As another mma year wraps up, I’ll look back at who were the best fighters of 2012. The one thing that effects this though is the injury bug this year. Normally fighters have around 3 fights a year, but that was dampened. Also I’m not only referring to the UFC, but other organizations such as Strikeforce, and Bellator have had this issue as well.
5. Nick Newell (XFC)
Known as the one-armed fighter, Newell has had a fairy tale of a year. Defying odds, he is not only undefeated in his young career but now a champion in XFC. He became the XFC lightweight champion this December defeating Eric Reynolds, to cap off a 3-0 year in 2012. Now some fans may have never heard of him, but he is the real deal, even with only one arm. It’s a matter of time until one the upper tier mma organizations give him a shot.
4. Andrey Koreshkov (Bellator)
At 21, with a record of 8-0, the Russian came to the United States to fight under Bellator. The expectations were high, and he certainly was able to live up the hype. Koreshkov went 5-0 in 2012, finishing 3 of his opponents. Perhaps his biggest wins were his last two against the DREAM welterweight champion Marius Zaromskis, and former Bellator welterweight champion Lyman Good. Not only did Koreshkov go 5-0 as stated above, but he did not appear to be in trouble in any of his fights. Koreshkov will look to build off a successful 2012 campaign in 2013, where he will fight the winner of Ben Askren vs Karl Amoussou for the belt.
3. Matt Brown (UFC)
Talk about a year, Brown arguably went from almost being cut in the UFC, to putting together a 4 fight win streak in 2012. With a 12-11 record to start the year, a win streak like this would have been unimaginable. But, it happened as Brown defeated the likes of Chris Cope, Stephen Thompson, Luis Ramos, and most notably Mike Swick. Three of those wins by knockout to boot. Expect Brown to get another high-profile fight in 2013.
2. Ben Henderson (UFC)
Ben Henderson has been on a rise like no other since 2011, and was able to keep it going in 2012. Henderson went 3-0, capturing the UFC Lightweight belt, and was able to successfully defend it twice. Now, although his two fights with Frankie Edgar were labeled as controversial, he was able to put that behind him dominating Nate Diaz from start to finish. Henderson will likely be fighting Gilbert Melendez in 2013, which could further cement his legacy in the UFC.
1. Ronda Rousey (UFC)
What a year for Ronda Rousey, and although she fought only twice, her accomplishments were ever so numerous. Rousey is a talent, and not only does her mouth excite, but her submission game is ridiculously amazing. Rousey went 2-0 this year, including capturing the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Championship in what was voted as the submission of the year. Rousey’s accomplishments don’t stop there, as she broke barriers being the first women signed to the UFC. She also is going to headline UFC 157, where she will defend her newly acquired UFC belt. Literally, Rousey not only elevated women’s mma in a single year, but took it to the extreme by getting into the UFC. Rousey is the fighter of the year in my books, for sure.