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Handing Out Hardware: 2011 MMA Mid-Year Awards

We’re just past the midway point of the year and with a break in major MMA action these past weeks, what better time than now to produce the mid-year MMA awards? As you’ve come to expect from me though, this won’t be your typical awards with “Fighter of the Mid-Year,” “KO of the Mid-Year,” and stuff like that. This will be an awards column that rivals the MTV Awards and the Teen Choice Awards for most pop cultureness. No Twlight though, I promise.

A couple of notes before I begin. First, remember that the timeline for these awards is January 1 through June 30. That means no UFC 132 fight/fighter is eligible and, as awesome as Arthur Guseinov’s spinning backfist KO was this past weekend, it’s not eligible either. Also, I didn’t include Bellator in any of these awards because they got their own award showcase following season four, which you can read here.

Now with the opening monologue out of the way, lets hand out some hardware.

The “Raylan Givens” award for “Biggest bad ass with the most swagger” goes to………

Jon Jones

It’s tough to top a six months that included a submission victory over previously undefeated Ryan Bader, a stoppage victory over Shogun Rua, capturing a thief, and winning the UFC light heavyweight title. Jones did all that though and managed to become a media star by appearing on late night TV and commercials. Not bad for a 23-year old.

The “Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis” award for “Friends who star in the same movie and then do different movies with the same plot” goes to………

Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida

When Silva font kicked Vitor Belfort in the face, it was considered by many to be the KO of the year. This was a kick that we’d only seen in movies, no way it could be pulled off in a real fight between world-class athletes. And yet Silva did it. Then two and a half months later, Machida did it to Randy Couture. Two front kick KO’s performed by best friends and training partners in the span of just a couple of months. No one can defend.

The “Charlie Sheen” award for “It was funny at first, but now it’s just stale and boring” goes to………

Chael Sonnen

For as many headlines as he gets, it’s hard to believe that Sonnen hasn’t even fought in 2011. But he hasn’t. And yet his mouth keeps him the subject of many opinions. More power to the guy for keeping his name in the spotlight but I can’t be the only one who is growing a little tired of his act. Maybe I’ll come back around in September when he actually steps foot inside the cage.

The “Ned Stark” award for “Seriously. That just happened” goes to………

Cheick Kongo

After being rocked and a millisecond away from being stopped by Pat Barry, somehow Kongo regained his wits enough to stun Barry and then put him out cold with a punch of his own. It was a finish that no one could have seen coming, especially Barry. And yet it might be the most memorable KO of the year.

The “Michael Bay” award for “Most BOOMS! CRASHES! And CRUNCHES! In the shortest amount of time” goes to………

Nick Diaz and Paul Daley

If you want nearly five minutes of non-stop action with twists and turns throughout, then watch Diaz vs. Daley from this past April. Both men were trash talking, both men were rocked, and both men were in danger of being done but it was Diaz who survived all the explosions and finally put Daley away with just seconds remaining in the opening frame.

The “Wladimir Klitschko vs. David Haye” award for “Fight we were all looking forward to that ended up terrible disappointing” goes to………

Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum

Overeem vs. Werdum had the making of a great fight. Werdum had just submitted Fedor Emelianenko, Overeem was tearing through MMA and K-1, it was a rematch, and it was part of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. What we got was one of the most bizarre fights in MMA history with Overeem losing the striking battle and Werdum doing nothing in the grappling battle. It was a chance for one man to solidify their spot near the top of the heavyweight division and instead both men took a fall.

The “The Office” award for “It’s been great for so long that we’ve just stopped appreciating it” goes to……

Georges St. Pierre

There’s nothing wrong with what St. Pierre does. He faces the best guys in his weight class and he beats them, usually with ease. So when he once again made things look easy against Jake Shields at UFC 129, not many people batted an eye. Instead, they criticized St. Pierre for once again failing to put away a guy who he was obviously better than.

The “Entourage” award for “It’s been a great run but it had to end sooner or later” goes to………

Randy Couture

Few can deny the legendary accomplishments of Couture. So when he told everyone prior to UFC 129 that it would be the last time he would step foot inside the cage, it was already a sad moment. Then when Couture was KO’d by Lyoto Machida, reality sunk in. We would no longer see “The Natural” compete again and at 47-years old, he officially retired as one of the best to ever put on the gloves.

The “Casey Anthony” award for “Worst decision” goes to……….

Sal D’Amato, Chris Lee, and William Mattingly

If you don’t recognize those names, those are the judges who scored Diego Sanchez vs. Martin Kampmann in favor of Sanchez, who looked like he got into a fight with the Scream’s series’ “Ghostface” after the bout was over. Sanchez was the aggressor but failed on almost all of his takedowns and at counter punches the entire bout, getting bruised up in the process. Somehow though, getting punched in the face repeatedly led to a victory for Sanchez and a loss for Kampmann.

