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 411mania » MMA » Columns

411's Fighter of the Month 12.09.13: November 2013
Posted by Larry Csonka on 12.09.2013

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) Eddie Alvarez:
Eddie Alvarez takes the top spot for me this month. After his legal battle with Bellator, he returned for a highly anticipated rematch with Michael Chandler. While not the instant classic of their first clash, it was still an outstanding fight that saw Alvarez reclaim his title. I cannot wait for the third fight!

2) Daniel Straus: In a lot of other months, Daniel Straus would have taken the top spot for me. I felt Pat Curran was a very good champion for Bellator and a good fighter. I felt Straus had a chance, but felt if he won it would be a fight that was very close and that Straus would have to grind it out. Straus won a decision, but had a much easier time than I thought he would. This was the best performance by Daniel Straus I have ever seen, and he did so while winning the Bellator Featherweight Title.
3) Georges St. Pierre: Man, what a can of worms this opened up. Georges St. Pierre is still your reigning and defending UFC Welterweight Champion after defeating Johny Hendricks in a controversial split decision. The victory was GSP's 12th in a row.
4) Emanuel Newton: Emanuel Newton defeated King Mo. You know, with all due respect, I shouldn't find this as funny as I do, but this whole situation is hilarious. Mo bitches about the first fight and gets owned with the backfist. Bellator gives him an easy road, he gets to fight Newton again, and then gets humbled over five rounds. Rock on Emanuel Newton, you just went 4-0 in 2013, I salute you sir.
5) Julianna Pena: became the first female winner of the Ultimate Fighter.

Jonathan Solomon
1) Eddie Alvarez:
There was no controversy for the biggest lightweight fight of November, that's for damn sure. All we saw was Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler resume their amazing rivalry in the form of another five round war. Unlike their first meeting in 2011, this time, it was Alvarez emerging the winner. Chandler suffered his first loss as a professional and we're all but guaranteed to see the third fight between the two in 2014. I don't know if Bellator will be on pay-per-view by then, but as long as Alvarez/Chandler III is happening, my wallet is open.

2) Georges St. Pierre: The man received a beating that was worse than any since he quit against Matt Serra all those years ago. Regardless, he did enough to retain the UFC welterweight championship and it remains the most remarkable title reign in MMA history. Selfishly, I hope he doesn't take an extended sabbatical, because I want to see whether he can maintain the pressure of being the #1 guy for so many years. Plus, now more the never, there will be scores of people expecting him to lose. We haven't been there in a long, long time.
3) Vitor Belfort: TRT. With that out of the way, he knocked out Dan Henderson and that's something you just don't expect to see in this life.
4) Johny Hendricks: I scored the fight in Hendricks' favor but two out of the only three people who mattered did not. Did he do enough to win? In hindsight, he left that question to be debated because by his own admission, he did not push the pace like he should have. Going five rounds for the first time, the wrapping on his hands or insisting on wanting to "entertain" are all issues that have been brought since UFC 167. Perhaps if he adjusted something here or there over the course of the fight, he's champion today.
5) Robbie Lawler: One of the best stories of 2013 continued last month as Robbie Lawler upset wunderkind Rory MacDonald. In the process, not only does he knock off one of the top 3 welterweight contenders, he places himself firmly in that realm. Yes, a fighter who one year ago was nothing but a journeyman has concluded his year as one of the hottest in the UFC.

Jeffrey Harris
1) Johny Hendricks:
The reason I'm putting Hendricks at the top of the list is because throughout all the garbage that followed UFC 167, what I feel is being lost in the discussion was how great of a performance Hendricks put in against Georges St-Pierre. Now in hindsight, yes there were parts where he could've been a bit more aggressive and gone 100% instead of 70%. But this was without a doubt the toughest fight of GSP's long and storied career, and he did what no one had been able to do to GSP, the greatest welterweight fighter of all time, for years. Plus, even though the judges scored it wrong, I believe Hendricks did win the fight, and his strong performance should be acknowledged.

