The beginning of a new year is always a great time to look at the past. We've been doing a lot of this with the Best of 2012 awards this last week. Now we're gonna take a look at the other side. These are the highlights of the biggest fails in the last 12 months of MMA.
Nick Diaz - Coming out of UFC 143, Diaz had the complete attention of the MMA world. You were either rallying behind him because the judges rewarding Carlos Condit running for 25 minutes, or you were rallying against him in support of Condit's technical superiority. Few to none found a place in the middle and Dana White was ready to make a rematch for the interim Welterweight title, which excited fans on both sides. Then it came out that Diaz failed his post-fight drug test. The rematch option was gone and Diaz found himself penalized with a year-long suspension. There was still dissension in the ranks, but it didn't matter because Diaz couldn't fight.
Alistair Overeem - Alistair entered the UFC after one of the worst wins of his career. It was a close decision victory in an ugly and odd fight against Fabricio Werdum. But he washed that away with an impressive domination of former Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar at UFC 141. The Reem avoided Brock's takedowns in their short fight, while punishing him with brutal knees. The dominating victory earned him the right to face off against Junior Dos Santos for the belt at UFC 146. That was until the NSAC surprised him with a drug test at a pre-fight press conference. Reem tried to flee the building and ruined his own title shot as well as several other intriguing matchups on the card.
Brandon Saling - Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey brought probably the biggest WMMA match of the year. In the main event, Rousey bent Tate's arm in a way that shocked even seasoned MMA fans. But before that we got a different kind of shock. On the ShoExtreme undercard, viewers saw Saling enter the cage sporting blatant neo-nazi and white supremacist tattoos. This was an incredible failure by both the SF matchmakers and the commission as Saling was found out to be a convicted sex offender. He was relieved of his fighter's license and hasn't fought since.
UFC 151 - The summer of 2012 was absolutely one of the worst stretches for ratings in the history of the UFC. UFC 147, 149, and 150 all showed record low buys for the promotion. They were supposed to recover with the top-heavy UFC 151: Henderson vs. Jones. That all fell apart when Henderson suffered a knee injury in training and Jones refused Chael Sonnen as a late replacement. The problem was only compounded when Dana White threw not only Jones (one of his biggest PPV draws) but his entire team under the bus in the wake of the event's cancellation. Dana was right to be upset about his company's first cancelled card in a decade, but he failed to take any responsibility for scheduling a card so top-heavy it couldn't survive a single injury.
Strikeforce - The former #2 promotion in MMA had been going downhill since being bought by Zuffa in March of 2011. It got increasingly less attention as the UFC pillaged it for the highest talent but it was still holding on. Until September 2012, when an injury to Lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez shut down an entire event. That was immediately followed by another cancellation in November. The two lost events finally proved to Showtime and Zuffa that Strikeforce could no longer hold its own as a promotion. They're putting on one more show on January 12th, but it's more for show than for go.
Jeremy Stephens - After throwing Jon Jones under the bus after the UFC 151, it would be hard to think Dana White would manage a bigger blunder in 2012. Then he blew away all expectations after Lightweight Jeremy Stephens was arrested on October 5th, just hours before UFC On FX 5. White spent the next several hours berating media for saying Stephens' fight with Yves Edwards would be cancelled. On top of that, he spent those same hours trying to persuade the Minneapolis and Polk County police forces to allow Stephens to fight, reportedly offering to pay increasingly stiff bonds and bail prices to get Stephens out for the fight. The officials never released Stephens, who was charged with felony assault. When criticized, White said Stephens needed his fight purse to feed his family, although he had just paid Dennis Hallman both his fight and win money the day before after Hallman missed weight.