MMA: Who's Having the Worst Year so Far in 2012?
They say it's lonely at the top. But that's still better than the bottom. It's a doggone leper colony down here.
But even here, some have it worse than others. It's no different in MMA. These are the 10 souls for whom 2012 has, to this point, been the worst year ever in their MMA careers.
We come here today not to poke fun, but to console. Here, friend. Pull up a stool. What can we get you? Coconut water seems very popular these days.
When you're one of the unlucky few for whom 2012 has been a banner year for all the wrong reasons—and when you're doing it in front of a crowd like this—well, the least we can do is buy you a cold one. Limit one per customer.
This wayward crew encompasses fighters, refs and others. Misery loves company, so drink up, ye abraded souls, ye. Drink up.
10. Chael Sonnen
Let's just get the obvious one out of the way right off the bat.
Chael Sonnen poured a lot of himself into getting, hyping and, oh yeah, fighting that second fight with Anderson Silva. It didn't go his way.
In any case, Sonnen is lowest on this list because of the admirable way in which he's picked himself up off the canvas.
Say what you want about him, but in this case, he owned his mistakes and his setback, and that's admirable. It also freed him up to return to doing what he does best.
9. Josh Rosenthal
If I might channel Sean Penn for a moment, Josh Rosenthal is one of our finest referees. So let's refrain from the jokes now, shall we?
In that spirit of not joking, I'll not wonder aloud what Rosenthal was waiting for before he pulled Chris Weidman off of Mark Munoz's nerveless body at UFC on Fuel. What signal did the body of Mark Munoz fail to provide Rosenthal? Did he need gray matter on the canvas? Did he need to sprout a six-inch-tall, bird-encircled lump on his head like Wile E. Coyote?
If that wasn't enough, at UFC 149, Rosenthal misdiagnosed Matt Riddle's liver kick as a low blow on Chris Clements. Riddle had Clements hurt, but Rosenthal paused the action.
The karma police would normally see to it that Clements came back to win the fight, but this time Riddle prevailed. Rosenthal must help a lot of old ladies across the street in his spare time.
8. Joe Warren
Just edging out Nick Diaz (who has had a tough year but who I don't believe, you know, cares very much) is Bellator featherweight Joe Warren.
As he was losing his featherweight title to Pat Curran, Warren found himself propped, semi-conscious, against the cage fence. The ref assumed that his being vertical was another way of saying "I'm fine," and proceeded accordingly.
But Warren was not fine. He was, in technical parlance, catching a hellacious and gratuitous beating. And I don't envy him the headache that surely awaited him the next morning.
7. Georges St-Pierre
It was almost all wrapped up in a neat little package for Georges St-Pierre. But then late in 2011 came the knee injury that will sideline him through this November. Because of the long layoff, all of GSP's momentum in and out of fighting has begun to leak away.
He had to sit there while Nick Diaz called him out, his only recourse an awkward "I'm-fake-scared" waggle of the fingers in the general direction of the camera. The greatest welterweight of all time doesn't need anyone's help being awkward. It was kerosene on a lit stove.
In 2012, the negative momentum continued. In February, Diaz didn't even do him the favor of defeating Carlos Condit to set up a grudge match and create a real, true rivalry for GSP.
Now we have to slog through GSP-Condit to get to the real fight. You know, assuming Diaz comes back from suspension and semi-retirement.
6. Dana White
Disappointing TV ratings for both full events and The Ultimate Fighter. A rash of injuries to marquee fighters and journeymen alike. Multiple suspensions.
UFC President Dana White knows how to roll with the punches. At this point, he probably wouldn't be alive anymore if he didn't.
5. Alistair Overeem
He ran, but he couldn't hide.
Despite his best efforts, Alistair Overeem had to take a urine test. The urinal summarily erupted in flames. Which is strange, because it was just a regular urinal. Iron covered with porcelain. It wasn't made of balsa wood or oily rags or anything like that.
Now he's got to sit on the sidelines and nibble at the heavyweight discourse from around the edges. No one wants your nibbling, Alistair.
4. Vadim Finkelstein
Whenever I read the name "Vadim Finkelstein," I picture a vampire accountant. "I vant...to do...your taxes...ah ah ah ahhhhhh," and, eh, so forth.
But he's not a vampire accountant. He's the CEO of M-1 Global and the de facto manager of former pound-for-pound great Fedor Emelianenko. It was almost sad to see him dangle Fedor out there this spring to the resounding sound of crickets and tumbleweeds.
Sad, because it was so generous to see him declare himself "open" to talks with the UFC again. It was charitable, is what it was.
Fedor repaid this charity by retiring in early summer. Ingrate. After all Finkelstein did for his career! Where would Fedor be without all that shrewdness?
And Fedor isn't the only one deaf and blind to the shrewdness. Vinny Magalhaes and top prospect Vyacheslav Vasilevsky jumped ship this year as well (M-1 is bringing a lawsuit against the latter).
But Fedor is the real loss here. It sounds like Finkelstein could use a lesson on selling high. You'd think a vampire accountant would know about such things.
3. Houston Casualty Insurance Co.
It was a generous move by the UFC to expand insurance coverage to the injuries that fighters sustained in training. Houston Casualty Insurance Co. was selected as the carrier.
People wondered (and continue to wonder) about the new policy's effects on fighter behavior. But it's probably safe to say that no one expected the floodgates to open the way they did. Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre were injured in 2011, but their injuries certainly affected matchmaking in 2012.
This year, you've got injuries to Jose Aldo, Dominick Cruz, Mark Hunt, George Sotiropoulos, Jon Fitch, Thiago Silva, Thiago Alves, Michael Bisping, Antonio Rodrigo and Rogerio Nogueira, and others. That's a long list.
As always, who ends up suffering the most? That's right: the insurance companies. Isn't that always the way? So continues one of the saddest chapters of our American life.
2. Duane Ludwig
First, Josh Neer choked Duane Ludwig unconscious in January. Then Dan Hardy knocked him unconscious in May.
And for that special garnish of insult, Ryan Jimmo tied his UFC record for fastest knockout at UFC 149. It was like a trifecta of bad fighting outcomes.
1. Bryan Jones Jr.
Don't be a hero. Do NOT watch this video. Don't watch as Bryan Jones, Jr., fighting in the CageQuest promotion, gets slammed to the canvas, and in the process gets his knee area untracked from the rest of his body.
I'd rather watch the Joe Theismann break. And that's coming from a former Redskin fan.
The injury was severe enough that Jones nearly lost his leg. I'll let Jones himself take it from here (spelling his own):
I did see my Dr yesterday who will be doing my surgeries. He did say we are out of the woods for losing the leg, so I get to keep my leg. I did tear all ligaments and tendons in the knee not just the main 4. So although I do not remember them all but I did tear the PCL, LCL, MCL all the damn LC’s in my leg, lol. My Meniscus is folded in half and turned upside down, so it will need surgery all alone.
I give him lots of credit for taking it in relative stride. And here's hoping he can come back and be productive in some phase of MMA or whatever else he chooses to pursue.
He deserves it, especially after becoming your leader in the clubhouse for worst year ever in 2012.