411's Fighter of the Month: April 2014
Posted by Larry Csonka on 05.02.2014
Jon Jones retained the UFC light heavyweight title, Fabricio Werdum earned a UFC heavyweight title shot, Douglas Lima won Bellator gold and more! But who won 411’s Fighter of the Month for April? 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:
I am a big Glover Teixeira fan, unfortunately for him he was fighting Jon Jones at UFC 172, and Jon Jones not only retained his title, but he dominated him. Jones made his SEVENTH successful defense of the UFC Light Heavyweight Title, and while he did not finish Teixeira, he was never in trouble in the fight. Some have speculated that Jon Jones could end up being the greatest fighter of all time, and right now, it's hard to argue the fact. This was pure dominance from the king of the Light Heavyweights.
2) Fabricio Werdum: In another dominant performance, Fabricio Werdum defeated Travis Browne with ease. With the win, Werdum scored a UFC Heavyweight Title shot against Cain Velasquez and a coaching gig on the Latin American version of the Ultimate Fighter.
3) Douglas Lima: At Bellator 117, Douglas Lima defeated Rick Hawn to win the vacant Bellator Welterweight Title. Lima won by corner stoppage, following the systematic destruction of Hawn's legs with devastating kicks. This was a fabulous performance by Lima, who now holds Bellator gold.
4) Anthony Johnson: Anthony Johnson made an impressive return to the UFC, defeating Phil Davis. Defeating is maybe to nice; he dominated and broke Phil Davis. Johnson looked great, and after two years away from the UFC spotlight, sent a message to the stacked light heavyweight division.
5) Roy Nelson: While some will say that a victory over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in 2014 isn't that big anymore, and I can agree with that to a point, Roy Nelson defeated the legend via RD1 KO. With the lack of depth in the heavyweight division, a win like this gets Nelson back on track to be "in the mix" as Dana would say.
1) Fabricio Werdum:
With a title shot looming, Werdum dominated Travis Browne for five rounds. Whether it was his boxing, kicks or grappling, Fabricio controlled practically all of the action, rendering the Hawaiian a gassed and bruised mess. With all of the pre-fight discussion centered around Browne's ability to knock opponents out, we instead saw Werdum's crisp boxing on display as he picked him apart as though he was a novice.
2) Jon Jones: Speaking of dominance, Jones smashed another contender in the form of Glover Teixeira last month. While to his credit, Glover never quit during the five-round battle, Jones had his way with the Brazilian. While some of the champion's offense may have been of questionable ethics, he was never in trouble of losing at all through 25-minutes. It cemented his status atop the sport and makes you question whether any man can stop him while he's in his prime.
3) Douglas Lima: The new Bellator welterweight champion smoked Olympic judoka Rick Hawn in the vacant title fight. The damage was so severe to Hawn that his corner stopped the fight into the second round, wanting to save their man. Lima may have had a distinct size advantage, but Hawn's an always dangerous fighter and was made to look like he did not belong at 170-pounds.
4) K.J. Noons: Amazingly, Noons' knockout win over Sam Stout was his first KO in nearly four years! King Karl blasted Stout and finish him in just thirty seconds, earning his first UFC bonus and consecutive wins for the first time since that same fight four years ago (destroying Jorge Gurgel). I want to see more of Noons in the octagon.
5) Tim Kennedy: After a ton of talking, Kennedy walked the walk as he handled Michael Bisping for a clear cut unanimous decision win. It may not have been the most exciting performance of April, but Bisping had nothing of note in the five rounds. Kennedy is now likely to get a fight against a top-five middleweight and who knows where that may lead him.
