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 fighters 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 of elite martial artists to choose from.
There have been more than a few standouts from the pack and they're listed below in the final list of the half-year awards. I know, I'm a little sad, too.
Without further ado, in we go:
5. Mark Munoz (2-0)
Mark Munoz started his 2011 campaign by becoming the first man to ever knock out C.B. Dollaway at UFC on Versus 3 in Kentucky. He followed that up by matching up with jiu-jitsu wizard Demian Maia and made the most of it, earning himself a unanimous decision win to put himself right in the thick of the middleweight division.
4. Melvin Guillard (2-0)
He's been telling anyone who will listen that he's the best thing to hit the lightweight division since sliced bread and so far this year, Melvin Guillard has done nothing but prove himself right. He kicked things off this year by stepping up on short notice against Evan Dunham and exposing and disposing of the hopeful prospect. "The Young Assassin" then did the exact same in his next fight, pasting Shane Roller in short order and putting himself in the discussion for future title consideration. 2012 very well could be the year of Guillard.
3. Clay Guida (2-0)
It's easy to underestimate Clay Guida, a scrappy ball of energy who, while skilled, does not possess elite levels of anything. Despite that, he's used his evolving training at Greg Jackson's MMA in New Mexico to submit Takanori Gomi and grind out Anthony Pettis to give him two very impressive wins in the first half of the year. Who knows, maybe he'll run into the guy at number four on this here list. It could happen.
2. Brian Stann (2-0)
Brian Stann is more than just an "All American" hero that served his country as a marine and continues to fight the good fight on all fronts. He's also an elite level mixed martial artist who has proved it twice so far this year by utterly dominating both Chris Leben and Jorge Santiago, knocking both men out in the first and second rounds, respectively. His next test is a veritable number one contender bout against Chael Sonnen. A win in that fight would likely give him one of the best years of any fighter in recent memory. Except for maybe...
1. Jon Jones (2-0)
Raise your hand if your surprised at this selection -- not so fast, everyone on Earth! Not only did Jon Jones come of age before our very eyes this year by defeating Ryan Bader with the "Submission of the Night" at UFC 126, he went one step further and won the light heavyweight title by destroying Mauricio Rua just six weeks later. Now he's poised to make an extended run as the 205-pound champion and talk is already turning to whether or not he can win the heavyweight title sometime in his career as well. It may be premature to even attempt to fathom such a thing but it's difficult not to get swept up in the emotion created by "Bones'" utter dominance of 2011.
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.