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 411mania » MMA » Columns

411's Fighter of the Month 3.12.14: February 2014
Posted by Larry Csonka on 03.12.2014

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) Ronda Rousey:
Ronda Rousey defeated Sara McMann at UFC 170 via RD 1 TKO, which was the first fight Rousey won without her arm bar. McMann looked to be the one that could compete with Rousey in regards to the fact that they were both Olympians and McMann was the only other woman in the company who had trained and competed at a similar level. McMann looked out matched at the stare down, and with Rousey using the rush and volume technique of the Diaz brothers, she eventually overwhelmed McMann and dropped her with a body shot and that was the end. Some will argue early stoppage, which is fair enough, but the fact is that Rouse won and moves to 9-0 in her MMA career, and right now, no one looks like they can stop her.

2) Renan Barao: Renan Barao defeated Urijah Faber (again) via RD1 TKO at UFC 169. Faber was on a hot streak, and even if some felt it was stopped early, the California Kid just seemed to not have it against the champion Barao. That was Barao's 32nd victory in a row (9 with Zuffa). Renan Barao is a scary individual.
3) Jose Aldo: Jose Aldo defeated Ricardo Lamas via unanimous decision at UFC 169 via unanimous decision to retain his featherweight title. Aldo won rather handily for his 17th victory in a row (14 with Zuffa).
4) Lyoto Machida: Defeated Gegard Mousasi via unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night 36. The win put him in the middleweight title mix, but the title shot is coming sooner rather than later due to top contender Vitor Belfort losing to TRT via doctor's stoppage.
5) Daniel Cormier: Made an impressive debut at Light Heavyweight, in the fact that he dropped the weight in a healthy way and looked good. The win solidifies him in the mix, and it will be interesting to see where Cormier goes in the LHW division.

Robert Practor
1) Ronda Rousey:
Ronda Rousey finished Sara McMann at UFC 170 with perfectly placed body shots and continued her reign of dominance as the top woman fighter on the planet. Rousey showed off the gains in her striking game and also made history by successfully defending her title twice in a span of only 56 days. Ronda Rousey's star continues to grow as she will now go work on the Entourage movie as we await her next title fight in the Summer of Fall.

2) Renan Barao: Renan Barao looked fantastic against Urijah Faber at UFC 169 and the controversial nature of the premature stoppage is the only thing that kept him from earning the #1 spot on this list. With two victories over Urijah Faber as well as spectacular finishes over top Bantamweights Michael McDonald and Eddie Wineland, Barao has now found himself as a consensus top 5 Pound-for-Pound ranked fighter.
3) Lyoto Machida: Lyoto Machida earned a decision victory over Gegard Mousasi at UFC Fight Night 36, his second straight victory in the Middleweight division. He was likely guaranteed a title shot with the win but that process has now been fast-tracked with Vitor Belfort pulling out (or being pulled out) of the title fight against Chris Weidman. ‘The Dragon' will now get perhaps his final title shot of his career against the undefeated Middleweight Champion at UFC 173 in May and I give him a solid chance of regaining the gold.
4) Alistair Overeem: Alistair Overeem absolutely handled Frank Mir for 15 minutes at UFC 170 and kept his job security in the process. The loser of that bout was likely to be cut by the UFC (still wondering why we haven't seen Mir released yet) and the ‘Reem can now begin working his way back up the ladder in the relatively shallow Heavyweight division.
5) Daniel Cormier: Daniel Cormier trounced a way over his head Patrick Cummins at UFC 170 as he should have but he earns a spot in my top 5 also for making a successful weight cut down to Light Heavyweight, a weight cut that nearly cost him his life during the 2008 Olympics. He made the cut and looked in great shape. I would like to see him face the winner of UFC 172's Phil Davis vs. Anthony Johnson and if he defeats one of them he could very well get a title shot in late 2014 - early 2015.

Robert Winfree
1) Renan Barao:
The somewhat controversial nature of the stoppage in the Barao vs. Faber fight has marred what was a brief but outstanding performance from Renan Barao. Barao looked great, he was patient, he landed virtually every strike he threw at Faber, rocked the former WEC champion more than once, and was likely on his way to finishing his opponent. Again, maybe the stoppage was early, a point, which has overshadowed a phenomenal outing by the UFC bantamweight champion.

