Over the next few days, Bloody Elbow is going to ask for your opinion on some of the best things that have happened in the MMA world over the first half of 2011. There will be a total of eight different categories you'll be asked to vote on. For simplicity's sake we're going to stick with high-level and relevant MMA stuff in these posts. While I'm sure there was a ludicrous knockout in an unscheduled MMA event at The Lumberyard strip club in Des Moines, or an insane pancreas lock submission on an obscure ZST! card in Japan, let's just stick to stuff a lot of us have seen, okay? And yes, we'll count UFC 132 in this despite it being on July 2nd, since I'm getting a late start on it.
It's pretty simple. I'll post 10 options in a category, you vote for what you think was the best. If you think I left something really important off my list, post it in the comments and we can add it to the poll if it's deemed worthy. I can almost guarantee you won't like all my suggestions, but narrowing down these lists to 10 is tough.
Now that we've got that out of the way, let's get onto the fifth poll - the biggest upset of the first half of 2011. Picture this: you sit down to watch an MMA fight, absolutely convinced that one guy is going to trounce the other. It's not even worth betting on because it's so obvi---holy crap he just got finished. How the hell did that happen? It goes down more often than you'd think, and there's a fine selection of them from the last six months.
Here we go, in no particular order
Dennis Siver vs. George Sotiropoulos, UFC 127 - Sotiropoulos had won his first seven official fights in the UFC and was sniffing at a title shot. Siver was only two fights removed from a unanimous decision loss to Ross Pearson. George was almost a 4-1 favorite to win, but his takedowns were stuffed continually and he was soundly beaten standing. Siver took the decision, to the anger of the Australian crowd.
Kenny Foster vs. Eric Larkin, Bellator 37 - Larkin was one of Bellator's brightest prospects. Despite only having three pro fights (all wins), the 4-time NCAA Division 1 All-American wrestler was seen as one of the favorites to win Bellator's season 4 featherweight tournament. He was matched up with the unknown Kenny Foster, who was 7-2 at the time with one Bellator win under his belt. In just three minutes and fifteen seconds, the 4-1 underdog Foster snatched up a guillotine and eliminated Larkin from the tournament.
Dustin Poirier vs. Josh Grispi, UFC 125 - Grispi had reeled off four straight wins in the WEC, including a submission of Mark Hominick. His expected title shot against Jose Aldo at UFC 125 was delayed due to an Aldo injury, but Grispi stayed on the card and fought the unheralded Poirier. To the shock of most, Poirier controlled the fight standing and on the ground and won every round. Grispi's title hopes went out the window.
Rick Story vs. Thiago Alves, UFC 130 - Alves had been in the top 5 at welterweight for a long time, and the only guys to defeat him in the past 5 years were the champion Georges St. Pierre and the # 2-ranked Jon Fitch. Story had won five in a row against increasingly strong competition, but Alves was a mountain that few had the ability to climb. Story took everything Alves had and gave it right back, taking a solid 29-28 decision and emerging as a new threat at welterweight. For a little while, anyway.
Tito Ortiz vs. Ryan Bader, UFC 132 - Tito hadn't won a fight since 1962. Bader's only loss was to Jon Jones. As much as everyone likes tales of redemption, it didn't seem very plausible going into that fight. Tito's strengths were always his wrestling and ground n pound, but Bader is an excellent wrestler as well. Tito looked to be on the fast track to retirement until a right hand miraculously dropped Bader. One guillotine and a gravedigger routine later, and the story was complete. Lots of fans remembered that as much as they loved to hate Tito Ortiz, they loved to cheer for him too.
There are five more options after the jump, plus the poll.
Brian Ebersole vs. Chris Lytle, UFC 127 - Lytle had won four fights in a row and people were talking about him possibly being close to a title shot. He was scheduled to face Carlos Condit at UFC 127, but when Condit pulled out with an injury, in stepped unheralded Brian Ebersole. Despite 62 career fights, Ebersole was unknown to 95% of the people watching at home. One cartwheel kick later, they were hooked. Lytle came out strong, but Ebersole turned it on in a very entertaining fight and won a 29-28 decision, putting a halt to any Lytle hype for the near future.
Antonio Silva vs. Fedor Emelianenko, Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva - C'mon, it's Fedor. Despite being submitted by Fabricio Werdum, Fedor's mystique was still firmly in place when he stepped into the cage to face Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva in the quarter-final matchup of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. Two rounds later, the aura was gone. Fedor had been brutalized, his eye was a mess, and Silva's goofy smile and celebration made it all too real. Pride fanboys are still weeping to this day (including myself).
Abe Wagner vs. Tim Sylvia, TFC 16 - Sylvia had turned things around since his brutal nine-second KO loss to Ray Mercer, winning four fights in a row and talking about a UFC comeback. He faced TUF 10 castoff Abe Wagner at Titan FC 16 in January, and despite tipping the scales at a massive 311 lbs, entered the fight as a 4-1 favorite. It took all of 32 seconds for Wagner to drop Sylvia with punches and finish him off. Sylvia hasn't fought since.
Charlie Brenneman vs. Rick Story, UFC on Versus 4 - The Nate Marquardt TRT scandal hurt a lot of people, but one man made the most of an opportunity. Charlie "The Spaniard" Brenneman stayed on weight despite his fight being canceled earlier in the week and stepped in for Marquardt to face Story, who had recently conquered Thiago Alves (just look up, it's right there). Brenneman outwrestled Story and picked up by far the biggest win of his career with a unanimous decision victory.
Brian Stann vs. Chris Leben, UFC 125 - While not a major upset according to bookmakers, a lot of fans were shocked by the outcome. Leben had won three in a row and was coming off the biggest win of his career over Yoshihiro Akiyama. Stann had one win under his belt as a middleweight and many thought Leben was going to blast him into oblivion. The opposite happened though, and Stann TKO'd Leben in under four minutes.
You can vote on previous polls at the following links: