The Year 2012 In Review: The Best of January

By Raphael Garcia

The mixed martial arts world has seen its fair share of action throughout 2012. So many memorable fights and moments stand out in each of the 12 months that have passed. As we look back at this year in the sport, we at MMA Ratings are picking out particular moments from every month that stand out amongst them all. These are some of the highlights that came from the first month of the year:

Fight of the Month: Did They Get It Right?

Michael Bisping vs. Chael Sonnen, UFC on Fox 2

Trash talking is an art that mixed martial arts athletes are getting a better grasp upon as this sport ages. They now know that talking up a fight and disrespecting your opponent is one way to get the public to look forward to your contest and potentially increase your earning potential down the line. Few are better at doing so than Michael Bisping and Chael Sonnen. When they were paired against each other for battle at UFC on Fox 2, many people were more excited about their opportunity to berate each other than the fight itself. While the trash talking did live up to expectations, the fight itself was the best contest presented that month. 

Using his wrestling, Sonnen took control of the first round handily. He was able to take down “The Count” multiple times throughout the round. However, Bisping’s ability to get back to his feet would cause issues for the former middleweight contender. As the fight went on, it became apparent that the weight cut bothered Sonnen more so than usual, as he appeared very winded. Bisping took advantage of the opportunity and landed clean shots from his feet while pressuring Sonnen around the cage. Chael would score more takedowns, but he was never able to hold Michael down for extended period of times to attack. When the fight was over, Sonnen had his hand raised to set up the rematch with Anderson Silva, but in many people’s eyes, Bisping had won that contest.

Knockout of the Month: Video Game Quality

Edson Barboza vs. Terry Etim, UFC 142

A lot of times, individuals become enthralled with martial arts because of what they see in movies, video games, and cartoons. However, very few of us are actually able to pull off those moves in real life. At UFC 142, fans and media saw another example of why the fighters who compete in the Octagon are high level athletes.

Going into the third round of their bout, Edson Barboza had a lead on Englishman Terry Etim but was looking for an opportunity to close out the bout. That moment came at 2:02 in the round, when he landed a picture perfect spinning wheel kick that left Etim stiff before he could hit the mat. The kick sent people jumping from their chairs and screaming “Knockout of the Year,” even though 351 days were still left in the 2012. The highlight would even be featured in ESPN’s ESPY awards nomination tournament, making it one of the most spectacular moments of MMA this year and easily the knockout of the month.

Submission of the Month: What Move Was That?

Charles Oliveira vs. Eric Wisely, UFC on Fox 2

In mixed martial arts, there are famed moves that we do not get to see every day. Fans and fighters hear about them during training, but techniques such as the Gogoplata, flying arm bar, and “Showtime Kick” just do not get their shine during competition too often. However, one move was used during the month of January that caught the MMA community’s attention and shined some light on its user, Charles Oliveira

Oliveira had a clear grappling advantage over Eric Wisely during their UFC on Fox 2 bout. In mere moments he had taken his opponent down, and had his back. What followed was a maneuver known as the calf slicer that forced the tap out less than 2 minutes into the bout. It’s been accepted that this is the first time the move was used in the Octagon, and that alone gives it the esteem to be considered the submission of the month. Still, the image of Wisely grimacing in pain doesn’t hurt as well — at least for us it doesn’t.

Special MMA Moment of the Month: The Aldo Leap

Jose Aldo vs. Chad Mendes, UFC 142

The mixed martial arts fan base is a fickle beast. Often times it seems as if consumers of the sport are more ready to complain about something than enjoy the sport they have come to love. However, maybe this is just a problem that grows within the United States. When traveling to foreign countries it seems as if the UFC gets showered with love and the hometown fighters are littered with praise. UFC 142 brought a powerful moment to the sport when we saw firsthand how much Brazilian fans love their fighters.

Going into this featherweight title bout, many people expected Chad Mendes to have the ability to wear down and defeat Jose Aldo. The Team Alpha Male prospect had a level of wrestling and takedown ability that no one had seen in the weight class to date, and for the first time in a long while Jose Aldo was being questioned. Aldo would turn the tables on those expectations by fighting off multiple takedown attempts and landing a crushing knee with one second left in the round, force feeding Mendes his first career loss. What occurred after that was something special to see, as Aldo ran out of the Octagon and into the crowd to celebrate amongst his countrymen. As they chanted and hoisted him into the air, wrapped in the Brazilian flag, you would have believed that Aldo had won the title for the first time, instead of merely added another notch to his dominant 145 run.

The first month of the year brought us some interesting moments to set the stage for the rest of 2012. While everything wasn’t perfect, there were enough great moments to push momentum from the New Year into the month of February. As the year went on, the sport of MMA would surely capitalize on that momentum.

What do you think the Fight of the Month was? Be sure to rate these fights and others, so that your favorite fight can be considered for the 2012 Fans’ Choice award.

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