The Inaugural Kalib Starnes Award for Outstanding Cowardice in Battle: Claudinei Angelo says “screw this,” jumps out of cage mid-fight (10/5/13)
There are lots of ways to get out of a fight. Out here in the civilian world, you could talk your way out, run like hell, or if you live in a shitty neighborhood you could take a more proactive approach. For example, sitting on your front porch in a stained wife beater, drinking cheap whiskey, and mumbling to yourself while sharpening a rusty axe is a great way to keep people from fucking with you. It’s also a good way to keep your neighbors from asking you for favors, and to keep children from ringing your doorbell on Halloween. Trust me.
In the cage those options are just not available. However, there are still things a fellow can do to escape an ass-whooping. He can fake an injury, tap, or just turtle up and hope the referee saves his ass in a timely manner.
Or, he can get creative, like Claudinei Angelo did when he fought Evilasio Silva at JF Fight Evolution in Brazil. Old Claudinei was getting worked over pretty good. But rather than take any of the more traditional approaches to weaseling out that we mentioned above, he decided to spit out his mouthpiece (which is not an uncommon method to force a break in the action), then call a timeout (which is totally not allowed), then after mulling it over for a few seconds, just climb the fuck over the fence and bounce. As far as we’re aware, this is a first, and as such it deserves a brand-new Potato Award — albeit not a very distinguished one.
But like “Lutador Vomitando” before him, who the hell would have ever heard of Claudinei Angelo if he hadn’t pulled such an epic move? Really, who are we to judge. - Anthony Gannon
Media Shill of the Year: VICE magazine’s Fightland.com
There’s no shortage of sycophantic media journalists tripping over themselves to render various “services” to the UFC. We all need a paycheck — and supporting the interests of the only game in town is one of the easiest ways to get it. Still, despite stiff competition from all comers, VICE magazine’s MMA site Fightland.com takes the top spot as “Media Shill of the Year.”
Posing as a hip alternative outlet for uber-cool youth, VICE actually collects serious cash by partnering with corporate interests. Outside of a minor mention in Variety magazine and a hard-to-find page on VICE’s website, it was never made clear to the public that the UFC was bankrolling Fightland from the beginning.
There are an infinite number of strategies when it comes to marketing the UFC’s brand. Fightland’s Trojan Horse method of passing off writing sanitized according to the UFC’s interests as editorial for rebellious youth represents tremendous innovation. There’s a line from Chinatown where Noah Cross says “Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough”; maybe companies using bought-and-paid-for media outlets to promote their own ends will become accepted as a normal practice in the future. - Brian J. D’Souza
Best Event of the Year: UFC 166 (10/19/13)
Was this ever really in question? From top to bottom, UFC 166 produced the most action-packed, meaningful and stacked card of the year.
For those who like to see what someone administering assured brain damage looks like, the UFC heavyweight title fight in the main event surely delivered. Cain Velasquez pummeled, punched and positioned his way to a dominant win over his fiercest rival. When the referee refused to stop the bout after four rounds of domination, Junior Dos Santos took it upon himself, working for a guillotine and landing directly on the top of his head, leaving him unable to continue.
In any other year, the bout between Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez would have been a sure fight of the year. The uncrowned lightweight champion (Melendez) took it to Sanchez early, before MMA’s “Yes Man” fired back with an epic third round performance that left fans craving a few more rounds between the two warriors. Ultimately, it was Melendez who escaped with the just decision, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see these two men attempt to recreate their magic at some point in their careers.
The main card started off with two violent first round finishes, as John Dodson and Gabriel Gonzaga both dismantled their opponents with ease. Impressive performances by Kyoji Horiguchi, Andre Fili, Tony Ferguson, Adlan Amagov and Hector Lombard highlighted the undercard, and a brawl between Jessica Eye and Sarah Kaufman was the cherry on top. This was a year filled with great fight cards, but UFC 166 stands out as being significantly better than the rest. - Shawn Smith
Worst Performance in a Drug Test: Robert Drysdale (10/29/13)
Robert Drysdale has been around the Jiu-Jitsu game for a long time and has compiled a pretty damn impressive trophy case of various grappling titles. Well, now he can add another honor as we bestow him with this prize. So make some room on that mantel, Mr. Drysdale.
After winning all of his six MMA bouts via first round submission, Drysdale signed with the UFC back in June but has not stepped foot inside the Octagon even though he has been scheduled to fight on two separate occasions. In the first occurrence he was forced to withdraw from UFC 163 when a mysterious staph infection arose (cue whatever Danga’s conspiracy theory music is — but I bet it’s this). In the second instance, Drysdale was denied a license when an out-of-competition drug test showed that his testosterone-to-epitestosterone (T/E) ratio was on par with the entire roster of the Chicago Blackhawks combined (coaching staff included).
It was a monumental number that made Alistair Overeem’s (14:1) AND Chael Sonnen’s (16.9:1) tests look like child’s play. The astounding number alone gives Drysdale the victory here, but the fact that he has yet to have a UFC fight and was NOT reprimanded by the Nevada State Athletic Commission makes him the runaway winner for this category. Who knows? Maybe Drysdale will be a full-blown Manotaur when he finally makes his UFC debut.
Dishonorable Mention: Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva was the most recent (as well as more notable) fighter to get nailed with a fine and suspension but his elevated testosterone levels did NOT land him this prize. However, because his failed drug test put an asterisk next to one of the greatest heavyweight fights in UFC history — coupled with the fact that he looks like a relative of Frankenberry — his name needed to be mentioned in conjunction with this major award. - Nathan Smith