50 Best MMA Fights in 2011

Matthew HemphillCorrespondent IIJanuary 23, 2012

50 Best MMA Fights in 2011

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    MMA had a great year in 2011 and though we're almost through the first month of 2012, it isn't too late to lean back and reminisce about the best bouts from last year.

    Each fight card seemed to outdo itself, and while many of the fights in this article won Fight of the Night, not all of them did. Those fights that didn't shouldn't be forgotten.

    Some of the best fights weren't even in the UFC. Both Strikeforce and Bellator had some decent showings, and those that made the fights should be remembered and respected.

    Other than a fight or two that stands for a Fight of the Year consideration, there really isn't any way to grade the others, so most will be broken up by chronological order and by company.

    Here are the top 50 fights of 2011.

Marcus Davis vs. Jeremy Stephens

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    It didn't win Fight of the Night, and it was held on the first day of 2011, but that didn't mean it wasn't one of the best of the year.

    Stephens, who has power and likes to swing for the fences, started off by losing the first round to Davis, who is a former boxer. Davis was able to pick Stephens apart. It looked like Davis, who had moved down a weight class from welterweight to lightweight, was going to get a much-needed win.

    Then the weight cut hit him and he he slowed down just enough for Stephens to hit him with a powerful hook and knock him out. It was a great start to a good night of fights at UFC 125.

Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard II

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    As good as the fight between Davis and Stephens was at UFC 125, it didn't come close to trumping this fight.

    Edgar had lost a fight to Maynard before by decision, but this time it looked as if the scrappy, undersized lightweight was going to be knocked out. In the first round, Maynard hit Edgar with a serious punch that sent the champion reeling all over the cage.

    It was shocking to fans that Edgar didn't collapse and made it through the first round.

    What was even more shocking was that he was able to come back and win the rest of the fight with some close rounds in between.

    It ended up being a draw, which usually takes some of the shine away from fights, but in this case made it even more spectacular.

Yves Edwards vs. Cody McKenzie

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    Cody McKenzie is known for one thing.

    The McKenzitine: A modification of the guillotine he used it to choke out almost all of his opponents.

    Unfortunately, he was squared off against MMA veteran Yves Edwards at UFC Fight for the Troops 2. Edwards has pretty much seen it all, so it was no surprise that he was able to take out McKenzie in the second round.

    What was surprising was how game McKenzie was against the crafty veteran and how well he held his ground in the first stanza.

    It was a decent scrap with McKenzie being on the losing side, but it showed he was more than a one-trick pony.

Donald Cerrone vs. Paul Kelly

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    Donald Cerrone could run every fight he has ever had here on this list. He just doesn't seem to make bad fights.

    It didn't hurt that he was matched with Paul Kelly at UFC 126 and the two were able to give a thrilling performance. Kelly seemed to get the better of the exchanges, but Cerrone used his underrated grappling to take Kelly down and submit him via choke.

    Both men are known as exciting fighters, so it wasn't too surprising to see them step into the cage together and make a memorable match.

Brian Ebersole vs. Chris Lytle

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    Chris Lytle could fight a mop bucket and win Fight of the Night. The man just makes anything he does in the cage look exciting to the point that when he was announced for a fight card, other fighters probably grew frustrated that their chances of winning a bonus that night went down.

    Whenever Lytle fights, it's expected that he is going to give a stand-up exchange that most can't handle. Ebersole could and proved it by starting the fight with a cartwheel kick.

    At UFC 127, he also was able to use his wrestling well while avoiding Lytle's nasty submission skills.

    It made people sit up and take notice of Ebersole and that, in part, had to do with Lytle and the two matching up well together.

Diego Sanchez vs. Martin Kampmann

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    Everything about this fight at UFC Live 3 was great except for the decision. How the judges saw Sanchez winning is beyond strange and doesn't add up. They might have been distracted by how incredible the fight was.

    Sanchez is a little crazy and it shows in how he fights. He is willing to throw wrestling and striking at his opponent with little disregard to the damage it brings him. Against Kampmann he decided to strike and though he got the worst of it, he was always willing to move forward.

    Somehow that got him the decision victory, which tainted the night of fights, but not the excitement fans felt when it had started.

Edson Barboza vs. Anthony Njokuani

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    A fight between two kickboxers won Fight of the Night at UFC 128.

    Imagine that.

    Njokuani had been known for getting Knockout of the Night in the WEC and it's obvious that he felt he could do the same with Barboza. Instead he got beaten at his own game of striking with Barboza landing a spinning hook kick in the third round to punctuate the win.

