Who was the biggest badass in mixed martial arts and combat sports in 2014? Which fight(s) left us with our mouths hanging wide open, delicious bourbon spilling onto the floor, from the sheer awesomeness of execution, violence and blood splatter? Was there a moment that stood out because it made us shake our heads in disbelief or left us wondering how something just happened or praising the Gods of MMA for blessing us? These are the questions that our beloved staff of mixed martial arts writers – Jessica, the expert-in-training, and Burnsy, the guy who watches people fight and claps along like a monkey – are here to answer for you in the most important year-end list of 2014.
In fact, we are awarding this list our MMA Year-End List of the Year. Boom, suck it other lists.
Moments of the Year
There are some moments in combat sports that don’t result in a knockout or a submission, nor do they happen in an exceptional fight, but they still need to be recognized. Here are some of our favorite moments from 2014.
Des Green vs. Steven Siler, Multiple Groin Shots:
Back at Titan Fighting Championships 32, Des Green took on Steven Siler in a featherweight title fight. The actual contest was boring and terrible, but it was impressive because there were 5 nut shots in the fight, three coming from Siler, two from Green, resulting in both men getting a point deducted. – Jessica
CM Punk’s Arrival
Look, I’m not saying this was a colossal game-changer that will rock the foundation of mixed martial arts as we know it, or any other such cliches. But in a year that was pretty boring, this was one of the UFC’s notoriously flat announcements that really made me lean back and say, “No f*cking way.” I’m still not sold on the potential of Phil Brooks, but am I excited to watch him fight? Hell yeah I am. It sucks for guys like Ben Askren and all, but you know what? It got people talking, and that was very necessary for the UFC after a really lackluster 2014. – Burnsy
I’m not talking about the fight, which was so much garbage, but the lead-up to it, which was the very best of dumb wrestling promotional tactics. The best part was probably when Justin “NSane1” McCully was revealed, shocking upwards of seven people. – Jessica
The Jon Jones/Daniel Cormier Promo That Made Us Care Again
When it comes to the UFC’s promo videos for its biggest and potentially baddest PPV events, I still haven’t forgiven the company for the Georges St-Pierre/Nick Diaz placebo rivalry that was administered to us like it was the most sincere and dangerous hatred between two fighters since the days when guys legitimately wanted to kill each other. So this promo for UFC 182 comes along and… I smiled so much. Nothing that the UFC did this year made me smile like this promo. Sure, I enjoyed some big fights here and there, and a few guys had their bells rung, but this promo made me honestly, genuinely excited for a PPV. (Now let’s stop pretending like it was a bad thing, UFC, and don’t fine guys because they honestly want to kick the hell out of each other. K? Thanks.) – Burnsy
Honorable Mention: Leslie Smith’s Earsplosion
On the grand scale of MMA and UFC news, Jessica Eye’s win over Leslie Smith was barely a splatter on the windshield of 2014. However, it was the splatter that I not only showed to everyone I know who doesn’t even watch the UFC, but it also makes me giggle with squeamish horror every time I watch it. It was the Jon Jones toe break of 2014. – Burnsy
Fighter of the Year
The choices for fighter of the year were pretty solid. A lot of people did impressive things in 2014. Some won a lot of fights, others had a great finish rate, while other fighters either won or defended world titles.
Neil Magny. I’ve held a weird grudge against Magny for a long time, mostly stemming from the fact that he was on that terrible season of The Ultimate Fighter. However, despite that bias, I can still admit that what Neil did in 2014 was pretty commendable. Winning five fights in a year is impressive, even if Magny only had two finishes. – Jessica
Robbie Lawler. Honestly, Jessica picked the two guys who first popped into my head, because Magny’s five win year was an incredible feat, and I wish more fighters would follow in his footsteps. So my honorable mention goes to the seemingly–universal pick for Fighter of the Year and man wearing gold, as Lawler’s Welterweight title win was right out of a storybook. He gave us arguably the two best main event title fights of 2014, and sandwiched two other dominant wins in between them. Lawler certainly deserves a buttload of praise for his insane 2014. – Burnsy
Fighter of the Year
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone
Cerrone, meanwhile, had four fights in 2014 (I’m not sure how he didn’t have more), with three finishes. He beat some really top-level guys, too. Barboza, Jim Miller, and Eddie Alvarez, and looked really great doing it. – Jessica
Renan Barao is a total badass and, when all is said and done, I expect him to get that Bantamweight belt back, but I never imagined him losing it in the first place. Nobody beats Ronda Rousey and Lawler seemed like a man possessed compared to his more laid back opponent. Dillashaw, on the other hand, completely stunned me by doing what I thought was the impossible. Call it a fluke or write it off as “only a matter of time,” but it was pretty damn amazing to me. – Burnsy
Fight of the Year
What makes a great fight? An impressive comeback performance helps, as does a memorable finish, though even bouts that go to decision can be amazing if the action is fast and furious throughout.
Davit Kiria vs. Andy Ristie, Glory 14
This was a pretty great fight. Ristie put on a great performance, dropping Kiria in the second, and as the fifth and final round started, he was probably up 4-0. Turns out Davit Kiria doesn’t care about things like that, because he went NUTS in the fifth and started landing bombs on Ristie. Three knockdowns in about a minute and a half later, the fight was over and we had a new champion. – Jessica
José Aldo vs. Chad Mendes, UFC 179
My Fight of the Year picks are hardly going to raise eyebrows or shatter monocles, because whereas Jessica is the aficionado, I am simply the mainstream mark. That said, with the way this fight seemed like it was never going to happen, and considering the way the first fight (UFC 142) ended, I was pretty worried that this fight was never ever going to live up to the hype. Instead, it totally delivered and then some. Most times, if a guy gets two shots at a title and can’t close the deal, I’m in favor of letting some new blood get in there. But Mendes made me want to see another match between these guys, even if Aldo got the UD. – Burnsy
Fight of the Year
For most dudes, getting hit in the liver is a fight ender. For Matt Brown, it’s an inconvenience that fuels his rage fire and forces him to unleash terrible violence upon the perpetrator. In the first round, Silva drops Brown with a liver kick and nearly sinks a rear naked choke. Brown fights back and then it’s ten minutes of dudes committing violence against one another. Brown’s just a little better at that than Silva, and finishes Erick in the third. – Jessica
Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler, UFC 171
Let me channel Jon Gruden for my analysis here… This fight? I call this fight the Blueprint, because every main event and especially title fight should look exactly like this one did. Two guys beating the ever-loving hell out of each other for five rounds, and no matter how bad it looked (especially for Hendricks early on), they never gave up. You don’t expect to see fights like this anymore, but these guys gave us two. Just unreal. – Burnsy