MMA Tap-Out: 25 Fighters Who Were Exposed in 2011
Oh, the blockbuster year that was 2011 in MMA.
When it began, George Sotiropoulos was only a win or two away from the Frankie Edgar/Gray Maynard saga, Donald Cerrone was just starting off in the UFC, Eddie Alvarez was still Bellator Lightweight Champion, Georges St-Pierre was preparing for arguably his biggest UFC Welterweight title defense to date (on paper) against Jake Shields, Jon Jones was still respected by all except those who felt he was getting pushed too fast, too soon and Brock Lesnar had just lost the UFC Heavyweight title to Cain Velasquez.
Now, Velasquez owns a loss to new UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior Dos Santos, who wants his rematch with Alistair Overeem in June, while Jones is now the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and seen as consensus No. 2 Pound-for-Pound best fighter in the world, Georges St-Pierre awaits the winner of Nick Diaz's UFC 143 bout with Carlos Condit (but of course, GSP would prefer it be Diaz). Among other things, Michael Chandler, better known as "Alvarez 2.0" by some, is the upgraded version of his predecessor, only with less fights and better wrestling.
So, for better or for worse, who all got exposed in one way or another?
You're about to find out.
First Thing's First... When We Say "Exposed, What Do We REALLY Mean?
We say fighters get "exposed" and that we're going to showcase fighters who got "exposed" in 2011, but what do we mean when we say that fighters got exposed?
Really, it can mean whatever you want it to mean.
It can be the flaws a top fighter showed in victory or in defeat, or it could be a term used to describe something seen in the rise of contenders (that didn't fall off) and prospects alike.
When we say exposed, we usually refer to the perceivable-negative end of the spectrum and focus on the guys who showed a weakness whether they won or lost, but because we're talking about some of the guys responsible for the ending of the year 2011 in MMA, we're ending with a look who showed us something that qualifies them as "exposed," and as stated before, it could be any number of things, but we're also talking about the guys who showed us something good or something that justifies a positive outlook for their 2012.
Keep three things in mind as you view this list:
1. This isn't numbered. Numbered "rankings"-type lists mean the last guy your see on here was more exposed than all the rest, and to be honest, those lists aren't my thing. Seriously.
2. As a little bit of a fan of most of these dudes, it's a bit painful to bring some of these up, but we'll have to talk about them. I can't sugarcoat them too much, but I'll give credit where it's due to all involved.
Now then, who made the cut?
How do you go 3-0 in 2011 and wind up still making a list of guys that were exposed in 2011?
Simple: Fight two of the guys that Shinya Aoki has fought.
I'll cut Lyle Beerbohm some slack because he lost his "0" against Pat Healy, and I felt an upset against Aoki (hence, I actually PICKED Beerbohm), but there's no real way to explain Rob McCullough's bout with Aoki.
Also, there's the whole Rich Clementi thing...
That said, there was some positive exposure in the form of his five-round decimation of his former Nippon Top Team teammate, Satoru Kitaoka.
It was not by any means a terrible fight, as Aoki and Kitaoka went at each other for five rounds, and Aoki just found a way to get the better of them.
If anything was exposed in the Aoki-Kitaoka bout, it was the one thing that we thought would never change about Aoki, and that was his striking.
(Donald Miralle/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)
Yep, it happened.
I'm sorry, but that dude has an iron neck to go with his chin, as he showed in his impressive 3-0 run at Lightweight.
Either that, or Clay Guida never got all of those guillotines he locked up on Henderson.
He also showed some composure in bouts with Jim Miller and Mark Bocek and will look to put it all together against Frankie Edgar at UFC 144 in Saitama, Japan.
The question is, will he be able to make magic happen and touch the most prestigious 12 pounds of gold in the history of the Lightweight division at UFC 144?
Frankie "The Answer" Edgar might have a reservation or two about that argument.
Michael Cohen/Getty Images
If Frankie Edgar had to expose one thing in the start of 2011, it's that he could easily put on a fight that was a classic against a notoriously "methodical" wrestler in Gray Maynard, who is still the only man to beat the champ.
If Edgar had to expose two things?
Well, we were exposed to Benson Henderson's chin in 2010, and we had it figured that Edgar could take a punch in 2010 also, but not even BJ Penn was able to truly rock Edgar hard enough to expose his chin or lack thereof (although BJ did hit Edgar a few times in their UFC 112 bout).
