Welcome to the 2008 Inside Fights MMA Awards.
We had 27 voters this year consisting of our own staff members and a selected group of MMA journalists from around the world. A first place vote is worth five points, a second place vote is worth three points, and a third place vote is worth 4 points. The awards period runs from December 15th, 2007 through December 14, 2008.
FIGHTER OF THE YEAR
This award is all-encompassing, meaning it goes out to the person with the best combination of wins, exciting fights, and drawing power. This award is not solely for the best technical fighter, as that has its own award below.
1. Georges St. Pierre
2. Brock Lesnar
3. Anderson Silva
Surprisingly, St. Pierre barely edged rookie heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar for the most coveted of our awards. St. Pierre’s margin of victory was a mere 3 points, or one second place vote. St. Pierre had a stellar year, defeating Matt Hughes at the start of our voting period, and then going to beat Matt Serra to unify the welterweight championship and then defeating a very game Jon Fitch in August.
Lesnar recovered from a loss to Frank Mir in his debut fight in January to beat Heath Herring and then TKO Randy Couture to capture the heavyweight championship. The strength of Lesnar’s drawing power is a big reason voters have placed him in this position; he drew over 2 million PPV buys in the voting period, the only UFC not named Tito Ortiz to accomplish the feat.
Anderson Silva gets third place after a year in which he defeated top challenger Dan Henderson and James Irvin. He also beat Patrick Cote, but that was due to a fluke injury sustained by Cote.
PROMOTION OF THE YEAR
This award never had a chance of going to anyone else, at least not in a year when UFC is considered by many to be the sole major mixed martial arts company in the world. They are poised for an even bigger year in 2009, with marquee matchups on the horizon like Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir, Georges St. Pierre vs. B.J. Penn, and Shogun Rua vs. Chuck Liddell.
FIGHT OF THE YEAR
The fight considered to be the most exciting, the biggest and the best.
1. Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva
2. Chris Lytle vs. Paul Taylor (tie)
2. Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Couture (tie)
3. Eddie Alvarez vs. Joachim Hansen
Chuck Liddell’s standup war with Wanderlei Silva was the showcase fight of the year, not really for technical ability. It was the second biggest fight of the year from a marketing perspective, and it did not disappoint: Liddell and Silva engaged in a standup war with both men wildly throwing punches with little regard for their own safety.
SHOW OF THE YEAR
1. UFC 91
2. DREAM 3
3. UFC 87
UFC 91 featured one big fight: Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Couture. The main event delivered, as Lesnar knocked out Couture to capture the heavyweight championship in his fourth pro fight, but it was the undercard that sent the show over the top for our voters.
1. Rashad Evans KO’s Chuck Liddell
2. Anthony Johnson KO’s Kevin Burns
3. Josh Koscheck KO’s Yoshiyuki Yoshida
It was the shot heard ’round the world, and almost quite literally. Rashad Evans caught Liddell with a right hook full of torque, and in the process ruined Dana White’s dream of Liddell challenging Forrest Griffin for the light heavyweight championship at The Ultimate 2008.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
1. Brock Lesnar
2. C.B. Dolloway
3. Junior Dos Santos
Lesnar was the overwhelming favorite for our voters, scoring 91% of available first place votes. If we had a Most Improved category, he’d certainly win that one as well, as he rebounded from his loss to Frank Mir in January to score decisive wins over Heath Herring and Randy Couture, capturing the UFC Heavyweight Championship in the process and landing in second place in our Fighter of the Year results.
1. Fedor Emelianenko submits Tim Sylvia
2. Frank Mir submits Brock Lesnar
3. Demian Maia submits Ed Herman
1. Brock Lesnar
2. Chuck Liddell
3. Georges St. Pierre
BEST TECHNICAL FIGHTER
1. Anderson Silva
2. Georges St. Pierre
3. Joachim Hansen
BEST KNOCKOUT ARTIST
1. Anderson Silva
2. Thiago Alves
3. Anthony Johnson
BEST SUBMISSION ARTIST
1. Dustin Hazelett
2. Shinya Aoki
3. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira