The MMA year that was 2011 will be remembered for a lot of big news events, great fights, a little controversy and always plenty to talk about. This continues our series looking back month-by-month at what happened, who did what and what was to come.
February 2011: Contenders & Champions
Going into his UFC 126 title defense against Vitor Belfort, Anderson Silva had his boss worried about whether it would be a "staring competition" or a great fight. Dana White's concerns were mitigated as Silva knocked out Belfort with a highlight reel front kick in the first round, taught to him by Steven Seagal. (Seriously.)
It would be one of two Silva title defenses in 2011, but following this win, it was expected that he would next face Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre in a superfight. We're still waiting on that one.
On this same event, Jon Jones began his march to an amazing 2011 with a dominant victory over Ryan Bader, handing the prospect his first career defeat. Following the fight, Jones was asked the question that would flare a rivalry as he was offered a shot at Light Heavyweight Champion Mauricio Rua because of an injury to Rashad Evans. Jones accepted in the cage, the buzz was heavy and the fight was on.
Interestingly enough, Evans said he would move up in weight if Jones won as he didn't want to fight his friend. What a difference a few months makes. Lost amidst this whole deal: Quinton Jackson turned down a shot at Rua.
Much of Fedor Emelianenko's shine was dimmed with his 2010 defeat to Fabricio Werdum. The remaining glitter was dulled at the hands of Antonio Silva who crushed the Russian in a second round TKO win in the Strikeforce Grand Prix opening round. That set off a barrage of 'Should he retire?' and 'What's his legacy?' pieces on BE with Fedor's face giving its opinion. A ton of people watched the event, which resulted in the next set of fights getting postponed to capitalize on the positive press. Uh huh.
The UFC's return to Australia yielded two newsworthy stories but for vastly different reasons. In a battle of top welterweight contenders, B.J. Penn and Jon Fitch went to an unsatisfactory draw that drew the ire of plenty. Fitch returned to the seemingly eternal role of "not the No. 1 contender" while people wanted to know where Penn was at this stage of his career, including Penn himself.
In the co-main event, Michael Bisping went into his bout with Jorge Rivera as the favorite but that didn't stop Rivera from picking at Bisping with some pre-fight videos. Bisping didn't take kindly to them and this fight played out in a fashion befitting the ill will with Bisping throwing an illegal knee and spitting at Rivera's corner post-fight in a bizarre victory. Bisping hate came quickly but some said he didn't deserve it. Regardless, Bisping became a major talking point in the business, even with a win over a middle of the road contender.
Other Stuff That Happened
Gilbert Melendez signed a new deal with Strikeforce. Can he call takebacks?....Fedor questioned Alistair Overeem's physical growth...Strikeforce reportedly banked $30 million for their fiscal year....the drunk driver that killed Tapout co-founder Charles "Mask" Lewis was sentenced to nine years in prison...Luke Thomas ventured off to SB Nation's new MMA page, while we launched Bloody Elbow Radio.
Storm clouds gathered on the horizon for Thiago Silva...Jose Aldo got his first UFC fight booked...Frankie Edgar followed St. Pierre's lead in dropping manager Shari Spencer...UFC 129 went on sale, breaking one record and then another one...we're still waiting for TUF Philippines.
Past Monthly Reviews