The Year 2012 In Review: The Best of June

By Michael Ford Subscribe to Articles by Michael Ford

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 June 2012:

Fight of the Month: Wanderlei Silva vs. Rich Franklin 2, UFC 147

The UFC’s return to Brazil at UFC 147 was to be a major event, a super show headlined by Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen, and buttressed by an entire season of buildup, courtesy of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, for the long-awaited grudge match between Wanderlei Silva and Vitor Belfort. After the Silva fight was moved to UFC 148 and an injury to Belfort left the show with no main event, Company Man Rich Franklin stepped in to rescue the show, and gave the show a different rematch to put on the marquee. Perhaps it was because of the severely diminished expectations, or the increased possibility that Wanderlei, a longtime fan favorite, could pull out the victory, but the matchup between the two was spirited and exciting, and gave the fans a 25-minute thrill ride. The highlight of the fight, of course, was the second round, where Wanderlei dropped Franklin and came close to giving the Brazilian fans the finish that would have blown the roof off the building. But alas, it was not to be, as Franklin restored control, and fought a smart fight, controlling the pace even as a relentless and resilient Silva sought to turn the fight into a brawl, never letting up, even until the final bell. It was a war, and although the local fans went home unhappy, they did leave the event satisfied.

Honorable Mention: Demetrious Johnson vs. Ian McCall, UFC on FX 3

Knockout of the Month: Cub Swanson vs. Ross Pearson, UFC on FX 4

At UFC on FX 4, Cub Swanson derailed the hype behind Ross Pearson‘s featherweight divisional run with one punch, waylaying the talk about the TUF 9 winner being fast-tracked to a shot against Jose Aldo as quickly as Pearson was waylaid against the Octagon. Swanson displayed improved and varied striking in a back and forth affair, but it was a second round counter that shocked the UK star, and stunned the fans watching, as he slumped awkwardly into the cage, and had Swanson rain down blows until the ref stepped in. With this win, Swanson was able to earn some measure of redemption for his prior failures against the top tier of the division, and solidify his place in the contendership ranks at 145. Pearson, however, decided to move back up to lightweight, earning a prominent coaching spot on TUF: The Smashes, and beginning a campaign that will hopefully yield better outcomes.

Honorable Mention: Eddie Wineland vs. Scott Jorgensen, UFC on FX 3; Mike Pyle vs. Josh Neer, UFC on FX 3

Submission of the Month: Charles Oliveira vs. Jonathan Brookins, The Ultimate Fighter 15 Finale

The young, dynamic, and exciting grappler Charles “do Bronx” Oliveira was part of a contingent of fighters who dropped to 145 pounds after strugglng to break through to the upper echelon of the lightweight “shark tank.” His debut at the weight class was the stunning Submission of the Month win over Eric Wisely at UFC on Fox 2 in January. His follow-up fight came this past June at the TUF 15 Finale aginst TUF 12 winner Jonathan Brookins, and he did not disappoint, exciting fans with fast-paced (albeit sloppy) striking in the first, and lacing a sweet Anaconda choke on his opponent in the second. After an exuberant celebration, the steam propelling his hype train had been fully replenished, and the fanbase was all aboard. Though he would falter later in the year against Cub Swanson at UFC 152, there’s no denying that his submission was one of the most thrilling moments of the month.

Honorable Mention: Dan Miller vs. Ricardo Funch, UFC on FX 4

Upset of the Month: Jake Ellenberger vs. Martin Kampmann, The Ultimate Fighter 15 Finale

It seems so long ago, but when Jake Ellenberger faced Martin Kampmann at the TUF 15 Finale, he was in a position similar to that of his UFC 158 opponent Johny Hendricks. The winner of six straight fights — four by knockout — after a close split decision loss to Carlos Condit in his UFC debut, Ellenberger was facing Martin Kampmann under protest, as he had asked for a rematch with the then-interim Welterweight Champion, and was denied, as Condit chose to wait for the big payday against Georges St. Pierre, whenever he returned. So instead Ellenberger was forced to lock horns with the dangerous Danish striker, who was fresh off a last-second submission win over Thiago Alves, a fight that he was probably losing on the scorecards. Kampmann’s penchant for getting into fire fights rather than fighting smart was to be his undoing, as Ellenberger possesses big power, and most analysts predicted that “The Hitman” would be looking at the doctor’s flashlight and sniffing smelling salts before the night was through. And for most of the fight, they were right, as Kampmann was dropped in the first and staggered in the second by big shots from “The Juggernaut.” However, Kampmann was able to weather Ellenberger’s storm, recovering enough to land a right hook to the temple, followed by a knee from the clinch that put Ellenberger out. Just that quickly, the momentum that had been building behind Ellenberger — and perhaps a massive showdown between the two contenders with the longest winning streaks in the welterweight division, Ellenberger and Hendricks — was lost, and the aura of invincibility that surrounded him dissipated forever. He now gets an opportunity to do to Hendricks what was done to him by Kampmann, but on that night in June, there was no solace to be found for the Juggernaut.

June 2012 was an odd bag, filled to the brim with free Friday night cards on FX, but finished off by an underwhelming offering that fans had to pay for. It kicked off what ended up being a disappointing summer, as many of the big-time matchups we had been anticipating failed to materialize. Even still, there were some incredible moments, some of which continue to reverberate.

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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