Every year, the New Year is good for at least one constant — a series of very breakable New Year’s resolutions. Stop smoking, stop drinking, stop cheating … blah, blah, blah. But another constant we hope to start will be our FIGHT! Magazine’s Annual Awards Bonanza–MY FIGHTIE AWARDS! Sure, some people hope for an Oscar or an Emmy … please! I spit on those (actually, I don’t, but it sounds cool to be tough). For those in the fi ght biz, however, people I’m telling you these FIGHTIE Awards will be all the rage in the next year or so.
So in the name of “Auld Lang Syne” (whatever the heck that is), the following is FIGHT! Magazine’s fi rst annual FIGHTIE AWARDS. Envelope, please.
READY TO EXPLODE: Cain Velasquez. For a big man, this dude’s conditioning is sick. He’s already a superior wrestler, and the intensity and relentless work ethic he brings into the Octagon will make him a strong, strong force in the Heavyweight scene for years to come.
FALLEN STAR: Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou. Once heralded as the guy who could’ve beaten the then-unbeatable Chuck Liddell, RTS struggled mightily in the UFC. His star never shot like Dan Henderson and his crew hoped, and the UFC has since parted ways with him. Here is a guy who just 1 year earlier had Elite XC dying to swing in and swipe him from hitting the UFC in order to headline the fl edging promotion. Now, he’s relegated to smaller shows. Honorable mention: Shogun Rua.
EYE-OPENER AWARD: Seth Petruzelli. With one single punch, Petruzelli pretty much ended an entire organization. His knockout of street legend Kimbo Slice crushed Elite XC, which put all its marbles into Kimbo’s popular basket.
CYBORG AWARD: Fedor Emelianenko. Tim Sylvia said it best when he questioned if the great Fedor was human after the much-smaller fi ghter completely dismantled the former UFC Heavyweight champ. With shots showing Emelianenko calmly playing cards in his locker room with friends shortly before disposing of Sylvia, those who had not been introduced to the Russian were not only introduced but were left stunned.
THE COP-OUT AWARD: James Thompson and his somehow all-too-swollen ear. Thompson grossed out new fans and shocked seasoned vets when he entered the cage against Slice with his ear looking like a damn grapefruit. Umm, James, they do have insulin needles in England, don’t they? It was as if Thompson was hoping his ear would split early so as not to get knocked out by Slice. That’s the only thing I could think of as to why he simply wouldn’t drain the damn thing days before the fi ght.
BEST INTERVIEW AWARD: Forrest Griffi n. His blatant honesty and self-deprecation after fi ghts are so funny and genuine he should charge a two-drink minimum and go for a good 15 minutes. Not only does he light up the mic, those who train with him say his pace and work ethic are diffi cult to match. The sky is the limit for the ever-growing star.
SUBMISSION SPECIALIST: Dustin Hazlett. The young fi ghter from the queen city used his Jiu-Jitsu for MMA purposes better than any other high-level fi ghter this past year. His armbar from a whizzer was masterful, and his transition from move to move despite the threat of taking shots is nothing short of spectacular. The UFC needs to start putting him in the main show on every card he’s fi ghting.
WISH WE SAW MORE OF: Cung Le. The popular Northern California fi ghter is acrobatic, classy, and exciting, and we simply don’t get to see him fi ght enough. I’d also love to see him battle a takedown artist to see if Le can truly hang and bang with the big boys of the sport. My money is on yes. Obviously, Fedor vs. Le would be a huge treat for fans all over the world.
THE SHIP HAS SAILED AWARD: Takanori Gomi. The once seemingly unbeatable Lightweight now appears oh so very human. He fought three times this past year to overcome his 2007 gogoplata to Nick Diaz. However, Gomi has dropped his last two fi ghts and has lost that invincibility he once brought into the PRIDE ring.