2) Ronda Rousey: For the first time in her career, Ronda Rousey finished a fight with strikes. Again, the stoppage might have been a tad early but the result is the most important thing, and really the only thing within the fighters control. Rousey is likely unbeatable given the current roster of women at bantamweight in the UFC.
3) Jose Aldo: Another successful title defense for featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo. While this wasn't exactly Aldo's most scintillating performance, he decisively defeated yet another challenger and can make legitimate case for having cleaned out his division.
4) Lyoto Machida: Machida knocked off the dangerous Gegard Mousasi, winning a unanimous decision and earning himself a middleweight title shot.
5) Ali Bagautinov: "Puncher" scored a unanimous decision win over the hard hitting John Lineker, showcasing some diversity in his skill set and he's likely one win away from a title shot.

Jeffrey Harris
1) Ronda Rousey:
Ronda Rousey had her third successful UFC title bout at UFC 170, making short work of the undefeated Olympic silver medalist Sara McMann. It was the first time two Olympic medalists for the UFC title in a PPV main event, and Rousey proved she's still a cut above most of her competition. Rousey moved forward after some early blows from McMann and continuously landed knee strikes to the midsection, eventually stopping her with a solid liver shot to end the fight just a minute into the first round. While many of her detractors will continue to find things to complain about her, it proved that Rousey is more than just a one trick pony with the armbar.

2) Renan Barao: Renan Barao had a successful defense in his first bout as the official UFC bantamweight champion, once again besting Urijah Faber. Faber, despite capping off an incredible 2014 with a submission win over Michael McDonald, proved he is worthy of fighting for the title, but he's still unable to ascend that much higher in order to win it. Despite the complaints about the stoppage, Faber was knocked flat on his face and was not doing much to improve his position. To me, that looks like another solid knockout win for Barao.
3) Abel Trujillo: Abel Trujillo and Jamie Varner pretty much rescued what was becoming an anemic card at UFC 169. The two delivered the best of the night, but it was Abel Trujillo who came out on top. Trujillo continues his nice little streak after a tough loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov. I'm not sure Trujillo will ever be a title contender, but with fights and performances like this, I think he will stand out as one of the more exciting and notable performers at lightweight, not unlike Donald Cerrone.
4) Lyoto Machida: Machida put in another vintage performance against Gegard Mousasi at UFC Fight Night 36. Machida continued his rise at middleweight, and the win ultimately clinched a title shot for him in the long run after Vitor Belfort had to bow out of the planned title fight with Chris Weidman due to the TRT issue. Machida, who was already light heavyweight champion, doesn't look like he's lost a step at 185 lbs. He was already continually coming in under weight at 205 lbs and still giving most of his opponents fits. Now he's poised to possibly become UFC's third dual-divisional champion.
5) Charles Oliveira: Charles Oliveira had a successful homecoming at UFC Fight Night 36, fighting in his home country of Brazil for the first time in four years. He got a much-needed win, submitting Andy Ogle, a fighter who had only been submitted once before earlier in his career. Oliveira earned an extra performance bonus with the fight in a good contest. I still think Oliveira is a strong prospect for featherweight. He did get beaten by Frankie Edgar, but still put in a strong performance for that fight. He still has room to grow, but here he showed some of that impressive work that made him look like he could be a force when he initially debuted in the Octagon.

Koeddy Laemmle
1) Ronda Rousey:
Ronda Rousey continued to show improvement in her striking game when she masterfully targeted the body of Sara McMann sending her crashing to the mat in defeat for Rousey's first non-submission victory. This shows that Rousey is evolving fast, and she never lost control of the fight. McMann was arguably Rousey's most skilled opponent to date and she was disposed of rather quickly.

2) Renan Barao: Barao is another guy who cemented his standing in the Top 10 UFC fighters today when he disposed of the top contender in his weight class for the second time. Barao has quickly defeated a who's who in the Bantamweight division leaving the pool of contenders quite shallow. His dominance is hard to ignore.
3) Lyoto Machida: Machida has looked quick at 185 and it seems to fit his elusive style much better (as evidenced by his final loss at 205 to Phil Davis). With a technical victory over highly skilled Gegard Mousasi, Machida finds himself with another title shot, at this point in his career the Dragon must take advantage of all opportunities but I believe this is the best Machida has looked since before his fights with Shogun Rua.
4) Daniel Cormier: I'm not a big fan of Cormier but I have to respect the performance he put in the shut up Patrick Cummins. I expected Cormier to have some sort of wrestling pride and try and break him down for three rounds but instead Cormier went out there a put an exclamation point on his argument for a title shot in his first fight at 205.
5) Alexis Davis: Although I believe Ronda Rousey is light-years beyond Davis (or her UFC 170 opponent Jessica Eye), she may have earned herself a title shot with a win over a formidable opponent, Cat Zingano out, and the UFC being shorthanded on other contenders for Rousey, this might have just been her luckiest month ever.

