It seems that Mookie Alexander is too busy rampaging around the streets of New York City in his Blitz mascot outfit 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 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. 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.
Now that we've got that out of the way, let's get onto the first poll - the best submission of 2014. There have been some excellent subs all over the MMA landscape this year, and getting the list down to 10 is very difficult. But I did, and this is what made the cut.
Remember, you can still vote for Best Submission here.
Rafael dos Anjos beats Ben Henderson, UFC Fight Night 49 - Henderson's third fight back after losing his title was a tough one, but he was a solid favorite going on. When RDA hit him with the big knee, I was surprised. Then after he fought off a takedown attempt, Dos Anjos landed a perfect left right to the jaw of the former champ and sent Henderson crashing to the mat in a "holy %#$" moment. (GIF)
Tito Ortiz chokes out Alexander Shlemenko, Bellator 120 - Despite the size difference, Tito was a big underdog going in. After all, he hadn't shown that he was capable of beating good competition for many years. But to his credit, he finished the Shlemenko by submission in under half a round. (GIF)
Will Brooks stuns Michael Chandler, Bellator 120 - The fight right after Tito/Shlemenko also featured a massive favorite against a big dog. In this case, that dog was Will Brooks, who was stepping up on very short notice to take on one of the top lightweights in the division, Michael Chandler. Brooks was more than up to the task though, shocking many fans with a close split-decision victory to become the interim champion.
Al Iaquinta defeats Ross Pearson, UFC Fight Night 55 - The fight was actually close odds-wise, but Pearson had the much bigger name and was coming off a big KO win over Gray Maynard. Iaquinta was able to stop him with strikes in the second round and improve to 5-2 in the UFC with the big win. (GIF)
Johnny Eduardo KOs Eddie Wineland, UFC Fight Night 40. Most saw this as a stay-busy fight for Wineland, who was ranked in the top five and was a massive favorite over the mostly unknown Eduardo. The Brazilian didn't care about any of that though and absolutely flattened Wineland with one of the biggest knockouts of the year. (GIF)
Bobby Green gets short notice win vs. Josh Thomson, UFC on Fox 12 - Green was a late replacement and wasn't seen as much of a threat to perennial contender Thomson. The fight was very close and the decision was debatable, but Green picked up the biggest win of his career by a narrow split.
Ben Rothwell defeats Alistair Overeem, UFC Fight Night 50 - You never know what you're gonna get with The Reem, but he seemed like a good bet in this fight against a slower opponent. Well, that ended up being very wrong as he got lazy and Rothwell starched him. (GIF)
T.J. Dillashaw destroys Renan Barao, UFC 173. This won the half-year awards with a whopping 91% of the vote, and I don't expect much different here. Dillashaw was a massive underdog and not even the top contender at the time (Raphael Assuncao was hurt), but he beat the crap out of Barao for over four rounds until he finished him to become one of the most unlikely UFC champs of all time. (GIF)