2) Robbie Lawler: It would be extremely difficult and nigh-impossible to find a single person on this planet that bet Lawler would've beaten Rory MacDonald by decision. If anything, people probably would've expected Ruthless Robbie to knock the Canadian Psycho out. Lawler continued his impressive second run in the UFC at welterweight against Rory MacDonald at UFC 167. He was one of the biggest undercards on the card, and he showed a lot of improvement and maturity as a fighter in this bout. He fought a smart fight and did not fall prey to previous mistakes he had made in many of the bigger fights in his career so far. This was really the biggest and most important fight of his career, and it was a test that he passed remarkably well. He effectively ended the MacDonald hype train for now and puts himself in top contention at welterweight.
3) Vitor Belfort: All the controversy about TRT aside, Belfort makes the list for doing what no other fighter has ever done before in the sport, and that is to knockout Dan Henderson. TRT is all people want to talk about when Belfort fights, but regardless it's a treatment that Henderson uses as well and has used for a good chunk of his career, so who is to say he had an unfair advantage against Henderson in this fight? Belfort took a big risk by fighting a guy he had a previous loss to at light heavyweight, but by doing so and getting retribution for a previous loss and in such impressive fashion, he's able to remain the next in line for a middleweight title shot. So even if Anderson Silva were to become champion again, it would be a fight UFC would be keen to do again based on Belfort's recent output. Put the fight together in Brazil, and it would likely already be an automatic sellout. If it ends up being Belfort vs. Weidman, then we get a fresh, interesting, and compelling match up.
4) Eddie Alvarez: Despite having a disappointingly long layoff due to contract disputes, Alvarez put all that aside and came back strong in his title rematch with Michael Chandler at Bellator 106. It was a fight I got to see live, and it definitely lived up to the hype of the original. This one went to a more closely fought decision, one I scored for Chandler. However, considering it was such a close fight, it's not as heinous a decision as 167. Alvarez used a great job of utilizing his boxing technique and footwork here, taking advantage of the fact that Chandler basically opted to keep his hands down and not defend himself from strikes at all. It was a bad strategy by Chandler that Alvarez did very well in taking advantage of.
5) Daniel Straus: Pat Curran was getting a lot of hype and attention was one of the top dogs at featherweight, and he was going into a fight against a guy he had previously beaten outside Bellator. Straus made a tremendous comeback, after dealing with legal issues in his personal life. He fought a smart game plan and had a tough first round, but ultimately he dominated Curran to capture the Bellator featherweight title. It wasn't the prettiest fight, but Straus deserves credit for shutting down Curran and being such a huge underdog.

Robert Winfree
1) Georges St-Pierre:
When thinking of who gets fighter of the month for me, wins come first and foremost. I might disagree with the decision, but Georges St-Pierre successfully defended his welterweight title this month. Winning a title fight is a big deal, and again I might disagree with the decision but I have to go with the official winner here.

2) Johny Hendricks: Johny Hendricks should, in my estimation, be the welterweight champion right now. Sadly, judging is what it is and he came away second best. But his performance was strong enough to get him number 2 for me.
3) Eddie Alvarez: I didn't score the fight between Alvarez and Chandler for Alvarez, but again I have to consider the official winner. Alvarez regained the Bellator lightweight title in a solid fight.
4) Vitor Belfort: Being the first guy to finish Dan Henderson with strikes is a big deal, congratulations to Vitor Belfort.
5) Robbie Lawler: Beating Rory MacDonald is nothing to sneeze at, and Lawler did just that and has likely secured a title shot in either his next fight or with one more win.

Robert Practor
1) Johny Hendricks:
Johny Hendricks took it to Georges St. Pierre in a way that no one else has ever done before. Hendricks damaged GSP severely throughout the fight, had success with his takedowns, and pretty much-neutralized GSP's takedown game while at it. My stance that Hendricks was robbed has softened a bit, although I still score the fight in his favor. Controversial decision aside, Hendricks made himself a star in this fight and for that, he has to be viewed as the fighter of the month.

