The Best of the Best 02.19.14: January 2014
Posted by Jack McGee on 02.19.2014
From Anthony Johnson’s knockout of Mike Kyle to Alex Caceres’ submission victory over Sergio Pettis at UFC on FOX 10 and more, 411’s Jack McGee breaks down the best of the best from MMA in January!
Welcome back to the 411 MMA Zone, and welcome back to my latest experiment for a column, the Best of the Best. Hi, I'm Jack McGee, you may remember me from such columns as The Top 7 MMA Fighters of 2013, the MMA 5&1 and the 411 Movies Top 10. Unfortunately due to my work and relocation to Europe, I have been downgraded to an occasional contributor here at 411. I wanted to come back and offer some content, and figured if I could do something that I only had to run once a month, I may have a shot to deliver something regular. Well, as regular as once a month can be. So while nothing spectacularly new, I have decided upon "The Best of the Best". The column will look back at the month that was, and reward the best Fighter, Knockout, Submission and Fight for the month that was. Also, it will likely not be this delayed moving forward.
Anthony Johnson Destroys Mike Kyle at World Series of Fighting 8
Anthony Johnson walked into World Series of Fighting 8 on the last fight of his contract, finally getting to face Mike Kyle. The delayed fight was finally set in stone, and with rumors of Johnson looking to move onto bigger and better things, many expected Johnson to easily defeat his "inferior" opponent, and I was one of them. The fight did not last long. I personally figured that they would trade, Kyle's poor chin would again be exposed, Johnson would get him down and ground and pound his way to victory. Well, not quite. After some feeling out, Johnson and Kyle had their back and forth, a quick exchange and then BOOM. Turn out the lights, because the party is over. Johnson hit him on the button, and Kyle Flair flopped to the canvas, ending his night and the fight. Johnson came out of World Series of Fighting 8 with the most impressive performance of the night, with momentum and as a free man. This led to a meeting with the UFC, a new contract and a fight with Phil Davis at UFC 172. A victory and impressive performance by Johnson could rocket him into the UFC Light Heavyweight Title mix. This was a tremendous knockout that led to so much more for Johnson, a hell of a month for him.
The Best Submission of the Month
Alex Caceres Submits Sergio Pettis at UFC on FOX 10
Sergio Pettis returned to the UFC debut at UFC on FOX 10. The younger brother of UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis had gone 10-0, including a win at UFC 167 over Will Campuzano. He looked to go 2-0 in the promotion by making Alex Caceres his latest victim in the featured preliminary card bout at the 10th UFC on FOX event. Pettis was doing work and looking strong, winning the first two rounds on the cards of judges and many media members. It wasn't an all out domination, but he seemed to have it in control. Unfortunately, "winning the fight until you lost it" doesn't mean shit in this sport, and young Alex Caceres was still looking to win. Knowing that he needed a finish, Caceres worked hard in the final round, using his time on the ground to his advantage. He was able to escape a heel hook (it was a beautiful escape) attempt from Pettis, and after some strike, slipped right into the rear naked choke with ease, and scored the upset. Caceres dug deep, Pettis got too excited, and his youth and inexperience (Caceres has fought nine times in the UFC) were exposed, allowing Caceres to steal victory from the jaws of defeat late in the fight. Pettis will likely learn from this and become a much better fighter; but Caceres' late submission here was the best of the month for me.
The Best Fight of the Month
Yoel Romero vs. Derek Brunson at UFC Fight Night 35
My fight of the month was the fight at took home the Fight of the Night award at UFC Fight Night 35, the battle between Yoel Romero vs. Derek Brunson. Now I have to tell you guys, while I love a great technical grappling bout and or a boxing clinic, I can also appreciate a great "slobber knocker" as Jim Ross would say. For my money (even though it was a free card, but you get it) Yoel Romero vs. Derek Brunson at UFC Fight Night 35 was my fight of the month. I felt that the first two rounds were fun and just a cool striking battle, but I though that the rounds were close and that Derek Brunson was about to head into the clubhouse with the victory via decision. Bruson just seemed to be giving Romero so many issues, and Romero couldn't utilize his wrestling. But for the second straight fight, Romero snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Unlike many fighters, Romero went into the third round with a sense of urgency and going for broke and a finish. So many fighters go out there either not understanding their position or accepting defeat. Romero went out there, did work, got it to the ground and got the victory. I loved the fight, I loved the comeback and Yoel Romero is now 3-0 in the UFC, and all three fights via (T)KO. The only thing that is not in his favor is that he is already 36, and I am not sure what he will be able to accomplish once he hits a more skilled opponent (like Brad Tavares at UFC on FOX 11). But the man is fun, and takes home the fight of the month award from me. Rock on Mr. Romero.
The Best Fighter of the Month
Bruce Leroy Makes a Statement – Submits Sergio Pettis at UFC on FOX 10
Going into UFC on FOX 10, one of the things I heard about repeatedly was, "Sergio Pettis is the next big things, he's so good, he will outclass Alex Caceres, Caceres is just a gimmick fighter." Well no one told Alex Caceres that, because not only did he have my best submission of the month, he is my fighter of the month. Everyone wrote off Alex Caceres, simply because he was fighting Anthony Pettis' little brother. Sergio had a ton of hype, but the one thing people really needed to remember is that while he was undefeated at 20 years old, he was 20 years old and did not have the same level of experience that Caceres had. Some may be surprised, but Caceres has been in the UFC since 2011 and had fought eight times in the UFC leading into the UFC on FOX 10 battle with Pettis. Pettis is young, strong, fast and very talented, but with only one fight in the UFC, he ha snot been on the big stage and fighting the caliber of fighters Caceres has. And I really do feel that this was the difference for the fight. Pettis looked to be set for his second straight UFC win via decision, but Caceres was still fighting hard and fighting hard from the ground. Pettis I felt got overzealous; Caceres was able to remain composed while still having the drive to win late in the fight. I feel that this was a huge month for Caceres. He wins the fight, he wins best fight of the night and submission of the night ($100,000); but more importantly he showed that he is more than just "Bruce Leroy". He is an evolving fighter, and after going 1-3 in his first four UFC fights, has put up a 4-0-1 record with the promotion. It's a damn fine story, and a hell of a month for Mr. Caceres.
And there we have it for the debut edition of the Best of the Best. I hope that you enjoyed the column. If you have any ideas for the column, possibly another category or anything, please let me know. Do I need a "Dana White Dumbass Moment of the Month" or something? I want this to be an enjoyable read, so let me know.. Also, make sure to share YOUR picks for the month. This is nothing official, just one man's opinion. Thanks for reading.
Year in Review
The Best Fight For January 2014: Yoel Romero vs. Derek Brunson at UFC Fight Night 35
The Best Knockout For January 2014: Anthony Johnson Destroys Mike Kyle at World Series of Fighting 8
The Best Submission For January 2014: Alex Caceres Submits Sergio Pettis at UFC on FOX 10