Right now, nearly every MMA blog and nearly every MMA fan with an opinion who has the means to share it, are handing out their own “biggest and best” awards in various categories based on last year’s MMA action.
Seeing as I am an MMA fan who happens to post on an MMA blog, why should I not hand out some of my own?
So without any further waffle, I present, Sam Cupitt’s “Biggest and Best” of 2007.
Biggest Upset Of The Year – I’d like to go against the grain here and please the odd reader on this site who hate it when we 5 Oz. writer’s agree but there is just one upset that stands out above all others of 2007. That of course being, Matt Serra defeating Georges St. Pierre.
I clearly remember when I first saw this fight. I was watching it with my brother and during the walk-ins we were betting on how many minutes it would take “Rush” to dismantle the TUF 4 winner. A few minutes later, we were just staring open mouthed at the screen as Serra did his victory cartwheel.
After having seen what St. Pierre had done to long time champion Hughes at UFC 65 it just seemed impossible that a former lightweight in the form of Serra could even lay a hand on the Canadian. For that very reason this fight far outranks other fights such as Diaz vs. Gomi and Griffin vs. Rua.
Biggest “WTF” Moment Of The Year – This award is for that moment in the year that you look back on and you are just dumbfounded as to why it happened. The clear winner in this category is the Nick Diaz 9 month suspension for marijuana. After submitting Takanori Gomi in one of the best fights of the year at Pride 33, Diaz tested positive for pot and was banned from competition for 9 months and the bout was ruled a no contest.
This ruling takes out this category because, firstly, how Diaz’s marijuana usage was seen as an advantage is beyond me. If he was that doped up as to not feel pain I’m pretty sure he would have floated off after the pre-show Pride effects instead of fighting. Secondly, Diaz was convicted for and banned for 9 months for taking pot, while Sean Sherk and Phil Baroni were effectively found guilty and banned for 6 months for taking steroids.
It was just a completely mental overreaction and thus worthy of this years award.
Biggest Dissapointment of the Year – This was a toss up between two events that were very closely connected. In the end however, I chose the one that had the longest reaching effect. Thus the winner of this award goes Randy Couture’s parting of ways with the UFC.
This event edged out Fedor signing with M-1 mainly because for me, the atmosphere that comes from a Randy Couture fight is just unmatched by any other fight or fighter. It is almost like the whole MMA world rises as one in support for the guy when he fights. His departure from the UFC gets this award because he is 44 and only has one or two fights left and the fact that he is now tied up in the legalities of his contract means we probably will no longer be able to witness those two possible fights and be apart of that atmosphere once more.
Not seeing Fedor fight in the UFC and being able to find out who is the best heavyweight in the world is extremely disappointing… but not enough to take out this award.
Most Improved Fighter Of The Year: The winner of this award is a fighter who completely reinvented his style and was successful in doing so. This success was shown this year with a 3-0 record in the UFC which stretched his winning streak to 10. In an almost Bas Rutten type fashion, Marcus Davis showed this year that his once weak ground game is now vastly improved and now has probably become more dangerous than his boxing skills.
His fight against Paul Taylor at UFC 75 showed that his submission game is now instinctive and that he is a threat in the 170lb. division. It seems like an eternity since he was contemplating retirement on the Ultimate Fighter 2.
Best Submission Of The Year – It happened early, and it happened spectacularly. When you speak of 2007 submissions its just too hard to go past the Nick Diaz gogoplata victory over Takanori Gomi. It just looked…cool.
Sure there was some tough competition in the form of Frank Shamrock’s RNC over Phil Baroni, Anderson Silva’s triangle choke over Travis Lutter or Bo Cantrell tapping to strikes from Kimbo Slice… well maybe not the last one.
But none could dethrone what was an awesome finish to an amazing fight.
Best Knockout Of The Year – Just for the awe-inspiring shock that it left in its wake, Gabriel Gonzaga’s head kick knockout over Cro Cop tops the list for canvas slammers.
It just came out of nowhere and was just so powerful and violent. It was everything you need in a great knock out.
In terms of spectacle, power and impact on the division this knockout exceeds any other in 2007.
Other notable KO’s include: Rashad Evans over Sean Salmon, Rampage over Liddell and Serra over St. Pierre.
Best Fight Of The Year: Before I decided on the winner of this award I was tossing up between about 6 fights. 5 of which were lightweight encounters. So it is probably no surprise that the fight I chose for fight of the year was a lightweight fight and that was Roger Huerta vs. Clay Guida.
The fight was just spectacular with a crazy finish. It wasn’t just a slug fest either, it was a true Mixed Martial Arts fight, where they stood toe to toe and went to the ground equal amounts of time. Sure it wasn’t as technical as Tyson Griffin vs. Frankie Edgar but I think it was that there was a little more on the line in Huerta/Guida fight which made it more appealing to me than the UFC 69 clash.
Other notable fights that could have nabbed the award are: Diaz vs. Gomi, Edgar vs. Griffin, Silva vs. Liddell.
Best Fighter Of The Year – It was a three horse race this year with Randy Couture, Anderson Silva and Quinton Jackson the ones leading the way. Each deserve this title in their own way.
Couture deserves the award for being a freak of nature and coming back at 43 years of age to destroy the reigning heavyweight champion and then destroying one of the more talented fighters in the UFC.
Anderson Silva deserves the award for single-handedly making a packed Columbus, Ohio arena crowd lose their voice immediately as he dismantled the next best 185lber in the UFC. Previous to that he also destroyed two legitimate middleweight fighters.
But Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson gets the the nod for being far out and away the best fighter in the most stacked division in MMA. In 2007, he took out champions in the two premiere organisations impressively. In the process, he showed off violent knockout power and well accomplished ground skills. Going 3-0 in a division with the calibre of talent that the 205lb. division is enough to earn him the Best Fighter of 2007.
Other fighters that gained consideration were, Ryoto Machida, Forrest Griffin, Matt Serra and Roger Huerta.
That concludes my awards for 2007. Feel free to debate and chastise me all you want.