Wyatt Beougher
1) Ronda Rousey:
As much as I'm a fan of Renan Barao (a Baraoamaniac, if you will), there's no way I couldn't give this spot to Ronda Rousey. Sure, both fighters were on the receiving end of somewhat questionable stoppages, but Rousey edges Barao on my scorecard because she soundly defeated the woman that many thought would be her toughest challenge, and she finished her first fight via something other than armbar! Barao, on the other hand, beat a guy that he's already beaten once, one who hasn't won a title fight since 1974. That's enough for me to give her the coveted one spot.

2) Renan Barao: As mentioned, Barao did big things this month, officially becoming the reigning and defending undisputed UFC bantamweight champion of the world by beating Urijah Faber. Truth be told, I considered giving the top spot to Barao, just because it means we likely won't have to see another Faber title shot while Renan is champ, but then I remembered that there are approximately four fighters in the UFC's bantamweight division, and once Barao dispatches whoever the other guy is and Dominick Cruz re-re-re-re-injures himself, we'll see Barao/Faber III, followed by Barao/Faber IV six months later, ad infinitum. Hooray!
3) Lyoto Machida: The only reason Machida is this high is because I'm including news that broke long after he left that cage, that the Nevada State Athletic Commission had banned TRT and that the UFC would be pulling Vitor Belfort out of his upcoming title fight with Chris Weidman and awarding the spot to Machida while Belfort takes the necessary time to wean himself off of every steroid known to man TRT. So yeah, Machida's win was nothing to write home about, but he does get to face Chris Weidman because of it, so yay?
4) Jose Aldo: Should the UFC's featherweight champion rank above their new middleweight contender? Probably, but with his latest win, Aldo has determined yet again that he's just simply that much better than every other fighter in his division. Had he announced that he would be moving to lightweight to fight Anthony Pettis, as had been rumored, he would've been higher; however, Gil Melendez will next dance with the oft-injured champion, so it might be years before we see Aldo at 155, and the prospect of him just devastating inferior competition doesn't really do much for me.
5) Rampage Jackson: I considered Cormier for this spot, but I ultimately opted for Rampage because beating a guy who was making coffee and not training two weeks earlier isn't really all that impressive, no matter how quickly it happened. So yeah, I'll give Rampage the nod, because he made it through Bellator's new joke tournament and will face long-time trash talking partner King Mo Lawal, probably in May at Bellator's PPV debut.

Jon Butterfield
1) Renan Barao: Beating Urijah Faber by first round stoppage should, theoretically, also stop the prospect of any further title shots for the Team Alpha Male stand out, especially at this weight class, but Faber still has the get-out that it looked a slightly early stoppage. Nonetheless, Barao had arguably the toughest of the February title defenses on his hands, and he moved on with relative ease.

2) Ronda Rousey: Rousey posted an almost identical win to Barao, repelling a very tough title contender by (controversial) first round stoppage. Rousey-McMann should have been far and away the biggest fight of February being that it was a contest between two Olympic medalists during the Winter Olympics, but even had the hype train really got into motion, I may have struggled to rank Rousey beating McMann over Barao beating Faber.
3) Jose Aldo: I mistyped Jose Aldo as Jose Also initially, which feels kind of ironic given the month that just passed. Aldo's most recent title defense against Ricardo Lamas wasn't the fireworks many hoped for, but it was another victory over a very serious contender.
4) Lyoto Machida: Machida can count himself a little unlucky here, since out pointing Gegard Mousasi AND being awarded a UFC Middleweight title shot is 'big deal' material, but this was a month with THREE title shots, so I choose to rank him fourth.
5) Alistair Overeem: I figured Overeem would settle for a plodding stand up-heavy victory over Frank Mir, but the Dutch K-1 ace put paid to that theory with a dominant all-round display against one of the heavyweight division's finest submission fighters. Overeem was better on the feet, comfortable in top position, and wound up defeating Mir in a must-win bout. Love him or loathe him, Overeem will be sticking around a little while longer...

Jonathan Solomon
1) Ronda Rousey:
She fought Sara McMann and the fight only lasted 66-seconds, but he victory came off a barrage of strikes and in particular, a devastating knee to the body. It was awkward to see Rousey take the win by any other way than an armbar, but she remains undefeated as a pro regardless.