As fate would have it, Edgar and Maynard fought twice, and Maynard exposed the chin and heart of Edgar twice in one year by dominating 10-8 rounds in the opening round, nearly finishing Edgar on both occasions.
Who can answer the question of Frankie "The Answer" Edgar?
Henderson will hope he is the man to solve that riddle in Saitama, Japan for UFC 144.
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images
How do you make the best out of a loss to Rick Story?
If you're Johny Hendricks, you could always try knocking out TJ Waldberger, for starters.
Maybe then you might follow that up with a split-decision win over Mike Pierce, but it's how 2011 ended for Hendricks that lands him here.
Remember the 12-second KO win over Jon Fitch?
Yeah, plenty of people do, and some might say it was a fluke, but others might say the win exposed a Johny Hendricks that might have revived his mojo.
Was it a fluke win?
Could another fight against top competition be what Hendricks needs to prove that he really can step it up against the best in the world?
Your move, Hendricks.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
One comeback against Pat Barry was all Cheick Kongo needed at UFC Live 4, and the momentum of that win led to a semi-lackluster (and somewhat controversial) unanimous decision win over Matt Mitrione at UFC 137.
Still, the mere mention of the Pat Barry fight should tell you exactly what got exposed from Kongo...not that it's a bad thing at all.
Shocked to see Mayday on this list?
Don't be, because the kid exposed his talent to the world, and he turned a lot of people on to his true ability as a fighter.
Edwin Figueroa and Chris Cariaso brought all of their game to McDonald, but McDonald was simply better than their best, and McDonald showed his ability to end fights when we got our first glimpse of Alex Soto.
McDonald had a great 2011 and is primed to turn it up for 2012, where he hopes he'll be a step or two closer to the UFC Bantamweight title.
McDonald is truly a wonder to behold in the cage and will look to prove it against top competition, but the sky is the glass ceiling for this kid, as his potential seems right now to have no limits.
That leads us to...
That record, along with one no-contest, belongs to Renan "Barao" Pegado, who, for simplicity's sake, is known casually as Renan Barao, but this kid really put himself on this year.
His striking is getting better with each bout, and he is a fluid animal on the ground, especially with his Jiu-Jitsu game, and all he really needs is to face more and more of the elite competition that never got to test him before the WEC's merger with the UFC.
His first test won't be an easy task, though, as he draws Scott Jorgensen at UFC 143, and "Young Guns" has his ways of neutralizing even the best of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu masters, but he's never had to face a gamer the likes of Barao in a three-round scrap.
Barao will likely feel comfort wherever the fight goes, but because of Jorgensen's wrestling, he may also have to answer the question of takedown defense.
If Barao does beat Jorgensen, it'll only cement further all the claims of himself and Michael McDonald as the future of the Bantamweight division.
It's amazing the things you accomplish when Joe Silva give you the call to replace Maiquel Falcao in a bout against Alessio Sakara.
It's even more amazing what you can do when Ray Longo and Matt Serra help you out in going from a kid with superb takedowns and excellent wrestling to a kid that can finish off anyone with a face, but that's Chris Weidman's 2011 for you.
After totally annihilating Sakara and before the sick Brabo Choke that put Tom Lawlor's light out at UFC 139, Weidman submitted Jesse Bongfeldt.
His hands are no mystery unless the subject of top competition comes up, but many people are confident that current champ Anderson SIlva is warming up the UFC Middleweight division's coveted belt for this kid, and others are confident in what he can accomplish if we substitute a Jesse Bongfeldt for a Demian Maia.
That confidence is a good thing, because a Mark Munoz injury caused Maia to lose Michael Bisping as an opponent for UFC on Fox 2, and Weidman has decided to be the man to separate Maia from a potential second crack at the gold.
The funny thing about Luke Rockhol'd exposure is that it only took him one fight to get exposed, and that one fight was a fight he was supposed to lose.
Needless to say, he handled Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza well enough to escape with a close unanimous decision win that some still dispute, as one judge had all five rounds in favor of Rockhold.
A rematch with Jacare is possible for 2012, although not much discussion has surrounded the prospect of a rematch with the former champ, and all signs are pointing to a bout against Tim Kennedy, but would a win over Kennedy be enough to set up a rematch with Jacare so that Rockhold can prove his skeptics wrong?