The “Johnny Depp” award for “Just put him in there and he’ll get the job done” goes to………

Clay Guida

Guida had two tough tasks this year, taking on Takanori Gomi and Anthony Pettis. Against Guide he implored a striking style that we’ve never seen, and may never seen again before submitting the former PRIDE lightweight champ with a guillotine choke in the second round. Then against Pettis, who would have earned a title with a victory, Guida took him down at will and grinded him out for the win. It might not always be pretty but in 2011 it’s been effective.

The “Anthony Weiner” award for “Making the most of your size” goes to………

Antonio Silva

Coming off a shocking submission loss to Werdum, everyone wanted to see how Fedor Emelianenko would respond. Well he tried to show that the Werdum loss was just a bump in the road but Silva’s size was too much for him to overcome. “Bigfoot” smothered Fedor in the second round, dominating him on the ground, and beat one of his eyes shut with his huge fists.

The “The Killing” award for “The best show with the ending that upset the most people” goes to………

Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard

When Edgar vs. Maynard 2 was announced, most figured that it wouldn’t be all that exciting. Maynard had a habit of being in boring fights while Edgar wasn’t much of a finisher and was developing a reputation for just dancing. Even though the fight went 25 minutes, it was definitely exciting as Maynard nearly finished Edgar in the first round but Edgar survived, rebounded, and almost pulled off the comeback victory. Unfortunately the fight ended in a draw and the rematch, scheduled for earlier this June, was pushed back to later this year.

The “Hailee Steinfeld” award for “Showing True Grit” goes to………

Marloes Coenen

She was beaten up for over 15 minutes against Liz Carmouche and on the brink of being stopped earlier in the fight but Coenen not only survived, she managed to lock up a triangle choke early in the fourth round to get Carmouche to submit. The victory was one of the most memorable moments in Women’s MMA history and it allowed Coenen to hold on to her Women’s 135 lbs strap.

The “LeBron James” award for “Shrinking in the big moment” goes to………

BJ Penn

All Penn had to do was be competitive in the third round of his UFC 127 fight against Jon Fitch and he would have won a split decision. Instead he was taken down early in the round and spent the remaining four minutes and 50 seconds on his back getting punched in the face while amounting approximately zero offense. The fight ended in a majority draw with two judges giving Fitch a 10-8 final round. If Penn was just competitive in the final frame and lost 10-9 instead of 10-8, he would have won the fight.

The “CT on The Challenge: Rivals” award for “Dude, what are you doing wearing glasses and sipping wine?” goes to………

Chan Sung Jung

Jung’s reputation was that he walks forward, eats punches, and throws punches. How else would one get the nickname “The Korean Zombie”? So when he was more patient and started using his grappling against Leonard Garcia, it was pretty surprising. Jung showed that surprising isn’t always bad though as he beat Garcia in the rematch and beat him with the first ever twister in MMA.

The “Hangover 2” award for “Hey, haven’t I seen this before?” goes to………

Brian Bowles

In 2008, Bowles submitted Damacio Page at 3:30 in round one with a guillotine choke. Earlier this March, Bowles submitted Page at 3:30 in round one with a guillotine choke. That’s having a guys number.

The “Linday Lohan” award for “What the heck happened to your career?” goes to………

Joe Stevenson

At the age of 29, Stevenson might be done as a competitive fighter. He should be in the prime of his career and yet he’s gone 0-2 in 2011 and hasn’t looked all that competitive in either of them. After dropping a decision to Danny Castillo, “Daddy” thought he would try his luck at 145, but ended up just losing another decision to Javier Vazquez. It’s hard times for the Ultimate Fighter 2 winner and former UFC lightweight title challenger.

The “Rosie Huntington-Whiteley” award for “Replacement who made the most of their opportunity” goes to………

Charlie Brenneman

All the momentum was on Rick Story’s side. He had won six straight fights and just beat former title challenger Thiago Alves. So when Brenneman stepped up on two days notice to take the fight, it looked like Story would continue his roll. “The Spaniard” didn’t get the memo. He out-wrestled Story en route to a decision victory and the biggest win of his career.

The “Jennifer Aniston” award for “40 is the new 20” goes to………

Dan Henderson

Like a fine wine, some things get better with age. Henderson is one of those things. He added another major title to his collection in March when he knocked out Rafael Cavalcante with his trademark right hand to capture the Strikeforce light heavyweight title at the age of 40.

