It seems that Mookie is too busy realizing his life-long dream of opening a pizza place in the Turks and Caicos and won't be able to handle the awards this time around. In his place, is...well, me. Contain your joy.
Over the next few days, Bloody Elbow is going to ask for your opinion on some of the best (and worst) things that have happened in the MMA world over the course of 2014. There will be a total of eight different categories you'll be asked to vote on, though I might change some of them up from past years. 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? (If that spiel looked familiar, it's because I've used the same one for four years in a row. Originality? What originality?)
It's pretty simple. I'll post 5-10 options in a category, you vote for what you think was the best/worst. 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 is tough.
Today's category is pretty standard for these sorts of lists - who was the best MMA fighter in 2014? Do you vote for fighters that stayed busy and won a lot of fights? Do you see a couple of wins in title fights as more meaningful? Or is it how you win fights that shows your worth? Take your pick from the 10 options below.
Luke Rockhold - Three fights, three stoppage wins. All against ranked fighters. And all three of them were pretty amazing - a thudding body kick to Costa Philippou, and cool inverted triangle kimura on Tim Boetsch, and to cap it off, he got Michael Bisping to tap out for the first time in his 32-fight career to a tight guillotine.
T.J. Dillashaw - He started the year with a decision win over Mike Easton. Then was given a shot at the bantamweight title due to Raphael Assuncao being hurt. To the surprise of nearly everyone, Dillashaw battered Renan Barao for four and a half rounds before finally finishing him and claiming the title. The rematch went sideways when Barao missed weight, but Dillashaw beat up uber-late replacement Joe Soto and finished him in the fifth round too.
Neil Magny - Magny quietly put together one of the best years of any UFC fighter, winning five straight fights in 2014. That tied a record for most UFC wins in a year. He finished off a great year by stopping William Macario with strikes in November.
Robbie Lawler - He didn't start off the year too well, dropping a decision to Johny Hendricks in a welterweight title fight. But Lawler rebounded in style, beating Jake Ellenberger and Matt Brown to get another shot at Hendricks. This time, he took the title home with him and capped off an amazing run for the 13-year vet.
Ronda Rousey - She only fought twice, but Rousey was absolutely dominant in both bouts. She was only in the cage for one minute and twenty two seconds total, picking up a TKO win over Sara McMann with a brutal liver shot and a KO win over Alexis Davis in less time than it took to type this sentence.
Fabricio Werdum - After beating up Travis Browne for five rounds in April, he prepared for his shot at the UFC heavyweight title against Cain Velasquez in Mexico City. Unfortunately Cain got hurt, so Werdum was set up to fight Mark Hunt for an interim title. Instead of working his vaunted submission game against the fearsome striker, he used his smarts to knock out Hunt in the second round with a beautiful knee and some punches, and picked up UFC gold with the win.
Justin Gaethje - One of WSOF's best fighters won the promotion's lightweight title by stopping Richard Patishnock in 69 seconds back in January. He then successfully defended his title by brutalizing and stopping Nick Newell, handing him the first loss of his career. He wrapped up 2014 by beating former UFC fighter Melvin Guillard in a striking battle in November.
Donald Cerrone - His four wins in 2014 were pretty great and came against some top competition, including Edson Barboza and Eddie Alvarez. He also won performance bonuses in three of those bouts. We all know he's a crazy man and is getting ready for his second bout of 2015 already next weekend, but his 2014 was pretty impressive too.
Max Holloway - Like Magny, many might wonder why Holloway would be in consideration for this list since he's not a huge name. But the Hawaiian picked up four wins in 2014 and finished all four of those fights. He took home three performances bonuses too. It's amazing that he's only 23 (just turned a month ago) and already has 10 UFC fights. He's improving by leaps and bounds in the cage, and 2014 was his beat year yet.
Kelvin Gastelum - Another guy that's only 23 takes the final slot on the poll. Gastelum picked up wins over Rick Story, Nico Musoke, and Jake Ellenberger in 2014, finishing off the year with a beautiful finish of Ellenberger to move into the title contender mix in the welterweight division.