The year 2010 had some very impressive mixed martial arts competitions. Fans were blown away by exciting knockouts, submissions and come from behind victories. Still, out of all these fierce battles which stood out among the rest as the best of the year. Here are a few that will be talked about into 2011 and long after.
3. Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen – UFC 117 – 8/7/10
Chael Sonnen had single handily set the stage for what was to be a phenomenal moment in the MMA world. While many “experts” had written Sonnen off as having a very small shot to unseat the champion Silva; Sonnen continued to urge the world that he would dominate his opponent come August 7. When the night came, he held true to his word. For four rounds Sonnen took the champion down and controlled Silva like none other had done during the “Spider’s” four year reign as champion. Silva fought back, but was unable to mount any type of offense to deter the challenger. However, that all changed with 1:45 seconds left in the competition. Sonnen made the mistake to under estimate Silva’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu abilities and did not see the arm/triangle choke coming. Sonnen was forced to tap out and his previous rounds of work all went to waste. Now Silva has moved on to new challengers while Sonnen must face allegations of doping during his title contention.
2. Anthony Pettis vs. Benson Henderson – WEC 53 – 12/16/10
World Extreme Cagefighting’s last event was meant to be a celebration of the organization that gave a stage to the lighter weights in MMA. The final show before the merger with UFC was just that as it gave fans all they could ask for from start to finish. Pettis and Henderson closed out the event with a fight for Henderson’s WEC lightweight title and a chance to challenge for the UFC lightweight crown. Both fighters put on a great show; exchanging high level striking and tough submission attempts. The fourth round of this fight can easily be considered the best round in combat sports this year. However, this battle will be forever known by “The Kick.” The moment that Pettis went from MMA prospect to superstar was when he placed his right foot on the cage and pushed off, landing a roundhouse kick to Henderson’s face; knocking him onto his back and across the cage. Scoring before that moment had been tight so that maneuver all but locked it away. Now Pettis awaits the winner of Gray Maynard vs. Frankie Edgar and his chance to shock the MMA world once again.
1. Jorge Santiago vs. Kazuo Misaki – Sengoku Raiden Championship 14 – 8/22/10
If a title fight is supposed to have back and forth action, the Santiago vs. Misaki rematch is exactly what you are looking for. While many people did not see this fight due to it being shown on HD Net, it’s recommended that any MMA fan view this battle. This was a rematch between the two fighters. In their first meeting, Misaki had controlled majority of the fight until the final few moments, when Santiago was able to lock in a rear naked choke; taking away Misaki’s middleweight championship. Before the rematch, both competitors played their fair share of trash talk. However, they both followed up in the ring. From the second round on, both competitors staked their claim to the middleweight title. Misaki locked in a tight guillotine choke, but the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, Santiago was able to fight his way out of it. In the third round, the champion dropped the challenger with a head kick but nearly punched himself out; allowing Misaki to recover. Misaki pressed the action in the fourth round, forcing Santiago to dive out of the ring ropes and draw a red card. It was this action however, that seemed to light a spark under the champion’s belt.
Down on the cards, Santiago stormed out of his corner to start the final round. He dropped Misaki with a knee form the clinch and jumped all over his opponent. Misaki was able to finally reverse Santiago after spending majority of the round on his back. He still could not mount an offense as Santiago kept pressing, and regained the top position. With a little more than a minute left in the fight, Santiago rained down blows on Misaki, forcing his corner to throw in the towel. While this fight did not occur in the big three organizations in the United States, it clearly gave the back and forth action with suspense that MMA title fights should hold.
Just a disclaimer, the opinions in this piece are of my own and do not represent a voter’s poll or writer’s poll from www.themmazone.net .
You can also follow The MMA Zone on Twitter here.