That depends on how Strikeforce wants to operate in 2012, but with Miesha Tate vs. Ronda Rousey in the immediate future, Strikeforce is on the right path.
Now, they just have to keep Rockhold off of the sidelines for more than six months once his hand heals up.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Arguably the perfect 2011 for a prospect had to go to Jon Jones.
He kicked of 2011 by snapping Ryan Bader's undefeated streak, then he physically dismembered and downright destroyed Mauricio "Shogun" Rua to take the UFC Light Heavyweight title at UFC 128 and then he beat Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida.
He made some new fans and lost some fans along the way, but he gets results, and he always makes you remember those results.
In 2012, the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion also may get either Rashad Evans, Phil Davis or Dan Henderson, and if neither of them can beat Jones, it's unlikely to see any fighter, let alone Light Heavyweight, possessing enough of the tools needed to even take a round from Jones.
Of course, Anderson Silva could, as could the UFC Heavyweight division, but what are the odds of them crossing paths with Jones in 2012?
Someone's going to hate seeing Volkmann on here, considering he had a great 2011, and beating Danny Castillo and a returning Efrain Escudero helped accentuate that fact when added to the addition of Antonio McKee being "one and done" after a split decision to Volkmann.
How, then, does a dominant style of offense that is merely tough to get enthused about land you on a list of dudes that got exposed?
It might be the lame jokes from UFC 141 or (even though I probably will deny it in public) it was the weak Obama call-outs...
...Or, it's always possible that it's the thing that's brought Volkmann this far in the UFC.
It got him past Escudero, Castillo, McKee, Paul Kelly and Ronys Torres, but does that resume give a man a pass to believe in his right mind that it's something for the champion to worry about?
You deserve a Lifetime Achievement Award if you can justify a legitimate win in five rounds for Volkmann over Edgar, but as for me, I'll stick with the facts.
The facts are that Volkmann is on a streak that has pushed him past the TUF 8 Lightweight winner and a gamer from Team Alpha Male, but if he wants anyone to call a win for him over the elite of the division without making anyone laugh, he'll need to prove that he's more than just the man who has accumulated a five fight win streak by getting away with mounting the same anti-climatic top control that he's mounted so far.
His submission defense looked decent when Escudero nearly finished him, though, so that's a start...
If you know me, you know Clay Guida is one of my personal favorite Lightweights, and thus, you probably could expect that I hate seeing the guy lose, even if it's to Benson Henderson.
Knowing how much I like Guida, then, you also probably know that even I will say that, while Guida did have a good 2011 with wins over Takanori Gomi and Anthony Pettis, he might have exposed a little bit of something in the Pettis win.
Guida's usually a non-stop action fighter that can push the pace and fight smart, but close to the end of the fight with Pettis, a fight seen as a potential "Fight of The Year" contender on paper, Guida seemed to get a little bit tired out.
The first round may have ran him a little bit dry, but if Guida's stock dropped in that win, it probably reset itself in the loss to Henderson.
Guida is supposedly getting Gray Maynard in the future, and if that's the case, Guida has a great shot to get back on track.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
The big bummer about Brendan Schaub is that he opened 2011 as a dude on his way towards a big break in competition, and all he needed to do was beat a few good legends to do that.
He knocked Mirko Cro Cop out just fine, but ran into problems against Minotauro Nogueira, against whom an easy win was supposed to come.
Was it a case of "too much, too soon" for Schaub?
Some may think so, but for his own sake, a rebound win better be in the cards for 2012.
Jason Merritt/Getty Images
"WHAT? GEORGES ST-PIERRE!"
Yes, Georges St-Pierre got exposed this year too, and before you say anything, this has nothing to do with his performances in the cage.
Heck, I had GSP sweeping Jake Shields at UFC 129 to be honest with you, and I found that performance to be pretty entertaining for what it was, although it could have definitely lived up to the hype if GSP took a chance while on the ground with Shields.
Then again, why should the UFC Welterweight Champion risk himself just to shut a few haters up? His performance does that already, even if the haters are not impressed by it.
Still, GSP has to get at least a mention on the list because while dominance in fights, empty (and unnecessary) apologies, getting pissed off at Nick Diaz's claims of faking an injury, inspiring Carmen Valentina and keeping his title reign intact in an intelligently-fought contest are all collectively disqualifications from the "exposed" label, forcing a knockout instead of letting his hands create an opening to land a natural kill-shot sticks GSP on this list.
