In a recent discussion with my B/R colleague Brian Oswald, the question of what makes a "Fight of the Year" (FOTY) a fight of the year came up, and to be honest, neither of us could come up with a quick answer.
It's a subject that I have always viewed as subjective and never really thought much about, because to me it was pretty clear as to what is a good fight and what is a fight of the year.
Maybe I was wrong. Maybe it's not that clear.
Dana White's recent quote that Jose Aldo vs. Urijah Faber at the WEC debut on PPV card will be a fight of the year got me thinking about the subject again. It drove me to don my chef's hat and try to define this eternally debatable subject.
So, what ingredients do you need to make the perfect "Fight of the Year" dish?
The right cooking time
First, a FOTY has to have some longevity to it, so preheat the oven and set your timers, folks. Not too short; the fight needs to be cooked just right to be a FOTY. You could have the best, most amazing fight ever, but if there is an end in the first round, then that is not even on the short list as a FOTY candidate.
Nearly all the fights considered amongst the best of 2009 went the full distance of three or five rounds, allowing the fight action to cook perfectly and leaving the fans' taste buds wanting more, such as Miguel Torres vs. Takeya Mizugaki.
Get the whisking action right!
The obvious necessity of a FOTY dish is action, and you have to get the cooking action right—otherwise it will be a disappointing result for your meal. Great fights have action; FOTY have extreme events or a relentless level of action that will set the fight apart. They are the Michelin star fights of the MMA world.
Ben Henderson vs. Donald Cerrone had constant back and forth action with outstanding jiu-jitsu displays and escapes—a masterpiece indeed.
Two free-range fighters
For any FOTY, the main ingredient is key. Two free-range, tender, well-prepared fighters will give your FOTY dish the perfect flavor.
Be it a mix of two spicy peppers seen in Clay Guida vs. Diego Sanchez or two young lambs like in Henderson vs. Cerrone, your main ingredient is what will make your dish stand out. Getting a good blend of fighters is what will make your dish a FOTY rather than just a good fight. Faber vs. Aldo this weekend is a mouthwatering combination.
Balanced blend of spices
For your dish to be considered great, you need to balance your spices. Having a lopsided fight such as GSP vs. Jon Fitch will not set you apart from the crowd. A FOTY candidate for me has to be balanced, and the outcome should be unknown until the very end. Many FOTY will end in a decision because of this.
Your own personal touch
Finally, it's up to the chef to add his or her own personal touch to the FOTY dish. My personal favorite is a lovely bit of controversy. Be it a controversial decision like in Mauricio Rua vs. Lyoto Machida or an illegal blow, there is nothing I like more then to add my favorite topping of controversy. What's yours?
There you have it, folks—your cooking guide to a perfect "Fight of the Year." Make sure you get your ingredients ready before you start cooking, and by all means add your own flavors in the comments below!