2) Georges St. Pierre: Again, controversial decision aside, Georges St. Pierre earned his ninth straight successful title defense over Johny Hendricks at UFC 167. That win marked 19 UFC victories for GSP and he also passed Anderson Silva for most UFC title fight wins in UFC history at 12. Whether it's a positive or negative, GSP also broke the record for most time spent inside the Octagon, with a massive 5 hours and 28 minutes of battle-time in the UFC. Georges St. Pierre is simply one of the all-time greats in the UFC and after their epic battle, it's only fitting that he and Johny Hendricks earn the #1 and #2 spots for Fighter of the Month.
3) Julianna Pena: Julianna Pena made history in becoming the first ever Women's Ultimate Fighter winner. She looked incredible throughout the series and as I discussed in the latest edition of WHAT'S NEXT, I feel that this is the perfect opportunity to give TUF a credibility boost by giving Pena a shot at the top of the Women's division. Match her up with a top contender and if she wins, let's see her fight Ronda Rousey.
4) Eddie Alvarez: Eddie Alvarez defeated Michael Chandler in a match of the year contender and appears to be only one more win away from being free from the scumbags at Bellator. Alvarez winning was a great moment considering everything he's gone through during this debacle and let's hope he can beat Chandler one more time and make his way to the UFC.
5) Vitor Belfort: Vitor Belfort is just a monster. He has earned three straight vicious head-kick knockouts and should be next in line for a Middleweight title shot against either Chris Weidman or Anderson Silva.

Jack McGee
1) Eddie Alvarez:
After a not so successful battle in court, Eddie Alvarez returned to the cage to defeat Bellator Lightweight Champion Michael Chandler in a rematch of one of the best MMA fights of all time. Not only did he win the title, but also the awesome look on Bjorn's face after the fight was worth every minute I spent watching that night. Best of all, we're going to get a third fight, which means that we all win.

2) Daniel Straus: While he had some personal stuff to get through, Daniel Straus was very impressive as he defeated Pat Curran in dominating fashion. While he couldn't finish Curran, he had no issues with the champion, who had won six straight heading into their fight. Straus impressed me and sent a message that you really need to be able to finish him, because the dude LOVE grinding people out over 15 or 25 minutes and will do it at every chance.
3) Alexander Shlemenko : Alexander Shlemenko continues to kick ass and take names, winning his 12th fight in a row and retaining his middleweight title. The dude is damn fun to watch, and doesn't get the attention he deserves. The fact that he demolished Doug Marshall with such ease was impressive.
4) Emanuel Newton: Emanuel Newton defeated King Mo, again, this time for the Interim Bellator Light Heavyweight Title. Newton has made a career out of whooping Mo's ass, and Bellator has to hate it because they did EVERYTHING they could to give Mo the title without literally handing it to him.
5) Robbie Lawler: A huge win over the kid that people thought GSP was passing the torch to. Remember not to put that cart before the horse kids.

Wyatt Beougher
1) Johny Hendricks:
Going into Hendricks' fight with GSP, I thought Bigg Rigg had the best chance of unseating the welterweight champion of any opponent in St. Pierre's career as a champion. But when the opening bell rang, I didn't expect the fight to unfold that way that it did. I assumed that if Hendricks won, it would be because he caught St. Pierre with either a big punch or a flurry of them in the early minutes of the fight. Instead, the challenger came out and beat the champion up early and often, securing takedowns, winning exchanges, and largely neutralizing GSP's vaunted ground game. Even though I don't agree with the official decision, there's no denying that a new star was born for the UFC, and if St. Pierre does come back for a rematch, I have little doubt that it will be one of the most anticipated fights in UFC history.

2) Eddie Alvarez: When Alvarez lost his title to Michael Chandler, it was heralded as one of the best fights of all time. And while the rematch was anxiously anticipated in the MMA community, I think Alvarez' extended time off and legal dispute with Bellator made a lot of people (myself included) wonder if Alvarez would even be able to hang with Chandler, a fighter who had shown marked improvement in every fight since winning the title. Not only did Alvarez look competitive, he won back the lightweight title in a fight that is at least a dark horse contender for Fight of the Year. Excellent return for Alvarez, and I think Alvarez/Chandler III will be one of the most hotly anticipated fights of 2014.
3) Georges St. Pierre: GSP wouldn't be in this spot if he hadn't been the recipient of some dubious judging, but the fact remains that he is the reigning, defending UFC welterweight champion, and his fight with Johny Hendricks was one of my favorites of the year.
4) Julianna Pena: Considering the first two male winners of TUF went on to win championships in the UFC, I don't think you can understate the importance of Pena's win. The combination of her success on the show, the UFC's well-publicized love affair with TUF winners, and an underdeveloped women's bantamweight division all mean that Pena's UFC future should be a bright one, and we saw the first real step of it in November.
5) Daniel Straus: Before Bellator 106, Michael Chandler and Pat Curran were going out and putting on fights to see who was the more dominant and dangerous Bellator champion. In the wake of Bellator 106, I think it's pretty clear that Eddie Alvarez is currently "the man" in Bellator, but that shouldn't take anything away from Daniel Straus, who was able to go the distance with Curran and take his title without ever really looking to be in any danger.