There's been a question about whether GSP has lost his striking or whether he's conservative while vertical due to some fear sparked by memories of his bout at UFC 69, and after the Jake Shields fight, GSP's critics figured that GSP might be scared, homie, at least when it comes to letting his hands go.
Not a good sign when you know you're getting a dude that lets his hands go in your next fight, but GSP's got six to nine months off and might actually be good to go by late fall, so while his ACL recovers, GSP can contemplate releasing his hands.
Pat Barry can actually catch some slack for doing what he needed to do before Cheick Kongo came back to beat him, and he had Stefan Struve in a precarious spot before he got submitted by Struve.
Sooner or later, a dude has to win fights, but Barry has never left any doubt about his ability to look for the win.
It just so happened that he went looking for the win, nearly got the win and ended up losing, so hopefully, Barry's studied those two losses and figured out how to channel that energy in an effort to topple Christian Morecraft at UFC on FX 1.
Shocked that a Japanese MMA fighter not named Shinya Aoki made this list?
Well, you shouldn't if said fighter is Katsunori Kikuno.
The perennial fan favorite and old-school-minded Lightweight went 2-1 in 2011, with the only loss coming to Mizuto Hirota, but Hirota came at Kikuno from the onset and made it difficult for Kikuno to get anything going.
Some argue that his style of fighting is exposure enough because it doesn't employ much head movement and because he's not very defensive, but while that may be true, it's gotten him this far with the only haunting loss on his record coming to Eddie Alvarez.
With the types of fights Kikuno is capable of, one shouldn't be surprised to see him get exposed to more mainstream audiences in 2012, as Kikuno is definitely not a guy to sleep on in the Lightweight division.
Maximo Blanco is one of the most energetic fighters to ever debut in the state-side circuit of MMA, and his ability showed greatly in the first round of his bout with Pat Healy.
No question that the man has what it takes to make a major impact in the sport, as if he hasn't already, but there's one little catch.
It's not really the cardio issue with Blanco, although he did learn pretty quickly that his style is one that might give him more problems than payoff at 155 and thus dropped down to 145, where his aggressive offense is more likely to present more paydays and less problems.
Actually, it's that "aggressive offense" that lands Blanco on this list, and while I'll admit to being a fan of his style, even I have to say that he gets more emotionally charged than is the standard for a "loose cannon" in MMA.
Blanco is an enthusiastic fighter who loves to go in for the kill, but he's been known to go after his opponents even after he's already gotten the fight.
He actually came close to beating Healy, but when the fight hit the ground, Blanco pimp-slapped Healy with his foot in a move that lost Blanco a point and surprised a couple of the commentators.
Yes, Blanco's a guy that fights for the fans, and he definitely is not content with just being able to "not lose", but a little restraint might be the difference between a title shot in the UFC and a release from the UFC...and in Dana White's UFC, that's not just in relation to wins and losses.
If Blanco doesn't dial it back a little once he's won, he might be out before he ever gets put on.
Eddie Alvarez might be considered one of the most exciting Lightweights in MMA history because of his direct-attack style, his relentless pace and his warrior spirit, which has enabled him in the past to come back from multiple situations where he got rocked and looked almost out.
But if one thing cost Alvarez his claim as a Top 10 or a Top 15 fighter at Bellator 58, it was probably the very thing that brought him to the dance, which was his style of offense, which came back to bite him.
To Alvarez's credit, though, it wasn't because he got ape-nuts reckless from the first bell.
What happened to Alvarez was he basically found himself facing a more upgraded version of himself for the first time in his career, and the "Alvarez 2.0" upgrade known as Michael Chandler came ready to shake the MMA world up.
Oh, and in case there was a question, "shake the MMA world up" is what Chandler did.
Alvarez has always pushed an insane pace and used his striking to obliterate his opponents' wills, but neither Josh Neer nor Roger Huerta or Pat Curran had ever been able to put Alvarez in significant peril by doing the same.
Not only did Chandler put Alvarez in peril, but he nearly took Alvarez out within the first 15 seconds of the fight.
Still, what came in between that wicked first round and the fight-ending rear naked choke was truly a classic. Alvarez did show that he wanted to hold on to that gold, but he simply could not match his challenger's pace this time out.