1) Jon Jones:
Say what you will about Jon Jones, but the man gets the job done. Jones continued to cement his legacy at UFC 172, defending his light heavyweight title for a record seventh time. And that was after he broke Tito Ortiz's title defense record at five with his last fight, granted which was a closely contested battle. Currently, Anderson Silva has the most UFC title defenses in a single run with 10, and that was over the course of about six and a half-ish years. Jones has already been champion a little over three years, and he's defended his belt seven times already. Even he can't match or break Anderson Silva's record, what he's been able to do thus far in his MMA career is incredible. His 2011 was probably one of the best career years of any MMA fighter ever, beating Ryan Bader in a top contender fight, winning the UFC title against Shogun only six weeks later, and then following that up with submissions over former UFC champions Quinton Jackson and Lyoto Machida months later. And then a short time after that, he beat another former UFC champion in Rashad Evans. I can't think of any other MMA fighter who has beat a run of four UFC champions in a row such as that. Jones picked Teixeira apart at UFC 172, and he did it by playing Teixeira's game. He got inside worked in the clinch and dirty boxed with Teixeira. Now Jones will have to face a past demon of sorts in a rematch with Alexander Gustafsson, a fighter he wouldn't even talk about after UFC 172. It will be interesting to see how he handles the rematch noting all his complaints.
2) Fabrico Werdum: Fabricio Werdum was not the betting favorite at UFC on Fox 11, but regardless he put in a strong performance and dominated the favorite in Travis Browne. Browne was getting a lot of hype going into the fight. He'd been looking much improved and was destroying guys left and right, including Josh Barnett. However, Werdum reminded everyone that he was no scrub, seeing as he's the first man to legitimately beat and stop Fedor Emelianenko.
3) Donald Cerrone: The Cowboy might never be counted among the elite of the lightweight division, but true to his name, he is one of the most lethal gunslingers in his weight class. Donald Cerrone earned his 10th Octagon win at UFC on Fox 11, impressively submitting Edson Barboza. Barboza himself was a dangerous looking striker and prospect. Cerrone weathered some tough punishment early on before later catching Barboza with a jab and swarming on him for the submission. It was a thing of beauty.
4) Anthony Johnson: Jack McGee's recent column broke down pretty well how Johnson was the heavy underdog against Phil Davis at UFC 172. He proved many doubters wrong by making the bout his fight and dominating Phil Davis for three rounds. When Phil Davis was unable to score a takedown, Johnson lit Davis up standing and broke his will. Right off the bat, Johnson in his second UFC run beat a top 5 contender. Despite his previous transgressions, it looks as if "Rumble" is ready to turn over a new leaf and become a much better fighter this time around.
5) Joe Benavidez: It was tough to figure out who to put here. There were so many standout performances in April, especially at UFC 172. Ultimately I decided to round out the top 5 with my boy Joe Benavidez. Benavidez was coming off quite possibly the biggest loss of his career. He was knocked out by Demetrious Johnson in his last bid to win the UFC flyweight title. Tim Elliott was ranked in the top 10 and was a dangerous opponent. And early on, it was Elliott who was looking to dominate. He was tossing Benavidez around and doing the things we usually see Benavidez do to his opponents. Benavidez rallied however and able to apply his patented Joe-a-constrictor hold, forcing Elliott to tap out with his feet(!) to get the finish. It was quite possibly the greatest flyweight fight I've ever seen, so Benavidez makes the list.
1) Fabricio Werdum:
I didn't think Fabricio Werdum could defeat Travis Browne. With his incredible, come-from-behind KO of Alistair Overeem and absolute destruction of Josh Barnett, I thought Browne would keep rolling all the way to a title shot. Werdum had been told he was next in line for a championship fight and he refused to let Browne take it from him. Werdum defended his title shot in dominant fashion by out striking and out grappling Browne for 25 minutes. It was one of the most impressive victories of his career and the victory, along with the announcement of his title shot and a coaching gig on the inaugural season of TUF: Latin America, nets Fabricio Werdum my vote for Fighter of the Month.
2) Tim Kennedy: When it comes to picking a Fight of the Month, I always give preference to fighters who really impressed or surprised me in ways I wasn't expecting instead of just giving it to whichever UFC champion defended their belt that month, and Tim Kennedy really surprised me. Almost no one was predicting Tim would beat Michael Bisping and not only did Tim do it, he did it quite convincingly. It wasn't the most amazing fight ever, but Tim went from swimming near the bottom of the middleweight Top Ten to entering discussions about possible title contention all while telling us to shove it for doubting him. Ranger Up, indeed.
