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CagePotato.com Presents: The 2013 Potato Awards


(These are the UFC’s two most bankable stars heading into 2014. Deal with it.)

2013: The year that testosterone became Public Enemy #1 and legends went out the door — either voluntarily or on stretchers. Like all years in this still-young, still-dangerous sport, 2013 reminded us why MMA continues to hold our attention, with its thrilling battles, LOL-worthy embarrassments, and train-wrecks of the human and promotional varieties. And so, the CagePotato staff bids farewell to 2013 with another round of dubious “awards,” recapping the highs and lows of the last 12 months. For better or worse, this is the crap that stood out. Use the page links below to navigate through our somewhat-chronological list of 30 award-categories, and Happy New Year to all of you lovely people!

Page 1: Submission of the Year, Greatest MMA Play-by-Play Call of the Year, The Krazy Horse Bennett Arrest of the Year Award / Most Bizarre News Story of the Year, Knockout of the Year

Page 2: Greatest Fight Canceled Due to Injury, Greatest Unsanctioned Fight of the Year, Worst Event of the Year, Best Female Newcomer

Page 3: Worst Fight of the Year, The Cecil Peoples Shittiest Decision of the Year Award, Comeback Fighter of the Year, Worst Use of Social Media

Page 4: “WTF?” Moment of the Year, Greatest Hype-Deflation, The “Really? You’re Just Gonna Keep Doing That Shit That Gets You in All That Trouble?” Award (a.k.a. “The Koppenhaver”), Comeback Fight of the Year

Page 5: Most Embarrassing Knockout of the Year, Failed Propaganda of the Year, Fight of the Year, Photo of the Year

Page 6: The Inaugural Kalib Starnes Award for Outstanding Cowardice in Battle, Media Shill of the Year, Best Event of the Year, Worst Performance in a Drug Test

Page 7: The Dana White Crazy Freakout of the Year Award, Catchphrase of the Year, The Steve Nelmark Memorial “Is He Dead?” Award, Most Awkward Interview

Page 8: Gnarliest Injury of the Year, MMA Fail of the Year

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Five Obvious but Overlooked Things Fans Need to Remember About the UFC


(Just keep repeating to yourself, “Nobody’s making me watch this…nobody’s making me watch this…nobody’s making me watch this…”)

By Matt Saccaro

The UFC has come under fire lately for several reasons: Declining numbers, oversaturation, the fading of their stars, launching a digital network with a questionable premise, not hiring Ben Askren and so on. When we fling insults at the UFC, we need to remember a few things about the company in order to put these negative occurrences and circumstances into perspective. Let’s start with the most obvious but frequently-ignored point:

1. The UFC is a business.

The purpose of the UFC is to make its owners money. The UFC does not exist to feed fighters’ families. There’s not much else to say on this front. Companies have to make money to be viable. Yeah, it sucks that some guys get paid an absurdly small amount of money for what they do, and it sucks that the UFC is upping the PPV price.

That’s just something we have to deal with though. If you don’t like it, vote with your dollar. If enough people tune out, Zuffa’s wallet will know and they’ll either change their tune accordingly or lose money.

2. The UFC is an international company.

There’s been talk about the UFC hiring unfit-for-television jobbers lately. It’s true but necessary. The UFC is headed to distant lands where MMA is in its most nascent stages. The talent pool in these places is more like a mud puddle. The UFC has to work with what it’s given in China and Singapore. Deepening foreign talent pools can only happen by growing the sport overseas, and growing the sport overseas can only happen when they have foreign (foreign to us, home grown to them) fighters on the card. And since there aren’t many great foreign fighters, the UFC has to scrape the bottom of a very empty barrel. This results in fighters getting a place in the “Super Bowl of MMA” who shouldn’t even be in the bleachers, let alone on the field.

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Six Things the UFC Can Learn from the WWE Going Into 2014


(On second thought, make that seven things. Photo via With Leather.)

By Seth Falvo

On paper, my timing couldn’t possibly be worse. Aside from the fact that there are dozens of “What the UFC can learn from the WWE” articles on the Internet, last week’s edition of Monday Night Raw – the company’s flagship television program – brought some of its worst viewership numbers of the past fifteen years. With this week’s edition competing against a Monday Night Football game between two teams still in playoff contention for the casual fans, it’s doubtful that those numbers improved by much.