    The fact that Barboza was able to land the kick was impressive, but even if he hadn't, these two fighters put on a great show that easily deserved a spot on this list.

Michael McDonald vs. Edwin Figueroa

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    Michael McDonald is very young and like most young men, he is charged with energy and ready to take on the world. Mix that in with the fact that he is a bantamweight he is going to be in a lot of high-profile fights.

    At UFC Fight Night 24, both fighters fought on their feet and the ground so well in the first two rounds that they started the third by hugging it out.

    Even in the third round they gave it their all with Figueroa even reversing a takedown that McDonald scored.

    In the end McDonald did enough to win, but both men did enough to earn the fight bonus.

Leonard Garcia vs. Chan Sung Jung

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    Garcia and Jung had a fight that that was considered one of the best in 2010. In 2011 at UFC Fight Night 24, they put on a great fight that had a crazy finish.

    That is because it involved a submission that had never been seen in the cage before. Jung was able to pull off a submission called the twister. He had watched the move on videos from the Internet and was able to pull it off for the first time in MMA history.

    It was impressive stuff and reminded fans that no matter how many fights they have seen, there is always room for something new.

Jose Aldo vs. Mark Hominick

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    For four rounds at UFC 129, Aldo was able to beat on Hominick. It was a one-sided fight that saw a side of the brave Canadian's face close and give him a goose egg the size of a fist. If the referee had stopped the fight, no one would have complained.

    And then the fifth round happened.

    Aldo was exhausted after four rounds of beating on Hominick and was unable to do anything but try to breathe as the exhausted Canadian beat on him.

    Hominick didn't have a Rocky moment, but he did endear himself to MMA fans and got an ovation from the fans in Canada, where their fight took place.

Brian Stann vs. Jorge Santiago

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    Stann and Santiago had an amazing first round at UFC 130. The fact that both men were able to back each other up in the opening stanza already made this a great fight.

    Stann's low kicks helped him to win the fight, but the way these guys traded leather made it seem like they hated each other.

    The truth was they were just great professionals and were focused on winning.

    Santiago was knocked out at the end of the second round, but he gave a great account and showed that he had the guts to match the military veteran.

Kyle Kingsbury vs. Fabio Maldonado

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    There were times in this fight when Maldonado and Kingsbury were able to show some impressive grappling and give the fans some excellent wrestling and jiu-jitsu.

    It was just few and far between in a match that ended up being a slugfest. Both men traded punches in bunches and showed heart while having blood flow free and eyes swell shut.

    They scrapped and there were moments when it was amazing that either man remained standing. It was only fitting that after that showing they won the Fight of the Night bonus at The Ultimate Fighter 13 finale.

John Olav Einemo vs. Dave Herman

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    Heavyweights can disappoint when they show up out of shape and lacking motivation. It happens more in boxing nowadays than in MMA, but that doesn't mean fans haven't ever had to deal with it.

    It didn't happen at UFC 131, though, when Einemo and Herman fought. It is shocking that it was the heavyweights on the undercard and not in the main event (Junior Dos Santos vs. Shane Carwin), were the best of the night, but that is what happened.

    Einemo started the fight taking Herman down, but by the end they were doing what they had for most of the two rounds they fought.

    Trading punches.

Cheick Kongo vs. Pat Barry

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    For most of the one round that these men fought, it looked like Pat Barry was going to win. He was landing all of the strikes needed to beat his opponent down and had the experience and the power as a former kickboxer to do it.

    He didn't do it fast enough and Kongo was able to find the opening needed to take him out. Barry just left one opening for too long and Kongo was able to land a counterpunch and then pummel him into submission for the win.

    It reinvigorated Kongo's career and saved what look liked a weak card (UFC on Versus 4) from fan backlash.

Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber

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    Cruz and Faber didn't put on the most jaw-dropping performance of 2011, but they did put on a fast-paced technical performance at UFC 132, which deserves mentioning.

    For every slugfest that fans get to see, there is always a little bit of skill that gets lost in it. Entertainment may be the main focus of a pay-per-view-oriented combat sport like MMA, but technique should still be king.

    That is why when fights like Faber-Cruz happen, they should be remembered.

    Cruz was able to use his crazy angles and boxing to beat Faber in a high-paced championship fight that might not have made fans go crazy, but entertained anyone who was watching.

