Worst Fight of the Year: Rory McDonald vs. Jake Ellenberger @ UFC on FOX 8 (7/27/13)
When selecting the worst fight of the year, the most important criterion to focus on, aside from actual suckiness of course, is the significance factor. There is no shortage of terrible fights to choose from in the vast arena of global MMA — but no one gives a shit that Johnny “Blue Balls” Sullivan and Billy “Lunchmeat” Johnson put on a crappy fight in Sweet Lips, Tennessee. People did, however, care at least a little bit when Rory McDonald and Jake Ellenberger fought for a possible #1 contender slot at UFC on Fox 8: Johnson vs. Moraga, and systematically sucked the life out of every fan in attendance and at home over 15 excruciating minutes.
The match saw McDonald use his lengthy jab to keep Ellenberger at bay…and, well, that’s pretty much the entire story. Based on past performances, when Ellenberger touches a guy’s chin, it hurts. Badly. So it’s hard to fault a fighter for taking the safe approach against such a dangerous opponent. But damn if it didn’t make for some brutal viewing. Equally culpable in the horror was Ellenberger, who seemed to completely abandon his normally aggressive approach in favor of standing on the outside against a longer opponent, being fed a steady diet of knuckles and shame.
Another important consideration for this particular Potato Award is expectations. When they’re exceedingly high, disappointment is almost inevitable. Happily married people know that low expectations are the key to everything. Case in point: If a woman expects her mate to have a ten-inch dong, she’s more than likely going to be greatly disappointed. If she expects about half that, and accepts that after his inevitable failure in bed she’ll simply have to adjourn to the restroom to finish her business then she’ll live a happy, fruitful life. [Ed. note: I have absolutely no idea what Anthony is talking about, here. No idea whatsoever.] Unfortunately for Rory and Jake, they were expected to be that ten-inch dong, and unfortunately they measured in at a flaccid three and a quarter…at best. - Anthony Gannon
Honorable Mentions: Gegard Mousasi vs. Ilir Latifi, Daniel Cormier vs. Frank Mir, Jake Shields vs. Tyron Woodley, Lyoto Machida vs. Dan Henderson, Rashad Evans vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
The Cecil Peoples Shittiest Decision of the Year Award: Lyoto Machida vs. Phil Davis @ UFC 163 (8/3/13)
Lyoto Machida dominated his fight with Phil Davis. Not in the sense that he mauled Davis or obliterated him in a round, but merely in the sense that Machida outclassed him in virtually all facets of the fight game. He outstruck Davis, outmaneuvered him, and in stuffing eight of Davis’s ten takedown attempts, the argument could be made that he even outwrestled the Penn State alumnus. Davis, for his part, was able to land weak shots occasionally and hit two takedowns which he was unable to capitalize on. When the bell sounded, every observer had scored the bout for Machida.
Except for all of the judges, who scored the fight in favor of Davis. Despite the fact that Davis had failed to damage Machida or obtain positional dominance for roughly 13 of the 15 minutes of the fight, those two minutes proved to be the deciding factor. Somehow. To his credit, Machida handled his loss professionally — by dropping to middleweight and KO’ing his friend Mark Munoz in the first round. So maybe it’s for the best that Machida now gets to reinvent himself at a lower weight-class, where he won’t be undersized against opponents who will simply try to take him down and pray he doesn’t get up. But still, he should’ve won that decision. - George Shunick
Honorable mentions: Diego Sanchez vs. Takanori Gomi, Francis Carmont vs. Lorenz Larkin, Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks
Comeback Fighter of the Year: Robbie Lawler
By the end of 2012, Robbie Lawler was officially an old-school relic, playing out the string of his decade-long career in Strikeforce. Sure, he was still capable of putting on great brawls and hadn’t lost the explosive power that made him a fan-favorite, but he had dropped three of his last four bouts — all against “modern” fighters like Luke Rockhold and Ronaldo Souza. Lawler’s contract was transferred to the UFC after Strikeforce took its last breath in January, and we didn’t expect a whole lot from him.
Robbie’s expectations for his UFC return were clearly different than ours. Instead of going through the motions with a few “fun” fights at middleweight, Lawler dropped to 170 for the first time since 2004, and showed up to his UFC 157 comeback match against Josh Koscheck in the best shape of his life. The result? A first-round TKO win along with a $50,000 Knockout of the Night bonus. The Ruthless Train was rolling again.
Lawler followed up that performance with a second-round head-kick KO of Bobby Voelker in July, and a gritty split-decision win over former “Next Big Thing” Rory MacDonald in November. Suddenly, Lawler was being discussed as a possible title contender. Then, Georges St-Pierre vacated his belt earlier this month and the idea of Robbie Lawler, UFC Champion wasn’t just an abstract possibility anymore. Lawler will fight Johny Hendricks in March 2014 for the UFC’s welterweight title, and if he wins, it will represent the greatest career comeback in the history of MMA. A young dinosaur from the turn of the millenium, potentially going from zero to hero in 13 short months — do you believe in miracles? - Ben Goldstein
Worst Use of Social Media: War Machine’s Twitter Account
I’m not even sure where to start with this one.
Sure, there were more highly publicized social media outbursts this year. Ronda Rousey’s conspiracy theories had MMA fans scratching their heads and Josh Thomson’s questionable remarks about homosexuals rubbed some people the wrong way. Then we had Uncle Creepy giving us a little too much insight into his personal life and his thoughts on dirty-faced homeless folks. But no one was more consistently dependable for sexist, insulting and downright hilarious vulgarity than the man affectionately known as War Machine.
If you follow War Machine on Instagram, you already know that it’s common practice for him to post nude photos of his porn star (ex-?)girlfriend, Christy Mack. On Twitter, he casually talks about their sexual encounters, referring to them as #POWPOW. Sometimes, he even shares photos of said #POWPOW…the kind that no human being should ever have to witness. Perhaps the most startling of these tweets was a blatant reference to “raping” Mack, which wasn’t exactly received with high-fives and back-pats.
I could go on with different sex- and rape-related deep-thoughts put forth by War Machine — or perhaps share some vacation photos from his trip to the Fleshlight factory — but I’ll jump ahead to a few other tweets which caught people off guard.
Making light of someone’s death is never a well-accepted idea. Making fun of a police officer? Yeah, you’re going to get some hate. And during a rant about MMA sponsorships, he dropped this moronic gem:
It’s actually not true, if that makes a difference. Clearly, War Machine doesn’t care what you think. His lack of social graces, disdain for political correctness, and unhealthy responses to stress make him one of the must-follow accounts in MMA.
Just for fun, let’s throw another example of War Machine doing what only he can do. Before November’s bout between Chael Sonnen and Rashad Evans, he composed the following:
To clarify, War Machine is not a racist. He’s just a free-thinking gentleman who thinks it would be “fun” to publicly say racist things when he sees a black guy on television. Glad we could clear that up. - Shawn Smith