1st Annual Rattling the Cage MMA Awards

Thursday, January 10th, 2013 by Tony Reid

Fighter of the Year

Benson Henderson- Bendo went 3-0 over the 2012 calendar year with all three of his fights being title fights in the Lightweight Division. His first fight of the year he won the Lightweight championship from Frankie Edgar at UFC 144 in February. At UFC 150 in August he defended his title against Edgar in a rematch. He finished the year strong with a dominant performance in his second title defense against an always game Nathan Diaz on UFC on FOX 5 in December. He completely manhandled and outclassed Diaz in every way imaginable. He seems to get better and better (and bigger and bigger) each fight. With his performance in the Octagon as well as how he handles himself outside of it you could be looking at the next (really) big thing in MMA, toothpick or not. Three title fights, three main events, three wins this year.

Female Fighter of the Year

Ronda Rousey-This may be the most obvious choice of an award winner in the history of mankind (or womankind). What Rousey did for the sport of MMA and Womens’ MMA specifically this year is something that has not been seen before. It has been compared to what the Gracies did for the sport in the States in the early 90’s. She has been called the Muhammad Ali of Womens’ MMA, among other verbal accolades. She is a true crossover star as evidenced by her ESPN the Magazine appearance, the endorsements, commercials and most importantly her UFC championship and her upcoming main event status at a UFC event (UFC 157), the first in the company’s history. As far as her in cage exploits, she was basically untouchable, collecting arm after arm (six for six over the course of her career) from unsuspecting ladies within her division. In March she nearly ripped Miesha Tate’s arm off to win the Strikeforce women’s bantamweight championship and in August she did the same to the always tough Sarah Kaufman in under a minute. Two headline fights, two armbars, one championship, one newly minted icon.

Fight of the Year

Winner- Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (UFC 139)-There is nothing better for fight fans than when a highly anticipated fight between two legends of the sport lives up to the hype. Well my fellow fight fans, there is one thing better than a fight living up to expectations and that would be a fight that exceeds expectations and this fight exceeded all expectations. This fight is not only fight of the year but in the conversation for the best fight in MMA history. It had it all. Hendo came out and put in on Shogun to start. Shogun like the true warrior he is (and like every great fight needs) came back and dropped Hendo (a virtual impossibility). The two warriors went five full rounds and even a usually quick booing MMA crowd gave the guys a break when the action slowed toward the end of this instant classic. The fight had it all, two legends going toe to toe, near knockouts, near submissions, blood and an obvious show of guts and testicular fortitude by both legends.

Knockout of the Year

Winner-Edson Barboza vs. Terry Etim (UFC 142)-Whenever I watch a fight that ends in such a way that I couldn’t even make it happen with a video game controller in my hand I know that’s the one, the highlight KO of the year. Barboza’s spinning wheel kick knockout was poetry in motion…for everyone except Etim. Etim moved forward and Barboza planted his right leg and spun his left leg 360 degrees like a human machete and connected perfectly on poor Terry. The UFC was already adding this to their event opening highlight reel before Etim hit the canvas.

Submission of the Year

Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (UFC 140)-Trying not to be so prone to hyperbole but the submission of the year could also be in the convo for best submission in the history of our great sport. Look at the level and caliber of the event (UFC 140), the combatants (the two greatest heavyweight submission artists ever), the submission itself (a hold-it-till-the-bitter-end and listen-and-watch-as-it-breaks kimura) and the drama of the fight itself (Mir was almost out on his feet before coming back to secure the submission) and you might have the best submission ever but you have the best submission of the year for sure.

Breakout Fighter of the Year

Alexander Gustafsson- The Swedes love Gustafsson just as much as Germans love Davis Hasselhoff. And the rest of the MMA world really began to take notice of “The Mauler” in 2012. He went from a virtually unknown up and coming 205er to being in the conversation for a title shot against arguably the best fighter in MMA today in Jon Jones. At the somewhat tender age of 25, Gustafsson had a career-defining year, earning a pair of decisions over top Brazilian contenders Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Thiago Silva. Don’t count him out when he does finally get that shot against Jones.

Coach of the Year

Javier Mendez-With the roster Mendez and Bob Cook have fostered and cultivated over the years and especially the year those great fighters had, Mendez was the choice as our coach of the year. AKA houses Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion and future mega star Daniel Cormier, Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold and now after UFC 155 in December the newly minted UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez. If that isn’t enough take a closer look at a camp that includes Todd Duffee, Jon Fitch, Mo Lawal, Mike Swick, Josh Thomson and even former Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker.Whatever drama may have surfaced at AKA this year the overwhelming results of the team in the cage and ring stand above everything else. Mendez and AKA are so hot they even had to turn away BJ Penn, who wanted to come train there.

Referee of the Year

Herb Dean-Dean is the most consistent and most knowledgeable third man (or woman) in the game. He is the referee of choice of Dana White himself and most fans and fighters around the globe. In addition he is the referee who least makes me want to yell at my television when he’s in the Octagon.

Now that we have covered the real, legitimate awards of the year, let’s move on and get to the First Annual Ratty’s, a far less serious set of awards…

The “Fighter That Most Resembles and Action Figure” Award

Phil Davis


The “Vlogger of the Year” Award- Bloodstain Lane

The “Twitter Tweeter of the Year” Award- Front Row Brian

The “Fighter You Would Most Like To Kick or Punch” Award – Michael Bisping and John Dodson (Tie)

The “Most Entertaining Fighter” Award- Chael Sonnen

The “Mr. (Lack of) Personality” Award– Grey Maynard

The “Fighter with Most Effective Use of His/Her Body Hair”Award- Brian Ebersole

The “Fighter Most Likely Sexually Attracted to His Opponent” Award– Nick Ring

The “Walking Mugshot” Award- Cody McKenzie

The “Wake Me When it’s Over” Award- Jake Shields

The “Getting Hit in the Face is a Cosmetic Improvement” Award- Pablo Garza

The “Tan in a Can” Award-Stephan Bonnar and Yoshihiro Akiyama (Tie)

The “Alan Belcher Worst Tattoo of the Year” Award- Adrian Perez and Melvin Costa (tie)

The ”He Eatin’ the Most Horse Meat” Award – Stephan Bonnar

The “Brock Lesnar Don’t Quit Your Day Job” Award– The entire Strikeforce Roster

The “Starve Yourself into a Lower Weight Class” Award– Thiago Alves