Ah, yes. Another top five list.
With 2011 halfway through, it's time to roll out some typical mid-year awards. Filler? Maybe. Fun? Most definitely.
The subject of this particular list (courtesy of UFC.com) is none other than the best fights of the year. With as many fight cards as the world's largest mixed martial arts organization has offered up so far this season, there are plenty to choose from.
And with the abundance of compelling match-ups between elite fighters, a few of them were bound to create history. This is why we love this sport, right?
Without further ado, in we go:
You know how exciting this fight was? Type in either fighter's name in a Google search engine and the first suggested result is "vs." followed by the other guys name. Anthony Njokuani and Edson Barboza got after it at UFC 128 in New Jersey, battering each other for three rounds. The icing on the cake was a spinning hook kick to the dome that Barboza landed to close the fight, which he won via unanimous decision.
4. Kyle Kingsbury vs. Fabio Maldonado at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 13 Finale
There's a certain amount of weight that must be given to a fight like this simply because the two combatants are not nearly as well known as their counterparts on this list. Yet, here sits Kyle Kingsbury and Fabio Maldonado at number four thanks to their three-round slugfest at the TUF 13 Finale on June 4 in Las Vegas. In fact, this fight parallels this here list. It may not be the most meaningful, but it's oftentimes the most fun. Nothing wrong with that.
Hamburger alert, hamburger alert. Diego Sanchez in da howse!! Heading into his fight against Martin Kampmann at UFC on Versus 3, Mr. Sanchez alerted the media and fans he would rather go by the moniker "The Dream." Then he got a little facial reconstruction courtesy of the Danish striker and after three rounds he looked like "The Nightmare." He also, somehow, managed to eek out a win, despite his face being reduced to mush.
Grudge matches often fail to live up to the hype (see Quinton Jackson vs. Rashad Evans) but this one had no such problems. Maybe that's because it never had a whole lot of hype to begin with but that could also be how it reached the number two spot. Dominick Cruz badly wanted to avenge his only career defeat to Urijah Faber and he was given the opportunity to do so on the biggest stage, in a main event of a pay-per-view fight card for UFC. He was successful in his defense of his bantamweight title and exacted the revenge he always wanted ... kind of. The fight was close and calls for a rubber match between the two have been ringing through the halls of Zuffa headquarters. As thrilling as this fight was, it will be hard to say no. Or so one would think.
Talk about impressive. Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard part deux took place on Jan. 1, 2011. That means it has held up for the entire duration of the half-year to keep this top spot on lock and for good reason. Hardly anyone batted an eye when the rematch was announced but as soon as the horn sounded to kick things off, explosions rocked Las Vegas and one of the craziest fights in years went down inside the Octagon. Maynard pummeled Edgar for the entirety of the first round, but the champion "answered" the call and came back to win the second round. Amazing. Even more incredible was the back-and-forth nature of the remaining three rounds. So close they were, that the judges could not decide a winner and the bout was declared a draw. The most exciting draw of all time, no doubt, but a draw nonetheless. Unlike Cruz and Faber, these two will set up a third and final fight immediately. We can only hope the third act is as exciting as the second.
Head on over to UFC.com to check out the extensive list of honorable mentions. And feel free to sound off in the comments section below on any notable snubs.
Let's hear it, Maniacs.