Hello again and welcome to the first Big Five of the new year! This week I thought I’d take time to reflect on some of the best fights of this past year. There were plenty to choose from and some hard decisions needed to be made, but here are my top five fights for the year 2011!
#5 – Marloes Coenen vs. Liz Carmouche, Strikeforce – Feijao vs. Henderson
On paper, this seemed like an easy night for the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion. Longtime veteran Marloes Coenen was fighting a women with only five fights who took the bout on days notice. No one informed the former marine of this fact, however, as she used her wrestling to bully around the champion for the better part of four rounds. It was looking like the newcomer was going to pull off one of the upsets of the year until Coenen pulled off a slick triangle choke from out of nowhere and forced Carmouche to tap. The two put on the fight of the night, one of the best women’s fights of all time, and, in my opinion, one of the very best fights of the year, male or female.
#4 -Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard 2 – UFC 125 – Resolution
Ever since first challenging for the UFC Lightweight title, Frankie Edgar has been the underdog. This fight was no different. Edgar was facing the only man to ever defeat him, and Gray Maynard was looking for a repeat of his previous performance, this time with the payoff of the most prestigious prize in the division. The beginning of the fight saw “The Bully” destroy Edgar with brutal shot after brutal shot. Fans were simply waiting for the formality of the ref stepping in and finishing the fight when Edgar seemed to regain his senses and survived the round. Maynard may have been expecting to finish the job in round two, but Edgar came out as though the first round had never happened, matching Maynard strike for strike and scoring a huge slam. The two continued to go back and forth for the remainder of the match, and when it came time to decide a winner, the judges scored the bout a split draw, sparking discussion throughout the internet and setting the two up for one of the most talked about rematches ever.
#3 - Michael Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez, Bellator Fighting Championship 58
Michael Chandler had an impressive run though the Bellator 155lb tournament. But now he was fighting Eddie Alvarez. Unbeaten in nearly three years, and his recent form saw him finishing nearly every fight he had inside of three rounds (the exception being a unanimous decision victory over Pat Curran). Chandler ignored all these facts, giving the champ zero respect and coming out with a barrage of punches that nearly stopped the fight ten seconds in. Alvarez shook off the damage and immediately took the fight back to Chandler. After a close second round, and a dominant third round by Alvarez, Chandler summoned a tremendous second wind in the fourth round, dropping Alvarez with a hard shot, then mounting him, and catching Alvarez with a rear naked choke as he tried to turn out. A back and forth war like few had ever seen (unless you were watching the UFC that night. More on that later)
#2 – Clay Guida vs. Benson Henderson, UFC on Fox 1
As soon as I heard this fight was announced, I knew it was going to be fight of the night at the very least. Two of the most active and notoriously hard to finish 155′ers in history going toe to toe for a shot at the Lightweight Title against Frankie Edgar? Sign me the hell up! The two did not disappoint. Right from the bell the two went at it furiously, with wild striking, wrestling, and submission exchanges. When the dust settled at the end of fifteen minutes. “The Smooth One” had his hand raised, and the fans were left wanting more. The fact that this fight wasn’t the main even of the card sucks, the fact that this fight wasn’t even on TV is a god damned crime.
#1 – Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, UFC 139
Honestly? I’m kind of at a loss as to how to describe this fight. If you haven’t seen it,
shame on you you’ve no doubt heard it described countless times: The brutal beating Hendo puts on Shogun in the early rounds, the amazing comeback of Shogun in the final two, wondering if Hendo could survive, wondering if it should have been called a draw. None of those things compare to actually witnessing this fight take place live. Sitting in a bar full of crowded MMA fans yelling and cheering at the monitors for each back and forth sway this fight took was one of the most magical experiences related to MMA I have ever had. Some people call this the greatest fight of all time, and you’d be very hard pressed to argue. That’s why I’m giving this bout the nod for the best fight of 2011!
Honorable Mentions – Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard 3, Diego Sanchez vs. Martin Kampmann, Donald Cerrone vs. Nate Diaz, Diego Brandao vs. Dennis Bermudez
There you have it! My top five fights for the year of 2011! Let’s hope this year gives us as many memorable fights and makes picking the top ones even harder! Be sure to leave us some feedback in the comments section, drop us an e-mail at ringsMMA@gmail.com, or give us a shout on Twitter @RingsRadio! See you next week for another edition of The Big Five!