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 411mania » MMA » Columns

411's Fighter of the Month: May 2014
Posted by Larry Csonka on 06.11.2014

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) T.J. Dillashaw:
T.J. Dillashaw ended Renan Barao's huge undefeated streak and won the UFC Bantamweight title. There was no bigger victory in MMA for May, no one's career changed as much as Dillishaw's did, he was the easy choice this months.

2) Matt Brown: Matt Brown defeated former top prospect Erick Silva at the May 10th UFC Fight Night event. Brown finishes Silva via RD3 TKO, securing his SEVENTH WIN in a row. Brown has finally impressed the UFC enough to score a #1 contender's bout with Robbie Lawler at the upcoming UFC on FOX event. Matt Brown is a great story, and he and Lawler should be awesome.
3) Will Brooks: Defeated Michael Chandler at the Bellator 120 PPV, ruining the best laid plans of Bjorn Rebney. I told you to pull Chandler from the PPV. Brooks had already won a tournament and was making some noise, but the decision victory over Chandler (it was close and no where near the robbery some make it out to be) was the biggest win of his career.
4) Daniel Cormier: I know it's fun to mock Dan Henderson these days, but the win for Daniel Cormier over Henderson was an important one for him. He made the cut again, he went into deep waters at LHW and then finished Henderson' who despite all the jokes has some name value left in MMA. It was a great next step for Cormier.
5) Gegard Mousasi: Gegard Mousasi destroyed Mark Munoz at the UFC Fight Night 41 event. Mousasi's quick work will get him into the MW Title mix sooner rather than later, and sends Munoz down into Bisping territory; so close, but so far away.

Jonathan Solomon
1) T.J. Dillashaw:
It was the fight of his life and T.J. took out the best bantamweight in the world. Forget all the talk about Renan Barao's ill-fated weight cut or illness, Dillashaw pounded on him for five rounds until the referee ultimately called an end to the beating in the fifth round. Now the reigning 135-pound champion and in wake of his win over one of the pound-for-pound best, the target moves to Dillashaw's back as we wait to see whether he can defend his gold.

2) Matt Brown: The hottest fighter in the UFC continues scolding as Brown earned his seventh consecutive win (six by KO/TKO) when he finished Erick Silva in the third round due to strikes. It's the third consecutive fight he's received at least one post-fight bonus and despite the fact he has not yet been granted a title fight with Johny Hendricks, he's apparently one more win from that coming to fruition. He has signed to fight Robbie Lawler next month on Fox with the winner getting that title fight.
3) Gegard Mousasi: Mousasi tore through perennially tough Mark Munoz and choked him out in the first round of their middleweight fight. It was the best Gegard, a former DREAM and Strikeforce light heavyweight champion, has looked in several years. The win was also his first at middleweight since he knocked out Jacare Souza with an upkick nearly six years ago.
4) Michael Page: Certainly, Will Brooks, Tito Ortiz and the controversial Rampage/Mo fight were the headlines following Bellator's PPV debut. However, it was English prospect Michael Page who came away looking like a potential star. He earned his sixth pro victory and did so by knocking out North Carolina-area MMA vet Ricky Rainey in the first round. Page is a world-class kickboxer and with his 6'3 frame, he has been efficient as a pro with each win ending inside the first round. Look out for "Venom."
5) Joe Warren: When Bellator bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas was forced to withdraw from his title fight with Joe Warren, tournament champion Rafael Silva stepped up to meet Joe in an interim-championship bout. The fight went the distance but Warren displayed his heart and gas tank as he persevered through a few scary punches to take the decision thanks to his wrestling. While you can question how well he may do against one of the elite bantamweights in the sport in Dantas, it was a positive sight to see Warren continue his winning stretch.

Jeffrey Harris
1) T.J. Dillashaw:
No one else should be No. 1 this month other than TJ Dillashaw. His win over Renan Barao at UFC 173 was one of the biggest upsets of all time. No one predicted he would win, let alone knock out the reigning champion late into the fight in the fifth round. Dillashaw looked incredible, hurting Barao and maintaining a strong pace for the rest of the fight. Proving there was no doubt at all, he went after Barao again and finished him in the fifth round. The UFC title curse of Team Alpha male is finally broken, and it came at the hands of one of the least-heralded fighters of the group. Duane Ludwig finally earned his Coach of the Year award with this fight.