Brian Ebersole vs. Dennis Hallman

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    This fight probably shouldn't make the list, but it was memorable and good in the sense that Ebersole got Hallman and the worst shorts in UFC history off TV screens as fast as many could hope.

    The fight, at UFC 133, was not as great as any other fight on this list, but the finish was and the relief it brought was palpable. Sometimes that is what it takes to be a great fight.

    It was in this case.

Dan Hardy vs. Chris Lytle

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    Chris Lytle could have appeared on this list one last time if he had fought again at the end of 2011, but Lytle won't ever be fighting again; he retired after his win over Hardy at UFC Live 5.

    It was a fitting end for one of MMA's most exciting fighters. He won Fight of the Night and gave the fans a memorable night.

    Against an opponent like Hardy, there was only one thing he was really capable of doing and that was having a striking war.

    They ended up doing just that and making the main event on Versus the best Fight of the Night, though Lytle ironically also won Submission of the Night as he choked out Hardy when the fight went to the ground in the last round.

    There isn't much more Lytle could have asked for when he decided to bow out and nothing fans could have wanted to see more.

Ross Pearson vs. Edson Barboza

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    Just as fans said goodbye to Chris Lytle it seemed like Edson Barboza was stepping into his shoes. The Muay Thai fighter just knows what to do to make exciting fights.

    He is in the middle of a three-fight streak where he has won Fight of the Night each time. His fight with Pearson was the second.

    Pearson was able to use his striking to scramble Barboza's plans, but it wasn't enough to win the decision in their close contest. Some fans believe Pearson did enough to win, but both men should be applauded for the spectacle they put on, making the UFC's second trip to Rio at UFC 134 worth the wait.

Jon Jones vs. Quinton Jackson

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    This fight, at UFC 135, was one-sided, but it was such a beautifully executed game plan that it outpaced most of the other fights on the card.

    Normally this fight wouldn't beat out others just because it won Fight of the Night, but it was such an impressive display of martial arts it deserved to make the list.

    Jones was able to break Jackson down mentally and physically. More than anything he was able to break him down emotionally. He kept Jackson angry and unfocused through the fight and switched tactics whenever his opponent started to gain momentum.

    At one point Jackson stood up and started controlling his striking. Jones then applied a soft leg kick and slapped him.

    It was all he needed to get Jackson hot-blooded and loosen up until Jones could break him down and submit him.

Matt Wiman vs. Mac Danzig II

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    In a rematch of a fight that should never ended the way it did, these two men made up for it at UFC Live 6.

    Danzig didn't let the fight go to the ground for very long unless he was in control, which might have had to do with the fact that he lost by submission last time, even though he hadn't tapped or been put unconscious in their first fight.

    The fear of losing the match the same way he did last time made it so the fight stayed on its feet.

    Danzig was able to control the fight whenever it went to the ground and both men caught shots when standing.

    In the end, Wiman walked away with a second win and both men got the fight they deserved to have the first time.

Leonard Garcia vs. Nam Phan II

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    Garcia is another staple to the list. Whether it is a win or a loss, nothing boring happens in his fights.

    His first fight with Phan was a brawl that had little technical striking, but got the crowd standing and roaring. The second match, at UFC 136, was more of the same. The only detractor was that Garcia won a decision that should have been Phan's.

    The second fight was as good as the first, but without the egregious judging. If they choose to square off again, fans should expect them to win Fight of the Night yet again.

Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard III

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    Every time Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard have gotten together in the cage, the fight they generate gets better.

    While their second fight was better than their first, it was the third, at UFC 136, that fans remember the most.

    Just like in the second fight, Edgar was rocked and wobbled in the first round, but managed to stick around. He then was able to come back much like in the second fight and win the subsequent rounds. the only thing that was different this time was that Edgar didn't leave the decision in the hands of the judges.

    Edgar was able to do the unthinkable and knock Maynard out. It shocked everyone and lead to many finally believing that Edgar could have a serious run as lightweight champion.

BJ Penn vs. Nick Diaz

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    Diaz and Penn both believe that people should step into the cage and try to fight it out and go for the finish. Their fighting styles reflect it and when they were put into the cage against each other, they both did just that.

    The only thing that was shocking about the match at UFC 137 was that both men who are skilled at Brazilian jiu-jitsu barely took the fight to the ground. Instead, they opted to trade punches and give the fans a show of MMA boxing.

    It was great, but not totally expected in that sense.

