411's Fighter of the Month 10.04.13: September 2013
Posted by Larry Csonka on 10.04.2013
Renan Barao defeated Eddie Wineland to retain the UFC Interim Bantamweight Title, Jon Jones defeated Alexander Gustafsson to retain the UFC Light Heavyweight Title and much more! But who won 411's Fighter of the Month for September? Check out the full article to find out!
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) Jon Jones:
Jon Jones overcame the biggest challenge of his young career to keep his impressive win streak alive. Jones was pressures more than ever before and suffered a pretty bad cut, but overcame and survived through the championship rounds to retain the UFC LHW Title. That was Jones' 10th UFC win in a row and 6th defense of the title, and at 26, he could still get better.
2) Renan Barao: Defeated Eddie Wineland at UFC 165 via RD2 TKO to retain his Interim Bantamweight Title and also win what seems like his 100th fight in a row. Barao continues to impress and looks like the real champion rather than a guy with the interim tag. I hope Cruz is healthy because I want to see that fight and find out who the man is, for real, at 135.
3) Ronaldo Souza: Jacare continues to improve and evolve, and there was no doubt about that at UFC Fight Night 28 when he destroyed Yushin Okami. I say destroy because he defeated him via RD1 TKO and also that victory sent Okami out of the UFC. That's taking care of your competition with extreme prejudice.
4) Glover Teixeira: Defeated Ryan Bader at UFC Fight Night 28 in the first round to keep his winning streak alive, and to also secure him a title shot against Jon Jones.
5) Joseph Benavidez : With his third straight victory, he secured a flyweight title rematch against Mighty Mouse.
1) Jon Jones:
Ultimately, the biggest winner of them all in September was Jon Jones. While his opponent, Alexander Gustafsson, came in as a massive underdog despite his obvious talents, the fight between the two proved one of the closest in the 205 lb title's history. While some will continue to argue that Gustafsson isn't that great and that Jones' inability to dominate is a residual effect of having too many (comparatively) easy fights, that's unfair on the giant Swede. Gustafsson came, he brought his A-game, he pushed Jones to the brink, and yet Jones retained the title on points. That many are now clamoring for a rematch is to Jones' benefit – the title scene at light heavyweight was quickly becoming stagnant with a lack of true contenders, but with the old-timers fading, it's nice to see that a new generation is breaking through. Expect Jones to be defending the UFC Light Heavyweight title for some time, and with a renewed interest.
2) Renan Barao: Arguably the best UFC fighter not to hold an undisputed UFC title, the Interim Bantamweight Champion is about as good as it gets in the company. Riding the crest of a wave, Barao followed up successive wins over Urijah Faber and Michael McDonald with a second round TKO of Eddie Wineland. Wineland, who has never been TKO'd by anyone except in the case of an early career injury, ate a nasty spinning back kick and was unable to respond to the follow up blows as the brilliant Brazilian continues to dominate at 135 lbs.
3) Ronaldo Souza: Yushin Okami earned his unofficial nickname "The Spoiler" by shutting down his opponents with his outstanding all-round game and denying opponents the chance to excel at their chosen craft. Perhaps he figured ‘Jacare' would come in with all guns blazing as he looked for the submission, but instead, Souza knocked out Okami inside 3 minutes. That Jacare's striking is ever improving is no secret, but few would have guessed quite how readily he would outstrike Japan's finest middleweight export.
4) Khabib Nurmagomedov : Pat Healy is a grinding fighter who has dominated all and sundry at lightweight following his drop from 170 lbs – not only that, but he made short work of the exceptional Jim Miller before forfeiting the win due to failing a drug test for testing positive for marijuana metabolites. Nurmagomedov, however, won all three rounds on all three scorecards against the overpowering Healy, displaying a frighteningly tight all-round game that is going to be incredibly difficult to pick apart.
5) Patricio Freire : Diego Nunes had lost four times in his career prior to this bout, all of them under the Zuffa banner. In his UFC tenure, Nunes was essentially a gatekeeper to the divisional newcomers, having to face the likes of Kenny Florian and Dennis Siver as they dropped to 145 lbs, coming up short on the scorecards each time. Even in losing efforts to LC Davis and Nik Lentz, Nunes had never been decimated in the manner Patricio ‘Pitbull' Freire decimated him. The fight lasted just 79 seconds, as Freire showed that the gap between the Bellator featherweight division and the UFC featherweight division is minimal at best.