As a true show of his class, however, Eddie made zero excuses for the loss, but declared a determination to reclaim what he once had, and if he can reinvent himself in 2012 so that he can do to Chandler as Chandler did to him, not only could he be back to where he was at the beginning of 2012, but he could also set the stage for the most epic MMA trilogy since the Chuck Liddell-Randy Couture saga.
As it turns out, though, Alvarez turned down a chance to enter Bellator's sixth-season Lightweight tournament and instead chose to seek out a long-awaited rematch with Shinya Aoki.
Just when you think Brian Stann is going to make this list for finally showing his true potential, he runs right into...Chael Sonnen.
THAT Chael Sonnen.
The popular opinion, though, among anti-Sonnen fans and pro-Stann fans was that the allegiance to Jackson's MMA was going to be enough to instill some takedown defense into Stann. But as Sonnen proved, that takedown defense better be greater than great if you're looking to force fisticuffs from Chael P Sonnen, and Stann's was not that at all.
The good thing about Stann's 2011 before the Sonnen fight, though, was that he showed his ability to shine where some believed he'd fade.
He derailed Chris Leben and Jorge Santiago before the Sonnen fight, and there's zero shame in losing to The Gangster of West Linn, Oregon.
Stann just has more work to do is all, but if he can present another challenge to some of the top-tier fighters at 185, the sky is the limit for Mr. Stann.
Don't let yourself be fooled into thinking Joe Warren's case for "exposure" stems from his KO loss to Alexis Vila, because Marcos Galvao already handled that task for Vila.
On the feet, Warren looked considerably different from the guy that perfectly timed that Tiger Knee and the punches that put Joe Soto out and put the Bellator Featherweight Championship belt on .
Galvao simply had his way with Warren, who probably took one round at best, but did not put on a performance convincing enough to argue for any other round or the fight.
Warren's striking has always been something of a question mark because of how dominant his wrestling has been, but the Soto fight was to have introduced us to the true striking regiment of the still-Featherweight Champion.
If one thing had to be taken away from Joe Warren's 2011, it's that Warren's good enough to be a problem for fighters, but dude needs to take some serious striking into the cage with him if he wants success in 2012.
He draws Pat Curran in a bout expected to happen sometime early next year, and Curran rebounded from his own loss to Eddie Alvarez to not only defeat Luis Palomino, Ronnie Mann and Marlon Sandro in the Bellator Featherweight Summer Series, but also bypass a sidelined Patricio "Pitbull" Freire to earn the crack at Warren.
Curran timed a sledgehammer of a head-kick on Sandro, who is one of the prime examples of why Featherweights are difficult to knock out in order to win that Summer Series, so imagine what Curran will have in store for Warren, a wrestler with questionable striking, after knocking out one of MMA's top technical-aggressive strikers at 145 pounds.
Before Rafael Dos Anjos, the last guy to beat George Sotiropoulos was Dennis Siver, and before Siver's UFC 127 upset over Sotiropoulos, the last man to defeat Sotiropoulos was Kyle Noke.
Actually, it was Shinya Aoki that beat Sotiropoulos before the Siver fight, but considering the general consensus on DQ wins in MMA, very few consider it a true loss to Aoki.
Besides, Soti didn't tap.
The Dos Anjos fight was probably just an off-night, but the Siver fight was something of a inability to contend with Siver on the feet while also being unable to take Siver down.
Do we say he needs to step his kickboxing game up, do we say Sotiropoulos needs to up his strength and conditioning game a little bit more or do we come into UFC 144 weekend hoping Takanori Gomi doesn't all of a sudden get the kickboxing skills of Gokhan Saki?
Granted, Sotiropoulos hasn't always had a top-level striking game, but for a dude that only has one pro win by a form of KO, he's not a one-dimensional guy, either.
He's hung with some very difficult and very well-rounded fighters with little trouble on the feet, but he's definitely hit a rough patch lately.
If he can't turn it around against Gomi, UFC 144 may be be the last time we ever see George Sotiropoulos on a major stage.
Jason Miller might not have lost the fight as lopsided as some saw it, but he did gas against Michael Bisping after weeks and weeks of talking about how badly he wanted to hand Bisping a loss.
Oddly enough, Mayhem got the first round from me for what he showed against Bisping, but after that, he just didn't seem there.
Mayhem made his error and paid for it, leaving many (including Dana White) to wonder if another UFC bout would ever be in the cards for Mayhem, and at the time of this publication, Mayhem hadn't been offered another fight.
Oh, Jake Shields...