Brad Pickett vs. Renan Barao

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    Lighter-weight fighters can always be relied on to bring great fights. Pickett is known for it and he came through when he fought in his native country of England at UFC 138.

    It was a classic fight with the striker facing the submission fighter and it ended up with Pickett going to sleep via choke.

    Barao was able to handle Pickett's stand-up and was able to get the better of the UK fighter. He weathered the storm of Pickett's punches and found his opening on his feet and then on the ground.

Clay Guida vs. Benson Henderson

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    From the time they announced this fight for UFC on FOX, it was expected that this would be the best matchup of the night. Both men were known to war and neither one was easy to take out.

    The first round saw Henderson take control with striking and Guida reverse it with a guillotine attempt. If it had ended there, it would still have been an amazing fight.

    Each man's hair started flying around wildly by the second round, which was appropriate considering that both Guida and Henderson were just as erratic.

    The fight went up and down the cage with it landing on the ground and then moving to standing position so fast it looked like a human pinball machine.

    In the end, Guida proved he was the master of these kinds of fights and won the decision, but both men walked away richer because of it.

Junior Dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez

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    It wasn't as great as the last fight, but it was the first UFC bout to ever take place on network TV (UFC on FOX) as well as the first title fight.

    It was short and exciting, but it also brought a wave of change with it. It ushered in the era of MMA as a major phenomenon and one of the top sports that people had access to.

    If FOX and the UFC work well together, it could be the beginning of something new and amazing for the sport and for society if MMA grows with it.

    For that reason alone it gets one of the slots on this list.

Wanderlei Silva vs. Cung Le

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    It was a classic Silva match with the old warrior turning back the clock to when he was in PRIDE. It was fun to watch and a little bit nostalgic as well.

    Silva handled everything Le threw at him at UFC 139 and by the end of the first round, Le was spent. Silva was able to push himself and score enough punches on Le that the right one landed on the chin and ended the fight.

    His opponent might have been an older fighter that fights only a handful of times in half a decade, but Silva reminded those watching what made him so special in the first place.

Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua

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    This was the fight of the year.

    No question, it was an amazing fight that saw both Rua and Henderson knocked down in the first few minutes. 

    They raged back and forth on their feet with Henderson getting the better of it and Rua almost getting a hold of Henderson's leg and pulling off a leg lock. There were times he almost was able to make it happen, but in the end Henderson was able to pull off the win having handled Rua.

    A rematch would be great, but both men deserve a long rest after the match they had at UFC 139.

Jon Jones vs. Lyoto Machida

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    This is a bit of a biased entry.

    As a Shotokan karateka, I'm proud of what Machida was able to do against Jones in their fight at UFC 140. It may have only been one round, but it was the first that Jones had lost in his career and Machida used karate to do it.

    Jones was able to make the necessary adjustments to get the win in the second round and remained the champion.

    Still, it showed the young gun could be beaten up and it was classical martial arts that did it.

Nate Diaz vs. Donald Cerrone

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    Could the UFC portion of the list have ended with any other fight?

    UFC 141 had a decent card, but these two shone.

    It wasn't surprising that the fight was good, as both men had a serious grudge against each other walking into it.

    Both men are exceptional Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighters, but they had so much animosity towards each other that fans just saw two men who were trying to punch each other in the face all night long.

    Then again, there is nothing wrong with that either.

Nick Diaz vs. Evangelista Santos

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    Santos is a limited, but engaging Muay Thai fighter.

    Diaz is a guy who likes to use his reach to throw long-range punches.

    Between the two, they decided to keep the fight on its feet and trade punches and kicks. That is until the fight hit the floor of the cage and Diaz was able to secure an armbar.

    The two made it fun in between the start and stop in their headlining bout and ensured everyone could feel confident in paying their Showtime bill that month.

Robbie Lawler vs. Ronald "Jacare" Souza

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    Robbie Lawler had two fights in 2011, but only one makes the list which is a bit of a surprise.

    Lawler isn't known for having a glossy record or fancy technique.

    Instead, he is known for having serious power and the ability for it to connect at any point. In his fights, either he or his opponent are going to sleep.

    It didn't happen when he fought Souza for the Strikeforce title at Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Cyborg. Instead, he was choked out, maintaining his penchant for not having fights go the distance and having each and every one of them be exciting.

Dan Henderson vs. Rafael Cavalcante

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    Henderson has always put on good fights and can wrestle or throw powerful punches.

    Against a fighter like Cavalcante, who is aggressive and has 10 of his 11 wins by knockout, it would behoove Henderson to take his opponent to the ground.