1) Jon Jones:
Winning or retaining a UFC title is grounds for high consideration when Fighter of the Month comes along, and Jon Jones didn't just retain his title. He broke the previous record for consecutive title defenses, gained his tenth consecutive UFC victory which puts him in high company, and did all that while engaging in one of the best title fights of all time, especially when you narrow your focus to the light heavyweight division. Great month for the reigning UFC light heavyweight champion.
2) Renan Barao: You know, if the UFC were recognizing Barao as the real champion, which he is, then he might have gotten the top spot as he was never in danger when he knocked out Eddie Wineland. But it's still officially an interim title, at least until the UFC either strips Cruz or they finally get to fight to unify the belts.
3) Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza: Jacare had a relatively easy entry fight for the UFC, Chris Camozzi is a fine lower level guy but clearly wasn't on Jacare's level. Yushin Okami was going to be a much sterner test for the former Strikeforce middleweight champion, and Souza knocked him out in the first round. Souza is the real deal folks, if there was any doubt before there shouldn't be now.
4) Khabib Nurmagomedov: In a different month of fights I'd rank Khabib's performance higher. He did something that hasn't happened often at lightweight, he beat Pat Healy and did it decisively. Nurmagomedov asked for a title shot after the win, and with another high profile win he could easily get one.
5) Alexander Shlemenko: Shlemenko retained his title in a fun fight over Brett Cooper, while I clearly value UFC titles over Bellator titles, retaining one is still grounds for consideration and Shlemenko also had a fun fight to boot, so he gets my fifth spot.
1) Jon Jones:
Jon Jones tops the list this week with his history making performance at UFC 165. Not only did Jones take part in one of the best fights ever, he defended his title a record sixth time, something no one else has done in the UFC light heavyweight division. This was a very close fight, and while many do think Alexander Gustafsson won, you really can't take anything away from Jon Jones after he dug down deep and put on such a performance as well. No one has ever given Jones a battle like this before, but Jon Jones survived and endured.
2) Renan Barao: Barao continued to impress at UFC 165, using a spinning back kick to take out former WEC bantamweight champion Eddie Wineland. Despite being the interim champion, many fans believe Barao really should just be considered the undisputed champion now. He's defended the interim belt twice and it's been two years since Dominick Cruz has fought. Barao looks like he's becoming more confident and comfortable as a top guy. He's beaten all the top fighters in his weight class except for the champion, who will have been out for such a long time if he does return, one wonders how many steps he will have lost.
3) Glover Teixeira: Teixeira clinched a shot at the title by knocking out Ryan Bader in exciting fashion. Now it looks like Teixeira will be the next challenge to Jon Jones. Teixeira's ascent to contendership has been impressive to watch as he's one of the more exciting and fun prospects to watch at light heavyweight. Bader was able to hurt him, but the visual of Teixeira retaliating and blasting Bader into oblivion was amazing.
4) Ronaldo Souza: Jacare looks like he's a rising star in the middleweight division, picking up on his tear he left off of in Strikeforce after he lost the middleweight belt to Luke Rockhold. He took out onetime UFC title contender in Yushin Okami. A loss which subsequently got Okami released from the UFC. Jacare now looks like a scary tough competitor for anyone in the division, and it looks like it could only be a matter of time before he holds UFC gold.
5) Joe Warren: Joe Warren made a glorious return at UFC 101, putting all the haters and rumors to rest with his amazing performance Nick Kirk. Warren pulled off the first submission win of his career, using an inverted triangle (!) to take out Kirk. The win secures a finals tournament spot for Warren and puts him ever closer to winning a title in another division and cementing his Baddest Man on the Planet status.
