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My 10 Favourite MMA Fighters Of 2011

by Brendan · 0 comments

This is a feature I hope to start doing once a year. I watch quite a lot of Mixed Martial Arts so I thought I may as well talk about it sometimes as well. I know my site is supposed to be a MMA Training website but I figure a small amount of journalism dedicated to professional MMA wouldn’t hurt. It might even help improve the site.

To clarify I don’t buy into that “If they don’t fight in the UFC they aren’t worth ranking alongside UFC fighters bullshit a lot of other MMA websites peddle around”. It should be mentioned that a fair chunk of the aforementioned websites get paid by the UFC to write press about them. That is why a lot of websites seem to always take a pro-UFC stance. I’m happy to put any professional fighter from any promotion on my list.

10. Donald Corrone

donald cerrone
Cowboy has had an amazing year so far (up until the end of it anyway). He started it off by beating British fighter Paul Kelly. He followed that up by beating Vagner Rocha, tapping out Charles Oliveira and finally besting Dennis Siver. It was only Nate Diaz that managed to derail his whirlwind year. Nevertheless Donald Corrone had a fantastic year in 2011 with 4 out of 5 wins. If he keeps winning he’ll surely be given a title shot in 2012.

09. Shinya Aoki

shinya aoki
Shinya Aoki bounced back from an extremely disappointing 2010. Despite beating Tatsuya Kawajiri, Marcus Aurelio and Yokthai Sithoar, he dropped a decision to Gilbert Melendez and got knocked out by Yuichiro Nagashima in a DREAM/K-1 Special Rules bout. But in 2011 he has managed to submit Lyle Beerbohm, Rich Clementi and Rob McCullough using the exact same submission move which is a hybrid face bar and neck crank. Rob McCullough must have suspected what Aoki was going to do yet he couldn’t stop the BJJ phenom from doing what he wanted once the fight hit the ground. He topped off the year by beating Satoru Kitaoka by decision in DREAM’s new years eve show.

08. Dan Henderson

Dan Henderson
It’s been an eventful year for Hendo. First winning the Strikeforce Light-Heavyweight championship from Rafael Cavalcante. He followed that up by going up to heavyweight and knocking out Fedor Emelianenko in the first round. Something no one else has ever managed to do up until now. Dan Henderson then re-signed with the UFC and made his debut (is it classed as a debut if you have fought for them on two separate occasions previously?) against Shogun Rua, in what was one of the greatest MMA fights I’ve ever seen.

07. Edson Barboza

edson barboza
Probably the least known (along with Aoki) in my top 10 outside of the die hard MMA fans. Edson Barboza is a fearson Brazilian Muay Thai fighter with 6 of his current 9 wins coming via knock out. Did I also mention he’s had 25 wins as a professional Muay Thai fighter with 22 of them being Ko’s. He’s also a purple belt in BJJ so he’s rounding himself out well as a MMA fighter. His wins against Anthony Njokuani and Ross Pearson both earned him a fight of the night award. Expect big things from this guy in the future.

06. Anderson Silva

anderson silva
I’m sure anyone with a brain would have known I would include Anderson Silva on here somewhere. His Karate Kid-esq crane kick of Vitor Belfort could be a contender for knock out of the year. But his dominating performance and knock out of Yushin Okami, who was the last person to beat him showed that he will be champion for a long time unless Chael Sonnen manages to unseat him in a rematch of their 2010 slobberknocker.

05. Jake Ellenburger

Jake Ellenberger
I think no one would argue with Jake Ellenberger being included on this list with his two Ko’s and one decision in 2011. One of those included number one contender Jake Shields though Shields had just lost his father 3 weeks before so his head probably wasn’t 100% there for that fight. Though nothing should be taken away from Ellenberger who has had a fantastic year and must be only one or two wins from a welterweight title shot.

04. Carlos Condit

carlos condit
Carlos Condit hasn’t fought as much in 2011 as the other candidates on the list (especially Corrone) but his highlight reel knockout of Dong Hyun Kim is a legitimate contender for knockout of the year. He was supposed to face Georges St. Pierre at UFC 137 but an injury to GSP put that fight on ice. Now we hear that him and Nick Diaz will fight for the intrim welterweight champion. Condit is an extremely talented fighter and I believe he is more than a match for Nick Diaz. Mark my words it will be an entertaining fight!

03. Nick Diaz

nick diaz
What can I say about Nick Diaz that I haven’t said in the past. On one hand he is one of the most talented fighters in the welterweight division. On the other he is his own worst enemy. If we forget how he beat BJ Penn, he still had two incredibly memorable fights with Paul Daley and Cyborg Santos, who are both good competitors in their own right this year before the Penn fight. He was able to beat all three. That is why Diaz gets my number three position.

02. Jon Jones

jon jones
Jon Jones has had quite a year. First he knocked out Ryan Bader, then won the UFC light heavyweight championship from MaurĂ­cio Shogun Rua, and then successfully defended it against Quinton Rampage Jackson. The year wasn’t over yet though as Jones defended his championship again against Lyoto Machida. He submitted Machida in spectacular fashion with a modified guillotine choke to retain the belt. So to recap in the space of 12 months Jones has beaten 1 number one contender (Bader), won a championship belt and defeated three former champions (Rua, Jackson and Machida). In my opinion he now has a legitimate argument for being the number one pound-for-pound fighter in all of MMA. But I’ve only ranked him at number 2, so who will be number 1?

01. Frankie Edgar

frankie edgar
Are you really surprised that this guy is my number one? He survived not one but two first round beatdowns at the hands of Gray Maynard, who is a much, much bigger fighter and even came back to knock out Maynard in the fourth round of their second fight. How much heart do you have to have to come back twice from getting destroyed in the first round of two fights in a row? A lot that’s how much. Jones might be the most naturally gifted fighter on the list but Edgar beats him hands down in heart and the desire to win. You can’t learn that in gym. That is why Frankie Edgar is my number one fighter for 2011.

Honourable Mentions

Roger Gracie – After beating Trevor Prangley so convincingly he would have been a shoo-in for my top ten if he hadn’t been knocked out by King Mo in September. He was pushed into a fight with Lawal far too quickly in my opinion after only having 4 professional MMA bouts. It was a case of Strikeforce needing some big name fights after fighters started jumping ship to UFC. Couple this with him being a world grappling champion and Lawal being a former light-heavyweight champion and it was a no-brainer for Strikeforce but a very bad move for Gracie.
Gilbert Melendez – The way he came back from injury and dominated Tatsuya Kawajiri was quite a stunning victory. Unfortunately he only fought once at the time of writing. He didn’t quite impressive me enough this year to be included on my list. But there is always next year.

Needs To Try Harder In 2012
Charles Oliveira – It was a pretty bad 12 months for this young fighter. Billed by everyone as a future UFC lightweight champion by most who have seen him fight. 2011 saw him drop one fight and have one fight ruled a no contest by kneeing Nik Lentz in the head while Lentz had all four limbs on the ground. His performance was so dominating up until that point he looked like he would have easily been a top 5 on this list.

Who are your 10 favourite fighters of 2011? Do you disagree with any of mine? Is Frankie Edgar not deserving enough of the no 1 spot? Let me know what you think in the replies.

Thanks for reading, cheers!

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