As MMA gamely stumbles into 2013, we’ve once again decided to bestow meaningless awards to the fighters and moments that caught our attention this year. CagePotato’s crack team of writers spent all month nominating winners in 27 different categories, which we’ve loosely arranged in chronological order. Use the “next page” links to scroll through this monster, or click on the following page links at your leisure. And as always, thanks for putting up with us for another year. Here’s to bigger and better things in 2013, which shouldn’t be a tough goal to hit, considering.
Page 6: The “Really? You’re Just Gonna Keep Doing that Shit that Gets You in All That Trouble?” Award (a.k.a. “The Koppenhaver”), Gnarliest Injury of the Year, Best Event of the Year, Submission of the Year
Knockout of the Year: Edson Barboza vs. Terry Etim @ UFC 142 (1/14/12)
Was there ever any question as to who would take this category? Edson Barboza’s spinning wheel kick knockout of Terry Etim at UFC 142 not only stands alone as the greatest knockout of 2012, but as one of the greatest knockouts in the promotion’s history. Sure, the stakes weren’t as high as some of the other knockouts you are surely reflecting upon as you read this, but from a technical standpoint, the way Barboza was able to send a legit lightweight in Etim — who had never been knocked out, BTW — crashing to the canvas like a narcoleptic goat was simply astounding.
On a scale of pure devastation, this one takes the blood-filled cake. For starters, it inspired the phrase “Falling Tree Knockout”, the single greatest way of describing a KO ever committed to the Internet. Secondly, it happened in January (and was actually the first UFC event of the year) and Etim has yet to step back in the octagon. You can blame it on injuries all you want, but I personally believe that Etim has spent the past year loitering London’s cobblestone streets, draped in a tattered shawl and silently muttering to himself that “Ne’eragin willis ‘appen, u domb cunt. Ne’er agin will some mud-slingin’ wanker bamboozle me in fronna me mates.” - Jared Jones
Comeback Fight of the Year: Tim Boetsch vs. Yushin Okami @ UFC 144 (2/26/12)
When we are talking about a fighter who was getting dominated for the entire fight before pulling a “W” out of thin air, the winner is Tim Boetsch when he faced Yushin Okami (Thank You!) back at UFC 144. The Barbarian was getting outclassed in epic fashion by a great jab and he was almost finished by Thunder with some savage ground and pound. Boetsch knew that he was way behind on the scorecards, and that nothing short of finishing his opponent would save him from leaving the Octagon with a loss. So early into the third round, Boetsch repeatedly landed brutal uppercuts and finished Okami via TKO. Then Joe Rogan jizzed in his pants and screamed like he just found a Wonka golden ticket when he said it “might be one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the UFC.” Well, it was the greatest come from behind victory in the history of 2012, at least.
Honorable Mention: Mike Swick had a “Comeback Fight of the Year” on two different levels. For starters, he returned to the UFC after two and a half years — yes, 30 months, almost to the day — because he was misdiagnosed with a stomach disorder, followed by a knee injury in August 2011. Swick made his return against DaMarques Johnson as the opening bout for the UFC on FOX 4 broadcast, and after Johnson had Swick mounted and seriously hurt during the first round, Quick caught a kick and landed a savage punch that put Darkness on the unemployment line. Swick earned “Knockout Of the Night” honors and gave a passionate post-fight interview to the millions watching. Not only did he come from behind during the fight, Swick came back from a long layoff only to win in spectacular fashion in front of a national television audience. Double comeback! Unfortunately, that same national television audience saw Swick’s inspiring comeback come to a brutal end at the very next UFC on FOX show. - Nathan Smith
Worst Performance in a Drug Test: Alistair Overeem Sets a New Land-Speed Record for Testosterone (4/4/12)
Another year, and another opportunity to take shots at The Reem. I could make a bunch of horse meat jokes, or get up on a soap box about how we need to see him fight for the title, or even go the way of claiming that Overeem’s obviously cheating ass doesn’t deserve to fight at the highest level of the sport. But I’ve already done that twice, and I’ve never been one to beat a dead, half eaten horse. (Ok, so maybe just one horse meat joke.) Instead, let’s talk about everyone’s favorite pastime — drugs.
With the rapid increase in TUEs given out and the apparent influx of pot heads — “legal” or not — in the UFC over the last year, it seems this category could easily be taken by any fighter who failed to file the proper paperwork. I could sit here and condemn those busted for smoking the sticky-icky, but that would be like Miguel Torres pleading with people to be more politically correct, and apparently my hypocrisy only goes so far. But what about all the testosterone exemptions that are being given out all willy-nilly? It seems to me that it’s only a matter of time before 90% of fighters are legally elevating their testosterone levels, if only to even out the playing field, which seems to negate the entire idea of fair competition in mixed martial arts.
But I digress. The fact is that Overeem is one of the top heavyweight fighters in the world, and fun to watch. His yearlong suspension is up, so he did the time for his crime, and with a win over Antonio Silva he’ll most likely become the number one contender for the ever-cursed heavyweight strap. So join us as we all collectively cross our fingers in hopes that the Dutchman can find some clean piss (I hear Sanchez is on the straight and narrow these days), and not fuck up yet another opportunity to challenge for the title. At the very least, let’s just hope he doesn’t end up in this same Potato Awards category next year. - Josh Hutchinson
‘WTF?’ Moment of the Year: Fighter Taps Out, Passes Out, Scores Second Round TKO (4/20/12)
(Video via WarriorNationXFA)
Maybe we both have the same sense of humor, and are most easily entertained by insanity. Not so much Hangover-esque ridiculousness (although that movie rocks), but rather something more dry and subtle, like the humor found in episodes of Flight of the Conchords or Trailer Park Boys, or the Hanson brothers from Slap Shot. Actual jokes in those examples are few and far between, yet they’re funny simply because the situations presented are so absurd and so pathetic, yet treated with the utmost sincerity. There’s no winking at the cameras — everything is really happening, and the characters involved are reacting as if there’s nothing strange about any of it. There’s no need for jokes, the entire premise is the punchline.
Which I guess is why I laughed at this clip the first time I saw it. This whole incident feels like a scene from a mockumentary about a small-time MMA promotion from the early 2000s. From the unnecessarily dramatic Tale of the Tape, to the Not-Quite-Buffer handling ring announcing duties, who awkwardly reads everything off of his notes, to the disturbingly incompetent referee, to the doctor who probably realizes that there’s nothing safe about having a seizure, but assumes that it’s all part of the sport and lets the Tapout-clad bros override his judgment, to the guy who was just seizing on the ground winning the fight by knockout minutes later, to the crowd who cheers everything that happens as if it’s just another run-of-the-mill fight, this situation just seems too insane to be treated as an actual event.
Then it hit me that this fight eventual no-contest was a real thing that happened in 2012. Ever since that revelation, the only thought I have about this clip has been what the actual fuck.
Honorable (I guess?) Mentions: Rampage Jackson’s completely undeserved reputation as a funny-man takes a ludicrous twist, whatever the ultimate balls is going on here, people were disgusting enough to make Toddler Fight Club (twice), Dancing with the Stars officially becomes a Station of the Cross for the aging MMA fighter, pretty much everything Ken Shamrock did this year. - Seth Falvo