1) Jon Jones:
I really wanted to do something different and give this spot to a more surprising candidate but I simply could not. Jon Jones just broke the record for most Light Heavyweight Title defenses and won an epic battle that is almost assuredly a lock to win Fight of the Year. One of the most important and perhaps overlooked things to come out of the amazing battle between "Bones" Jones and Alexander Gustafsson is how much more intrigue will surround Jones' fights from here on out. Jon Jones has been so dominant, has never truly been defeated, and has only lost a single round one time in his UFC career. After his bout with Gustafsson, fans have now seen the champ in a true war, have seen him battle through adversity like never before, and have finally seen him look human. Seeing that side of Jones could endear him to more fans and now that we know he may not be so invincible after all, his fights will be filled with even more suspense and excitement.
2) Renan Barao: Renan Barao appears to be right on the verge of truly breaking out and being suitably recognized for his achievements in his career thus far. The man has not been beaten in over 8 years, since his very first fight in 2005. He has an incredible record of 31-1 (and 1 NC) after adding Eddie Wineland to his long list of victories with an amazing spinning back-kick. Barao has defeated all the top Bantamweights in the UFC with the exception of the Official Champion, Dominick Cruz. If Barao and Cruz do battle in early 2014 as everyone hopes, Cruz will have been out of action for well over 2 years after suffering two terrible injuries. I think that is too big a step for Cruz to take upon his return and Renan Barao will finally take his spot as the top Bantamweight fighter in the world.
3) Khabib Nurmagomedov: Khabib Nurmagomedov picked up his fifth straight win in the UFC, bringing his record to an incredible 21-0. After the fight, Dana White stated that big things are in store for "The Eagle" and I could see him getting a shot at the Lightweight title with one more win over a top 10 fighter.
4) Alexander Gustafsson: I originally forgot to place Alexander Gustafsson on this list and for that, I slapped myself. Even in defeat, Gustafsson's stock rose after his amazing battle against Jon Jones. "The Mauler" took the fight to Jones the way no one has ever done before and he proved the champ to be human. With Glover Teixeira getting his promised title shot, Alexander Gustafsson now likely only needs one big win before getting another shot at the champ.
5) Joseph Benavidez: Team Alpha Male has been on quite the roll and Joseph Benavidez continued doing his part by decimating Jussier Formiga in less than two minutes. Benavidez is an elite fighter in the UFC Flyweight division and my money is on him bringing home the gold when he takes on Demetrious Johnson at The Ultimate Fighter Finale this November.
1) Jon Jones:
Many fighters that come into the sport with great physical gifts and dominate opponents tend to fade when they finally find themselves in real war. Jon Jones proved his mettle against Alexander Gustafsson, who gave the champion the toughest fight of his career. With the win, Jones notched his sixth consecutive title defense, a total good for third-most in UFC history.
2) Jacare Souza: Jacare had looked excellent since losing his Strikeforce middleweight title, but he hadn't been fighting top-level opponents. He fought one in September by the name of Yushin Okami, and destroyed the longtime top-10 fighter in the first round.
3) Alexander Gustafsson: I'm not in the crowd that thinks Gustafsson won, but he went up against a guy that had dominated every top level fighter he'd ever faced and when the horn sounded at the end of the fight, nobody knew who the judges were going to pick. For that, even in losing, Gustafsson deserves a spot on this list. Not to mention, it was one of the best championship bouts in the history of the sport.
4) Renan Barao: Defended the UFC interim bantamweight title with a spinning back kick knockout. It was pretty awesome.
5) Khabib Nurmagomedov: Pat Healy is a really good fighter, but Nurmagomedov didn't seem to care and beat him handily.
1) Alexander Gustafsson: The Mauler gets my vote even in "defeat". My initial reaction watching the bout was that Alex won at least three rounds but alas the judges scored it differently and after re-watching it...twice, that fight was BA, I could see Jones taking 3 as well, which are debatable and 49-46 still makes no god damn sense on any planet. So with The Mauler raising his stock ten fold, legitimizing himself as a future titleholder potentially and not a one off, and Bones coming back down to earth I will say Gustafsson did the dirty work and Jones looked dirty so I will not put him in the top five...he gets enough praise and his was great in the bout but Alex gets the nod. Money match is coming people, brace yourselves. Plus I training in Sweden at the moment myself he is a frackin' hero and martyr down here right now.