Evan Zivin
1) Johny Hendricks:
In my eyes, the man known as Big Rig deserves to be Fighter of the Month because he did something that no other fighter has done since 2007: he defeated Georges St-Pierre. He took the fight to the welterweight champion in a way no one else has in his 6-year reign and, even though it was a close fight, Hendricks did enough to win. The only reason the man isn't champion today is because two judges happened to fall into the minority that believed the champion was the rightful victor. I won't say those judges were wrong for giving GSP the fight, but--oh wait. Yes I will. They were wrong. GSP did not win that fight. Johny did. Hendricks has had to deal with a lot of crap beyond his control just to get to the title fight and there is no doubt in my mind that, whether he fights GSP again or someone else, one way or another he is getting that belt.

2) Eddie Alvarez: Eddie got the last laugh in his legal squabble with Bellator by returning to the promotion at Bellator 106, putting on an outstanding five round war with Lightweight Champion Michael Chandler, and being awarded the belt that was his before Chandler took it originally. It was also the most watched fight in Bellator history. As much as it sucks that he isn't fighting in the UFC right now, things have got to feel pretty good for Eddie considering the alternative. He could be sitting at home waiting another year for a trial that he doesn't stand a good chance of winning, but instead, he's a 2 time Bellator champion. That ain't half bad.
3) Vitor Belfort: The former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion all but guaranteed himself the next shot at the Middleweight Championship with a thunderous head kick knockout of fellow legend Dan Henderson. It was his third head kick knockout of the year. That is insane. No matter what substances may or may not be in Vitor's body and if they are coursing in legal quantities, you can't deny the man is on a hot streak and there is no one else I'd want to see fight the winner of the Chris Weidman/Anderson Silva rematch than The Phenom.
4) Robbie Lawler: Wow. Where did Robbie Lawler come from all of a sudden? The man was failing out of Strikeforce a year ago and now look at him. He's gone 3-0 since returning to the UFC after a 9 year absence and he's now firmly positioned as a contender for the Welterweight Championship after knocking off the man many considered to be the heir to GSP's throne, Rory MacDonald. Robbie was willing to call Rory's counterstriking bluff and take the fight to him and knock the young Canadian down a few rungs. It's crazy to think that the man who should have been fighting for the belt ten years ago may finally get the opportunity to do it now. He's re-dedicated and re-focused on being the best mixed martial artist he can and I can't wait to see where he goes from here.
5) Daniel Straus: It took him a while to finally get the featherweight title shot that he earned by winning the Season Six tournament but the man made the most of it by dominating champion Pat Curran for five rounds and winning a unanimous decision. For as good as he's been in his Bellator career, I don't think many people were expecting Straus to defeat Curran. Not only had Curran been near untouchable since dropping to featherweight, he'd also beaten Straus previously. Well, Straus proved he's come a long way since that fight and all the hard work he's put in has finally paid off in a big way. Also, his dreads are pretty sweet.

Paul Lapointe
1) Johny Hendricks: When one thinks of recognition one thinks of accomplishment. With Johny Hendricks performance this past month he accomplished something...legitimate gripe, not to mention recognition. He (arguably) beat the unbeatable champion of the welterweight division on the hype that he only had a punchers chance. Now for what happens to 170 lb. division in the new year is hard to argue or ask at the moment, the only thing for sure is that Johny Hendricks can, should and will be there.

