Mixed martial arts is a sport that is growing bigger and bigger each month with on most weekends fight fans having numerous choices to how they wish to spend their Saturday nights.
In this series of articles I will select the best submission, knockout and fight for each month and at the end of the year you O-Sters will determine the best for the year.
Submission of the month: Nick Diaz
Strikeforce put on their first major event for the year and did it with a bang! The star studded event featured two title fights with Nick Diaz putting his welterweight title on the line in the evening’s main event against Evangalista “Cyborg” Santos.
Diaz is arguably one of the best welterweights in the world, he hasn’t tasted defeat since 2007 and coming off a run of defeating numerous middleweights as well as capturing and defending the welterweight strap.
Santos made a name for himself as one of the toughest men on the planet competing in Japan, Brazil, Canada & England before debuting in Strikeforce by destroying DREAM Welterweight Champion, Marius Zaromskis.
9,059 people packed the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California that night to witness Diaz and Santos put on a fight of the night performance.
Both men exchanged blows back and forth in an exciting affair before Santos made the fatal mistake of turning their bout into a grappling match with the jiu-jitsu black belt. Diaz immediately locked up an arm and eventually rolled Cyborg over and viciously hyperextended it to secure his second title defense.
KO of the month: Brian Stann
UFC chose to begin their year in impressive fashion with one of the better looking cards in quite some time on January 1st but it was the co-main event attraction that made the audience say O!.
Brian Stann was a former WEC Light-Heavyweight Champion who made his way into the UFC after they acquired their 205-lbs division in 2009. Stann failed to set the world on fire at light-heavyweight having a 2-2 run inside the octagon before opting to move down in weight.
After one victory in the middleweight division he set his sights on the original “Ultimate Fighter” bad boy, Chris Leben. Leben had one of the best years out of anybody in 2010, at the beginning he was essentially seen as a waste of roster space and by the end was considered to be near title contention.
“The Crippler” dominated Aaron Simpson in June then merely 14 days later he put on a fight of the year nominee defeating Japanese sensation, Yoshihiro Akiyama and was looking to continue his reign of dominance by adding Stann’s name to the long list of men that had fallen at his feet.
From the moment the bell rang it was clear that Stann got suckered into fighting Leben’s kind of fight, but that didn’t matter.
Both men threw leather from the get go looking to knock the other’s block off with Leben getting the better of it early on stunning the All-American who initiated a clinch to gain some recovery time.
Moments later Stann dropped Leben with a right hand and followed up with a vicious knee and a series of grounded strikes to earn fight of the night honors.
Fight of the month: Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard
It was the first day of 2011 and the fight of the year could very well have been decided when Frankie Edgar put his ten pounds of gold on the line against top contender Gray Maynard.
Edgar entered the UFC in 2007 with a fight of the year performance according to Sherdog.com against Tyson Griffin. Since then he had suffered only one defeat in a string of victories topped off with back-to-back decisions over BJ Penn.
His only loss in his UFC career was to his opponent on January 1st, Gray Maynard.
Maynard came into the UFC with a no contest against Rob Emerson and since then hasn’t tasted defeat once – Maynard went on an eight fight win streak against the top 155-lbs combatants available including Roger Huerta, Jim Miller and Frankie Edgar.
Edgar and Maynard put on a nail biting performance which could have gone either way. Maynard dominated the opening frame firstly with a left hook that grounded the Champ who spend the remainder of the round in survival mode while taking 97 strikes total.
Edgar managed to shake of the cobwebs and return looking better than ever using his superior speed and foot work to land on the challenger early and often as well as effectively landing several takedowns.
The remaining rounds were anyone’s to take and when all was said and done nobody took them as the bout was ruled a draw by the judges at cage side at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
That’s all for this edition O-Sters, be sure to watch out for the February edition coming soon.