2) Alexander Schlemenko/Brett Cooper: Another European Alex who was in a close 5 round WAR!!! This fight will now be swept under the rug but, Storm and Cooper put on a clinic as well and some pundits may even say better bout and I think its enough that this non UFC'ers get a little respect, especially the way people we writing this bout off even more then Jones and Gusto
3) Jacare: Punched his way through a top ten middleweight all the way out of the UFC like he had alligator super powers of cutting proportions. Impressive! Finish him...indeed!
4) Douglas Lima: As an advocate of Yushin Okami I would have loved to place Lima higher and even though that ridiculous brutalizing of Kill B was hard and fun to watch Jacare skirts just a tad ahead. But Lima even with his hand problems is still a future player anywhere he fights. Heck by the time he makes it to the UFC if ever he may be part Cyborg for all I know.
5) Glover Teixera/Joseph Benavidez: Both punched their tickets to Future UFC title shots good job boys. Nuff said.
1) Jon Jones:
I don't see how anyone else can get the number one spot this month. Jon Jones had one of the best fights ever against Alexander Gustaffson. I felt the fight could have truly gone either way and I hope we do get to see a rematch eventually. Not only was the fight awesome, but Jones also defended his title for a record breaking sixth time. Huge accomplishments.
2) Renan Barao: Jon Jones wasn't the only champion to defend his title last month. Renan Barao took on Eddie Wineland in the co main event of UFC 165 as he defended the interim bantamweight title for a second time. Barao connected with a spinning back kick in the second round to knockout the former WEC champion. Hopefully Dominick Cruz returns in early 2014, otherwise the UFC should make Barao the undisputed champion.
3) Jacare Souza: Jacare Souza picked up the biggest win of his career as he defeated Yushin Okami. Okami may have been cut last week, but he is one of the top middleweights in the world and a former number one contender. The former Strikeforce champion just wrecked him via first round TKO and is now one or two fights away from a title shot.
4) Alexander Gustaffson: The Swede pushed Jon Jones further than anyone ever has last month. I thought the fight could have gone either way, but many thought he was robbed. It was close enough that an immediate rematch was being considered. Gustaffson should be able to work his way back to another title shot as I don't see any other light heavyweight defeating him at this point.
5) Glover Teixeira: UFC Fight Night 28 was a fun show and Glover Teixeira took on Ryan Bader in the main event. It wasn't pretty, but Teixeira won by first round TKO. Say what you will about Bader, the guy is consistently been a top ten light heavyweight for years and has only lost to fighters that have held gold in the UFC. Teixeira is now the new number one contender and will take on Jon Jones in 2014. I don't think he'll be able to defeat Jones, but it's still a huge accomplishment.
1) Jon Jones:
Whether you agreed with the decision or not (and many did not) Jon Jones is still the UC Light Heavyweight Champion. Jones had a difficult time, but his impressive run in the UFC continues. Up next, Glover Teixeira…
2) Glover Teixeira: Glover Teixeira defeated Ryan Bader and will now be the next man to challenge Jon Jones for the UFC Light Heavyweight Title. I am a huge Teixeira fan and am glad he got the title shot he earned.
3) Jacare Souza: Scored an extremely impressive victory over Yushin Okami. I thought Jacare would win, but never expected him to run through Okami as he did.
4) Renan Barao: Defeated Eddie Wineland to retain his title via second round TKO. In my eyes, Barao is not the Interim Champion he is THE Champion.
5) Joseph Benavidez: Benavidez won his third in a row, second by finish and will now get a rematch with Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson. I for one am excited to see them face off again.
1) Alexander Gustafsson:
If Fighter of the Month is supposed to be about the one fighter who stood out more than any other fighter over the past month, then there is no doubt in my mind that The Mauler deserves the distinction. Nobody thought that there was anything that the Swede could offer UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones in their UFC 165 title fight aside from a meaningless height advantage. Everyone ruled the kid out but, like Shogun Rua against Lyoto Machida or Chael Sonnen against Anderson Silva, Gustafsson went out there and shocked the world by hurting Jones and giving him the toughest fight of his life. Only one other man has gone 25 minutes with Jones and, through a combination of tenacity and heart, Gustafsson stayed with Jones and continued coming after him until the final horn sounded. Jones may have won the fight but what people will remember is the gutsy performance by the blonde dreamboat that brought him THIS close to winning the championship and defeating the greatest fighter on the planet for the first time (well, the first legitimate time). I mean c'mon, he took Jones down. No one has ever done that before. That alone should win you Fighter of the Month.
