MMAjunkie.com readers have been given the opportunity to choose what the 2009 MMA Fight of the year is. Go and vote for the MMA fight of the year- Check it out!
What was the most entertaining mixed-martial-arts fight of 2009?
That’s the question we asked in our latest poll, and you have two days to cast your vote on the MMAjunkie.com homepage.
Refresh your memories with quick recaps of the 10 bouts selected as finalists, and then state your case for your pick in the comments
We selected bouts from the sport’s most prominent organizations, including the UFC, WEC, Strikeforce, DREAM, and World Victory Road’s Sengoku. With the hundreds of bouts contested this year, your favorite might not have made our final 10. That’s why we’ve included the “Other” option, as well.
We’ll tally the votes and announce the winner later this week.
Now, onto the candidates, which are listed in chronological order:
MARTIN KAMPMANN VS. CARLOS CONDIT
- Event: “UFC Fight Night 18: Kampmann vs. Condit”
- Date: April 1
- Result: Kampmann def. Condit via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- MMAjunkie.com Recap: Heading into the main event of “UFC Fight Night 18: Condit vs. Kampmann,” most MMA observers felt finding an edge between the “Hitman” and the “Natural Born Killer” was a difficult task.After 15 minutes of a predictably exciting bout there was still little between Danish striker Kampmann and former WEC champion Condit. Forced to make a call, two of the three judges awarded Kampmann a razor-thin split decision.
The bout’s action started quickly, with Condit scrambling to lock in an early guillotine choke attempt. Kampmann freed himself from the hold and answered with a heel hook attempt of his own. Condit refused to panic, and opened up a gash on Kampmann’s cheek after working free from the hold.
The two traded on the feet for a spell, and Kampmann locked in a deep guillotine attempt as time expired in the opening frame.
The second round saw more of the same: Condit looking to score from distance on the feet, while Kampmann answering from inside. Kampmann again secured a guillotine attempt, but Condit deftly escaped and worked to a rear-naked choke attempt of his own. Kampmann showed his continually improving ground game, working free of the attempt and delivering a few blows from top position as time expired.
The third frame held the result of the bout in the balance. An inadvertent eye poke from Condit caused a brief halt, but Kampmann recovered with style. Kampmann worked gracefully from within Condit’s guard to deliver a bit of offense from the top, avoiding the submission attempts that continued to come from the lanky former WEC champion.
The fatigued fighters battled to the final bell, and exchanged mutual appreciation for the other’s efforts at the close of the bout. The bout proved tough to score, but Kampmann did enough to earn the split decision.
MIGUEL TORRES VS. TAKEYA MIZUGAKI
- Event: “WEC 40: Torres vs. Mizugaki”
- Date: April 5
- Result: Torres def. Mizugaki via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47)
- MMAjunkie.com Recap: Widely regarded as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, WEC bantamweight champ Torres stood firm in the face of a stiff test from a widely unheralded replacement challenger Mizugaki.Mizugaki proved his worth, battering the champ for 25 minutes. But fighting just down the road from his native East Chicago, Ind., Torres courageously earned the unanimous decision win.
Mizugaki stood in the pocket with Torres from the opening bell despite the extensive reach of the champ. And for each shot that Torres threw, Mizugaki answered in kind. The accumulation of the blows from each competitor showed in the battered and bruised faces that each developed over time.
With the fight taking place exclusively on the feet, Mizugaki made it very clear he had no intentions of testing Torres’ ground expertise. On the brief occasions Torres slipped or was thrown to the floor, Mizugaki immediately backed away. When Torres switched tactics late in the fight looking to move to the mat, Mizugaki adamantly opposed.
While the champion’s skills were seemingly successful in out-pointing his foe, a cut over Torres’ right eye in the third frame appeared to have ominous implications. Doctors took a long look at the cut and did their best to slow the dripping plasma. While the flow of blood seemed to trickle straight into the champion’s eye, Torres was allowed to continue.
Torres protected the wound from further damage, burying his head in his opponent’s chest, and the cut was addressed properly between rounds.
The pro-Torres crowd grew louder as time wore on, and the champion’s unquestionable fitness allowed him to take over in the final frames. Mizugaki continued to attack in spots, but the winner became clear. Torres stood firm in the test of his opponent, avoided a disappointing loss via cut, and earned the unanimous-decision win.
MASANORI KANEHARA VS. CHAN SUNG JUNG
- Event: “World Victory Road’s Sengoku Eighth Battle”
- Date: May 2
- Result: Kanehara def. Jung via unanimous decision (30-29, 30-29, 29-28)
- MMAjunkie.com Recap: An undeniable candidate for “Fight of the Night,” and one of the more entertaining bouts in recent memory, featherweight grand prix dark horses Kanehara and Jung went toe-to-toe for 15-straight minutes.The two engaged in spurts of wild striking on the feet, and each exchanged submission attempts on the floor. Kanehara earned the edge in successful takedown attempts, but Jung worked well from his back. A series of arm bar attempts and upkicks found their marks, though none of it was enough to stop the Japanese aggressor.