2) Jose Aldo: Arguably the best overall fighter in the world, nobody at 145-pounds can touch Jose Aldo. Nothing changed after his fight with Ricardo Lamas last month in Las Vegas. Lamas didn't lose all five rounds and he was consistently looking for ways to take the champion, but there was still little he could accomplish. Aldo is that good.
3) Lyoto Machida: Not only did The Dragon look impressive with a dominant five-round decision win over Gegard Mousasi, but he found himself booked for a title fight in the spring, too. Thanks to Vitor Belfort dropping out, it will be Machida vs. Weidman and the Brazilian has looked nothing short of spectacular since dropping down to middleweight.
4) Jacare Souza: Souza continues to waltz through the competition at 185-pounds as he took the unanimous decision against Francis Carmont in Brazil. Despite not being directly in the busy title picture yet and a looming rematch with Luke Rockhold, he may be the man to ultimately stop Chris Weidman. MAYBE~!
5) Rampage Jackson: He may be old but Jackson is not done yet! He put Christian M'Pumbu to sleep (momentarily) with his bricks called hands.

Evan Zivin
1) Ronda Rousey:
It's hard to argue that Ronda isn't the biggest star in MMA right now and she proved she deserves that distinction by defeating Sara McMann, one of the last legitimate threats to her 135-pound title. Not only did she win the fight. She destroyed the Olympic silver medalist with a knee to the liver. Rousey proved that she is more than just armbars, which is a frightening thought for any woman looking to dethrone the Rowdy one. Unless the UFC bites the bullet and signs Cyborg, I don't see anyone else offering Ronda any sort of challenge at this point in time. She took a fight on two month's notice, won by something other than a submission, and did it in record time against a world-class athlete. I think that's good enough for Fighter of the Month.

2) Renan Barao: He is interim champion no more. Renan Barao got to enter the Octagon for the first time as the Undisputed UFC Bantamweight Champion and he defended the championship against Urijah Faber. He couldn't stop Faber after 25 minutes when they first fought but it didn't even take 4 minutes for Barao to end their UFC 169 rematch. Will Barao ever lose another fight? Someday but not any day soon.
3) Lyoto Machida: While Machida's fight against Gegard Mousasi wasn't a barnburner or anything, it was still a smart and effective fight for the Dragon and a solid win over a tough competitor. Add to that the fact that Machida is now set to fight Chris Weidman for the UFC Middleweight Championship at UFC 173 and I'd say Machida has had a pretty good month.
4) Jose Aldo: Aldo took care of business at UFC 169, defeating the last man who was considered a threat to his Featherweight title reign in Ricardo Lamas. Aldo proved again that he is miles ahead of anyone else at 145 by systematically picking Lamas apart with relatively few problems. It will be interesting to see what he does now that the Anthony Pettis fight is off the table. Maybe he'll still test the waters at lightweight. We shall see.
5) Gilbert Melendez: He didn't fight this month but I have to show some love to El Nino. He was one foot out the door of the UFC when contract negotiations were failing and turned the situation into one of the most valuable contracts in UFC history, with at least 75% of his fights guaranteed to be on PPV, points that kick in lower than have been granted to any other UFC fighter, and a coaching stint on The Ultimate Fighter followed by a Lightweight title shot against Anthony Pettis. Damn, son. Now that's how you play the game.

Honorable Mention: Abel Trujillo & Alistair Oversee - (3 points)

5th Place - Daniel Cormier - (4 points)

4th Place - Jose Aldo - (17 points)

3rd Place - Lyoto Machida - (23 points)

Earned a title shot by defeating Gegard Mousasi!

2nd Place - Renan Barao - (34 points)

Another successful title defense for the bantamweight champion.

411's Fighter of the Month for FEBRUARY is…

 photo e412af67-9507-4c53-aeef-4f4f389256b9_zps3d6e6167.jpg

Ronda Rousey - (43 points)

Ronda did it once again, in the first round, but this time without the arm bar.

  • Ronda Rousey - 15 pts.
  • Luke Rockhold - 15 pts.

  • Renan Barao - 12 pts.
  • Justin Gaethje - 12 pts.

  • Lyoto Machida - 9 pts.
  • Alex Caceres - 9 pts.

  • Jose Aldo - 6 pts.
  • Jeremy Stephens - 6 pts.

  • Benson Henderson - 3 pts.
  • Daniel Cormier - 3 pts.

  • Donald Cerrone - 1pt
  • Alistair Overeem - 1pt
  • Abel Trujillo - 1pt

  • 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.

  • 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

    Year Five (2013) Winner: Demetrious Johnson


    Your heart is free. Have the courage to follow it…TO CSONKA'S TWITTER!



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