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  1. The nominees are... ROY NELSON W-DEC3 JARED ROSHOLT (UFC Fight Night 82: Hendricks vs. Thompson, 2/6/2016) Las Vegas, NV (MGM Grand Garden Arena) Perhaps the worst thing to happened to a card where a title fight main event fell off twice forcing it to free TV was an unmotivated Roy Nelson having to chase down a defensive Jared Rosholt for fifteen grueling, agonizing minutes. KIMBO SLICE NC DADA 5000 ( Bellator 149: Shamrock vs. Gracie III, 2/19/2016) Houston, TX (Toyota Center) You know those epic, historic turn-of-the-century boxing matches that took place in the hot summer heat, were brutal from start to finish, and lasted for hours? This would be one if you were on a bunch of schedule III & IV substances. Probably. RAFAEL CARVALHO W-DEC5 MELVIN MANHOEF (Bellator 155: Carvalho vs. Manhoef, 5/20/2016) Boise, ID (CenturyLink Center) At best, Rafael Carvalho is a poor man's Ricardo Arona clone who offers you a potential solid addition to the middleweight division. At worst, he throws a single digit number of a strikes in a five minute opening round of a championship bout that was contested on the feet for 95% of the time. Yet, somehow a befuddled Melvin Manhoef decided to land an occasional leg kick and follow the Brazilian around giving the bargain bin Idaho judges a chance to ruin an already lowly title fight. JOHN MORAGA L-DEC3 MATHEUS NICOLAU PEREIRA (The Ultimate Fighter 23: Team Joanna vs. Team Cláudia Finale, 7/8/2016) Las Vegas, NV (MGM Grand Garden Arena) What's not to like about a former title challenger bordering on a return to fringe contendership status against a regional Brazilian fighter who would later go on to fail a USADA test? It's not like it can go on to be a the worst fight of a three day event stretch during a big MMA weekend. MARYNA MOROZ W-DEC3 DANIELLE TAYLOR (UFC Fight Night 92: Rodríguez vs. Caceres, 8/6/2016) Salt Lake City, UT (Vivint Smart Home Arena) As Justine Kish's replacement against a much bigger, part time armbar-from-guard guru Maryna Moroz, Danielle Taylor provided possibly the most infuriating fighter performance in the short history of the UFC's female strawweight division. The five foot tall, compact built Taylor circled around the octagon's outer reaches, trying to measure and time a largely ineffective right hand counter against the Ukrainian who was often halfway across the cage. The look on Herb Dean's face above is a perfect representation of the disbelief and disgust most fans had watching this atrocious, repugnant display of combat. GABRIELLE GARCIA W-TKO1 YUMIKO HOTTA (RIZIN Fighting World Grand Prix 2016: Final Round, 12/31/2016) Saitama, Japan (Saitama Super Arena) The fight stunk for the little time it lasted, but we did a get a bizarre-yet-amusing post "fight" angle involving one of my favorite Joshi wrestlers from the 90s Shinobu Kandori, some random roided European pro wrestler lady, and the freshly USADA suspended Cris Cyborg. Things could be worse. I mean not much worse, but you get the point. 2013 WINNER: RORY MACDONALD vs. JAKE ELLENBERGER 2014 WINNER: ANDREI ARLOVSKI VS. BRENDAN SCHAUB 2015 WINNER: GABRIELLE GARCIA VS. SEINI DRAUGHN Award voting will close 1/12 at 1:30 p.m. CST.