Jung worked from his back for much of the final frame, and despite finishing strong, the strategy may have backfired. The very close bout was awarded unanimously to Kanehara, including two tight scores of 30-29. The third judge saw it 29-28.
HIDEO TOKORO VS. ABEL CULLUM
- Event: “DREAM.9″
- Date: May 26
- Result: Tokoro def. Cullum via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 1:37
- MMAjunkie.com Recap: A fast-paced, “Fight of the Night” candidate from the start, featherweight grand prix fighters Tokoro and Cullum combined to put on a grappling clinic.With each fighter working submissions, escapes, transitions and sweeps, the action became tough to call and even tougher to score. Tokoro remedied the challenge by deftly transitioning to a rear-naked choke – after surviving an attempt by Cullum – and forced the tap at 1:37 of the second round.
MIKE BROWN VS. URIJAH FABER II
- Event: “WEC 41: Brown vs. Faber II”
- Date: June 7
- Result: Brown def. Faber via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47)
- MMAjunkie.com Recap: Walking in to a chorus of boos in a hostile environment, WEC featherweight champion Brown had the unenviable task of validating his title by once again defeating one of the sport’s toughest and most-popular fighters in Faber – in “The California Kid’s” hometown.And as the ARCO Arena crowd looked on, Brown did exactly that, turning a workman-like performance befitting of the Lynard Skynyrd tune, “Simple Man,” that accompanied the boos on the trip to the cage.
Faber started the bout as the aggressor. His right hand was sneaking by Brown’s defense nearly every time it was thrown, and “The California Kid” seemed primed to utilize his explosive quickness to overcome the famed strength and power of Brown. But as the round progressed, Faber instantly lost his most effective weapon when the speedy hand right hand was broken, rendering the tool ineffective.
It was that turn of events that lead to a decided shift in momentum. Forced to work in close range with elbows rather than blast away with straight right hands, Faber gave Brown the ability to close the distance and utilize his power in the clinch. While all three judges awarded Faber the first round, it was the last he’d claim.
Brown began to load up on his punches, and realized quickly the right hand was no longer being delivered. The heavier blows connected to the head and body of Faber, though the former champion never appeared in serious trouble.
Behind on points heading into the final round, Faber didn’t yield the fight. Two separate guillotine choke attempts brought the hometown crowd to its feet, but Brown slammed out of one and slipped away from another. It was too little, too late, and Brown was awarded a clear-cut, unanimous-decision win – though the bout was certainly closer than two 49-46 scores would indicate.
DIEGO SANCHEZ VS. CLAY GUIDA
- Event: “The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale”
- Date: June 20
- Result: Sanchez def. Guida via split decision (28-29, 29-27, 29-28)
- MMAjunkie.com Recap: In a hyper-paced, blood-soaked, 15-minute, instant-classic contest that had enough action to make Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar blush, Sanchez grinded out a split-decision win over a more-than-game Guida.The bout had action written all over it from the beginning, and from the moment the two fighters were brought into the cage through the intense face-to-face staredown, the intensity was palpable.
While the bout was ultimately destined for a decision, it appeared to be headed for a quick finish early on. An impressive, aggressive attack of uppercuts, crosses and flying knees from Sanchez had Guida stunned early and seemingly on the way to the first knockout loss of his six-year career.
A clean high kick to the jaw reminiscent of Pete Williams’ famous blow to Mark Coleman dropped Guida to the canvas, but “The Carpenter” somehow lasted the full five minutes, even as the first spurts of what would end up developing into a constant stream of blood started to trickle out of Guida’s wounds.
A lesser man would have quit on the stool, but Guida came out in the second round like a man possessed. Guida powered through Sanchez’s initial offense to land top position and unleash the ground-and-pound attack that has become his trademark. Sanchez didn’t simply take the abuse, but instead unleashed several fierce elbows from the bottom position. The result was a primal mix of blood, sweat and tangled hair as it became difficult to determine who was getting the best of the attacks.
The third round unfathomably saw more of the same, and between a deep choke from Sanchez, and a wild, relentless top game from Guida, picking a winner became near impossible. All three judges turned in different scores as the two competitors were wiped clean of the blood that had soaked them both. In the end, Sanchez took the split-decision.
ANTONIO RODRIGO NOGUEIRA VS. RANDY COUTURE
- Event: “UFC 102: Couture vs. Nogueira”
- Date: Aug. 29
- Result: Nogueira def. Couture via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- MMAjunkie.com Recap: The payoff was worth the wait.In one of the most thrilling heavyweights fights in recent UFC history, Nogueira topped fellow ex-champion and an exceptionally resilient “Captain America” in a fight that was years in the making.
Despite a crowd clearly and loudly in his favor, Couture simply could not overcome his opponent’s stifling offense. After losing his interim title to Frank Mir during a lackluster December 2008 performance, a healthy Nogueira topped Couture both standing and on the mat.
