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411’s Fighter of the Month 2.11.13: January 2013

February 11, 2013 | Posted by Larry Csonka

How It Works
Each staff member picks five fighters and ranks them. I’ll assign a point value to those rankings. Points are determined as:

1st – 5
2nd – 4
3rd – 3
4th – 2
5th – 1

The fighter with the most points is our Fighter of the Month and then new points are assigned that will go towards Fighter of the Year. Those points are:

1st – 15
2nd – 12
3rd – 9
4th – 6
5th – 3
6th – 1

The Voting
Larry Csonka
1) Glover Teixeira
Man, this was a loaded month for MA, with a ton of deserving people that could have been voted, but we have to stick to the format, so here we go. GROVER TEXAS DID IT HUZZAH! Sure Rampage isn’t what he used to be, but this is a huge win for Glover Teixeira in the eye son the regular MMA fan. He did it on Fox, he looked good in victory, and due to that could become a very marketable fighter for the promotion. While not the slaughter the UFC wanted for sue, it was a very important victory for him and the biggest of his career.

2) Ben Askren: Ben Askren committed a legal crime in the cage as he destroyed Karl Amoussou at Bellator 86. Askren has received a ton of shit for his style and not finishing opponents. Well, he proved them all wrong, defeating a man most said was a better fighter, and one that could counter Askren’s skill set. Askren looked scary good against Amoussou, and if he keeps improving, will rule over Bellator’s welterweight division for a long time.
3) Anthony Pettis: Anthony Pettis beat down Donald Cerrone, and was heading for a lightweight rematch with Benson Henderson. So of course he will now be facing Jose Aldo, for the featherweight Title. YAY UFC RANKINGS~!
4) Tarec Saffiedine: Tarec Saffiedine played the spoiler, defeating Nate Marquardt via unanimous decision to become the final Strikeforce Welterweight Champion. Marquardt was way too over confident going into the fight, assuming his UFC return was a lock. Saffiedine won the fight and became the final Strikeforce middleweight champion. That’ll be a random trivia factoid for a rainy day.
5) Demetrious Johnson: Defeated John Dodson to retain the UFC Flyweight Title at the UFC on FOX 6 event.

Jon Butterfield
1) Anthony Pettis
Donald Cerrone is one of the toughest fighters at 155 lbs, so nobody expected anything short of a barnburner against the always exciting Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis – unfortunately, however, the surefire Fight of the Night contender was short-lived, as Pettis proved too hot to handle. A succession of brutal body kicks rendered Cerrone defenseless, as Pettis essentially earned himself number one contender honors in whatever division he saw fit. Despite looking so impressive at 155 lbs, Pettis has now opted to fight at featherweight, as he challenges Jose Aldo for the belt in a cracking bit of matchmaking.

2) Demetrious Johnson: For two rounds, Demetrious Johnson looked anything BUT a champion, as Dodson continually caught him, dropped him, and yet failed to finish him. The longer the fight went on, however, Johnson showed his championship cardio, wearing down the fading Dodson en route to another (close) title defense. It wasn’t great, but he got the job done against an opponent who simply needed to be fitter.
3) Ben Askren: Askren has been criticized for his style, least of all by challenger Karl Amoussou, but there are only praises to be sung after Askren beat his French rival into a bloody mess with his ever-effective takedowns and top control being combined with a seemingly new-found flair for ground and pound.
4) Tarec Saffiedine: We all know how good Nate Marquardt is – he’s a solid top ten fighter with a strong all-round game. We didn’t, however, know the full potential of Belgian welterweight Tarec Saffiedine, but we do now! Saffiedine possesses quality kickboxing, but also a well-rounded game to back it up. Now that he’s going to the UFC, we should see him slot straight in to the top ten at 170.
5) Michael Chandler: Michael Chandler may lose points because Rick Hawn was never expected to fully test him, but he certainly doesn’t lose any for reiterating his own talents and qualities. Chandler looks a complete mixed martial artist, and is already a big fish in a small pond at Bellator. Luckily the 155 lb division is pretty strong worldwide, so getting some serious contenders from within the company is still pretty likely. A number of Russians are already catching the eye, so don’t expect Chandler to become another Hector Lombard – the challenges DO exist outside the UFC at lightweight.

