Steroids in MMA
Which MMA Fighter Will Test Positive For Steroids Next? Presents: The 2014 Potato Awards

Submission of the Year: Charles Oliveira Submits Hatsu Hioki via Modified Anaconda Choke at UFC Fight Night 43 (6/28/14)

(Note: This video doesn’t seem to play properly on mobile devices. If you’re having trouble viewing it, check out this terrible-quality YouTube clip.)

It may not have been the flashiest finish, but the significance of Charles Oliveira choking Hatsu Hioki out with a modified anaconda surpassed the dazzle of the numerous beautiful submissions this year.

Hioki, once presumed to be a number one contender at featherweight, turned down a title shot against Jose Aldo in 2012 after a six-fight win streak (two in the UFC). What followed were two decision losses and a lackluster win over Ivan Menjivar. With a record of 27-7-2, Hioki had never been submitted — or even finished! — when he faced Oliveira at Fight Night 43: Te Huna vs. Marquardt on June 28th.  As a grappler myself, fights like Oliveira vs. Hioki are basically all I ever want to see — minimal striking and elite grappling. And the grappling Oliveira and Hioki gave us was not only elite, but the best kind of grappling to watch: exciting and fast-paced, with beautiful transitions and sneaky set-ups.

Hioki, a seasoned Shooto veteran and a black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu, appeared to present little threat to Oliveira, even when Hioki was controlling him. After a failed rear naked choke attempt by Hioki, Oliveira shook him off, transitioned to north-south, and set up the anaconda choke. But rather than finish with the regular gator roll, Oliveira wrapped his endless legs around Hioki, over his arms. It was like a nasty anaconda-guillotine-evil choke from which there could be no escape.

Hioki clearly recognized this, as he either didn’t even try to mount a defense, or just couldn’t. Instead, he tapped, for the first time ever, warranting saucily waving fingers from Do Bronx. Oliveira’s jiu jitsu, unrelenting and constant like a river, proved to be the universal solvent for Hioki, garnering the modified anaconda as this year’s Best Submission.

Honorable mentions: Yancy Medeiros’s reverse bulldog choke of Damon Jackson (nasty points), Mitch Clarke’s D’arce/Brabo choke of Al Iaquinta (heartwarming comeback/beauty points), Tyler Stokes kneebar from back mount against Jesse Thacher (cool points), Ben Saunders’s omoplata sub of Chris Heatherly (first-time-ever-in-the-UFC points), Joseph Benavidez’s guillotine choke of Tim Elliott (so-screwed-he-couldn’t-even-tap points)

- Sydnie Jones

MMA GIF of the Year: Takuya Eizumi’s Epic Victory Trollface (6/29/14)

It’s been six months and I still have no idea what’s happening here. Is he calling out a mime? This would be a great reaction GIF if it wasn’t so completely baffling. It’s the universal facial expression for “I am receiving oral sex, and just realized I left the oven on.”

Honorable mentions: The Pogo Stick of Doom, Rory MacDonald’s “spastic ape” victory celebration, Ian McCall savagely trolls John Lineker at the UFC Fight Night 56 weigh-ins, Werdum Time!!!!

- Ben Goldstein

Worst Fight of the Year: BJ Penn vs. Frankie Edgar 3 at the TUF 19 Finale (7/6/14)

There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it: BJ Penn vs. Frankie Edgar III was the worst fight of 2014. Any attempt to debate this will result in a firm Bundying from us here at CagePotato, so please, do yourself a solid and just accept that you are wrong. Aaaaaaaaaanyway…

If Greg Jackson is a sport killer, then Mike Dolce is a f*cking career killer. That’s according to Penn at least, who attempted to write-off his plain embarrassing performance against Edgar at the TUF 19 Finale on the weight-cutting guru, even threatening to “have a talk” with Dolce’s “glass jaw” should they ever meet again. And while several top-level fighters and nutritionists have since come out of the woodwork to knock Dolce’s methods, you’d have to be a fool to believe that he was solely to blame for the travesty that was Penn vs. Edgar III. (Unless it turns out that Dolce was the one who suggested that BJ adopt that confounding bolt-upright trotting stance that he did, in which case, yes, he is solely to blame.)

But since we’re playing the blame game here, we might as well point the finger at the organization responsible for booking this slaughter in the first place: The UFC.

Having ended his career on an underwhelming 1-4-1 streak (with that lone win coming over Matt Hughes in 2010), it was safe to say that BJ Penn was no longer what you’d consider “an elite fighter.” He was no longer motivated (if he ever really was), and his previous performances at welterweight painted him as a sluggish, one-dimensional punching bag for the new breed of MMA fighters (and Nick Diaz).

So what did the UFC decide to do? Oh, just bring Penn out of a year-long retirement to fight a guy who had thoroughly routed him twice already. Great going, UFC, but I’ll do you *two* better! Why not have the fight be contested at featherweight — which Penn has never fought at before — and further delay a fight no one was asking for in the first place by having them coach a season of TUF first, because f*ck you, logic and common decency!

It may look like I’m using hyperbole to mock the UFC here, but that’s actually what they did. The result was a season of TUF so abysmal that not even the competing fighters could be bothered to give a f*ck and a beatdown so one-sided that Mayhem Miller should have been commenting from ringside. Edgar DESTROYED Penn, ground and pounding Baby Jay for an excruciating 14 minutes before mercifully finishing him off at the end of the third round. The victory was so horrific that Edgar admitted to “feeling bad about doing it” in his post-fight interview. But where mere words failed to capture the extent of Edgar’s grief, this photo succeeded.

- Jared Jones

Honorable Mentions: Stipe Miocic vs. Fabio Maldonado at the TUF Brazil 3 Finale (elite heavyweight slaughtering a mediocre light-heavyweight who should probably be competing at middleweight!), Andre Arlovski vs. Brendan Schaub at UFC 174 (zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!)

Most Embarrassing Knockout of the Year: Tommy Sthair (real name, no typo) Falls Victim to the Usain Bolt Punch (8/2/14)

Serious question: If you’re the coach of the Usain Bolt KO victim, what the hell do you possibly say to your fighter? You don’t talk about weaving, blocking and protecting yourself; if your fighter doesn’t have the awareness to not get knocked out by that punch, well, all the defensive drills in the world will be little more than an elaborate waste of time. Do you feed him obvious lies like “You didn’t do that bad out there,” “You just got caught,” and “I mean, it’s not like this fight is going to end up on YouTube or something”? Do you try to discourage him from ever fighting again, and risk your harsh words accidentally motivating him to continue to get kayo’d in hilarious fashion? Do you use reverse psychology and say, “We’ll see you in the gym tomorrow, bright and early at 6 AM, where we’ll work at making sure you come back EVEN STRONGER NEXT TIME!”? Or do you just leave registration forms for a co-ed soccer league next to his gym bag and hope that he takes the hint?

- Seth Falvo

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