By Michael Ford
The mixed martial arts world has seen its fair share of action throughout 2012. So many memorable fights and moments stand out in each of the 12 months that have passed. As we look back at this year in the sport, we at MMA Ratings are picking out particular moments from every month that stand out amongst them all. These are some of the highlights that came from August 2012:
Fight of the Month: Jon Fitch vs. Erick Silva, UFC 153
It was an unlikely choice for so many reasons when the month began, as Jon Fitch, long maligned as a "grinder" whose style was predicated upon making opponents look bad, took on the hot prospect Erick Silva, who had run through everyone he had met in the Octagon. Silva was the betting favorite, but even those who conceded that Fitch had a shot expected him to do so in his distinctive style. However, this was not the case. For 15 thrilling minutes, both men relentlessly pursued finishes, with both fighters coming close to being stopped on more than one occasion. Silva brought the heat, and forced Fitch to respond in kind, while Fitch took Silva into deep waters, and even though he seemed spent by the third, he was still dangerous, as he managed to catch his opponent in a guillotine choke. However, Fitch's "unchoke-able" bona fides continued to be solidified, as he survived that attempt and others en route to winning a hard-fought submission victory worthy of the "Fight of the Night" award at UFC 153, and for at least one night, Fitch had silenced the critics.
Honorable Mention: Glover Teixeira vs. Fabio Maldonado, UFC 153
Knockout of the Month: Antonio Silva vs. Travis Browne, UFC on FX 5
Honorable Mention: Anderson Silva vs. Stephan Bonnar, UFC 153; Mike Pierce vs. Aaron Simpson, UFC on FX 5; Michael Johnson vs. Danny Castillo, UFC on FX 5
Submission of the Month: Demian Maia vs. Rick Story, UFC 153
It was quick and it was violent, and the way Demian Maia's career had been going, neither of those things was expected, especially against the tough as nails Rick Story. Despite a much-heralded debut and a stellar run of five straight submission victory to start his UFC tenure, Maia faltered against the upper echelon of the weight class, and even in victory could not find the ability to finish any of his opponents, be it on the floor or the feet. This culminated in an embarrassing and ugly loss to Chris Weidman at UFC on Fox 2, which prompted a drop to welterweight. Well, he is now 2-0 in the division, and in this fight he systematically took Story down and out-grappled him, transitioning to his back, softening him up with punches, and forcing a bloody Story to tap to a neck crank at the halfway point of the first round. Easy as pie. Of course, for his next trick he needs to do the nigh-impossible, as he has been dealt the seemingly unsubmittable Jon Fitch at UFC 156. That we are even considering the possibility that he could do it is a testament to the incredible nature of the submission in this fight.
Honorable Mention: Phil Davis vs. Wagner Prado 2, UFC 153
Story of the Month: Chael Sonnen vs. Jon Jones on TUF
When Chael Sonnen announced that he was moving up to light heavyweight, most assumed tat he'd be fast-tracked to a title shot. He was booked to face Forrest Griffin in his debut, an opponent over whom a victory would at least provide the minimum justification for being slotted into the challenger's spot. However, the UFC 151 debacle gave Sonnen the chance to talk himself right into the conversation of potential Jon Jones opponents without so much as throwing a punch. And given the fact that the UFC's flagship reality show, The Ultimate Fighter, was struggling to find an audience on its new network, the UFC braintrust decided that the best option to revitalize the show was to add its superstar-in-waiting, and the most polarizing figure in the sport at the time, as well as perhaps the second most polarizing fighter, a man who will say anything to goose interest and spike buyrates. Rankings be damned, Chael Sonnen was going to skip the line of contendership and get a shot at the champion who "ducked him" by not agreeing to face him on short notice.
Predictably, the fan base became polarized. It was a pro wrestling move, prioritizing ratings over rankings, and was bad for the sport's credibility. It was a savvy business move, one that would renew interest in a show that was on the brink of irrelevence, all the while providing the hype necessary to build an epic PPV, and exposure for the UFC's soon-to-be signature star. Many were outraged. Many were outraged at the outrage. Dan Henderson was screwed out of a promised title shot. Lyoto Machida was screwed out of a promised title shot. Henderson and Machida will now face each other at UFC 157 in a matchup to ensure that at least one is eliminated from title contention. And of course, this doesn't take into account the higher than average probability that "The TUF Curse," which has canceled or delayed coaches' matchups in six of the last nine seasons, will strike again. Not that I'm trying to jinx them or anything.
October 2012 was hampered by injuries, but all in all, it was a fun month in the sport. The year's plots continued to thicken, and as one division began to unravel, another began to refocus. Fans readied for the return of Georges St. Pierre, and continued to obsess over Jon Jones controversy. And of course, Anderson Silva showed everyone why he's the best fighter alive. It was a wild ride, and there were some pretty exciting fights too.
What do you think the Fight of the Month was? Be sure to rate these fights and others, so that your favorite fight can be considered for the 2012 Fans' Choice award.