Jack McGee
1) Glover Teixeira
Glover Teixeira defeated Rampage Jackson at UFC on FOX 6. Glover gets the top spot this month from me for a few simple facts. First of all this was the biggest win of his career. While Rampage isn’t the fighter he used to be, he is still a name n the sport. Secondly, with Rampage having the name value he does with the casual MMA fan, Glover defeating him in front of nearly 5 million viewers on FOX is nothing but good for his future prospects as a contender. He is a good fighter that is winning fights, but a win like this on FOX makes his stock rise in a tremendous way.

2) Michael Chandler: At Bellator 85 Michael Chandler proved one thing, he ain’t nothing to fuck with. Chandler improved his record to 11-0, dispatching Rick Hawn in the second round via submission. Chandler is dominating right now, and is quickly becoming one of the main faces for Bellator in their promotion of the shows. The champ came, he saw, and he conquered with ease. He is a bad man.
3) Tarec Saffiedine: Tarec Saffiedine won the final fight in the history of the Strikeforce promotion. Not only did he win the final bout for the promotion, he defeated Nate Marquardt via unanimous decision to become the final Strikeforce Welterweight Champion and a shot in the UFC. He came from the Challengers Series, he climbed the ladder, and made the most of his chances. I am not saying he is the next in line for GSP, but it was easily the biggest victory of his career.
4) Anthony Pettis: Anthony Pettis dispatched with Donald Cerrone like he was an amateur at UFC on FOX 6. Pettis dominated a tough opponent with ease, and is now in line for a title shot. But more importantly, and like I mentioned in the MMA 5&1, he may be headed to Featherweight and could be the man to really get that division rolling and getting it the attention that it rightfully deserves.
5) Vitor Belfort: Vitor Belfort kicked Michael Bisping in the head and rightly jacked him up. Belfort isn’t a contender, but the sheer fact that he proved that Bisping is, was and always will be completely overrated is enough for him to make my list.

Jonathan Solomon
1) Ben Askren:
Funky gets the top spot this month from me because he made Karl Amoussou look like a fool for calling him a slew of unfavorable names before they fought. Without repeating them here, he ragged on Askren for not finishing opponents, instead relying on his dominant wrestling to earn decisions. So, what happened? Askren took Amoussou down and battered him until he was a bloody mess and the fight was stopped by a cage side doctor. IRONY!

2) Tarec Saffiedine: Not too many people picked him to close Strikeforce with an upset, but he did. He peppered Nate Marquardt’s legs with hellacious kicks to the point the welterweight champion’s leg was barely usable. Saffiedine earned the win, the championship and walks into the UFC with a ton of momentum.
3) Anthony Pettis: A liver kick knockout on Fox. He bounced the performance into a title fight against featherweight Jose Aldo this summer, too. 2013 is looking like it can be a profitable year for “Showtime.”
4) Vitor Belfort: Not only did Vitor blast Michael Bisping into next week in Brazil, but he yelled at Chael Sonnen, demanded a rematch with Jon Jones and DID NOT fail a drug test. What more can you ask for?
5) Michael Chandler: Impressive doesn’t begin to accurately describe Chandler’s successful title defense. He dominated Olympic judoka Rick Hawn like no one we’ve seen before, eventually choking him out. The improvements he has made since his college wrestling days as a martial artist are nothing short of amazing.

