2010 MMA Awards (Part 2): Best Submission, Worst Decision, Biggest Upset

Derek BolenderSenior Analyst IDecember 29, 2010

2010 was another banner year in mixed martial arts around the globe. Without further ado, here is the end of the year hardware (continued):

Best Submission - Fabricio Werdum’s triangle armbar on Fedor Emelianenko (Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum)

It was the submission heard ‘round the world.

Not many gave the Brazilian submission expert Werdum much of a chance when he entered the cage against the seemingly invincible superstar known simply as “Fedor.”

After an early exchange on their feet Werdum fell onto his back. Either he was stunned briefly from a punch, lost his footing, or fell on purpose to play possum. It was not clear.

As soon as Fedor dove into one of the most dangerous guards in the world it was rather elementary.

Known for his cerebral superiority, Fedor made detrimental positioning errors with his submission defense.

His carelessness would be his downfall as Werdum quickly locked in an arm triangle choke.

Werdum readjusted and tightened the choke while cranking on the arm and eventually Fedor was forced to tap.

It was a technical masterpiece from the jiu-jitsu world champion and one of the biggest upsets in MMA history.

It all took a mere 69 seconds for “The Last Emperor” to sustain his first loss in nearly a decade.

Other notable submissions: 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), Anderson Silva’s triangle choke on Chael Sonnen (UFC 117), Anthony Pettis’ triangle choke on Shane Roller (WEC 50), Charles Oliveira’s rear naked choke on Efrain Escudero (UFN 22), C.B. Dollaway’s guillotine choke on Joe Doerksen (UFC 119), Phil Davis’ kimura on Tim Boetsch (UFC 123), Shinya Aoki’s ankle lock on Tatsuya Kawajiri (DREAM 15), Michelle Waterson’s flying armbar on Rosary Califano (Extreme Beatdown), Douglas Lima’s triangle armbar on Jesse Juarez (MFC 27), Paulo Thiago’s brabo choke on Mike Swick (UFC 109).

Worst Decision - Frankie Edgar over B.J. Penn (UFC 112)

It got nowhere near the outrage as a few of the other poor decisions I have listed below, but the stakes were significantly heightened in this matchup with the lightweight belt on the line at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi.

It was evident from the outset Edgar was going to be the quicker man, more aggressive, and was going to use movement to try to frustrate the defending champion. He was successful in these endeavors.

The problem was the actual nature of the altercations—they favored Penn.

His counter left hook and jab were his primary weapons of choice. Both were landing clean and doing damage. He was the more effective striker.

When twenty fives minutes of action was completed the judge’s scorecards were 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 champion.

It was a shocking set of scorecards and the first loss at the 155 pound limit for Penn in roughly eight and a half years.

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 of the fight in favor of the Hawaiian was echoed by many other respectable MMA media outlets.

The fight was a prime example of the need for judging reform in MMA in the form of cage-side monitors.

The nature of the aforementioned kickboxing battle that took place throughout the majority of the fight required acute attention from the judges sitting cage-side that they had difficulty providing.

After all, they view the action through a cage and around cameramen and various posts. They also do not have the ability to view multiple angles or any replays. The television viewer has the best seat in the house.

Ultimately, the appropriate amount of outrage regarding the decision was significantly muted by the attention and vitriol directed towards the nature of the UFC 112 main event fight between Anderson Silva and Demian Maia.

Honorable Mention (in no particular order): 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), Sean Sherk over Evan Dunham (UFC 119), Zoila Frausto over Jessica Aguilar (Bellator 31), Zoila Frausto over Megumi Fujii (Bellator 34), Josh Thomson over Gesias Cavalcante (Strikeforce: San Jose), Sam Stout over Paul Taylor (UFC 121), Nik Lentz over Tyson Griffin (UFC 123), Leonard Garcia over Nam Phan (Ultimate Fighter 12 Finale).

Biggest Upset - Fabricio Werdum over Fedor Emelianenko (Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum)

See above.

Honorable Mention (in no particular order): Manny Gamburyan over Mike Brown (WEC 48), Frankie Edgar over B.J. Penn (UFC 112), Pat Curran over Roger Huerta (Bellator 17), Chad Griggs over Bobby Lashley (Strikeforce: Houston), Zoila Frausto over Megumi Fujii (Bellator 34), Tatsuya Mizuno over Melvin Manhoef (DREAM 15).

*** Part 1 featured Best Fighter, Best Fight, and Best Knockout. Click here for a link. ***

*** Part 3 will feature Breakout Fighter, Best Comeback, and Best Event. ***


Derek Bolender is a freelance MMA writer who has contributed to outlets such as CBSSports.com, FIGHT! Magazine, and MMAmania.com (in addition to BleacherReport.com). Follow him on Twitter at @DerekBolender.