So then why am I writing yet another article about what a company that sells choreographed “fights” experiencing some of its lowest viewership numbers can teach the UFC? Because the WWE’s idea of “terrible numbers” involves only averaging 3.53 million viewers. To put that into perspective, the TUF 18 Finale main card drew 1.129 million viewers. That’s right, the WWE is in panic mode because their weekly Monday night show only attracted three times as many viewers as a UFC event.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to suggest that the UFC resort to ridiculous storylines, assigning character gimmicks to fighters, forcing celebrity guests into shows, forming an ill-advised partnership with a dying pro-wrestling promotion, or any of the other things that would make most MMA fans roll their eyes. Nor am I going to ignorantly blame the UFC for less than spectacular fights, controversial finishes, and other things that a legitimate sports league cannot possibly be expected to control. On the contrary, my first suggestion is something that the UFC actually used to do better than the WWE…

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GSP Does Better Than Finish Fights, He Finishes Careers


(When he’s not lifting five-pound dumbbells, he’s ruining careers. / Image courtesy of GSP RUSHFIT)

By Nathan Smith

I know what a lot of you were thinking (and by “a lot” I mean nobody): Where is The12ozCurls with his obligatory fluffy, ball-washing post on Georges St. Pierre pertaining to his upcoming fight? Well, I hate to disappoint my dozens of CagePotato fans and Twitter followers (seriously, *bottom lip quivers* I got like 50) so I will give you what you want. What most of you want is more ammo to fire in my direction if/when GSP loses. And judging from the current CP Fight Picking Contest stats, a majority of you think Johny Hendricks is going to put my beloved Canadian to sleep on Saturday night. You are all entitled to your opinion no matter how wrong it might be.

Let me explain: GSP has dominated the welterweight division for the better part of a decade. He has systematically vanquished each foe with a combination of athleticism, technique, cardio and sound game-planning. There is no debating that. Yet most of the flat-billed hat-wearing mouth-breathing meatheads that scream “KNEEEEES!” whenever there is a clinch, constantly talk shit on GSP because he is a boring fighter that doesn’t finish (and because he is handsome . . . . really really handsome).

That is the knock on one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time—that he’s ambien personified—but upon further review, GSP has done far more long-term damage to his last 8 opponents than ending a fight via TKO or submission. He effectively sent their careers into the toilet, which is far worse than just knocking them out cold. All of the following fighters were the #1 contender for the UFC WW Championship but each one was sent packing like my ex-wife (What? Too soon?). I’ll start with all the fights after GSP kneed Matt Serra’s kidneys into oblivion and became the undisputed champ back at UFC 83.

Take a look at the first guy who’s career GSP derailed after the jump.

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20 Years, 20 Head Kicks: A UFC Anniversary Tribute


(Gerard Gordeau delivers the first head-kick TKO in UFC history against Teila Tuli back at UFC 1, which took place exactly 20 years today on November 12th, 1993.)

By Adam Martin

There are literally thousands of ways a mixed martial arts match can end, but one of the most thrilling methods is the head kick knockout.

Over the course of two decades of fights in the UFC Octagon, there have been a number of memorable knockout blows delivered via head kick, and in honor of the UFC’s 20th anniversary, I’ve put together a list of what I believe are the top 20 head kick knockouts in UFC history.

20 years, 20 head kicks. Here we go.

20. Uriah Hall vs. Adam Cella, TUF 17 episode 3 (aired 2/5/13)

I wanted to keep the list strictly to knockouts that happened during live UFC events, but I’m going to bend the rules a bit and kick off the list with one that happened on TUF.

Of course I’m talking about Uriah Hall’s spinning hook kick KO of Adam Cella, which took place earlier this year during TUF 17. It was a devastating knockout that made UFC president Dana White’s hyperbole raise to a whole new level as he declared Hall the nastiest fighter to ever step into the TUF house (the same house that produced Rashad Evans and Forrest Griffin – you know, former UFC champs), and thus the UFC embarked on a social media campaign to play the clip non-stop on every medium in existence.

It was a brutal knockout, and I literally felt sick watching it. Even though Hall never lived up to the massive expectations that were placed on him, his most well-known career highlight deserves a place at #20.