Jeffrey Harris
1) Demetrious Johnson
Despite the remarks of the haters of flyweights and lighter weight classes, Johnson and his opponent John Dodson went out there and had a five round war on the UFC on Fox 6 event and drew some impressive numbers considering people said flyweights can’t draw and that the show would tank with a flyweight main event. Johnson got dropped twice in the second round but he kept his composure and battled back and his cardio and toughness came through for him yet again. Johnson’s resilience will be one of the toughest things to top in the division.

2) Anthony Pettis: Pettis again looked very impressive on a big stage and put away the highly touted Donald Cerrone who trash talked Pettis into taking the match-up. Pettis’ kicks and accuracy looked sick. Not only that he debuted the Showtime Knee. He actually did a knee strike off the cage and it connected.
3) Glover Teixeira: People still wanted to doubt Teixeira against Rampage because he got rocked by a good shot by Fabio Maldonado in their fight. Yet people still seem to forget that Teixeira dominated that fight and basically destroyed Maldonado regardless. Rampage looked in better shape than usual and his boxing looked better than usual, but Teixeira still used his varied attack and dominated and beat the former UFC light heavyweight champion.
4) Vitor Belfort: Coming off a tough loss at light heavyweight to Jon Jones, Belfort came back and looked extremely good against the arguable top contender in middleweight in Michael Bisping. Belfort played spoiler as the win would’ve meant a title shot against Anderson Silva for the Count. A good performance and a great win for Belfort.
5) Michael Chandler: Chandler continues to look impressive and like he’s getting even better in his MMA career. For Bellator’s debut show on Spike TV, Chandler submitted recent tournament winner and an Olympic level competitor in Rick Hawn. While I’d argue there is a ceiling for how Chandler can go in Bellator, his growth over the past two years has been extremely impressive to see.

Patrick Mullin
1) Pat Curran: The reigning Bellator featherweight champion took on the tougher of the Pitbull brothers and showcased just how effective basic boxing fundamentals can be against an opponent looking to land big shots. Curran has looked absolutely great since dropping to 145 and its arguable there’s not a better fighter in that division with the exception of Jose Aldo. I love you Gene LeBell but I still don’t get how you didn’t score this fight for Curran.

2) Demetrious Johnson: Mighty Mouse survived the best of John Dodson and came back strong to retain his title via unanimous decision.
3) Michael Chandler: Chandler continued his impressive run with a dominant victory over Olympic judoka Rick Hawn.
4) Ben Askren: After hearing a plethora of criticism from journalists and opponent Karl Amoussou, Askren got mad and beat the Holy heck out of Amoussou to retain his title with a brutal stoppage.
5) Vitor Belfort: Belfort had a great performance to remind everyone Michael Bisping just isn’t that good.

Robert Winfree
1) Demetrious Johnson:
Retaining the UFC flyweight title on free TV in front of an audience that peaked at a little over five million viewers is a big deal. Johnson also came on really strong at the end of that fight as Dodson was fading.

2) Glover Teixeira: The Brazilian that no one wanted to fight got a good win over former champion Quinton Jackson.
3) Vitor Belfort: Anyone who beats Michael Bisping is OK in my book, and doing it with a head kick is sweet too. I’m not sure Belfort should fight either Silva or Jones next, but he got people talking about him again.
4) Anthony Pettis: Stopping Donald Cerrone with strikes hadn’t been done before Pettis landed a liver kick that would make Bas Rutten happy. Turning that into a featherweight title shot isn’t anything to sneeze at either.
5) Tarec Saffiedine: Tarec put on a good performance and beat Nate Marquardt pretty convincingly to become the final Strikeforce welterweight champion.

Stewart Lange
1) Demetriois Johnson
I can’t fault Demetrious Johnson here, as he showed the true heart of a champion to bounce back from a few scary moments against John Dodson. It was a fantastic fight and hopefully, the fans will start to get behind the flyweight division as they put on great performances like this.

