Wow, what a year MMA has seen in 2010. We had the ending of the WEC, the story of Court McGee’s rise from the ashes to win The Ultimate Fighter and one thing became very clear… we need better judging.
Before I continue, these are my personal favorite moments. I’m not saying these were the best moments of the year. Some moments are my favorite for different reasons. Sometimes it’s the emotions behind them. Sometimes it’s the memories. I don’t get all the PPV’s. I’ve got a (shoe-addicted) wife and (“the box the shoes come in”-addicted) daughter to feed and a local indy wrestling organization to support. These are my personal reflections. No doubt you all will have different ones. Please feel free to share them below.
5. Palhares joining the Hall of Shame-This moment was special to me because it was my first blog I did to preview an UFC event. And yes, I talked about how Palhares was on the cusp of a star-making night. Instead, he tries to put his signature leg hold on Nate “The Great” Marquardt. Marquardt slips out and Palhares claims Nate is greased up. While he’s complaining to the ref, Nate walks over and gives him one of the knockout blows of the year. It gets worse. Joe Rogan checked with the state athletic commission and they had checked him for any kind of foreign substances, and Marquardt was ok. Palhares wished he had egg on his face, because it hurt nowhere near enough as a Marquardt punch.
4. Velasquez beating Lesnar-I hate Lesnar kind of like you hate Vic Mackey of The Shield or Don Draper of Mad Men or real-life Andy Kaufman. He’s such a complex individual. You love him one moment and then the next, you’re doing a scathing blog about why he’s a horrible person. Lesnar is the Cowboys, Lakers, Yankees, Red Wings and Tiger Woods all rolled into one. He’s the athlete you want to see get defeated.
UFC 121 was upon us. Lesnar had run his mouth about Velasquez’ heritage. Velasquez, a Mexican-American was fighting in Anaheim, less than 6 hours from where he was born (Salinas). I was at Papa G’s in Watauga, on my 4th or 5th Coke by that time. I had the most magical experience. UFC was on one tv. Next to it was the Final game of the NLCS (which my wife was watching at home on tv). And next to that was a Texas A&M slaughter (A&M DOING the slaughtering for once). There were some great moments that night. Diego Sanchez defeated Thiago Alves in a “Fight of the Year” candidate. But the moment of the night was Cain Velasquez upsetting Brock Lesnar and knocking him out brutally.
3. NTUF-This was my first time to sit in the front row of an MMA event. I sent a link to my dad saying, “What do you think?” He responded a few hours later, “Well, kid, I hope you were serious, because I just bought us two tickets that night.” It turns out that he was actually the first person to buy tickets. He received an email from the promoter thanking him.
My dad and I got there early and it was so interesting to see the referee, fighters and state athletic commission people prepare for the night. I did a full blog on the night, but one of my favorite moments was the knockout of Fernando Salas at the hands of Joe Gorman. There was not a single person sitting after that knockout. And later that night, there was an electric fight between Kylie Malone and Jordan Gaza. Jordan Gaza came out of that a star. The crowd was on fire and was behind Gaza. I saw something so awesome from the crowd, especially the young girls who were there that night. They were behind the two young ladies in that fight, and it made me happy to think that my daughter could look up to role models like them. Only one fight went to a decision; it was a great night of fighting.
2. Evangelista-Spiritwolf-This is for all the incredible fights I saw over the past year. There were so many to name them all. But the one that stands out to me most is the fight between Billy Evangelista and Waachiim Spiritwolf. Most Ultimate Fighter episodes, they’re sucking wind after the first 3 minutes. These guys were still slugging it out for the whole 15 minutes. There was so much emotion behind that fight and both fighters received fans for life.
1. Team Darius-In my Twitter travels, I discovered a mom and son by the names of Stephanie and Darius. To read their story, click here. She is one of the strongest people I have ever met in my life. During the past year, I have watched her followers go from less than around 20 followers to 1500+. What was amazing was watching the MMA community join Darius’ struggles. Chris Camozzi & Rich Attonito were some of the first fighters and Mauro Ranallo was one of the first personalities to embrace Darius’ story. Then they came in little by little. Eventually there was Asante Samuel, Wayne McCullough, Bill Engvall and Gray Maynard. And then magic happened. Jenna Jameson heard the story of Darius. Then the followers poured in. Martin Kampmann, Phil Davis, Eliot Marshall, Brad Tavares, Pat Miletich, Seth Petruzelli, Thiago Tavares, Brendan Schaub, Frankie Edgar, Jimmy Fallon, Shane Carwin, Tito Ortiz, Yoko Ono (?), John Fogerty, Pat Barry, John Daly, Willie McGinest, Nate Marquardt, Kelsey Grammer, Joey Beltran, Bill Goldberg & James McSweeney. Those are just the big names, but the true heroes were the people who helped their story move along. It was so awesome to see the MMA community on Twitter gather around and support Darius and his family. Thank you for all the fun memories and rising to the aid of a brave boy and his braver mom.
Thank you for all the memories. Here’s to an awesome 2011.
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