By Jared Jones
It’s the halfway-ish point of the year, which means that we are a mere six or so months away from handing out our annual Potato Awards in categories such as “MMA Fail of the Year”, “Media Shill of the Year”, and the always coveted “Krazy Horse Bennett Arrest of the Year.” But because you Taters have been good this year, we’re going to allow you to open one present early: Our definitive ranking of the best UFC brawls of the year, so far.
It’s been a rocky year for the UFC, to say the absolute least. Pay-per-view numbers are tanking, fan interest is waning due to market oversaturation, and even the promotion’s new video game has been plagued by (albeit hilarious) technical issues. But the great thing about the UFC/MMA in general is that all can be forgiven with a few great fights, and these 10 brawls are undoubtedly the kernels of corn hidden amongst the soggy floor-turds that the UFC has been shitting out this year.
To repeat: This list is only dedicated to the best *brawls* of the year, which implies a fight in which both participants take their fare share of licks. TJ Dillashaw vs. Renan Barao was a one-sided beatdown, albeit a brilliant one-sided beatdown, and therefore bears no mention here. Except that I just mentioned it. God damn it.
Let’s just get to the top 10 brawls of the year, nearly all of which contain links to full fight videos for your viewing pleasure…
#10 – Kevin Souza vs Mark Eddiva: TUF Brazil 3 Finale
(Check out Souza vs. Eddiva in its entirety here.)
A classic example of two guys with more heart than brains (or defensive capabilities) leaving it all in the octagon, Kevin Souza vs. Mark Eddiva opened up the FS1 prelims for the TUF Brazil Finale in a huge way.
Watching Souza vs. Eddiva was kind of like watching two women play Tekken for the very first time, in that both fighters only seemed to understand how one button on their controllers worked — for Eddiva it was leg kicks, for Souza it was the overhand right. These two techniques were traded with absolutely zero setup for two highly entertaining rounds, earning both men a $50,000 “Fight of the Night’ bonus in an evening of otherwise unmemorable decisions and memorable-for-all-the-wrong-ways squash matches. It was Souza, however, who walked away from the fight victorious via an always rare standing TKO.
The utter ass-whooping that Kazuki Tokudome suffered in the first round of his fight with Yui Chul Nam at Fight Night 37 was comparable only to Maynard-Edgar 1 in terms of its lopsidedness. From the opening bell, Nam blitzkrieged Tokudome with big right hands both in the clinch and on the break, wobbling his Japanese counterpart multiple times in the process. Had Tokudome been that one French guy from TUF 11, he would have surely quit on his stool between rounds.
But as was the case in Maynard-Edgar 1, the second round told a different story entirely. Tokudome scored a huge double leg takedown in the opening stanza, then utilized some heavy top control to peck away at the South Korean with short shots from above. While not able to inflict nearly as much damage on his opponent as he received in the first round, Tokudome arguably earned a 10-8 of his own in the second thanks to his complete positional dominance. “Askrening”, I believe it’s called.
The first half of the third round was much of the same for Tokudome, who despite having both his eyes nearly swollen shut by the strikes of Nam, continued to dominate with top control. But you can never keep a good Nam down, as they say. “The Korean Bulldozer” (awesome nickname, BTW) was eventually able to reverse the position and secure a takedown of his own, which was apparently all he needed to earn a split decision win.