2012 Gotch Special End of The Year Awards

Eduardo’s Picks

MMA Fighter of the Year – Cain Velasquez.

velasquez punch

Eduardo: For me it came down to Cain Velasquez or Ronda Rousey. Originally, I was favoring Benson Henderson since he defeated Frankie Edgar twice and Nathan Diaz in 2012. I thought I should give credit to the man who reigned at the top of the UFC’s deepest division (155 lbs). But after I gave it some thought, I decided it was hard to give Henderson the award since I felt he should have lost the rematch to Frankie Edgar. I also considered Johny Hendricks for the spot. He defeated Josh Koscheck in May and destroyed Martin Kampmann in November to become one of the best welterweights in the world. Hendricks beat Jon Fitch on December 30, 2011, just barely missing the 2012 starting point. If that fight had taken place two days later, Hendricks would have been a no brainer for me. Sometimes luck plays a role in what happens during a calender year. Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson had a draw with Ian McCall in March, but then came back to defeat Ian McCall in June and Joseph Benavidez in September to win the first ever 125 lbs UFC title. But the draw with McCall, that most felt Johnson lost, hurt Johnson. So ultimately I narrowed it down to Velasquez and Rousey. Rousey had an exciting clash with Miesha Tate in March that ended with Rousey using one of the most gruesome armbars ever to win the women’s bantamweight crown. Rousey then came back in the Summer to easily beat top contender Sarah Kaufman. Now with Velasquez, he created a horror show out of a late Spring clash with Antonio Silva. Horrifying bloodbath and victory over a top ten heavyweight for Velasquez. Then in December, he defied expectations when he destroyed the man who took his crown in 2011 – Junior Dos Santos. He dominated  him so bad that a judge awarded Velasquez two 10-8 rounds. It was a tough choice, but I went with Velasquez.

Boxer of the Year – Nonito Donaire.

nishioka donaire

Eduardo: Several boxers had really great memorable years. Some were huge breakout years, some had iconic wins or moments. In 2012, Donaire’s resume includes victories over Wilfredo Vázquez Jr., Jeffrey Mathebula, Toshiaki Nishioka, and Jorge “El Travieso” Arce. The latter two were legends sent into retirement by Donaire. Some of the fights were a bit frustrating or disappointing, but Donaire got his hand raised against four top ten fighters. Some are giving Donaire this award and using the all year round drug testing as a plus for his candidacy. I won’t do that here. I think it’s cool and unique that he’s doing something like that but I don’t think it should play any role in determing the boxer of the year.

MMA Fight of the Year – 1. Frankie Edgar vs Benson Henderson (2/26/12), 2. Jim Miller vs Joe Lauzon (12/29/12), 3. Gilbert Melendez vs Josh Thomson III (5/19/12).


Eduardo: What we have here is six great lightweights, all involved in three classic fights. Awards and lists are meant to reveal your tastes and preferences. I think the 155 lbs weight-class is the most interesting, exciting and rewarding of all the divisions in MMA. For my number one pick, we had a fight that included the following: enziguri attempt by Henderson, nose shattering upkick, Henderson going for his trademark guillotine, and Edgar dropping Henderson. It was a five round battle between the two top lightweights on the planet. They rematched later in the year but it just didn’t capture the magic of their first fight in Japan and it left a sour taste in our senses as the decision was controversial. Then we have Jim Miller and Joe Lauzon. Miller, one of the toughest and most likable men in all of MMA. Those same affectionate words apply to Lauzon. Miller unleashed an offensive onslaught that was horrifying in the first frame. Blood galore! Lauzon survived, and made it a fight. In a great moment, Lauzon showing he won’t back down went for a flying legscissors heel hook in the third frame. Miller later admitted to the media that the heel hook was tight. Just a great action fight with more blood than an old school Pirata Morgan match. My third choice was seeing the underdog, Josh Thomson show that styles make fights. Melendez and Thomson have a special chemistry that is hard to articulate. Melendez was supposed to dominate him. He was supposed to beat him decisively. Thomson didn’t allow that, getting stronger as the fight progressed. He used some beautiful trips, and even took Melendez’s back at one point late in the fight. I thought if 10-10’s were acceptable, it could have been a draw. Since they are not, I slightly gave the fight three rounds to Melendez, and the final two to Thomson. I do feel bad that I couldn’t include Chan Sung Jung (“The Korean Zombie”) vs Dustin Poirier on my list. That was one of the most exciting performances of the year.

Boxing Fight of the Year – 1. Manny Pacquiao vs Juan Manuel Marquez IV (12/8/12), 2. Brandon Rios vs Mike Alvarado (10/13/12), 3. Orlando Salido vs Juan Manuel Lopez II (3/10/12).

Great men.

Eduardo: You want to talk about chemistry, let’s talk about Pacquiao vs Marquez. We have a story here that spans the course of 8 1/2 years. You got a superstar Filipino and a great Mexican boxer creating a rivalry that no one could have scripted better. In their fourth encounter, both men wanted a definitive conclusion after having such close or controversial affairs. The first knockdown by Marquez was a huge moment. Then in the fifth frame, Pacquiao evened the score by knocking down Marquez. That fifth round was a contender for “Round of the Year”. Finally, in the sixth round, we witnessed a once in a lifetime knockout by Marquez. Incredible, magical moment in boxing. Marquez had finally done it, after 8 1/2 years, he had officially defeated his greatest rival in a fight that will be remembered forever. Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado was being hyped up as being a potential “Fight of the Year”.  Both men delivered the brutality that evening. The stoppage might have been a bit premature, but it doesn’t take away the high level of action the fight provided. For my third pick, we had a great fight in Puerto Rico between Mexican Orlando Salido and Puerto Rican Juan Manuel Lopez. Great counter punch knockdown by Lopez, intense pace by Salido, and an amazing ninth round that was my pick for round of the year.  The final flurry of offense at the end by Salido was a brutal end to a great fight. Didn’t make my top three list, but Robert Guerrero vs Andre Berto would be my number four if possible.

