Fight Network's Top 5 MMA Events of 2012
Ariel Shnerer / January 2, 2013 - 5:26pm
TOP 5 SHOWS
The all-heavyweights card this past May in Las Vegas delivered on all cylinders with the five main card bouts finishing within two rounds. Junior dos Santos, Cain Velasquez, Roy Nelson, Stipe Miocic and Stefan Struve picked up exciting victories, while Dan Hardy and Jamie Varner resurrected their careers in impressive fashion on the prelims. On the Facebook undercard, Paul Sass and Glover Teixeira notched first-round submission finishes. This card might have been even better if the original bouts went on as planned, including dos Santos vs. Alistair Overeem, Velasquez vs. Frank Mir, Nelson vs. Antonio Silva and Struve vs. Mark Hunt.
The UFC kicked off the year with a bang as UFC 142 was a memorable pay-per-view from start to finish. Jose Aldo destroyed Chad Mendes, Vitor Belfort and Rousimar Palhares recorded sizzling submissions, Erick Silva made his UFC debut with a bang, while Edson Barboza scored the "Knockout of the Year," laying Terry Etim out cold with a spinning wheel kick. The undercard featured wins by Thiago Tavares, Gabriel Gonzaga, Yuri Alcantara and Mike Pyle.
The UFC's first event in Japan since 2000 didn't disappoint as Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson put on one of the year's best displays in the main event. Mark Hunt and Tim Boetsch scored emphatic knockouts of Cheick Kongo and Yushin Okami, respectively. Anthony Pettis delivered a highlight reel head kick knockout of Joe Lauzon. Takanori Gomi returned to the win column with a second-round stoppage of compatriot Eiji Mitsuoka, while Hatsu Hioki smothered Bart Palaszewski to rebound in the featherweight division. British submission stylist Vaughan Lee finished Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto. Jake Shields won a hard-fought decision against Yoshihiro Akiyama. And in a notable upset, Ryan Bader controlled Quinton "Rampage" Jackson over three rounds to win a decision.
On a show that appeared to be on the verge of collapse after injuries to Jose Aldo, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Alan Belcher, a pair of Brazilian legends rose to the occasion. Anderson Silva and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira agreed to step in for short notice co-headliners against Stephan Bonnar and Dave Herman. They both emerged victorious, capping off an exciting card that featured a "Fight of the Year" candidate between Jon Fitch and Erick Silva, a "Submission of the Year" candidate in Demian Maia's first-round finish of Rick Story, plus a beatdown of epic proportions as Glover Teixeira put Fabio Maldonado through the ringer. Despite the setbacks, the UFC's return to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was one hell of a show.
The Staples Center in Los Angeles played host to this action-packed fight card in August. In light heavyweight co-headliners, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua conquered Brandon Vera in the fourth round of a frantic back-and-forth brawl, while Lyoto Machida starched Ryan Bader by second-round knockout. In other action, Joe Lauzon waged war with Jamie Varner in a thrilling lightweight tilt, while Mike Swick made his return to the Octagon by recording a sensational second-round knockout of DaMarques Johnson. This free-to-air broadcast had just about everything you could ask for.
The return of Georges St. Pierre was a memorable one, as his fight with Carlos Condit delivered plenty of exciting moments. The card also featured a tremendous knockout by Johny Hendricks as he finished Martin Kampmann in just 46 seconds. Other notable bouts included Pablo Garza's decision over Mark Hominick, Patrick Cote's disqualification win over Alessio Sakara, as well as submissions by Cyrille Diabate and Ivan Menjivar on the undercard. The energy at Montreal shows is always something special and the return of St. Pierre amplified that.
In arguably the most star-studded fight card ever broadcast on FOX, Benson Henderson retained his lightweight title with a strong decision over Nate Diaz. Meanwhile, Alexander Gustafsson and Rory MacDonald recorded career-defining wins over Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and B.J. Penn, respectively. To cap it all off, we saw stunning knockouts from Matt Brown, Yves Edwards and Daron Cruickshank, as well as a sensational submission by Scott Jorgensen in the lone bout broadcast on Facebook.