Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
What do Invicta 2, UFC 142, UFC 144, UFC 146 and UFC on FOX 4 all have in common? They are among some of the most memorable mixed martial arts (MMA) events in 2012, which are all worthy of continued discussion and praise.
One good mixed martial arts (MMA) fight can save a whole event, but there's nothing like a good event top-to-bottom to wash away the misery of a week of the daily grind.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) -- the worldwide leader in the sport -- staged more than its fair share of uncharacteristic stinkers this calendar year, including UFC 149, which company president Dana White said "sucked" and branded and "embarrassment."
It wasn't all awful, though, because when you throw enough slop on the wall, some of that slop is going to stick.
In this, the penultimate installment of MMAmania's "5 Top 5s" of 2012, we look at those fight cards that have had us holding in five beers' worth of pee out of fear of missing something awesome.
Here we go:
#5: Invicta FC 2: "Baszler vs. McMann" from Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas, on July 28, 2012
You want great fights? Invicta has 'em. You want finishes? Invicta has 'em. You want top-ranked fighters fighting each other? Invicta has 'em.
Invicta Fighting Championships set out to showcase women's MMA and succeeded in a big way, loading its sophomore card with fantastic talent and producing high-quality bouts through and through.
Best of all? Completely free. Keep up the good work, ladies.
#4: UFC 142: "Aldo vs. Mendes" from the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
A wheel kick to start things off and a charge into a crowd to end it.
This probably would have made the list even if there hadn't been plenty of quality MMA in between, from Rousimar Palhares claiming another tibia to Vitor Belfort showing off his Carlson Gracie black belt for the first time since 2001.
Add some entertaining under card "Prelims" action and 2012's first card was also one of its best.
#3: UFC 144: "Edgar vs. Henderson" from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, on Feb. 26, 2012
The very first fight of the evening ended with a bone-jarring knockout at Featherweight and things only improved from there.
While local superstars Norifumi Yamamoto and Takanori Gomi were less-than-impressive, the rest of the fighters picked up the slack nicely, with Anthony Pettis and Mark Hunt picking up first-round stoppages, Tim Boetsch uncorking one of the best comebacks of the year, and Frankie Edgar going to war with Benson Henderson.
#2: UFC 146: "Dos Santos vs. Mir" from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 26, 2012
From great submissions to brutal knockouts to impressive upsets, UFC 146 had it all.
And thanks to every main card bout ending inside ten minutes, we got a chance to see pretty much everything in lovely high-definition. As UFC 135 showed, a heavyweight-heavy card can backfire quickly, but if you get a bunch of big boys who know what they're doing, you can get something amazing out of it.
Despite Alistair Overeem's best efforts to sabotage.
#1: UFC on Fox 4: "Shogun vs. Vera" from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif., on Aug. 4, 2012
A come-from-behind one-punch knockout, the "Fight of the Year," one of the most brilliant counterpunches in UFC history, and a grueling slugfest on the same card? For free?
Any fine cards I missed? Let me know in the comments with as much vitriol as you can muster until the final "Top 5" of 2012: "Fighters of the Year."
See you soon.