MMA KO of the Year – Edson Barboza’s spinning wheel kick on Terry Etim (1/14/12).

Eduardo: Might be the best kick KO I’ve ever seen in MMA.

MMA Submission of the Year – Ronda Rousey’s armbar on Miesha Tate (3/3/12).

Eduardo: Nasty looking armbar that ushered in that Rousey era.

Boxing KO of the Year – Juan Manuel Marquez knocking out Manny Pacquiao with one punch (12/8/12).

Eduardo: A knockout so good that I’ll be telling future generations about as an old man. Perfect counter punch that had the fight stopped in the final second of the sixth frame. Beautiful.

MMA Slam or Takedown of the Year – Rustam Khabilov hitting German suplexes on Vinc Pichel (12/15/12).

Eduardo: Maybe Khabilov knew in advance that Dan Severn was retiring a few weeks after this, so this was his homage. Brutal suplexes that make you cringe.

MMA Round of the Year – Round 1 of Matt Wiman vs Paul Sass (9/29/12).

Eduardo: Matt Wiman has always been one of the most underrated fighters in the UFC. Sass had a lot of hype as a great submission guy, and Wiman went for it on the mat with the young prospect. Great matwork and a lovely submission by Wiman. Classy win for a clasy guy.

Boxing Round of the Year – Round 9 of Orlando Salido vs Juan Manuel Lopez (3/10/12).

Eduardo: Intense, exciting and at times, alarming. Lopez just would not back down, even when faced with such brutal adversity. It was like Lopez’s last burst of energy, as he was put away in the next round.

MMA Event of the Year – UFC 144: Japan (2/26/12).

Eduardo: Great fights, great upsets. Like Tim Boetsch coming back to upset Yushin Okami. Or Mark Hunt knocking Cheick Kongo out. Great KO from Pettis on Lauzon too. Then we had the main event between Edgar and Henderson that delivered on every level.

Boxing Event of the Year – Showtime Boxing: Victor Ortiz vs Josesito Lopez (6/23/12).

Eduardo: A great production by Showtime and Golden Boy Promotions. Exciting event that was headlined by a “Fight of the Year Candidate” that resulted in a huge upset. Lopez breaking Ortiz’s jaw, didn’t just impact their careers but Canelo’s as well. We also had an exciting co-headliner with Humberto Soto vs Lucas Matthysse. Another plus was the Showtime Extreme portion of the event, which featured local Weslaco fighter Omar Figueroa winning via TKO in round one against Alain Hernandez.

MMA – Local Fighter of the Year – Carlos Diego Ferreira.

Eduardo: Carlos Diego Ferreira is constantly proving himself in BJJ tournaments against high level competition. This year he went 3 and 0 in MMA competition with wins over Hector Munoz, Travonne Hobbs, and Jorge Cortez. His BJJ game is top notch and it will always be his base. But from his last fight against Jorge Cortez, it looks like he has been working at advancing his striking game. The BJJ black belt was hoping to compete for Legacy on AXS TV in November, but had to pull out due to injury.

Boxing – Local Fighter of the Year – Omar Figueroa.

Eduardo: Omar Figueroa, or “El Panterita” got a lot of attention in 2012. Being featured on premium television outlets like Showtime, the Weslaco native was aggressive and exciting in his fights. In 2012, he went 6 and 0, with wins over Michael Perez, Ramon Ayala, Robbie Cannon, Tyler Ziolkowski, Alain Hernandez, and Dominic Salcido. He hoped to fight in the later part of 2012, but those fights fell through.

Rudo’s Picks

MMA Fighter of the Year – Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey was nothing short of fantastic this year. She was able to talk the talk and walk the walk in epic fashion. Rousey dominated every opponent in 2012 within a minute of every bout and executed some of the most horrific submissions ever witnessed in MMA. Ronda captured her first title and became the first women to ever hold a UFC title. I would expect to see even bigger things from Rousey in the future.

Boxer of the Year – Leo Santa Cruz

MMA Fight of the Year – Jim Miller vs Joe Lauzon (12/29/12)

A great bloodbath to end the year.

Boxing Fight of the Year – Brandon Rios vs Mike Alvarado (10/13/12)

2012-10-13 Brandon Rios vs Mike Alvarado by sweetboxing4

My first choice for FOTY in boxing was Berto/Guerrero. I remembered it as a great fight but after a second viewing it just didn’t hold up. Rios/Alvarado was an absolute classic brawl and a great example of the term, “fighting in a phone booth.” Both men put up a hell of a fight and I can’t wait for the rumored rematch later this year. Hell, it might even win FOTY two years in a row.

MMA KO of the Year – Edson Barboza’s spinning wheel kick on Terry Etim (1/14/12).

A great knockout with a touch of finesse.

MMA Submission of the Year – Ronda Rousey’s armbar on Miesha Tate (3/3/12).

Boxing KO of the Year – Juan Manuel Marquez knocking out Manny Pacquiao (12/8/12).

MMA Slam or Takedown of the Year – Independent Fighter Gregy Styles with a triple suplex (12/15/12).

Boxing Round of the Year – Round 12 Sergio Martinez vs Julio Cesar Chávez Jr.

MMA Event of the Year – UFC 146 : The All Heavyweight Main Card (2/26/12).

MMA – Local Fighter of the Year – Carlos Diego Ferreria

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Diego capture gold and a UFC fight this year.

Boxing – Local Fighter of the Year – Omar Figueroa.

Figueroa capturing the WBO Youth Intercontinental title

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