He had probably one of the toughest 2011s out of anyone on this list.
It's tough enough for a son to lose his father, but it's especially tough when his father has been so instrumental in paths to greatness like the current path on which Jake's been.
Say what you want about the UFC 121 win over Martin Kampmann, and know that even I still say Kampmann won that fight, but the fact is that Shields still won twice in 2010 and had himself a main event spot opposite Georges St-Pierre in 2011.
Jake lost most of that fight pretty convincingly, and what seemed like an eye poke to some was enough to take a round from GSP in the eyes of the judges, but it wasn't enough to say Shields truly beat GSP.
Then came Jake Ellenberger, and that's really when it hit the fan.
Shields was simply unable to get anything significant off on Ellenberger and wound up getting finished in the first round with zero controversy.
Shields will hope to jump-start his 2012 with a win over Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 144, but in Akiyama's backyard, the trip to Saitama will definitely prove easier than will the actual fight.
(Original Photo courtesy of ESPN.com)
To be honest, it did hurt to put Fabricio Werdum on here after having seen his rematch with Alistair Overeem live in Dallas.
On one hand, Werdum did capitalize on Fedor's then-recklessness and earned the distinction of being the first man to legitimately beat him.
On the other hand, he tried the exact same thing for three rounds straight in the Overeem rematch, in between outlanding "The Reem," of course.
Werdum had a chance to actually go in for the kill and finish Overeem on the feet, where Werdum would up finding a little bit of success, but instead, he tried time after time to pull a Thales Leites and goad Overeem into basically walking into his guard, and that performance is one that totally discredits the fighter that Werdum actually is.
He always has a chance of exposing the takedown defense (or lack thereof) of Roy Nelson at UFC 143, but what will the biggest win of Werdum's career mean in the "What have you done lately?" world of MMA if the recent showing against Overeem is followed by an emphatic loss to Nelson in 2012?
Even though Gray Maynard's last bout with Frankie Edgar ended at 3:54 of the fourth round, we're officially saying that he and Maynard have gone a total of 12 rounds total against each other.
There was their first bout, which was the three-round battle that Maynard won, and then came UFC 125, which is where we begin to talk about Maynard and why he makes the list.
On one hand, Maynard dropped Edgar in the first round of the UFC 125 bout on New Year's Day...and in the first round of the rematch of UFC 136...and he nearly knocked Edgar out both times.
Both times, he won 10-8 rounds, but then he seemed to fade a little bit as the fight wore on.
Was it a case of an adrenaline dump, or did Maynard somehow manage to hide the lack of a gas tank pretty well until Frankie Edgar came back along?
Some fans and a few pundits had doubts about Maynard's ability to finish in 2010, when Maynard would dominate Kenny Florian and plead a pretty clear case towards beating Nate Diaz, yet not finish either man.
Now, the question is whether he put so much stock into opening up with his striking and finishing that he blew his load early, and if he gets Clay Guida next, that question will be all the more important for Maynard to answer
Now Then, for Those I Missed...
You'll probably notice a lot of names missing from this list, such as Kid Yamamoto (winless in his UFC tenure, yet facing Vaughn Lee at UFC 144), Cung Le, Jorge Santiago (winless in his UFC run), KJ Noons (even though he ended 2011 with a win over Billy Evangelista), Jorge Masvidal, Matt Hamill, Yoshihiro Akiyama, and arguably even guys like Chris Leben (1-2 in 2011), Dominick Cruz (2-0 in 2011, though his style could raise questions), Rick Story (who started off 2011 right but ended with two losses) and Brock Lesnar (his UFC 141 bout with Alistair Overeem was his only bout of 2011), among others.
This piece was only limited to 25 and was done in a way that exhibited the best and worst of fighters in 2011, hence the inclusion of the prospects who actually had remarkable years in MMA.
Hey, having an awesome year in MMA counts too!
Anyways, in closing this piece, I'd like for all who read this and notice a few missing names to please leave a comment mentioning those so that I may expand and update the list, as this was neither ranked nor a true glimpse of all the people exposed in 2011.
Mind you, I had a few different ideas of what it means to be "exposed" in MMA, as will some of y'all, so please make your case for anyone missing from the list in the comment section and they'll be added to the list (as I loathe Honorable Mentions).
Thank you all for the time, and hope you enjoyed this (condensed) look at the 25 fighters who got exposed in 2011!