  2. The nominees are... DANIEL KELLY W-DEC3 PATRICK WALSH (UFC Fight Night 60: Henderson vs. Thatch, 2/14/2015) Broomfield, CO (1stBank Center) So you have a 40 plus year old, creaky judoka from Australia versus a guy who blew weight and is clearly not good enough for the UFC. Hey, it can't be that bad. Oh wait, it's in high elevation? Shit. KIMBO SLICE W-TKO1 KEN SHAMROCK (Bellator 138: Unfinished Business, 6/19/2015) St. Louis, MO (Scottrade Center) Pictured: Ken Shamrock seeing visions of himself having to watch countless replays of his fight with Kimbo Clockwork Orange style. ANDRE ARLOVSKI W-DEC3 FRANK MIR (UFC 191: Johnson vs. Dodson II, 9/5/2015) Las Vegas, NV (MGM Grand Garden Arena) A heavyweight title eliminator that literally should have happened ten years. What could go wrong? STEFAN STRUVE L-DEC3 JARED ROSHOLT (UFC 193: Rousey vs. Holm, 11/14/2015) Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Etihad Stadium) UFC 193 was a super eventful card. The antithesis of that is the match that opened up the PPV. GABRIEL GONZAGA W-DEC3 KONSTANTIN EROKHIN (The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale: Team McGregor vs. Team Faber, 12/11/2015) Las Vegas, NV (The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan) Konstantin Erokhin: Killer, Machine, Giant UFC Bust GABRIELLE GARCIA W-KO1 SEINI DRAUGHN (RIZIN Fighting: World Grand Prix 2015 - Day 3) Saitama, Japan (Super Super Arena) Garcia vs. Draughn was our Foreman vs. Lyle if Kim Couture vs. Lina Kvokov was our Hagler vs. Hearns. We should all feel honored to witness such events. 2013 WINNER: RORY MACDONALD vs. JAKE ELLENBERGER 2014 WINNER: ANDREI ARLOVSKI VS. BRENDAN SCHAUB Award voting will close 1/10 at 8:00 p.m. CST
  3. ROYSTON WEE W-DEC3 DAVE GALERA (UFC Fight Night 34: Saffiedine vs. Lim) Marina Bay Sands, Marina Bay, Singapore, January 4, 2014 Late night MMA viewing at one point signified many things. That there could be a possible passing of the torch, a new star was born, a wild brawl could occur, or a rivalry would become heated as ever. Sacrificing sleep for the potential of watching a fight of the year candidate was a no-brainer if you could last long enough to see it. The only problem with that line of thinking in 2014 is the level of talent involved drastically depends on promotional motivation. Enter Royston Wee and Dave Galera. The sport went back in time alright, but the time machine went a few notches past its intended destination. Instead of going back to the inception of the PRIDE Bushido series in 2003, the two fighters on UFC's first ever Fight Pass show went back to the MMA stone age of 1993. Quite possibly, both men combined for the least skill in a UFC fight since people were making up wacky martial arts like S.A.F.T.A. It also insured the loser would be the worst fighter in the TUF era. Baguio City's Dave Galera probably made Wushu masters sad everywhere. Nevertheless, the Sri Lankans who were executed ceremoniously in the name of putting over Super Fight League's Indian fighters can feel a sense of relief that there is a legit chance they can fight in the UFC. ATTILA VEGH L-DEC5 EMANUEL NEWTON (Bellator 113: Vegh vs. Newton II) Kansas Star Arena, Mulvane, KS, March 21, 2014 The Bjorn Rebney era of Bellator brought various high and lows. A respectable number of those can be attributed directly to the handling of the light heavyweight division. With a majority of the top fighters at 205 locked up in Zuffaville, Bellator for the most part had to round up its own gang of misfits and rebels for a cavalcade of non-stars in non-descript fights. While its heavyweight division enjoyed endless hilarity, Bellator was stuck with bland fights in the weight class below. A rematch of a fight held several events prior brings us the superlative's first repeat offender: Attila Vegh. Nominated last year for his title winning affront to excitement with Christian M'Pumbu, Vegh put his name back into the hat in his title losing effort against Emanuel Newton. Newton himself exemplifies all the problems with the division. His personality is awkward and doesn't exude any traits associated with charisma. Although he would provide exciting fight endings later in the year, the action before those finishes should be put in its loosest terms. The sweating, panting, and frantic spastic movements, as highlighted in this fight, make Newton a hard sell to viewers and big name opponents. If his fights were cut down to three minutes and joined in progress like matches on old All Japan Pro Wrestling tapes, Newton would look like a million bucks and probably end up actually fighting for a purse of that magnitude one day. As it stands now, he won't have to worry about that anytime soon. ANDREI ARLOVSKI W-DEC3 BRENDAN SCHAUB (UFC 174: Johnson vs. Bagautinov) Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, June 14, 2014 Last year, UFC gave the province of Manitoba the pitter-patter filled contest of Alexis Davis vs. Rosi Sexton. They also got to see Jake Shields and Tyron Woodley embrace in what may have been a silent protest against fun. This year’s June offering in western Canada brought us the return of former UFC heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski. The Belarussian went through a myriad of different obstacles and personal reinventions before being booked against Brendan Schaub. Prior to Joe Rogan’s forcible attempt to get the artist formerly known as “The Hybrid” to consider retirement, Schaub was battling to escape the purgatory of fringe contender status. What better way to help remove that label than beating a former titan of the sport? Instead of two grapplers in Davis and Sexton wrestle-boxing, fans got a bird’s