steam on the periphery.
In March, he took all of nine seconds to dispose of Tomonari Kanomata with a devastating uppercut at the World Victory Road: SRC 12 event in Tokyo.
He followed it up with a 38-second pasting of the highly regarded Masanori Kanehara at the SRC 13 event in June.
The weapon of choice for the damaging final blow was once again a stiff right uppercut. Kanehara had to be removed from the ring on a stretcher.
The latter victory also crowned Sandro the new WVR Featherweight Champion.
Both highlight reel finishes were honorable mentions in the Best Knockout category in Part One of our first half awards.
Did I mention Sandro is a jiu-jitsu-based fighter first and foremost?
Honorable mention (in no particular order): Ben Askren, Alexander Shlemenko, Maximo Blanco, Frankie Edgar, Muhammad Lawal, Scott Jorgensen, Evan Dunham, John Hathaway, Pat Curran.
Best Comeback: Robbie Lawler over Melvin Manhoef
It did not take long for the viewing audience to figure out that Lawler had absolutely nothing to offer the Dutch kickboxer at the Strikeforce: Miami event this past January.
Instead of using his hands to set up a level change and dump Manhoef on his back, where he is notoriously clueless, Lawler was content to fight fire with fire. Big mistake. For a while, anyways.
For the better part of three minutes Lawler was brutalized by inside and outside leg kicks. Manhoef had him on his heels and was in full stalk mode.
It looked as if it would only be a matter of time before Manhoef would tie a ribbon on his night with one of his trademark flurries.
To his credit, Lawler tried mightily to maneuver as best he could, but it appeared as if he was walking on broken glass.
What started the final sequence was a golden opportunity that reared its head in the form of an overly aggressive Manhoef dropping his hands while trying to close distance.
Lawler recognized it immediately and reacted. He timed an overhand right perfectly that struck Manhoef clean and dropped him to the canvas. For good measure Lawler chased him and landed a huge left hand that put Manhoef out for good.
It was an absurd, gutsy, come-from-behind victory.
Honorable mention: Aaron Simpson over Tom Lawlor (UFC Fight Night 20), Mike Russow over Todd Duffee (UFC 114), Carlos Condit over Rory MacDonald (UFC 115), Jake Shields over Dan Henderson (Strikeforce: Nashville), Mark Munoz over Kendall Grove (UFC 112), Joe Warren over Patricio Freire (Bellator 23).
Best Event: WEC 48
The world’s most consistent producer of exciting, action-packed events is World Extreme Cagefighting.
It was no shock they pulled out all the stops for their WEC 48: "Aldo vs. Faber" event that took place in Sacramento, Calif., at the ARCO Arena. It was the first-ever pay-per-view broadcast for the organization.
The entire fight card was stacked from top to bottom, littered with a number of former champions and two current champions with their belts on the line.
The night kicked off in a major way with two preliminary fights shown for free on Spike TV as a lead-in.
In the first bout Anthony Pettis locked in a beautiful second round triangle choke on Alex Karalexis.
Then came the Leonard Garcia vs. Chan Sung Jung fight. Enough said. It was our choice for the best fight so far in 2010.
The main card commenced with an impressive showing by Scott Jorgensen, who earned a unanimous decision over Antonio Banuelos. At the time, many thought it had earned him a title shot in his next bout, but that turned out not to be the case.
In the second main-card bout, Shane Roller put on a clinic with his grappling prowess and recorded a first round submission over Anthony Njokuani.
Heavily-favored former champion Mike Brown’s stunning first round knockout loss to Manny Gamburyan kept the night rolling along smoothly.
It left many wondering just how much longer Brown will be in the upper echelon as the wear and tear of the sport appears to be finally catching up with him. This finish garnered an honorable mention from us for the biggest upset.
The two title fights were icing on the cake. Ben Henderson made quick work of challenger Donald Cerrone with a first round guillotine in a rematch of their five round war at WEC 43.
In the main event Brazilian world beater Jose Aldo did what he always does —demonstrate how big the gap is between himself and the rest of the upper echelon in his division.
Hometown boy Urijah Faber was thoroughly outclassed because of the superior technical striking, speed, and movement of Aldo.
For five rounds, he chipped away at Faber’s base until the latter could barely walk from the cumulative damage of the kicks he had sustained.
By night’s end, incredibly, only one out of the 11 total bouts (Takeya Mizugaki vs. Rani Yahya) was not shown on either the Spike TV or PPV broadcast.
One successful pay-per-view showing is now in the books, and hopefully many more will follow for the UFC’s sister promotion.
Honorable mention: WEC 47, WEC 49, UFC 115, Strikeforce: Miami.
*** If you missed Part 1 click here for the link. ***
*** If you missed Part 2 click here for the link. ***