Fighters Only today released details of the nominees for this year’s World MMA Awards, the fifth instalment of the martial arts world’s premier awards ceremony. The awards event will take place in Las Vegas in January and further details will be announced soon.
Here’s your nominees for 2012 - go to WorldMMAAwards.com to cast your votes.
CHARLES ‘MASK’ LEWIS FIGHTER OF THE YEAR
FEMALE FIGHTER OF THE YEAR
Becoming only the second woman to ever beat long-reigning women’s MMA powerhouse Megumi Fujii, in addition to two other ‘W’s, makes ‘Jag’ a worthy contender for ‘Female Fighter of the Year’.
Despite losing her Strikeforce bantamweight belt to Rousey earlier in 2012, Miesha Tate bounced back with a gritty, fan-pleasing win over Julie Kedzie.
The women’s division’s brightest star, Rousey has had some truly hallmark months. Three fights, three armbar wins. One won her the Strikeforce 135lb belt, another retained it.
Sara McMann, ex Olympic wrestler, truly announced herself in 2012, thanks to victories over the ever-hardy Hitomi Akano and Shayna Baszler.
A disappointing 54-second armbar loss to Ronda Rousey couldn’t undermine Kaufman’s eye-popping war, and impressive win, against Alexis Davis in March.
BREAKTHROUGH FIGHTER OF THE YEAR
Little known before he stepped in for Michael Bisping against Demian Maia in January, that with an earlier Tom Lawlor submission and a later Mark Munoz knockout put Chris Weidman in the UFC 185lb title picture.
Will winning the Strikeforce middleweight title from BJJ ace ‘Jacare’ Souza then defending it against Keith Jardine and Tim Kennedy be enough for Rockhold to get your vote?
He scored a massive upset in choking long-regarded lightweight Eddie Alvarez in 2011, then followed that by KO’ing Japanese legend Akihiro Gono in 56 seconds.
For decisioning Urijah Faber to earn the UFC interim bantamweight belt Barao was hailed a hero back in Brazil – victories over Brad Pickett and Scott Jorgensen earned him the chance.
Despite being shortlisted for ‘Female Fighter of the Year’ in 2011, it was 2012 where Rousey really broke out. Could she be the best-known female fighter ever?
INTERNATIONAL FIGHTER OF THE YEAR
Sweden’s most prosperous MMA export, Gustafsson toppled veteran Vladimir Matyushenko and powerhouse Thiago Silva to enter the UFC light heavyweight title chase.
Chan Sung Jung
Following his twister ‘Submission of the Year’ in 2011, could ‘The Korean Zombie’s seven-second KO over Mark Hominick and back-and-forth with Dustin Poirier make him a two-time award winner?
The Las Vegas-based Dane’s three-fight unbeaten run is his longest in the UFC for four years, and more than enough to earn a shout at ‘International Fighter of the Year.’
Britain’s ‘Count’ went 2-1 inside the eligibility period, but his decision loss to Chael Sonnen was razor thin, and bookended by dismantlings of Jason Miller and Brian Stann.
The UFC’s tallest man, Dutch kickboxer ‘Skyscraper’ Struve has scored four eligible wins this year, and an argument for the heavyweight top five.
FIGHT OF THE YEAR
Dan Henderson vs ‘Shogun’ Rua, UFC 139
Mauricio Rua and Dan Henderson could not have shown more heart in their November five rounder. The pair practically took turns attempting to finish each other, and the fans adored every second.
Dustin Poirier vs Chan Sung Jung, UFC on Fuel TV 3
A rare combination of technique and drama, Poirier vs Jung was a jaw dropper from start to finish. Spinning back-fists, flying knees, near triangles and armbars, all before a brabo choke end.
Jake Ellenberger vs Diego Sanchez, UFC on Fuel TV 1
Individually, Ellenberger and Sanchez have reputations for exciting fights and finishes. Predictably, there was only one outcome when the two faced each other in February.
Jamie Varner vs Joe Lauzon, UFC on Fox 4
Late replacement Varner’s heavy right hands took the first, close rear naked choke attempts won Lauzon the second, a Lauzon triangle ended it in the third. What’s not to love?
Michael Chandler vs Eddie Alvarez, Bellator 58
Experienced Alvarez was expected to steamroll young Chandler, but instead found himself nearly TKO’d in the first 15 seconds and again at the end of the stanza. The thrills continued until Chandler got the short choke upset in round four.
KNOCKOUT OF THE YEAR
Adam Khaliev vs Alexei Belyaev, League S-70 First Round
When a tornado kick results in a KO, as Adam Khaliev did in December 2011, it’s a shoo-in for the WMMA Awards ‘Knockout of the Year’ shortlist.
Anthony Pettis vs Joe Lauzon, UFC 144
‘Showtime’ Pettis needed only 81 seconds to knock out Joe Lauzon in Japan. A picture-perfect left high kick and hammerfists ended Lauzon’s night in stunning fashion.
Brian Rogers vs Vitor Vianna, Bellator 61
Having rocked Vianna with a straight right, Rogers sprinted across the Bellator cage and smashed the Brazilian with a flying knee to knock him out clean.
