Technically, we're about a month over the half-year mark, but with live MMA on TV every other minute, it's hard to fit something like this in when you have to cover the non-stop facepunching. Tim Burke used to run the Bloody Elbow half-year and year-end MMA awards, but he stepped down from the site to continue his other occupation in the medical field for a famed 1990s sitcom.
The Bloody Elbow staff compiled a massive list of some of the top MMA moments thus far in 2014, which you'll be able to vote on through our polls, which are open for 6 days starting from publish of each article. Today, we're focusing on the best comeback*, and we'll close out the categories with best event on Sunday.
As to keep up with the format that Tim had used, I've selected 8 entries per category, but since this year's "half-year" awards is in August, I've moved the cutoff date to July 26th, which stands as the most recent UFC event (UFC on Fox 12). All of our choices are based on major MMA promotions only (UFC, Bellator, WSOF, etc.) , so that doesn't include kickboxing, boxing, Metamoris, or anything else of the sort. This was fairly difficult to sift through, so don't be angry if there's any of your favorites that have been left out.
*- In this case, a comeback means rallying from a rough spot early in a fight before storming back to win.
Let's take a look at our finalists, which are in no particular order:
Cathal Pendred def. Mike King, UFC Fight Night Dublin. There is some controversy as to whether or not this fight should've been allowed to continue in the first place after Pendred was dropped and beaten up on the ground, but because it wasn't, fans were witness to an amazing rally by the Irish prospect. Mike King started off strongly, using his wrestling to drag Pendred to the mat in the early stages. King decked Pendred and then proceeded to hit him with a series of shots that could've stopped the fight but didn't. Pendred survived a submission attempt, King started to tire, an din the 2nd round he seized the opportunity to finish his heavily fatigued opponent. Having secured a body triangle, Pendred locked in a rear-naked choke and that was enough to send King into unconsciousness, which brought the partisan Irish crowd to its feet in jubilation. (GIF)
Mitch Clarke def. Al Iaquinta, UFC 173. Iaquinta was a sizeable favorite against the Canadian, and in the 1st round he scored a knockdown and otherwise completely dominated Clarke for the first 5 minutes. The tide changed completely in Clarke's favor when early in the 2nd round he locked in a d'arce choke from the bottom and put Iaquinta to sleep. (GIF)
Dan Henderson def. Mauricio Rua, UFC Fight Night Natal. Hendo was dropped once in each of the first two rounds against Shogun, and on the heels of the Vitor Belfort whipping, it was reasonable to question whether or not we were witnessing the end of Henderson. Round 3? H-Bomb. Shogun was rocked, unable to recover, and the raucous Brazilian crowd was reduced to silence and shock. (GIF)
Jorge Masvidal def. Daron Cruickshank, UFC on Fox 12. In the opening stanza of this lightweight battle, Cruickshank absolutely drilled Masvidal with a cracking right hand that momentarily had (at least) me thinking that he was KO'd. Somehow he managed to regain his senses and win the remaining two rounds to snatch a unanimous decision win.
Cody Gibson def. Johnny Bedford, UFC Fight Night San Antonio. This fight lasted less than 1 minute but had more action than many 15 minute bouts. Bedford was swarming Gibson in the first few seconds, landing knees and punches against the fence and forcing Gibson to cover up. Then in an amazing sequence, Gibson came forward and crushed Bedford with a right hand that sent the TUF 14 alum's head crashing to the canvas like an asteroid falling towards the surface of the Earth. Bedford protested the stoppage but he was powerless to change the outcome after the fact. Gibson was the winner with a rapid turnaround of a fight that did not start out well for him. (GIF)
Leandro Issa def. Jumabieke Tuerxun, TUF 19 Finale. How often do you see a fighter how is clearly down 2 rounds only do enough to win a round but not come close to actually finishing a fight? In Leandro Issa's case, having lost a point for fence grabbing and clearly down on the cards heading into round 3, he needed a finish or for Tuerxun to twist his nipples and chainsaw his groin for the DQ win. Issa caught Tuerxun in a deep armbar with the clock nearing 1 minute left, and he forced the Chinese fighter to tap out in dramatic fashion. (GIF)
Brett Cooper def. Kendall Grove, Bellator 114. Kendall Grove was in full command of his middleweight tournament bout with former title challenger Brett Cooper. He dominated Cooper on the ground and had a really convincing case for a 10-8, especially since he nearly finished the fight with ground-and-pound. But when you have the toughness and power of Brett Cooper combined with the rumored-to-be-fictional chin of Kendall Grove, things can turn on a dime. Cooper crushed Grove with an uppercut and right hand combination, and after about 300 follow-up strikes the fight was over and Cooper had completed the comeback. (GIF)
Matt Brown def. Erick Silva, UFC Fight Night Cincinnati. Brown memorably survived a brutal body kick that doubled him over and had him on the cusp of his first ever TKO loss. He didn't go out on the ground strikes to the head and he thwarted Silva's rear-naked choke efforts and proceeded to beat the brakes off of Silva until the fight was called off in the 3rd round. (GIF)
Tomorrow's category: Best event
You can still vote for: Best KO, best submission, biggest upset, best fight, best fighter.