2) Anthony Pettis: Easily the best that Pettis has looked since the WEC days, let alone the best anyone has looked against Donald Cerrone maybe ever. Pettis has lined himself up as a title contender in potentially two weight classes with this awesome performance.
3) Ben Askren: Ben Askren in good fight shocker? Yes, you’d better believe it. Karl Amoussou looked like a practice dummy against a guy that’s becoming one of the brightest stars on the Bellator roster.
4) Glover Teixeira : I’m not sure bout Glover still. A huge statement against Rampage would have made him easily the big name in the division but while he won and won well, I’d have liked to have seen a title more out of him.
5) Vitor Belfort: Vitor continues his career resurgence with a huge knockout win over Michael Bisping, who continues to only be finish-able in awesome style.

Alex Watt
1) Demetrious Johnson:
For some critics, the jury remains out on the UFC’s flyweight division. Those who question the 125-pounders legitimacy and drawing potential, however, hopefully had their opinions at least somewhat swayed by the success of the UFC on FOX 6 main event. The ratings peaked for the main event between champ Demetrious Johnson and challenger John Dodson and the two engaged in an exciting 25 minute contest which deservedly earned both men bonus money for Fight of the Night. “Mighty Mouse” battled through some early adversity against the heavy hitting Dodson, before proving his championship credentials with a dominant showing in the later rounds, which included some phenomenal use of knees in the clinch, to retain his title via unanimous decision.

2) Anthony Pettis: Many had Pettis vs. Cerrone pegged as a potential Fight of the Year contender prior to their meeting at UFC on FOX 6. Instead, we witnessed one of the most impressive and dominant performances of “Showtime’s” career. His flashy striking was on show for all to see – an attempted cartwheel kick and the debut of the “Showtime knee”, for instance – but, more significantly, Pettis’ boxing looked superb and he finished the tough “Cowboy” with a brutal liver kick. Not content to wait around for the winner of Henderson vs. Melendez, “Showtime” will instead drop to 145lbs for the first time for a dream match against Featherweight champ José Aldo.
3) Tarec Saffiedine: Strikeforce may not have gone out with a bang, but it went out with an upset. Saffiedine was the underdog going into his welterweight title challenge against the highly experience Nate Marquardt but the Belgian impressed with a largely dominant, leg kick based victory over Marquardt. The last Strikeforce Welterweight Champion takes some serious momentum into his UFC career.
4) Glover Teixeira: The terrifying Brazilian light heavyweight scored the biggest win of his career to date with a dominant UFC on FOX 6 win over Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. The ever popular “Rampage” looked to roll back the years by turning in a brave and lively performance, but he was simply outclassed by the heavy handed and grappling savvy Teixeira.
5) Vitor Belfort: “The Phenom” looked impressive in Brazil with a second round TKO of Michael Bisping. All but putting to bed any hopes fans in the UK may have had about the loudmouthed Brit getting a shot at Middleweight champ Anderson Silva. Many pointed to the power in Belfort’s hands as being the real danger in this fight, but in the end it was a beautifully placed head kick, which sealed the deal. I still find the TRT exemption that Belfort allegedly received for this fight somewhat troubling, but that’s another discussion for another time.

Alex Rella
1) Pat Curran:
Bellator on Spike got started off in great fashion. Pat Curran returned to action to defend his title against Pitbull Friere. This was a good back and forth fight that went the full five rounds. Curran pulled out the split decision victory as he used his superior boxing to retain his title. Curran is only second to Aldo in the featherweight division and in my opinion the best overall fighter in Bellator today.