Edson Barboza vs Terry Etim, UFC 142
Few things set the MMA world abuzz this year like Barboza’s spinning wheel kick KO of Etim in Brazil. Like poetry in motion, Barboza’s twisting strike connected flush and sent Etim to the canvas stiff as a board.
Stephen Thompson vs Dan Stittgen, UFC 143
Stittgen fell to the UFC canvas lifeless after karateka Thompson faked a left kick low, but went up stairs and separated Stittgen from his senses.
SUBMISSION OF THE YEAR
Chan Sung Jung vs Dustin Poirier, UFC on Fuel TV 3
After a rollercoaster few rounds, and Poirier was saved by the bell after a tight triangle, last year’s winner Jung finally cinched a beautiful brabo choke for the win.
Charles Oliveira vs Eric Wisely, UFC on Fox 2
Seeing a calf slicer earn a victory is rare at any level of the sport, let alone in the UFC’s Octagon. Is Charles Oliveira’s enough to earn him the trophy?
Frank Mir vs ‘Minotauro’ Nogueira, UFC 140
Nearly knocked out, Mir later revealed he performed his arm-breaking kimura against never-submitted ‘Minotuaro’ Nogueira purely on instinct.
Ronda Rousey vs Miesha Tate, Strikeforce: Tate vs Rousey
Never before had the MMA world at large seen an armbar cause an elbow joint to virtually fold back on itself. Rousey gave people that opportunity, and won the 135lb title to boot.
Rousimar Palhares vs Mike Massenzio, UFC 142
Palhares’s primary objective is bending opponents’ legs in directions they weren’t intended. Against Massenzio he lunged directly for the right leg, sucked it into a heel hook and did just that.
COMEBACK OF THE YEAR
Alan Belcher (career)
After returning to the UFC from a career-threatening eye injury, Belcher proved he still had the goods in TKO’ing Jason MacDonald and Rousimar Palhares.
Frank Mir vs ‘Minotauro’ Nogueira, UFC 140
Though within seconds of being declared knocked out by the referee, Frank Mir somehow summoned the wherewithal to attempt a fight-winning kimura.
Mike Swick (career)
Many thought fan-favorite Mike Swick’s persistent stomach illnesses would keep him out the Octagon forever. A stunning knockout in August on Fox proved them wrong.
JP Joubert vs Norman Wessels, EFC Africa 15
Not only did JP Joubert come back from a near fight-ending onslaught in round one to win by TKO in the second, he endured a fractured skull to do it.
Tim Boetsch vs Yushin Okami, UFC 144
Utterly dominated for 10 minutes, an inter-round pep talk from his corner before the third fired Tim Boetsch to a stunning third-round TKO win.
SHAWN TOMPKINS COACH OF THE YEAR
His Brazil-based gym is packed to the rafters with 2012 champions and talent: José Aldo, Renan Barao, Eduardo Dantas, Hacran Dias, Marlon Sandro. Andre Pederneiras nurtured them all.
Breakout years for the UFC’s Nate Diaz, Strikeforce’s Gilbert Melendez, and affiliated fighters like Ronda Rousey, have Cesar Gracie in high regard yet again.
One of MMA’s most successful coaches, Jackson has trained Jon Jones to a dominant UFC 205lb title run, and Carlos Condit to the interim welterweight strap. That’s just for starters.
Javier Mendez’s young talent, like Daniel Cormier and Luke Rockhold, have done nothing but impress all year long.
With men such as Wanderlei Silva, ‘Shogun’ Rua and Fabricio Werdum calling Cordeiro’s Kings MMA home, it’s hard to deny the man’s coaching credentials.
LEADING MAN OF THE YEAR
In a year that’s seen Bellator gain an even larger profile in the MMA landscape, CEO Bjorn Rebney has been the man behind the moves every step of the way.
The recipient of this award every year since its inception, can White make it five in a row? The UFC being bigger than ever might just help his cause.
What a year the man behind the UFC’s international expansion has had: breaking ground in India, China and Sweden, as well as furthering the UFC’s influence in Brazil and Australia.
Knapp might not be a leading ‘man’ but her achievements in molding all-female fight league Invicta into one of MMA’s hottest properties certainly make her a leading woman.
The man behind the rapidly expanding One FC promotion in Singapore, Victor Cui receives his first-ever World MMA Awards nomination.
Currently boasting its largest-ever footprint, this year, as ever, the Chicago-based organization couldn’t help but churned out exciting fights.
Fast rising all-female Invicta FC so impressed our panel it scores a nomination for ‘Promotion of the Year’ at its first eligible opportunity.
In little over a year of operation, One FC has already become Asia’s largest mixed martial arts organization. Does it get your vote?
Despite an exodus of some of its biggest stars Strikeforce stands strong, as has remained dedicated to giving female fighters the biggest platform on the planet.
Massive global expansion, mega-size TV deals, more events tan ever: the UFC virus has never had a tighter hold on the world than it does right now.
GYM OF THE YEAR
American Kickboxing Academy
Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR
REFEREE OF THE YEAR
RINGCARD GIRL OF THE YEAR
BEST LIFESTYLE CLOTHING BRAND
BEST TECHNICAL CLOTHING BRAND
BEST TECHNICAL EQUIPMENT
MEDIA SOURCE OF THE YEAR
JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR
Gareth A Davies
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