3) Anthony Johnson: The Rumble train is a-rollin' once again, back where it belongs in the UFC. A lot of people were counting Johnson out of his UFC 172 fight with Phil Davis. Johnson would go on to brutalize the Penn State wrestler in a way no one has before and with the win, he has already placed himself 1-2 fights away from a title shot. Plus, he made weight. That's as good a UFC return for Rumble as anyone could have hoped for.
4) Jon Jones: The champ gets some love for beating his greatest test yet. Have enough people made that joke yet? Still, Glover was expected to pose a huge threat to the champion and not only did Jones beat Glover with his reach, he beat him in the clinch too. That's impressive. Jones isn't higher on my list because, as good as the fight was for him, if I can predict the winner and method of victory for a fight, which I did in this case, then I don't think it's as deserving of such distinction (unless every other fight that month sucked). Still, Bones defended his championship for a seventh time and there's no telling if anyone can stop this man. We're watching the greatest fighter of all time.
5) Douglas Lima: And Lima gets a little love for becoming the new Bellator Welterweight Champion. Lima, whose only loss in Bellator was to the former champion, Ben Askren, ascended to his vanquisher's throne by decimating Rick Hawn in one of the most brutal display of leg kicks I have ever seen in a fight. Lima was in rare form and did everything he needed to win his first championship in a major promotion. Lima is almost the anti-Askren in the way he fights and I look forward to seeing who Bellator can find to challenge the young Brazilian.
1) Jon Jones:
The UFC light heavyweight champion returned to his dominant ways, and easily outpaced, out pointed, and all-around outdid Glover Teixeira for five rounds. That's seven straight title defenses and eleven straight wins, all from a guy who isn't even twenty-seven years old yet. If Jones wins his next two fights (against Gustafsson and Cormier), he'll have pretty much put the seal on his GOAT status. Bonus points to Jones for using social media to throw shade at Phil Davis and Chuck Liddell.
2) Anthony Johnson: What I think a lot of people forget about Anthony Johnson's last UFC tenure was that while he didn't often make weight, he also loss even less frequently. A trio of rear naked chokes and an injury TKO (that should've been a DQ win for Johnson after repeated pokes to his eye) comprise all of the losses in his career, and now he's fighting at a weight class where he doesn't have to worry about draining weight cuts. I'll admit to thinking Davis would win this fight, but after seeing the ease with Johnson dismantled him, I think Rumble is going to be a monster this time around.
3) Fabricio Werdum: Not only did Werdum defeat Travis Browne extremely decisively, in doing so, he earned himself a coaching gig on The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America and a shot at his rival coach, Cain Velasquez, for the UFC Heavyweight title.
4) Douglas Lima: While Lima didn't get to avenge the only loss of his Bellator career by beating Ben Askren to win the Bellator welterweight title, he did kick Rick Hawn's leg right out from under his leg en route to winning the title that Askren vacated. Not a bad day's work for the youngster.
5) Tie - Luke Rockhold/Bethe Correia/Blagoi Ivanov: Rockhold busted out quite possibly the submission of the year with his inverted triangle/kimura combination, Correia defeated the first of the Four Horsewomen and fired shots at the UFC Women's Bantamweight champion, and Ivanov earned a spot in Bellator's heavyweight tournament finals just over two years after he was stabbed in the heart, a life-threatening injury that most people assumed would end his career. I know it's a copout to list all three of them, but I thought they each deserved a mention.
1) Jon Jones:
I tend to give a lot of weight to winning or defending a title when I decide who to cast my vote for in Fighter of the Month. Jon Jones completely dominated challenger Glover Teixeira for five rounds, earning a unanimous decision win. The win also moved Jon ahead in the record books, he now decisively holds "Most Successful light heavyweight title defenses", "Longest active UFC winning streak", and "Most wins in UFC light heavyweight history". Solid performance from the top Pound for Pound fighter in the world.