Nogueira knocked down Couture in the first round, locked in deep arm-triangle submission in the second, and again rocked the UFC Hall of Famer in the third. While fighting through the type of abuse that would break just about any other fighter, Couture survived and fought back.
It wasn’t enough, though, and the judges ultimately gave Nogueira the unanimous decision with scores of 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
BENSON HENDERSON VS. DONALD CERRONE
- Event: “WEC 43: Cerrone vs. Henderson”
- Date: Oct. 10
- Result: Henderson def. Cerrone via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47)
- MMAjunkie.com Recap: Fans, oddsmakers, WEC lightweight champion Jamie Varner and even Cerrone himself couldn’t help but speculate about a possible Varner vs. Cerrone rematch.However, in a fight for the WEC’s interim lightweight belt, Henderson – a 3-to-1 underdog – spoiled the plans and took Cerrone’s spot in the future title fight with a unanimous decision victory.
The fight, originally scheduled for Sept. 2 in Ohio but postponed due to an injury to Henderson, kicked off with an immensely entertaining first round, which Cerrone began with a series of submission attempts and Henderson closed out with a solid assault while standing over his opponent.
That position – in which Henderson stood over Cerrone and patiently dropped power shots to the stomach and head – allowed him to do damage in the second and third rounds and forced Cerrone to close his stance and worry about takedown attempts the few times he got back to his feet.
In the fourth round, though, the aggression almost got the better of Henderson, who was trapped in an arm-triangle choke for the better part of a minute. Henderson, though, patiently waited out Cerrone’s attempt and escaped the submission two minutes into the round. But with the choke taking a toll, Cerrone fended off the takedown attempts in the round and did damage with punches and kicks before the horn sounded.
In what appeared like it might be the deciding fifth and final round, Cerrone again was put on his back, but a series of submission attempts – triangle chokes and kimuras – kept Henderson in danger. And even after Henderson again took the fight to the mat and took a seemingly dominant position, Cerrone again connected on upkicks and nearly forced an end via kimura before the final bell saved him.
Henderson survived the round and apparently built up a big enough lead in the earlier rounds; all three judges awarded the fight to the underdog with scores of 48-47.
FEDOR EMELIANENKO VS. BRETT ROGERS
- Event: “Strikeforce and M-1 Global: Fedor vs. Rogers”
- Date: Nov. 7
- Result: Emelianenko def. Rogers via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 1:48
- MMAjunkie.com Recap: Emelianenko survived an early scare at from the previously undefeated, hard-hitting Rogers and delivered a devastating right hand in the second frame to keep the legend of “The Last Emperor” alive.Rogers opened the bout with a straight jab that immediately opened a gash on Emelianenko’s nose and left the Sears Centre crowd wondering if the improbable wasn’t impossible. When Rogers popped up quickly after being tossed to the canvas – the one place everyone knew the Minnesotan couldn’t go – the possibility became even more plausible.
A second trip to the floor in the opening round saw Rogers in top position, and the five heavy ground-and-pound shots that followed appeared to do even more damage to his Russian foe.
But as the nine-plus-year has done countless times before, Emelianenko remained calm and turned the momentum back to his favor by gaining dominant position, then standing over his opponent in the closing seconds of the round before narrowly missing with a diving, right-hand bomb.
Then Emelianenko decided he was ready to strike.
Rogers opened the second with a bit less energy, a tad less bounce. Emelianenko didn’t.
Rogers briefly pushed Emelianenko against the cage – an unfamiliar position for the former PRIDE champion – but there was no attack in the clinch. After restarting in the center of the cage, Emelianenko erupted with a devastating right hand, delivered somewhere in mid-air, that left Rogers in a heap on the canvas.
Emelianenko hesitated to follow, seemingly unsure if the shots were even necessary. Three additional punches were finally delivered, and the bout was called off at the 1:48 second mark.
GILBERT MELENDEZ VS. JOSH THOMSON II
- Event: “Strikeforce: Evolution”
- Date: Dec. 19
- Result: Melendez def. Thomson via unanimous decision (49-47, 49-46, 49-46)
- MMAjunkie.com Recap: In the night’s co-headliner – and in a long-awaited rematch continually delayed by injuries – interim champ Melendez topped title-holder Thomson, avenged his lopsided June 2008 unanimous-decision loss to the former training partner, and unified the belts in a wild and entertaining fight.While Thomson pulled off the upset and used cage control and patience in his initial meeting, he was much more aggressive in the rematch. Thomson used his jab and front kick to keep distance in that first meeting, but in the second meeting, he was more willing to stand toe-to-toe and trade Melendez. However, it was just such exchanges that shifted the fight in the favor of Melendez, who threw nearly 500 strikes during the five-round fight.
Aside from the first round, Thomson simply couldn’t keep up with Melendez in the remaining rounds. Melendez used a well-balanced attack of punches and kicks from all angles and often lured Thomson into the fight he wanted to take the unanimous decision via scores of 49-47, 49-46, 49-46.
Honestly, I think there are some other great fights in 2009, but list tops it all. Great job MMAjunkie!