2) Eddie Alvarez & Mr. Chandler: It takes two to tango and though again the decision may have been debatable to some as to who won these guys put on one hell of a show. So rather then separate these two one fight equals one mention. Bring on the trilogy, and hey good on Bellator too.
3) Juliana Pena: Women's MMA pioneer part two takes credence as Pena becomes a figure in history as now the only TUF UFC champion and that is saying something. First time for everything just like her FOTM vote.
4) Daniel Straus: Defeats a Bellator golden boy after a year of injury and struggles and gets back a loss from earlier in his career to boot. Oh and one of them pesky MMA titles as well. Now will he get a rematch or Pitbull?
5) Alexander Schlemenko: I am a big fan of the Storm and he crippled The Rhino with his title on line. Damn Ruskies.

Honorable Mention: Robbie Lawler - (9 points)

5th Place - Vitor Belfort - (11 points)

4th Place - Daniel Straus - (13 points)

3rd Place - Georges St-Pierre - (19 points)

Still your reigning and defending UFC Welterweight Champion.

2nd Place - Johny Hendricks - (31 points)

Earned the respect of the voters with his performance against St-Pierre!

411's Fighter of the Month for NOVEMBER is…

 photo fac404f2-ee97-4ccc-9c04-d048a55cb9b7_zps023eb833.jpg

Eddie Alvarez - (34 points)

The NEW Bellator Lightweight Champions, and officially of Bjron Rebney's Christmas card list!

2013 Year-End Standings
Here are the standing after ELEVEN months (through November 30)…

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.

  • Cain Velasquez – 27 pts
  • Jon Jones – 27 pts
  • Demetrious Johnson -27 pts
  • Anthony Pettis - 27pts

  • Georges St-Pierre -24 pts
  • Renan Barao - 24pts

  • Johny Hendricks - 19pts (Loses 5pts for his loss to Georges St-Pierre )

  • Chris Weidman -15 pts
  • Eddie Alvarez - 15pts
  • Glover Teixeira – 15 pts
  • Jose Aldo- 15 pts
  • TJ Grant -15 pts
  • Ronda Rousey -15 pts

  • Vitor Belfort - 12pts
  • Jacare Souza- 12pts
  • Fabricio Werdum – 12 pts

  • Benson Henderson -10 pts (Loses 5pts for his loss to Anthony Pettis)
  • Josh Burkman – 10pts (Loses 5pts for his loss to Steve Carl)

  • Ben Askren - 9pts
  • Stipe Miocic - 9pts
  • Tarec Saffiedine - 9pts
  • Emanuel Newton - 9pts
  • Steve Carl – 9pt

  • Lyoto Machida – 7pts (Loses 5pts for his loss to Phil Davis)

  • Cat Zingano - 6pts
  • Daniel Straus - 6pts

  • Michael Chandler - 5pts (Loses 5pts for his loss to Eddie Alvarez)

  • Marlon Moraes – 4pts
  • Junior Dos Santos - 4pts (Loses 5pts for his loss to Cain Velasquez)
  • Mark Hunt - 4pts (Loses 5pts for his loss to Junior Dos Santos)
  • Carlos Condit - 4pts (Loses 5pts for his loss to Johny Hendricks)
  • Pat Curran - 4pts > (Loses 5pts for his loss to Daniel Straus)

  • Travis Browne - 3pts
  • Cub Swanson - 3pts
  • Wanderlei Silva - 3pts

  • Chad Mendes - 2pts
  • Chael Sonnen – 2pts (Loses 5pts for his loss to Jon Jones, Loses 5pts for his loss to Rashad Evans)

  • Khabib Nurmagomedov - 1pt
  • Robbie Lawler - 1pt
  • Josh Barnett - 1pt
  • Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino – 1pt
  • Bobby Lashley – 1pt
  • Alexander Shlemenko - 1pt
  • Michelle Waterson - 1pt
  • Bibiano Fernandes - 1pt
  • Alexander Gustafsson - 1pt (Loses 5pts for his loss to Jon Jones)
  • Gilbert Melendez - 1pt (Loses 5pts for his loss to Benson Henderson)
  • Antonio Silva - 1pt (Loses 5pts for his loss to Cain Velasquez)
  • Rashad Evans – 1pt (Loses 5pts for his loss to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira)

  • John Dodson – (-4pts.) (Loses 5pts for his loss to Demetrious Johnson)

  • King Mo Lawal – (-7pts.) (Loses 5pts for his loss to Emmanuel Newton, Loses 5pts for his OTHER 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.
  • 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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