    Instead, Henderson was dropped in the first. He adapted in the second and took Cavalcante down, but the then-Strikeforce champion was ready for him. Cavalcante reversed positions and worked his ground game.

    It wasn't until the third round that Henderson was able to do what he does best.

    Land his right hand and knock people out.

    He did and with it became the Strikeforce light heavyweight champion at Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson.

Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley

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    Diaz's best bet would have been to take Daley down and submit him. Daley is known for his powerful punching and his ability to KO opponents in one hit.

    So Diaz decided to stand and trade with him until he could knock his opponent out in this headliner bout.

    Daley almost pulled off the upset, as he hurt Diaz with some serious, thudding blows and even dropped the then-Strikeforce champ.

    Diaz was able to jump back up and kept going punch for punch with Daley until he lit up the UK fighter's chin and sent him to the mat. He then finished it up with some punches on the ground and walked away with not only the win, but another exciting fight.

Dan Henderson vs. Fedor Emelianenko

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    This very well might have been called the Year of the Hendo if Jon Jones wasn't around and all of his fights had been in the UFC.

    When he took a fight at heavyweight with Fedor Emelianenko at this headline bout, it was one of the biggest to be made in MMA, but without the UFC juggernaut behind it, it didn't have the marketing to show that.

    Emelianenko might have been feeling the pressure of two consecutive losses and came out strong against Henderson.

    In the past, swinging blows at a power puncher liker Henderson has been a mistake and this was no different. Henderson was able to time Emelianenko's punches and chin-check the former top MMA fighter.

Patricky Freire vs. Rob McCullough

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    Rob McCullough is a veteran of the WEC, while Freire is a young fighter just starting to make his name.

    Both men fought for three rounds and swung for the fences at Bellator 36.

    It just happened that Freire hit a home run first. He was able to knock out McCullough with a vicious right hook with a sound effect loud enough to make fans wince.

Richard Hale vs. Nik Fekete

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    I'm not sure what they put in the water over at Bellator, but they need to bottle it.

    It was shocking when Toby Imada was able to pull an inverted triangle in Bellator back in 2009.

    In 2011 at Bellator 38, fans got to see it happen again when Richard Hale used it against Nik Fekete in a move that helped solidify Bellator's status as the second-best promotion in the world and a place that could have some interesting matches.

Alexis Vila vs. Joe Warren

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    Joe Warren was one of the closest things to a star in Bellator. He knew how to talk trash and he could either put the fans to sleep or his opponent.

    He was building a name at featherweight when he decided to compete in the bantamweight fights.

    It turned out to be a mistake, as Vila needed just a minute to take Warren out with a left hook at Bellator 51.

    The worst part for Warren is that Vila didn't even win the tournament.

    The guy who won the tournament was...

Eduardo Dantas vs. Ed West

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    Have bantamweights ever let fans down in the past?

    Not to my knowledge.

    So it was no surprise that Dantas and West put on a great show while using every move in their arsenal to take each other out.

    Dantas did just a little bit more and it ended up being him who won the bantamweight tournament in Bellator.

    The way that Dantas fought West made that outcome look logical.

Jay Heiron vs. Ben Askren

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    This fight at Bellator 56 had great wrestling in which both men didn't try to sprawl and stall against the cage. If something wasn't working, they moved to striking or the ground.

    In MMA, that is the way it should be.

    It may not stand out to many, but the fact that both men were able to wrestle an exciting match makes it worth mentioning.

    Wrestling isn't boring. Fighters who use it and don't go for the finish are.

Eddie Alvarez vs. Mike Chandler

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    Alvarez was a veteran who realized that a loss to Chandler would topple him off the top of the lightweight food chain.

    Chandler realized that a win would mean more paydays and sponsors.

    Both men showed that they realized what this fight meant at Bellator 58. Even when there was grappling, it was filled with a sense of urgency that only a crossroads fight can have.

    By the end of the fight it looked like Alvarez was going to knock out Chandler. Chandler was spent and his chance had passed him by.

    And then Chandler landed a heavy punch, which sent Alvarez toppling to the ground, and he quickly applied a choke for the win.

    That fight is MMA at its best and worth the twenty-some minutes it takes to watch it.

Richie Whitson vs. Curtis Demarce

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    MFC is not well-known in America, but it is one of the best smaller MMA companies in the world and a staple of Canadian MMA.

    They have some great fighters who unfortunately haven't been signed by the UFC yet fighting in their ranks. One of them is former Ultimate Fighter Alum Richie Whitson.

