After a few weeks of voting, and some furious social networking from fighters, the results are finally here. Bloody Elbow, this is your WMMA Best Comeback winner:
Comeback of the Year
Winner: Cat Zingano down two rounds on two judges scorecards stops Miesha Tate in the 3rd, gives new nose (42%)
2nd Best :Aisling Daly (25%) understands the saying "better late than never". Making her 2013 DEBUT as late as possible on December 31st, Ireland time, absolutely taking it to European veteran Karla Benitez at a more natural weight class 115lbs (funny how we say natural weight class, when what we really mean is weight class after weeks of dieting... and putting weight back on immediately after weigh ins). Previously she went 0-3 in 2012. It was a fantastic return, an worth the weight.
3rd Best: Michelle Waterson (22%) keeps her composure, and "flash" submits Jessica Penne after nearly being submitted a round before to dethrone the Atomweight Champion.
Other nominees: Celine Haga Career (8%), Seo Hee Ham Career (2%), Talita Noguiera (1%), Tessa Simpson Career (1%)
My Pick: I'm definitely going to get some flack for saying this (it already happened multiple times right after the fight), so screw it, I'm gonna proclaim (aka capslock) it... MIESHA WAS NOT DONE. If she was done she would've went fetal and protect her head, or tap out like Shogun did against Jones. We saw how much she took against Ronda in that first fight. We've seen her submit Kedzie in the same round she was rocked from a headkick. I repeat again Miesha was not done, in my eyes, or in her own eyes (you can read all about that in my "first" helping/contribution of BE right here). Also, although I also felt Miesha did enough to win the first two rounds, they were back and forth rounds with Zingano and Tate landing good shots. So, it was a comeback technically, but the real comeback is...
Waterson escaping Penne's deep armbar in round 3, and pulling off her own armbar the next round is my comeback of the year and doing it in the championship rounds of the atomweight title fight ain't too bad either.
Pretty interesting that Daly got more votes than Waterson. Both used social media (Waterson retweeted and Daly posted on Facebook), but it seems like the international fighters (like Calderwood and Bec Hyatt Rawlings - get used it, she's changing it) have a more loyal, hardcore following, probably due to the rare fighter they get. Also, from what I've seen and my own experience there's a lot more Facebook users than Twitter users.
Also, I have to give, I just have to, a quick shout out to Celine Haga. If you didn't read the nominations here about her, let me tell you. Haga started her career 1-11. That's not a typo. One win, eleven losses. From May 2009 to March 2010 she picked up 4 losses, 2 by sub and 1 by TKO. Haga picked up her first MMA victory with a huge upset over Mika Nagano, snapping her 5 fight win streak. A fight that had Nagano in tears before the decision was even read. However, a little over only two months she was rematch with Nagano and soundly lost via 1st round armbar. This began her 7 fight losing streak, which finally ended on September 2012.
She picked up 2 victories over unimpressive opposition, but 2013 is where she put it all together. She took on Jewels atomweight Champion Naho Sugiyama at 115lbs, upsetting her via unanimous decision. Next, she took on 34 fight veteran, Masako Yoshida, fighting in her native South Korea for the first time, winning via 1st round rear naked choke in a dominating performance. It had been over 5 years since Yoshida was submitted, and even then she had only been submitted by the sports elite. Haga finished the year in defeat with back and forth fight against Sadae Numata. This was a number one contender fight, but Numata missed weight and was supposed to be penalized points. However, according to Haga, Numata was not actually deducted any points and thus the split decision win was still possible. If there was bonus awards, this fight surely would have been given Fight of the Night.
Okay, you know what I just changed my own mind. Haga deserves this award. And she might have actually won this award 3 times already. The upset of Nagano after starting her career 0-4 with 3 stoppages. The 2012 consecutive victories, and the culmination of efforts in 2013. This comeback award does lack a little structure, comparing something that happens in a fight to a fighters career and outside issues (i.e Seo Hee Ham had injuries and was also in a car accident before returning and capturing the Jewels atomweight strap AND defending it)
I think I will discontinue this award next time I do awards or leave it too in fight accomplishments.