19. Pat Miletich vs. Shonie Carter, UFC 32 (6/29/01)

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27 Ways to Know You’re Part of the MMA Media


(The MMA media in a nutshell, except replace Jade Bryce with Dana White and Eric Holden with any credentialed “journalist” in the business. / Photo via Examiner.com)

By the CagePotato.com staff

The MMA media is a diverse bunch, ranging from actual professionals to despicable bottom-feeders like us. However, there are trials and tribulations that we can all relate to, and which ultimately unite us. For example…

1. You’ve been called a Zuffa shill whenever you say something positive about the UFC.

2. You’ve been called an anti-Zuffa hack whenever you say anything negative about the UFC.

3. You complain about all the free UFC events you have to watch on cable.

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From Facepalm to Faceplant: The 8 Most Brutal Self-Inflicted Knockouts in MMA History


(“Accepts trilogy-completing title fight with biggest rival, points out where he will faceplant later.” Photo via Getty.) 

Although the fight records officially list Cain Velasquez‘s 5th round TKO of Junior Dos Santos at UFC 166 as coming by way of “Slam and Punch,” the credit should rightfully be given to Dos Santos for executing a picture perfect ninja-choke-into-faceplant KO. It was truly the most spectacular self-destruct sequence ever carried out in the octagon, and one that got us thinking: What are the Most Brutal Self-Inflicted KO’s in MMA History? 

Matt Lindland will be discussed at some point in this article.

Mark Kerr vs. Yoshihisa Yamamoto – PRIDE 27

As Ben previously noted, it’s a good thing that the 2002 Mark Kerr documentary, The Smashing Machine, ended when it did, because we wouldn’t have been able to sit through the tale of woe that Kerr’s career became from 2004 onward.

Following a pair of losses to Igor Vovchanchyn and Heath Herring at PRIDE 12 and 15, respectfully, Kerr would take a three year break from the sport before returning against Yoshihisa Yamamoto (who held a modest 13-16 record at the time) at PRIDE 27. Forty seconds into the fight, Kerr would knock himself out during a takedown attempt. He would walk away from PRIDE shortly thereafter and lose 7 out of his next 9 contests, all by first round stoppage.

This post has gotten off to an unexpectedly depressing start, but such is Mark Kerr. Let’s lighten things up a bit…

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The Top 24 Mixed Martial Artists Who Lost Their First Fight


(Renan Barao: Started from the bottom, now he here. / Photo via Getty)

By Adam Martin

At the UFC 165 post-fight presser last month, UFC president Dana White showered praise upon UFC interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao, calling him one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport and remarking that the media hadn’t given enough credit to his eight-year, 32-fight undefeated streak, which has remained pristine since May 2005.

Barao has only tasted defeat once, and it was in the first fight of his career. The fact that he’s rebounded with the longest current undefeated streak in mixed martial arts — despite the fact that his first loss could have ruined his confidence forever — is absolutely amazing to me, as many young would-be prospects have crashed and burned in their debuts, never to be heard of again.

It got me thinking: What other mixed martial artists lost their first fight but then went on to have great success? I expected to bang out a list of ten fighters, but once I started doing the research, it blew my mind that some of the best fighters to ever compete in the sport, and a number of currently top 10-ranked fighters, actually lost their very first fight.

And so, I compiled a list of the top 24 MMA fighters of all time who lost their first fight. The list is based on accomplishments in the sport, overall skill level, and potential. Enjoy, and if I somehow missed somebody notable, please leave a comment below and explain why he or she should be included.

Honorable mentions: Matt “The Wizard” Hume (5-5), Wesley “Cabbage” Correira (20-15), Ryan “The Big Deal” Jimmo (18-2), Rodrigo Damm (11-6), James Te Huna (16-6)

24. Travis “The Ironman” Fulton (249-49-10, 1 NC)

(Photo via ThunderPromotions)

On July 26, 1996, at the age of 19 years old, Travis Fulton fought Dave Strasser in his MMA debut at Gladiators 1 in Davenport, Iowa, losing the fight via first-round submission. He then went on to win 249 fights, the most wins in mixed martial arts history. Fulton also holds the record for most fights (309) and most knockout wins (91) in MMA history.

