(Similar to Georges St.Pierre, MMA pundits, and most fans heading into UFC 129, Dana White was looking right past Jake Shields.)
2011 is approaching it’s final hour, Potato Nation, and when we typically take a look back at the year that was, we often lump things in terms of the very best, and more often than not, the very worst. But even though it has been arguably the biggest year in the sport’s History, it hasn’t gone without it’s fair share of snoozefests, sparring matches, and fights that simply didn’t live up to their own hype. For every Rua/Hendo, there was a Torres/Banuelos, so to speak, that kept us from having a full-on Chuck Liddell style freak out. It’s not that these fights made us angry, it’s just that they failed to make us feel anything.
In a way, they were actually a good thing for the sport, as they raised our appreciation for the epic slugfests, the back and forth brawls, and the technical battles to new heights. So it is for these unsung heroes that we bring you The Ten Most Forgettable Fights of 2011, presented in chronological order.
#10: Jacob Volkmann vs. Antonio Mckee
We know what you’re thinking, Potatoites, you’re thinking, “My God, it’s only been a year since this clown (dis)graced the UFC with that performance?” Well the answer is yes, and almost to the exact date. On January 1st at UFC 125, Anthony Mckee made his long awaited debut in the UFC. And when we say “long awaited,” we mean by none other than Mckee himself. You see, Anthony Mckee followed the James Toney method of trolling his way into the UFC through a shitstorm of self absorbed and ridiculous claims, despite only claiming seven finishes in his previous thirty contests. Well, DW took the bait, and threw Mckee humble wrestler and future threat to Homeland Security, Jacob Volkmann, for his big debut.
And after unleashing a verbal assault on Volkmann the likes of which we had yet to experience, “Mandingo” proceeded to stick his foot so far down his mouth that his leg nearly snapped at the knee. The fight was terrible, with neither fighter even attempting to engage over the course of 15 minutes. In fact, Mckee’s most significant offense was captured in the above photo, in which he decided to use his strongest asset as a fighter to attempt a takedown. Volkmann would walk away the victor via split decision, and Mckee would be served his walking papers, which he would then try and pass off as some old school racism by the UFC. Good riddance, d-bag.
#9: Steve Cantwell vs. Cyrille Diabate – UFC Live 3
Best known for his trilogy of wars with top middleweight contender Brian Stann, Steve “The Robot” Cantwell found himself sidelined and on a two fight losing streak in 2009. His losing efforts to Stann and Luiz Cane had been relatively entertaining, and before that Cantwell had scored a SOTN award by breaking Razak Al-Hassan’s arm at UFC: Fight For the Troops. Cyrille Diabate, on the other hand, had scored a TKO victory over Cane in his debut before being submitted by Alexander Gustafsson. The fight was placed on the Facebook prelims, and promised to be a technical kickboxing clinic. To say it was a letdown would be an understatement.
The match was little more than a light sparring session, at one point drawing that exact comparison from Joe Rogan during the third round when neither fighter remotely attempted to pick up the pace. It would be mark the halfway…uh…mark of Cantwell’s current four-fight losing streak, and would be Diabate’s last win as well; he would go on to drop a second round submission to Anthony Perosh at UFC 138.
#8: Phil Davis vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueria – UFN 24
Phil Davis had a hell of a year in 2010. Not only did he go 4-0 in the UFC, scoring wins over the likes of Alexander Gustafsson and Brian Stann, but the man even invented a submission, a hammerlock/kimura hybrid dubbed “The Mr. Wonderful.” Not bad for someone who had been training MMA for less than two years at the time. With his aforementioned submission win over Tim Boetsch, Davis was almost immediately pegged as the next Jon Jones by MMA critics and fans alike, despite the fact that Jon Jones had barely begun his own rise to success. When Davis was placed against former PRIDE star Antonio Rogerio Nogueria, who had knocked out then undefeated Luiz Cane in under two minutes and scored a razor thin decision over Jason Brilz in his own UFC run, the MMA community was ready a grand display of fireworks, and walked away with sparklers.
After a tense first half that saw little to no significant strikes landed, the first round was mainly comprised of Davis trying unsuccessfully to take Nogueria down. And when he was forced to stand, we saw a different, less wonderful version of Davis, complete with an array of awkward push/teep kicks and one-to-two punch combinations that were all but completely ineffective against Lil Nog. Davis was able to secure his first takedown midway through the second round, and to his credit, was able to control the BJJ black belt down when he did so. “Minotoro” on the other hand, never really looked like he was that concerned about finishing the fight, despite Davis’ increased takedown success over the next round and a half. His punches came slower and slower, and by the end of it many in the silent audience were simply awaiting a decision.
It’s not that there was anything particularly bad in this fight, it’s just that there wasn’t much to write home about, including Phil Davis, who’s momentum train found itself at the bottom of a very large hill afterward. And as it turns out, this would be the first of many lackluster main events to come…