2) Jon Jones: Now, that's not to say that Jones wasn't impressive during that title fight. He most definitely was. We've seen brief moments where Jon has been put in danger before by Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort but this was the first time that we saw the champ get beat for any considerate length of time. Not only was Jones dumped on his back for the first time in his UFC career, he was got tagged more times by Gustafsson than everyone else in his MMA career combined. Despite this, Jones showed the resilience of a champion and roared back, hurting Gustafsson late in the fight and came really close to finishing. In the end, the champion persevered and defeated the toughest challenger he has faced to date, setting the record for most Light Heavyweight title defenses in UFC history. Plus, he gets all the Gatorade he can drink. It's good to be the champ.
3) Glover Teixeira: There's been a lot of focus on the light heavyweights in September as not only did we see the greatest title fight in the division's history, we also saw Glover Teixeira punch his ticket to a title shot by using Ryan Bader's skull. Glover has been extremely successful in his UFC career so far, going 5-0 and extending his current win streak to 20, and, while Glover hasn't faced too many top ranked opponents, he has finished 22 of his 24 wins and definitely has the ability to hurt Jones (as long as he isn't afraid to take a few punches to get past Jones's reach). It's going to be a great title fight that's going down early next year.
4) Renan Barao: Barao now holds the distinction of being the only UFC fighter to defend an interim championship twice and he did so in spectacular fashion. Eddie Wineland presented a surprisingly stiff challenge to the Brazilian, but all it took was one spinning back kick to the face and some follow-up punches to take care of that problem. Defending a title with a Knockout of the Year contender always looks good on one's record. Plus, things are only going to get better for Barao because the next time we see him, he will either be fighting Dominic Cruz to unify the bantamweight championships or he will be promoted to full champion after Cruz gets stripped due to inactivity. Either way, things are only going to get better for Barao. He'll show those sponsors. How dare they not sponsor him just because he's only an interim champion.
5) Ronaldo Souza: Jacare had the biggest test of his MMA career at Fight Night 28 when he faced Yushin Okami, the number 6 ranked middleweight the UFC (number 5 in the 411 rankings). The former Strikeforce champion not only defeated the dangerous wrestler, he knocked him out in under three minutes. It was the fastest anyone had ever stopped Okami and was brutal enough for the UFC to fire Okami afterwards. I'm not gonna blame Jacare for that but just the thought of someone beating a highly ranked fighter so badly that they lose their job is kind of badass. All the other middleweights have been put on notice. Jacare is coming for your livelihood.
1) Jon Jones:
If it was any other champion who had such a close fight and retained his title, I would've put Barao's fantastic finish at the top of the list, but the truth is that Jon Jones' fights haven't had any drama essentially since he became champion because he's just been SO MUCH BETTER than every opponent he's faced. Consequently, his drawing power has suffered as a result. After UFC 165's main event, Jones escaped a very close fight with his title, but more importantly than that, his next two fights (at least) will have a larger measure of importance, as fans now want to see the Gustafsson rematch. That should translate to more eyes on his fight with Glover Teixeira than there otherwise would've been, as well as much more interest (and much easier promotion from Zuffa's end) for the eventual rematch with Gus. So while Barao's title defense was more impressive, and Gustafsson's performance was more beneficial to his career, I believe Bones had the best month of any fighter in September.
2) Alexander Gustafsson: Going into his fight with Jon Jones, I don't think most people gave Alexander Gustafsson a real chance to win. His resume with the UFC, while impressive, didn't really give any indication that he'd be able to hang with the otherworldly talent of Jones. When the main event of UFC 165 rolled around, that all changed. "The Mauler" not only hung with Jones for five rounds, something no one had been able to do to date (Rashad lasted five rounds, but it was never a close fight), but he made enough of a case for himself that people were actually arguing with the decision. For such a star-making performance, I'm giving him the second slot.
