Best UFC/MMA event of 2011

Photo of light heavyweight champion Jon Jones shortly after doing Lyoto Machida dirty at UFC 140 earlier this month by Esther Lin via SBnation.com.

If there really can be "too much of a good thing," then mixed martial arts (MMA) fans should not complain.

This year featured an unprecedented amount of MMA events, which were all available on free television and/or via pay-per-view (PPV). In fact, it was often harder to find a weekend without at least some MMA action than it was one without.

With that much heavy leather flying around, things took a turn for the legendary more often than ever ... and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Follow me after the jump for some of this year's top candidates and to cast your vote for 2011's "Event of the Year:"

Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva

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Photo via FCFighter.com

Not only did this event provide a cautionary demonstration of what would happen if you taught a Yeti Brazilian jiu-jitsu, it also featured one of those rare all-heavyweight cards that proved extremely entertaining. The first four bouts --three of them deciding tournament alternates and one kicking off the promotion’s highly-anticipated heavyweight grand prix -- all ended inside the first round in dramatic fashion. The main event started out as a back-and-forth slugfest before devolving into a schoolyard beatdown, featuring Antonio Silva as the frustrated eighth-grader and Fedor Emelianenko as the first-grader in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s always a good time to watch big guys who know what they’re doing, even if it includes the heart-breaking loss of a legend.

UFC 129: "St. Pierre vs. Shields"

The very first bout featured a flying triangle finish and it only got crazier from there. From the conventional (Jake Ellenberger flattening Sean Pierson with an evil left hook) to the bizarre (Lyoto Machida giving Randy Couture’s career an unwelcome Hollywood ending), UFC 129 delivered several of the best highlights of the year, producing two "Knockout of the Year" candidates, one "Submission of the Year" candidate, and one of the most entertaining title defenses in recent memory between José Aldo and Mark Hominick. Beauty, eh?

UFC 132: "Cruz vs. Faber"

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While many were less-than-enthused about Urijah Faber receiving yet another title shot, the Alpha Male veteran, along with the rest of the cast, more than paid their dues, producing a spectacular event from top to bottom. The Spike TV "Prelims" lasted just over three minutes combined, featuring two brutal knockouts. And every single bout on the main card delivered in spades, too. Carlos Condit obliterated Dong Hyun Kim with a beautiful flying knee, Tito Ortiz stunned the world by rocking and submitting Ryan Bader, Dennis Siver and Matt Wiman left everything in the cage over three rounds, Chris Leben proved once again that being unconscious is no obstacle in his quest to knock out all foo’s with the bad luck of weighing 185 pounds, and the much-maligned Faber gave the heretofore-untouchable Dominick Cruz the toughest fight of his dominant reign. That’ll do, gentlemen. That’ll do.

UFC 139: "Shogun vs. Henderson"

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Photo via KevinMarshallOnline.com

Everyone knew there was no way the main event wouldn’t be spectacular, but the rest of the competitors went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that fans weren’t paying $50 for one real fight. Gleison Tibau went to war with Rafael dos Anjos, while prospects Chris Weidman and Michael McDonald shined with brutal stoppages on the "Prelims," while Urijah Faber and Wanderlei Silva scored stunning victories on the main card. What truly elevated this card to one of the best of the year, however, was the unbelievable battle between Mauricio Rua and Dan Henderson, both of whom proved tough as nails and cemented themselves as two of the greatest fighters of our era. PRIDE never die!

UFC 140: "Jones vs. Machida"

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I’m still trying to repress my memories of this one. If nothing else, UFC 140 wins the "Fight for the Troops" award for most nightmare-inducing event of the year. Jon Jones strangled Lyoto Machida into creepy unconsciousness, Frank Mir snapped Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira's arm like toothpick and Chan Sung Jung pasted Mark Hominick with a seven-second knockout, among other human destruction. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need something to drink that legally qualifies as drain cleaner in my vain quest to forget this one ever happened.

If we missed some awesome event, be sure to let us know in the comments. Thanks for following MMAmania’s "Best of 2011" series and casting your votes. We'll share the final results of the voting early next week. In the meantime, have a very merry, and safe, Christmas holiday.

  • To see our 2011 "Fight of the Year" nominees and cast another vote click here.
  • To see our 2011 "Knockout of the Year" nominees and cast another vote click here.
  • To see our 2011 "Submission of the Year" nominees and cast another vote click here.
  • To see our 2011 "Fighter of the Year" nominees and cast another vote click here.
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