A team of writers at Inside Fights has worked together to decide upon this year’s awards for the individuals and organizations in the sport of mixed martial arts that went above and beyond the competition. Categories include Fighter of the Year, Knockout of the Year, Submission of the Year, and several other important awards to give credit where credit is due.
The series will be broken down into four parts, with this section leading it off with awards for “Breakout Fighter of the Year” and “Upset of the Year”.
Breakout Fighter of the Year
“Breakout Fighter of the Year” award goes to the fighter who did the most to rise into the spotlight through an exceptional year of success in 2009.
Winner: Jose Aldo (4-0 in 2009)
Jose Aldo’s four-fight year with the WEC earned him the reputation of a killer and the title of champion. Aldo began the phenomenal year with a knockout victory in January at WEC 38 against Rolando Perez.
Aldo wasted little time getting back into the cage when he defeated Chris Mickle via technical knockout at WEC 39. “Junior” followed that up with a technical knockout victory over Cub Swanson at WEC 41 in a bout that aged only eight seconds before its completion.
After his third victory of 2009, Aldo was given the chance he had been waiting for when he was granted his title shot against Mike Thomas Brown, who had successfully defended the belt two times.
Aldo and Brown headlined WEC 44 in what seemed to be a very even match. However, the Brazilian utilized his speed and power to roll through Brown en route to a technical knockout after he took Brown’s back in the second round and pounded him to a stoppage.
Aldo finished the year with a 4-0 record in the WEC with all of his victories coming by way of knockout. He needed just over ten minutes to win all four of his contests with his bout against Brown being the longest fight of his year (6:20). Two of his fights did not even see the second minute of the first round.
What truly sets Aldo apart from fighters such as Dan Hardy and Cain Velasquez is not only the fact that he won all of his fights, but that he won all of his fights in absolutely devastating fashion. The fact that he demolished top featherweights Cub Swanson and Mike Brown also helps “Junior’s” case.
Aldo leaves 2009 as WEC featherweight champion and an addition to most people’s pound for pound rankings. After the year he had, that is really no wonder. In fact, the only thing you can wonder about is how he ever lost a fight in the first place.
Upset of the Year
The “Upset of the Year” award goes to the fighter who battled through the odds en route to a victory over an opponent who was deemed a greater fighter.
Winner: Brian Bowles’ knockout victory over Miguel Torres at WEC 42
Brian Bowles victory over Miguel Torres at WEC 42 this past summer was not an upset because the fight was necessarily a mismatch, but rather due to the fact that the heavy-handed wrestler was facing the most dominant bantamweight in the history of mixed martial arts.
When Torres entered the cage on August 9, he brought with him a 17 fight win-streak that could be traced all the way back to June of 2004. With a 37-1 record in his resume, the submission ace seemed the clear favorite.
However, Bowles’ heavy hands ended Torres’ historic streak, as the undefeated Georgian knocked Torres out at 3:57 in the first round.
The initial reaction to a Miguel Torres loss was foreign to almost every one of his fans, along with everyone else who had any clue who he was, due simply to the fact that the vast majority had never seen him lose before. After all, it had been around half a decade since Torres last tasted defeat.
However, on paper this was not as big of an upset as a “Lauzon vs. Pulver”. Bowles entered the bout with seven victories and no losses, with all seven victories coming by way of submission or knockout. His heavy hands had proved disastrous for a couple fighters before his career in the WEC, but his submission game was what he used to finished the vast majority of his fights, including victories over Will Ribeiro, Damacio Page, and Charlie Valencia.
Yet after five years of complete dominance and a 17 fight win-streak from Miguel Torres, Brian Bowles exited the octagon on Aug. 9 with a belt very few people expected him to gain. While in the gambling world Bowles may not have been the underdog Thierry Rameau Sokoudjou was against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira several years ago, the shock factor of a Miguel Torres loss proved worthy enough to move this shocker into the top position of this year’s biggest upsets.
Stay tuned to Inside Fights for more of our MMA awards for 2009.
Tags: Brian Bowles, Jose Aldo, miguel torres, Mixed Martial Arts, MMA Rankings, WEC, WEC 42, WEC 44