2) Tarec Saffiedine Strikeforce finally ended in January and unfortunately it was without most of it’s top stars. The fight wasn’t great, but it was nice to see Saffiedine win the title. It was fitting that the underdog that worked his way up from Strikeforce Challengers would upset the former UFC fighter. He used a lot of stiff leg kicks for the biggest win of his career. I don’t know if he’s a top ten welterweight in the UFC, but he deserves a fairly big fight in his debut.
3) Anthony Pettis : This had potential to be one of the best fights of the year, but instead Pettis was too dominant for the cowboy. Pettis hadn’t fought since last February, but he only needed a few minutes to put away one of the top lightweights in the world today. The liver kick that ended it rightfully won KO of the night and has now put Pettis in position for a featherweight title shot.
4) Demetrious Johnson: Mighty Mouse had his first title defense as flyweight champion against possibly the best striker at 125 lbs. Dodson nearly won the fight several times in the first two rounds, but Johnson showed superior conditioning and heart as he fought back for the win. It was a nice fight for him and the flyweight division.
5) Vitor Belfort: The Phenom just had to go and screw over everybody’s plans. Bisping had a title shot against Anderson Silva on the line in the FX main event, but Belfort connected with a head kick in the second round that forced the division to get rearranged. Nobody has any desire to see Belfort get a rematch against Silva, but he may force the UFC’s hand if he were to pull off another win against rumored opponent Luke Rockhold.

Wyatt Beougher
1) Tarec Saffiedine:
All the talk leading up to Strikeforce’s final welterweight fight centered around champion Nate Marquardt making his UFC return after being cut by the promotion for forcing the cancellation of a main event due to elevated TRT levels. Instead Saffiedine came out, won Marquardt’s title, and punched his ticket to the UFC. Not bad for a guy who nobody really gave a chance to.

2) Michael Chandler: Bellator’s lightweight champion made his Spike debut in impressive fashion, looking like an unbeatable monster in retaining his title. Rick Hawn is an Olympian and a Bellator tournament winner, but Chandler made him look like a rookie.
3) Pat Curran: Curran didn’t win as impressively as fellow champion Michael Chandler, but his five-round war against Pitbull Freire was arguably as star-making a performance as Chandler’s with Bellator’s new audience. Spike was fortunate to feature a five-round brawl a few years back that led in large part to MMA’s huge popularity growth. Curran/Freire wasn’t exactly Griffin/Bonnar, but I’m sure Spike had to be pleased with it all the same.
4) Glover Teixeira: The Brazilian continued his impressive entry into the UFC with a huge win over former champion Rampage Jackson, and it’s going to be a lot harder for other light heavyweights to turn down fights with him now that he’s got his first big win in the Octagon. Rampage certainly won’t be the last victim in Teixeira’s win streak.
5) Muhammed Lawal: Bellator hired King No to be the star of their transition to SpikeTV, and his MMA debut was certainly all that they could’ve hoped for, as Lawal dispatched an overmatched opponent with very little trouble and looked to be every bit the star they’ve touted him to be.

Honorable Mention: Michael Chandler – (14 points)

5th Place Ben Askren – (18 points)

4th Place – Glover Teixeira – (23 points)

3rd Place – Tarec Saffiedine – (24 points)

The final Strikeforce welterweight champion, and on his way to the UFC!

2nd Place – Anthony Pettis – (30 points)

Defeated Donald Cerrone and is now headed towards a featherweight title bout against Jose Aldo!

411’s Fighter of the Month for January – Demetrious Johnson – (31 points)

Still your reigning and defending flyweight champion!

2013 Year-End Standings
Here are the standing after the first month…

RULE REMINDER: if a fighter ranked on the yearend list LOSES a fight they will lose 5 points. Also, after much discussion, if a fighter is suspended by an athletic commission, they lose any points accumulated.

* Demetrious Johnson -15 pts

* Anthony Pettis – 12pts

* Tarec Saffiedine – 9pts

* Glover Teixeira – 6pts

* Ben Askren – 3pts

* Michael Chandler – 1pt

  • Year-End Rankings Key:

    * UFC Contracted Fighters are represented in BLUE.

    * Bellator Contracted Fighters are represented in RED.

    * Other Fighters are represented in MAROON.


    Year One (2009) Winner: Lyoto Machida

    Year Two (2010) Winner: Cain Velasquez

    Year Three (2011) Winner: Jon Jones

    Year Four (2012) Winner: Benson Henderson

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