eye view of two big, burly strikers trying desperately not make any legitimate contact with one another. Anything pertinent was reserved for ten seconds out of each round while boo birds came out in force for the remaining four minutes and fifty seconds. There was enough clinching and fence work to make BC’s own Sarah Kaufman blush. Arlovski looked like he wanted to be anywhere but in Vancouver that night, but that wasn’t enough to make judges side with Schaub. I guess we don’t have to figure out the origin of “Big Brown” now. MIESHA TATE VS. RIN NAKAI (UFC Fight Night 52: Hunt vs. Nelson) Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan, September 20, 2014 When the derision about UFC’s move back to Japan surfaced, a respected pundit like Jordan Breen brought Zach Arnold on to angrily discuss how Japan was Zuffa’s vanity project. Sometime later, it became clearer that UFC was trying to get Asia on board as a destination for the Fight Pass vehicle and more coverage in Asian markets. Avid watchers of the sport got plenty of fights they didn’t want (Hi, TUF China!), but there were valid reasons to tune in and see where fluidity and progress was finally appearing. However, we all know everything that glitters isn’t gold. One of those things being the women’s bantamweight division, which has been an albatross besides a handful of fighters not named Ronda Rousey. While Rousey’s star power merits a division, shaping the division outside the few contemporaries orbiting around the current champ is thoroughly troubling. The case in point pertaining to this is the signing of Japanese softcore fetish porn starlet Rin Nakai. The buff wonder from the land of the rising sun has made waves in Pancrase, but has been an oddity ever since videos from the official Pancrase YouTube account became readily viewable. A few years ago, submission phenom and ascribed weirdo Shinya Aoki shamed her for being the toy of creepy fantasies everywhere. Nakai was thought of everything but a UFC fighter. On the other hand, that can also describe more than half of the active roster now. With some benefit of the doubt, Nakai stepped into the octagon with Miesha Tate on the Hunt vs. Nelson card to eliminate trepidation. God bless her heart because Nakai tried her best to not look like the freak show fighter people would typically make her out as. The problem was that she instead looked like a green Joshi pro wrestler confused that the more experienced worker (the woman called Cupcake) was sandbagging her on each and every move. A slow, tepid bout simmered as Nakai got brushed off on every takedown and Tate pawed away from distance. Tate obviously won on the scorecards, but nobody won in hindsight. Well, maybe those who had the viewpoint of the UFC having a Manifest Destiny like obsession with Japan. The feverish cries of Mr. Zach Arnold can still be heard. “Give me SmackGirl or give me death!” HOUSTON ALEXANDER DRAW-3 VIRGIL ZWICKER (Bellator 129: Bradley vs. Neer) Mid-American Center, Council Bluffs, IA, October 17, 2014 There is nothing I can say that can be more poignant than the above picture. Nothing. TITO ORTIZ VS. STEPHAN BONNAR (Bellator 131: Tito vs. Bonnar) Valley View Casino Center, San Diego, CA, November 15, 2014 Hey, I can talk about Justin McCully showing up in a mask for no clear, definitive reason at all. I can talk about how the buildup to a fight that was going to be a disgusting mess anyway was probably cultivated by the mind of Vince Russo. I can even talk about how it’s a shame the fans were more elated for a shitshow than Will Brooks taking all the steam of the Michael Chandler Dave and Buster’s funded hype train. None of that probably could encapsulate how much this thing inappropriately described as a “fight” makes me want to regurgitate. I can only say this object I despise so much was something I imagine being worse than death. Yeah, lets go with that. 2013 WINNER: RORY MACDONALD vs. JAKE ELLENBERGER Award voting will close 12/30 at 3:15 p.m. CST
  4. ANTONIO ROGERIO NOGUEIRA W-DEC3 RASHAD EVANS (UFC 156: Aldo vs. Edgar) Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas, NV, February 2, 2013 In the category of fights that didn't deliver in any shape or form, Minotoro Nogueira vs. Rashad Evans ranks high up there. Two perennial light heavyweights failed to put on a bout worthy of being called a co-main event or even entertaining. MMA fans got the most peculiar performance of "Suga" Rashad Evans' career. After splitting with Jackson's MMA in early 2011, Rashad Evans moved down to South Florida to train with longtime coach Mike Van Arsdale and former Anderson Silva trainers Diogenes Assahida and Sergio 'Babu' Gasparelli. What we got was the most explosive Rashad Evans since his run to the title in 2008 against Tito Ortiz. Although Ortiz is always a liability when it comes to being in fighting shape, there is no question Rashad needed to answer questions about how leaving Greg Jackson and striking guru Mike Winklejohn would affect his performance. When the new camp situation in Boca Raton became permanent, the amount of turnover in Evans' camp was more distracting than beneficial. In addition, Evans was halfway across the country from his friends and family and even hinted towards his unhappiness in interviews prior to the fight. Eventually, all this drama caught up to the one time light heavyweight kingpin. The world saw a lethargic and unsteady Evans against the former PRIDE mainstay for a grueling fifteen minutes. ATTILA VEGH W-DEC5 CHRISTIAN M'PUMBU (Bellator 91: M'Pumbu vs. Vegh) Santa Ana Star Center, Rio Rancho, NM, February 28, 2013 There are few fights in MMA where the first 40 or 50 seconds would help