    Whitson fought on MFC 28 and had a what turned out to be a great fight with hyperbole commentary, though the fight was so good that it wasn't by much. Most of the first half was striking, but the second half mostly consisted of grappling and submission attempts.

    Whitson won by split decision, but it could have gone either way.

Mitch Gagnon vs. Rejean Groulx

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    Yet again bantamweight show up on the list.

    Yet again it is a Canadian fighter in UFC newcomer Mitch Gagnon in his fight with Rejean Groulx at Ringside 10.

    Both men set a pace that only the smaller guys can. They went from standing up to jockeying for control on the ground to striking again to once again rolling on the mat.

    And that was all in the first round.

    Gagnon finally was able to win when his opponent tapped after being slammed on his neck. Thankfully Groulx was able to tap, which shows he didn't suffer permanent damage, as landing on something like the neck could seriously damage a fighter.

Louis King vs. Mark Weir

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    Weir fought for the UFC back in the day, but is mostly known as a former Cage Rage fighter. In his mid-forties, it seems like his best days were behind him.

    He faced Louis King in a bout that doesn't seem to be on either man's record via Sherdog.com, but as the video shows, they did fight at Cage Rage 25.

    And fight they did in a bout that proves that the UK not only has great martial artists, but ones that enjoy to scrap. The fact that it can be surmised from less than a minute of fighting shows how quick these men fought. They went with a quick-draw pace that someone wouldn't be able to keep up with.

    That is exactly what happened and it made a knockout that was as memorable as the short burst of fighting both men committed to.

Jamaine Facey vs. Ross Pointon

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    Pointon hasn't really made any noise since The Ultimate Fighter season 3, but he was just as exciting and fun to watch back then as he is now. He almost knocked Michael Bisping out in their fight, but then fell behind and was taken out.

    His fight with Facey at Cage Rage 23 was no different. Pointon started off well and was controlling the action on the ground, but then he fell behind again and was taken out by strikes.

    It is a shame Pointon never learned how to sustain his pressure, but it doesn't make him any less enjoyable to watch.

Tom Watson vs. Murilo Rua

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    BAMMA is to the UK what MFC is to Canada: A decent promotion with some names and talent with a limited market.

    That didn't stop Watson and Murilo Rua, the younger brother of Mauricio Rua, from putting on an entertaining match at BAMMA 6.

    Neither man tried to feel out the other and both were ready to start kicking and punching from the opening bell.

    It just turns out that Watson landed first and landed harder.

J Kevin Hernandez vs. Anthony Werner

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    Not every great fight will be fought on TV or for millions of dollars.

    Sometimes the fighters involved won't have perfect technique or a certain honed style that they learn in an elite training camp.

    The guys involved might not even be in the greatest of conditions even, though they are by no means out of shape.

    To remember that, there are fights like these that make fans want to check out their local MMA shows in town.

Brandon Merkt vs. Bill Friday

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    Even on smaller indie shows, the flyweights prove that they will outwork the heavyweights any day.

    The amazing thing about the fight is that one man has an undefeated record of 11-0 while the other is just 1-1.

    The fight was full of reversals on the ground with both men showing that fighters can put on a grappling clinic and fans will respond.

    It even had a decent finish.

Josh Cavan vs. Travis Peak

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    This one isn't for those who get queasy at the sight of blood, though if anyone is an MMA fan and can stand little of that it would be shocking.

    Both men roughed each other up as can be imagined from the sentence above and the blood flowed freely. The fact that there was a Marines logo in the middle of the cage is almost ironic, as each man gave everything he could and were loyal to wait a fighter should be.

    By the end of the fight, both were exhausted and each deserved the cheers they got.

Bill Johnson vs. David Booth

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    It is worth remembering that no man started out as a champion seen on the homes of millions. Every guy started out in some dojo, just training and daydreaming for the chance to make it.

    In honor of that, the last choice for a one of the top 50 fights in 2011 is actually an amateur bout.

    Each man is obviously in the beginning of his career with one man obviously ahead of the other in size and experience.

    Still, the bigger man who was ready to go pro learned one last lesson.

    Don't underestimate the heart of a guy who wants to win.


    Matthew Hemphill writes for the MMA and professional wrestling portion of Bleacher Report.  He also hosts a blog elbaexiled.blogspot.com which focuses on books, music, comic books, video games, film, and generally anything that could be related to the realms of nerdom.