Best fighter of 2011: UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones

Jon Jones calmly walks away after choking out Lyoto Machida at UFC 140 on Dec. 10, 2011, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Tracy Lee via Yahoo! Sports.

Earlier this month, we here at embarked on a quest to determine the best of the best in the year 2011. Naturally, that means we had to find the man (or woman) who rose above the rest to earn the distinction of "Fighter of the Year."

And that honor belongs to UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones. Because who else?

Really, there was no other viable option and the voting reflected as much. "Bones" kicked the year off by defeating Ryan Bader to earn a 205-pound title shot against Mauricio Rua. Just six weeks later, he made the most of his opportunity by dominating "Shogun" in a way not seen before.

That right there warrants consideration. What he did next was downright astonishing.

His first title defense came against Quinton Jackson and Jones once again dominated, becoming just the second man in the history of MMA to submit "Rampage." Less than three months later, the Greg Jackson trained phenom became the first man to submit Lyoto Machida, putting him out cold with a standing guillotine choke.

That's 4-0, two title defenses, all finishes, against the best competition available, namely three of the four opponents being former champions. All in one year, folks. Get some.

It wasn't even close but there others who received votes. Check out the full results of our poll for the best fighter of 2011 after the jump.

Poll results:

  1. Jon Jones -- 772 votes
  2. Dan Henderson -- 150 votes
  3. Junior dos Santos -- 115 votes
  4. Nick Diaz -- 97 votes
  5. Donald Cerrone -- 67 votes
  6. Other -- 26 votes

Remember to check out winners in other categories including "Fight of the Year," "Knockout of the Year" and "Submission of the Year" by clicking here, here and here.

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