Mind = blown.

Was Fulton a can crusher? Yes, yes he was. Or, should I say, yes he is, as he beat some nobody in his native Iowa just this past March. But you don’t win 249 MMA fights by accident, and Fulton deserves a place on this list based on volume alone.

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The 10 Greatest Light Heavyweight Title Fights In UFC History


(Photo via Getty)

By Adam Martin

That might be the greatest title fight in the history of the light heavyweight division — and I don’t even know who won! What an incredible fight!

Those are the words UFC color-commentator Joe Rogan uttered last weekend at the end of the five-round epic at UFC 165 between UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and challenger Alexander Gustafsson, a fight Jones won via razor-thin unanimous decision.

Although Rogan is often known for his hyperbole, he might have been dead-on that night. Was “Bones” vs. “The Mauler” really the greatest 205-pound title fight in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship? To determine the veracity of that statement, I went back and watched the best light heavyweight fights ever held inside the Octagon, and after countless hours of tape study, I feel as though I’ve come up with a very fair list.

Below I’ve listed what in my opinion are the top 10 light heavyweight fights in UFC history based on a mixed criteria of competitiveness, excitement level, hype, how the fight played out in comparison to its expectations, and how it ended. So without any further ado, let’s get started…

10. Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua 1, UFC 104

(Photo via Getty)

Kicking off the list is the controversial first fight between Lyoto Machida and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, a fight that still ranks up there with the worst-all time judging decisions in MMA history.

Machida had just knocked out Rashad Evans at UFC 98 and, in the fateful words of Joe Rogan, the “Machida Era” had commenced. However, “Shogun” had a thing or two to say about that as the former PRIDE star was coming off of two TKO wins over Hall of Famers Chuck Liddell and Mark Coleman, and he wanted to prove to everyone it was he, not Machida, who was the best light heavyweight in the world at the time.

For five rounds, Machida and “Shogun” went toe-to-toe in the Octagon and although Machida definitely had his moments in the match, it appeared to most observers that there would be a new light heavyweight champion crowned, as Rua landed a ton of brutal leg kicks to Machida that left the champ’s torso and thighs looking like a bruised peach.

But while “Shogun” arguably won every round of the fight, the judges somehow saw the fight in favor of Machida, with all three scoring the bout 48-47 in favor of “The Dragon” despite the volume of leg kicks thrown by Rua, leading judge Cecil People to idiotically declare that leg kicks don’t finish fights. UFC president Dana White saw things differently, however, and set up an immediate rematch at UFC 113 where Rua KO’d Machida into oblivion — a happy ending to an infamous screwjob.

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Bellator’s Nine Hottest New Prospects for Season Nine


(Hey, if BJ Penn can be the UFC’s first three-title champion, then a middle-aged kickboxer can be the future of the heavyweight division. / Photo via crucifixusa.com)

By Adam Martin

Bellator’s ninth season recently commenced, and if last week’s opener is any indication, it’s going to be a fun and action-packed couple of months in the world of “Viacom MMA.”

During the summer, Bellator signed a number of new fighters that will make their promotional debuts during season nine, and we wanted to highlight a few of these hungry young prospects that fans should keep an eye on starting with tonight’s event in Temecula, California.

So, without further ado, here are nine Bellator prospects to watch out for during this coming season of fights.

9. John Alessio

(Photo via Getty)

The first fighter to keep an eye on this season is veteran John Alessio, who has been fighting professionally since 1998. After making his name as a top prospect fighting for SuperBrawl in Hawaii, the UFC fed Alessio to the sharks when, at just 20 years of age, he fought Pat Miletich for the UFC welterweight title. And while Alessio would get tapped out in just 1:43 and leave the UFC immediately afterwards, he returned in 2006 and fought both Diego Sanchez and Thiago Alves, losing to both and losing his spot on the roster again. Never perturbed, Alessio then carved out a solid run in the WEC, MFC, Dream, and a few other promotions to get yet another crack in the Octagon in 2012, but after losing to Mark Bocek and Shane Roller — becoming the only fighter in UFC history to go 0-5 — he was cut for good. Bellator then picked him up and he’s been installed as a participant in the season nine lightweight tournament. Winning it, he says, is his destiny.

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