2) Tim Kennedy: Tim Kennedy talked a lot leading into his fight with Michael Bisping. He wasn't able to finish the Brit, but Kennedy was able to effectively ground and smother Bisping, something no one else has been able to really do.
3) Fabricio Werdum: Werdum outlasted and out worked Travis Browne en route to winning a unanimous decision over the Hawaiian. The win gets Werdum a coaching gig opposite UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez for the upcoming TUF: Latin America season and he'll get a shot at the belt in December.
4) Anthony Johnson: Anthony Johnson returned to the UFC with a one sided upset win over Phil Davis and immediately launches himself into the upper levels of the division.
5) Luke Rockhold: Rockhold made Tim Boetsch look like a rank amateur and racked up a candidate for Submission of the Year with his kimura/inverted triangle finish.
1) Jon Jones:
Jon Jones continued his run as the greatest UFC light heavyweight champion this month. He defended his title for a record seventh run against Glover Teixeira in dominant fashion as he won every round. He's easily the best fighter in the world right now and his rematch with Gustafsson should be awesome.
2) Fabricio Werdum: Werdum has been close to untouchable since returning to the UFC and this may have been his best performance yet. Werdum owned Travis Browne for five rounds as he now officially the number one contender and is scheduled to take on Cain Velasquez later on in the year. I think that's going to be a great fight and a lot closer than a lot of people expect.
3) Anthony Johnson: Anthony Johnson's return to the UFC was an impressive one. He's been killing lesser competition over in the WSOF, but Phil Davis is a truly elite light heavyweight. Johnson showed off great striking and takedown defense in this one. He could be a fight or two away from a title shot depending on how he gets booked next.
4) Khabib Nurmagomedov: Khabib is now 22-0 as he defeated Rafael Dos Anjos by unanimous decision. Dos Anjos was on a pretty nice run of his own, but he couldn't do anything against the Russian. Nurmagomedov has to at least end up in a number one contender fight next. A fight with Donald Cerrone has been rumored and it would at least be entertaining to watch.
5) Tim Kennedy: Kennedy and Bisping finally got to fight it out in the cage. It wasn't the most exciting fight ever, but Kennedy controlled the fight on the ground in a way nobody has before. An impressive performance as Kennedy continues to rebuild himself in the UFC.
Honorable Mention: Donald Cerrone - (3 points)
5th Place - Douglas Lima - (9 points)
4th Place - Tim Kennedy - (10 points)
3rd Place - Anthony Johnson - (16points)
Made a triumphant return to the UFC with his UFC 172 victory over Phil Davis.
2nd Place - Fabricio Werdum - (28 points)
Defeated Travis Browne to earn a TUF coaching gig and heavyweight title bout against Cain Velasquez.
411's Fighter of the Month for APRIL is…
Jon Jones - (31 points)
All the UFC Light heavyweight Champion does it win.
THE 2014 STANDINGS (THROUGH APRIL)
Ronda Rousey - 15 pts.
Luke Rockhold - 15 pts.
Johny Hendricks - 15 pts.
Jon Jones - 15 pts.
Fabricio Werdum - 12 pts.
Renan Barao - 12 pts.
Justin Gaethje - 12 pts.
Pat Curran - 12 pts.
Anthony Johnson - 9 pts.
Lyoto Machida - 9 pts.
Alex Caceres - 9 pts.
Alexander Gustafsson - 6 pts.
Tim Kennedy - 6 pts.
Jose Aldo - 6 pts.
Jeremy Stephens - 6 pts.
Marlon Moraes - 6 pts.
Douglas Lima - 3 pts.
Emanuel Newton - 3 pts.
Tyron Woodley - 3 pts.
Benson Henderson - 3 pts.
Daniel Cormier - 3 pts.
Donald Cerrone - 2pts.
Alistair Overeem - 1pt
Abel Trujillo - 1pt
Rousimar Palhares - 1 pt
Robbie Lawler - (-2 pts.)
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.