2009 was a great year for mixed martial arts. We saw some devastating KO's, crazy submissions, and entertaining fights. Unlike the sham that is the World MMA Awards, as it should be called UFC awards, these awards look at fights that occur worldwide.
Fighter of the Year Zuffa: Jose Aldo- Jose worked his way up the WEC's 145 pound ladder with ease. His year was highlighted with a stunning TKO of Mike Brown for the title. Jose also KO'd Cub Swanson with a flying knee in 8 seconds and TKO'd Chris Mickle and Rolando Perez.
Runners Up: Anderson Silva, who defended his belt against Thales Leites then KO'd Forrest Griffin. Georges St. Pierre, who won a decision over Thiago Alves, then TKO'd BJ Penn. Lyoto Machida, who had two big time KO's over Rashad Evans and Thiago Silva. However, he got extremely lucky in the Rua fight.
Fighter of the Year Outside Zuffa: Marius Zaromskis- Marius went 4-0 in 2009 winning the Dream Welterweight Grand Prix. The head kick was Zaromskis' weapon of choice, as he annihilated Mach Sakarai, Jason High and Myeon Ho Bae with the devastating strike. In the first round of the tournament, Zaromskis defeated solid veteran Seichi Ikemoto.
Runners Up: Gegard Mousasi who was 4-0 with a submission of Mark Hunt and TKO's over Babalu Sobral, Sokoudjou and Gary Goodridge. Fedor Emelianenko who had two big headlining KO's of Brett Rogers and Andrei Arlovski.
Fight of the Year: Diego Sanchez v. Clay Guida TUF 9 Finale - This fight was 100% action as both fighters laid everything on the line. Diego threw everything and the kitchen sink at Guida, including a barrage of uppercuts, head kicks, takedowns and ground and pound.
Runners Up: Randy Couture v. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mike Brown v. Urijah Faber, Nate Quarry v. Tim Credeur, Donald Cerrone v. Benson Henderson, Abel Cullum v. Hideo Tokoro, Conor Heun v. Jorge Gurgel, David Heath v. Mike Nickels
Knockout of the Year Leg: Dan Hornbuckle's head kick KO of Akhiro Gono at Sengoku 9th Battle. Hornbuckle set up the kick by grabbing Gono's right foot, planting his own left foot and then driving his right shin into Gono's head. Gono dropped like a stone with his neck landing on the rope and his head smashing against the canvas.
Runners Up: Marius Zaromskis' head kick of Jason High for the Dream WW GP title, Marius Zaromskis' head kick and punches over Mach Sakarai, Jose Aldo's knee over Cub Swanson, Dave Herman's seated heel kicks over Jim York
Knockout of the Year- Hands: Fedor Emelianenko's KO of Andrei Arlovski at Affliction: Day of Reckoning. Andrei Arlovski was winning the stand-up battle early, landing punches and utilizing his height advantage. However, Arlovski got a little cocky and went for a flying knee. He was met with a right hand heard round the world and the one punch sent Arlovski into the astral plane.
Runners Up: Dan Henderson's KO of Michael Bisping, Lyoto Machida's KO of Rashad Evans, Fedor Emelianenko's KO of Brett Rogers, Yahir Reyes's spinning backfist over Estevan Payan
Submission of the Year: Toby Imada's inverted triangle over Jorge Masvidal at Bellator Fighting Championship 4. From a scramble off a misguided Masvidal single, Imada locked in the rare inverted triangle with Masvidal standing, eventually choking him unconscious and sending him to the canvas.
Runners Up: Shinya Aoki's hammerlock over Mizuto Hirota, Demian Maia's triangle over Chael Sonnen, BJ Penn's rear naked choke over Kenny Florian, Naoyuki Kotani's head scissors over Daisuke Nakamura
Top Up and Coming Fighter- Zuffa: Johnny Hendricks- The NCAA champion wrestler went 3-0 in 2009, pushing his record to a perfect 7-0. Hendricks burst on the scene in 2009, TKO'ing TUF 7 winner Amir Sadollah in his UFC debut. He also had dominant decision wins over Ricardo Funch in the UFC and Alex Serdyukov in the WEC.
Runner Up: Evan Dunham- The Oregon native went 3-0 in 2009 including 2 victories in the UFC over Marcus Auerelio and Per Eklund. He has 2010 off to a bang with a nasty submission win over TUF 8 winner Efrain Escudero. Now has a perfect 10-0 record.
Top Up and Coming Fighter- Outside Zuffa: Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal- King Mo went 4-0 in 2009, TKO'ing Mike Whitehead, Mark Kerr and Yukai Nakao. He also had a dominant decision over Ryo Kawamura. King Mo, who possesses insane athletic ability and wrestling skills, seems poised to take the next step in competition.
Runner Up- Tyron Woodley- former University of Missouri star wrestler went 4-0 in 2009, pushing his record to 6-0. All of his fights ended in submission, including 3 in Strikeforce.