grab Fight of the Night honors and the remaining action would qualify as a show killer. Not since Jake Shields vs. Dan Henderson has time spent on a fighting surface for a championship bout been less appealing aesthetically. The excitement factor was not helped by the fact Bellator spent absolutely no time hyping the ex-DEEP product. M'Pumbu, a good looking prospect prior to signing with the promotion, won their light heavyweight crown and became the most anonymous major MMA champion since Dave Menne. Sadly, Attila Vegh did not dominate the Congolese fighter enough to stop himself from taking the untangible title along with the physical one. Unfortunately for viewers, both contestants did not inspire the Santa Ana Star Center crowd to rise above or equal noise levels fitting of LPGA tournaments. JAKE SHIELDS W-DEC3 TYRON WOODLEY (UFC 161: Evans vs. Henderson) MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, June 15, 2013 Jake Shields does what Jake Shields does and makes a fighter more athletic than him in every department look amateurish. Amateurish would also aptly describe the three frames of the Jake Shields vs. Tyron Woodley fight. On a card which needed all the help it could get, Shields and Woodley headlined the prelim section. Not shockingly, this wrestler vs. wrestler matchup turned out to be in line with Nik Lentz vs. Andre Winner. The nightmarish scenario of luring in prospective PPV buyers with a cruddy Jake Shields fight was real. If you're into clinching...and more clinching, you cannot go wrong with this Jake Shields tour de force. ALEXIS DAVIS W-DEC3 ROSI SEXTON (UFC 161: Evans vs. Henderson) MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, June 15, 2013 Unquestionably, one of the biggest stories of the year was women's MMA being integrated into the UFC. After Ronda Rousey started off the "Girls Out Here Doing It For Themselves Tour '13" against Liz Carmouche in February, the task of earning their spots would fall into the hands of women not known to cause a show stealing ruckus like the Olympic judoka. The first couple bouts after the beginning of the Rousey Age did provide some spark for females to carve out their own paths. However, the debut of proven Canadian trial horse Alexis Davis and British supergenius Rosi Sexton told a much different story. The history of Canadian UFC events (particularly outside Montreal) is littered with many great disappointments as successes. The curse of Donald Cerrone vs Vagner Rocha struck down this battle between tough vets and turned it into 30% light sparring at your local MMA/Krav-Maga/cardio kickboxing gym. Saying the crowd was not enthused would be a magnificent understatement. While the effort of the ladies was somewhat admirable and endearing, a repeat viewing is definitely not warranted. RORY MACDONALD W-DEC3 JAKE ELLENBERGER (UFC on Fox 8: Johnson vs. Moraga) KeyArena, Seattle, WA, July 27, 2013 Poised to be the next MMA great one from the giant landmass above the United States, Rory MacDonald thrashed a row of opponents placed in front of him. Several bouts into his UFC career, he had not faced a significant puncher his size besides the Natural Born Killer. However, Jake Ellenberger was the biggest hitter based in San Diego not seen since the prime days of "Terrible" Terry Norris. Since moving out to spend more time in sunny California, the Omaha native has worked on his striking acumen more than his first love: wrestling. Although one of his duties now is getting Mark Munoz out of deep depression and into beast mode, Ellenberger has been able to string crackling victories together to earn a shot at another young superstar in MacDonald on Fox. All stories must have an ending though. The ending to MacDonald vs. Ellenberger was the fans got no ending. At least, it felt like that when watching the contest on television. MacDonald took very few chances to open himself up to get blasted by the ex-IFL fighter. Ellenberger's attitude and lack of ambition seemingly indicated his welterweight special attraction was scheduled for thirty rounds instead of three. Much like boxing affairs at the turn of the century, this one would have been more enthralling in a newspaper. Maybe. SOA PALELEI W-TKO3 NIKITA KRYLOV (UFC 164: Henderson vs. Pettis II)BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI, August 31, 2013 Soa Palelei was the talk of the town when he went to Team Quest Temecula in order to round out his MMA game and become a complete fighter. The cliche notion spouted by Mike Goldberg of iron sharpening iron in a MMA sense was none more disproven than when Palelei fought Eddie Sanchez at UFC 79 in December 2007. The Aussie looked like he belonged any place but the Octagon on that particular Saturday night. However, "The Hulk" took the long hard road and marched his way back into the UFC branded cage in August 2013. The guy who certainly did not take the same route was Russian Johnny-come-lately Nikita Krylov. Krylov's gaudy record did provoke people on Twitter to do a serious fighter investigation through YouTube. These people (including myself) found out the fedora wearing man known as "Al Capone" had faced a steady diet of.....bums. When the fight rolled around on a night when more established heavyweight combatants would take to the cage on the pay side of the card, the fans at home got their money's worth. Not any second of the bout was worth a single red cent. Although the final round gave folks a thrilling and hilarious conclusion, this heavyweight fight showcased why high level MMA has a variety of different meanings. None of them include the words "Soa Palelei war of attrition".
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