Jake Ellenberger vs. Diego Sanchez (UFC on FUEL TV 1)
These two define intensity and determination. In a three round war in which neither man gave an inch, it was an all out battle to the finish. Ellenberger was effective early, but Sanchez came on late, including a dangerous period of time for Ellenberger when Diego has his back and had Jake stretched out. If you missed this fight, it is most definitely worth checking out. If you’ve already seen it, you understand why it’s on the short list of nominees.
Frankie Edgar is instant offense, and when he fights, there’s a damn good chance that it’s going to be good. Ben Henderson is a talent that comes around once in a lifetime, and he can also put on a spirited contest more often than not. When these two battled for the UFC Lightweight championship at UFC 144, it was dynamite. For 25 minutes these guys were locked in an epic clash for the sports’ top prize. It was an amazing battle of wills that in the end saw the 155 pound title around the waist of Ben Henderson.
Dustin Poirier vs. Chan Sung Jung (UFC on FUEL TV 3)
If you’re a fan of MMA and did not see this fight, stop what you’re doing and find it and watch it. These two featherweights went apeshit for four plus rounds of pure MMA frenzy that left an audience screaming for more. The first round saw multiple takedowns, reversals, scrambles and incredible positions. This might be one of the times when the five round non title fights was most welcomed. I could watch this fight every day for the rest of my life and be happy. In the fourth round, Chan Sung Jung caught Poirier in a D’arce that ended the action, must to the dismay of fans everywhere. Show this fight along with Griffin/Bonnar 1 and Shogun/Hendo to newcomers to hook them to MMA.
Jamie Varner vs. Joe Lauzon (UFC on FOX 4)
I’m a big fan of both Varner and Lauzon, and this fight could have been replaced with Jim Miller/Joe Lauzon, but something about Varner/Lauzon was cleaner to me. This was an absolute gem of a fight between two guys who are finding their range as top level Lightweights in the UFC. The grappling in the first round alone, is worth the price of admission, but in the second, they go at it again, and just when you think Varner is fading, he comes back and hurts Joe Lauzon. The third round in ended when Lauzon sinks a triangle choke as Varner scrambled. Lauzon locked it down and got the tap, ending a fight for the ages.
Shogun Rua vs. Brandon Vera (UFC on Fox 4)
Another great fight from the same card, I think this clash was made better by the fact that Vera willed his way back and how he and Shogun Rua battered each other. Name the last time Shogun fought, and it wasn’t a gut check war of attrition. I’ll wait. This guy is just money when he fights. When Shogun is on the card, you know you’re going to get something special. When he went toe to toe (literally) with Brandon Vera, it was no different. I will remember this fight as much as the moment where Brandon Vera became a legitimate threat at Light Heavyweight as much as I will for the right hand that planted Vera in the fourth round. I’m a sucker for a great Shogun war, and this was pure joy.
|Chan Sung Jung and Dustin Poirier going HAM!|
I almost threw in Jon Fitch vs. Erick Silva among others, but in the end, I had all I needed to make up my mind. In a year that saw some tremendous fights both inside and outside of the Octagon, the 2012 MMA Fight of the Year goes to, Chan Sung Jung and Dustin Poirier for their clash at UFC on Fuel 3. It was a back and forth affair with outstanding grappling, striking and a fantastic finish. It has everything a Fight of the Year needs. Look at this epic exchange from the fight.