The “TCU Horned Frogs” award for “You tried really hard and had a nice little season but sorry you couldn’t play for the championship” goes to………

Mark Hominick

Hominick put up a hell of a fight at UFC 129 against Jose Aldo but it wasn’t quite enough to dethrone the featherweight champ. Even though he grew an extra forehead in the middle of the fight and was rocked multiple times, Hominick never stopped fighting and made it competitive towards the end. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough though and he came up just short.

The “Prince Joffrey” award for “Guy we’d all like to punch in the face due to his actions” award goes to………

Michael Bisping

He was facing an overmatched opponent and he still needed to hit him with a clearly illegal knee in order to secure the victory. On top of that, he continued to talk trash to Jorge Rivera after defeating him and then spat at his corner. To punish him for these actions, he was given a coaching slot on The Ultimate Fighter 14. Tough break.

The “Pippa Middleton” award for “So what my sister got a Royal Wedding, all the attention is on me” goes to………

Donald Cerrone and Ben Henderson

While Anthony Pettis entered the UFC for the last WEC lightweight champion, it was Henderson and Cerrone who found success in the octagon. Pettis fell to top contender Clay Guida while Henderson defeated Mark Bocek and Cerrone defeated Paul Kelly and Vagner Rocha. They were the lightweights that carried the WEC in the final year and they are the lightweights making the biggest UFC impact.

The “Nicolas Cage” award for “How does this guy keep getting movie roles?” goes to………

Brandon Vera

I’ve always found myself defending Vera but after his performance against Thiago Silva, it’s kinda hard to do so. And yet, because Silva cheated, Vera finds himself still employed by the UFC with a 3-5 (1 NC) record since 2007. Not only that but he’s also featured in the UFC merchandise commercials. I don’t know how he does it but good for him.

The “Dirk Nowitzki” award for “I’ve had my ups and downs but look at me now” goes to………

Melvin Guillard

One main event fight in 2011, one explosive first round TKO’s for Guillard over a very tough Evan Dunham. He hasn’t always been the most consistent fighter in the world but under the guise of Greg Jackson, he’s finally putting everything together and turning into an animal.

The “Barack Obama” award for “I did one great thing this year so lets just ignore every other time I screw up” goes to………

Dana White

No matter how many mistakes Dana has made and will make this year, they’ll all be forgotten because of his ability to essentially take over MMA by purchasing top competitor Strikeforce. While UFC hasn’t officially merged with Strikeforce, fighters are already starting to be moved over and we all know it’s inevitable. Making dumb comments, firing guys who shouldn’t be fired, and booking the wrong fights don’t matter when you own the MMA world.

The “Chrissy Teigen” award for “My favorite person on twitter” goes to………

Jason High

Many MMA fighters don’t know how to use twitter. High is not one of those fighters. Every fight should follow “The Kansas City Bandit” and learn how to be awesome in 140 characters or so. High gives updates on training, replies to his followers, goes back and forth with other fighters, is up on current events, makes funny observations, doesn’t beg for followers, and most importantly he avoids saying anything stupid. If you don’t follow Jason already, you can follow him @KCBanditMMA

The “Demi Lovato” award for “Best use of their weight loss” goes to………

Brian Stann

Stann was a mid-level light heavyweight with a 2-2 UFC record. Then he dropped to 20 pounds, moved to middleweight, is 3-0 with three finishes, and could be one win away from securing a title shot. So far this year he’s knocked out the iron chinned Chris Leben and former Sengoku middleweight king Jorge Santiago.

The “Kate Upton” award for “Sexy, smart, and powerful” goes to………

Brittney Palmer

You didn’t think that I was going an entire column without mentioning Ms. Palmer did you? She made her UFC debut in January and has never looked back. Not only has she looked amazing in her octagon girl outfit, she’s also gained notoriety with her paintings and enrolling in art school. She wants to be known as more than just a hot chick who holds up a card and she making all the right moves in order to accomplish her goals.

Thank you all and drive home safely.


  • MCM says:

    Fun article Mr. Lambert, love the Justified and Game of Thrones references. But maybe edit the pieces before you put them up, Joe Daddy is 0-2 not 2-0. (I know it’s an arrogant post.)

    couldn’t agree more about the Kampmann / Sanchez award.

  • fanoftna33 says:

    Good stuff, I thought the mila Kunis and Natilie Portman part was great.

  • Rece Rock says:

    Good Stuff… Lambert you really hit it on the head with alot of these, funny post man. Good Work.

  • Dufresne says:

    These are the best titles for awards and the most deserving recipients of the new awards I could imagine. Great stuff Señor Lambert.


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