3) Renan Barao: Poor, poor Renan - not only will he not be declared the UFC bantamweight champion, which, based on the length of Dominick Cruz's absence, I believe he should already be, but he has a phenomenal performance against a game challenger get completely overshadowed by one of the best title fights in UFC history. Still, though, such an impressive finish in a title defense is good enough for third on this month's list.
4) Douglas Lima: Depending on how Ben Askren's negotiations go with the UFC and with Bellator, Douglas Lima either earned himself a title shot against Askren (and a chance to avenge his loss to Funky from April of last year) or he more than likely earned himself the title. In a fairly slow month, I think that's good enough for consideration.
5) Alexander Shlemenko: The other titleholder in action in September, Shlemenko barely edges out Jacare for the last spot on my list, and he very nearly didn't make the cut. Still, though, a title defense in Bellator *should* trump a win in a possibly, maybe middleweight title eliminator. (I still think Jacare is going to have to face the winner of Machida/Munoz, with the winner of that getting a title shot.)
Honorable Mention: Khabib Nurmagomedov - (8 points)
5th Place - Glover Teixeira - (15 points)
4th Place - Alexander Gustafsson - (21 points)
3rd Place - Ronaldo "JACARE" Souza - (25 points)
Beat Yushin Okami so bad that Okami got cut by the UFC.
2nd Place - Renan Barao - (33 points)
Defeated Eddie Wineland to remain the UFC Interim Bantamweight Champion.
411's Fighter of the Month for SEPTEMBER is…
Jon Jones - (49 points)
Defeated Alexander Gustafsson to retain the UFC Light Heavyweight Title for the sixth time in a row..
2013 Year-End Standings
Here are the standing after NINE months…
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 or the UFC (drug related), they lose any points accumulated thus far.
Jon Jones – 27 pts
Demetrious Johnson -27 pts
Anthony Pettis - 27pts
Renan Barao - 24pts
Glover Teixeira – 15 pts
Chris Weidman -15 pts
Jose Aldo- 15 pts
TJ Grant -15 pts
Georges St-Pierre -15 pts
Ronda Rousey -15 pts
Josh Burkman – 15pts
Jacare Souza- 12pts
Cain Velasquez – 12 pts
Fabricio Werdum – 12 pts
Johny Hendricks - 12pts
Michael Chandler - 10pts
Benson Henderson -10 pts (Loses 5pts for his loss to Anthony Pettis)
Ben Askren - 9pts
Pat Curran - 9pts
Junior Dos Santos - 9pts
Stipe Miocic - 9pts
Vitor Belfort - 9pts
Tarec Saffiedine - 9pts
Emanuel Newton - 9pts
Chael Sonnen – 7pts (Loses 5pts for his loss to Jon Jones)
Cat Zingano - 6pts
Mark Hunt - 4pts (Loses 5pts for his loss to Junior Dos Santos)
Carlos Condit - 4pts (Loses 5pts for his loss to Johny Hendricks)
Travis Browne - 3pts
Cub Swanson - 3pts
Wanderlei Silva - 3pts
Chad Mendes - 2pts
Khabib Nurmagomedov - 1pt
Josh Barnett - 1pt
Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino – 1pt
Bobby Lashley – 1pt
Marlon Moraes – 1pt
Alexander Shlemenko - 1pt
Michelle Waterson - 1pt
Bibiano Fernandes - 1pt
Alexander Gustafsson - 1pts (Loses 5pts for his loss to Jon Jones)
Antonio Silva - 1pts (Loses 5pts for his loss to Cain Velasquez)
Rashad Evans – 1pt (Loses 5pts for his loss to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira)
King Mo Lawal – (-2pts.) (Loses 5pts for his loss to Emmanuel Newton)
As per the rules, Pat Healy was stripped of his three points, due to his failed drug test for marijuana at UFC 159.
Year-End Rankings Key:
UFC Contracted Fighters are represented in BLUE.
Bellator Contracted Fighters are represented in RED.