2) Matt Brown: How can you not love the "Immortal" Matt Brown? When you think about hearing fighters coming to perform and Matt Brown, few have performed as Matt Brown has as of late. At UFC Fight Night 40, he got to fight in the main event against Erick Silva. The fight was in his home state of Ohio. And Silva hurt and almost stopped Brown very early. However, Brown came back and proved yet again why he's nicknamed Immortal. He fought through a vicious shot to the body and maintained an impressive pace for several rounds before he was able to stop Silva. Brown looks like a completely different fighter from his early days in the UFC post-TUF. His striking is much more dynamic. His cardio and stamina is outstanding. His overall grappling game has improved a great deal as well. I really would have no problem seeing Matt Brown fight for the UFC title at this point. He's definitely earned it.
3) Robbie Lawler: Despite a recent disappointing loss to Johny Hendricks, where he was just edged out by literally a round, Lawler came firing back and looked like dynamite against Jake Ellenberger at UFC 173. Before the fight, Ellenberger claimed Lawler was overhyped and he would prove it. This is despite Lawler solidly beating Rory MacDonald, a fighter Ellenberger had absolutely nothing for. Lawler looked like a great white shark in this fight. He took away Ellenberger's soul and broke his will to fight. Lawler continues to look better and he looks like a completely different fighter from how he was just a few years ago. When Lawler would be put on his back that used to lead to an automatic loss for him. When Ellenberger took Lawler down here, he just smiled and worked his way back up to his feet quickly. His defensive wrestling has improved a ton. I can't wait to see what happens when he fights Matt Brown. I really hope that's one for the ages.
4) Gegard Mousasi: There were a lot of high expectations for Gegard Mousasi a few years ago. His hype train was essentially derailed after Muhammed Lawal grinded him out and took the Strikeforce light heavyweight belt away from him. Mousasi lost his big fight against Gustafsson in his original UFC debut. He beat a late replacement in Ilir Latifi by decision, but then he got Machida'd by Lyoto Machida. His win over Mark Munoz at UFC Fight Night 41 was very impressive though. Mousasi stuffed the takedowns of an NCAA wrestling champion before ultimately submitting him. It was the first time anyone had ever submitted Munoz in MMA ever. It was a much-needed win for Mousasi, and he did it in impressive fashion.
5) Daron Cruickshank: Daron Cruickshank probably picked up his biggest UFC win to date, knocking out Erik Koch at UFC Fight Night 40. It was a good match-up for Cruickshank, as he was paired up with another striker. He let his hands and feet go and put Koch away with an awesome head kick. Cruickshank definitely looks like he's on the rise as of late and getting more and more comfortable in the Octagon.

Robert Practor
1) Tito Ortiz: The Huntington Beach Bad Boy is back! And better than ever! Ortiz is back at the top of his game as he easily dispatched one of the top Middleweights in the....... Okay, my stomach hurts from so much laughter, I can't continue on with this. Now to the real number one...

1) TJ Dillashaw:
TJ Dillashaw shocked the world as he absolutely handled Renan Barao for nearly 25 minutes en route to the TKO near the end of the fight. For the past couple years, Barao had steadily climbed up the Pound-for-Pound rankings and was a consensus top 3 P4P fighter (or #1 depending on if Dana White and Jon Jones were getting along that day) and whether it was a bad weight cut, getting too confident with all the praise bestowed upon him, or simply being outworked by a fast rising star, Barao got rocked in the first and handled throughout the fight, and we have a new front man in the Bantamweight division. The division now feels more fresh and wide open with a new man at the top, and we are likely to see Dillashaw try to prove he is an elite champion and meet Raphael Assuncao this Fall.

2) Matt Brown: Matt Brown had a star-making performance at UFC Fight Night 40 as he and Erick Silva put on one of the most thrilling fights I've ever seen in front of Brown's hometown crowd. While I still see some holes in his game, Brown is close to a title shot, as he should be, and will take part in what is sure to be another awesome fight against Robbie Lawler this summer on UFC on Fox 12. I'm not sure if either man will be able to finish one another, and my money is on Lawler but either way, I can't wait to see it.
3) Daniel Cormier: Daniel Cormier made Dan Henderson his bitch, plain and simple. When he threw Hendo around and flat out tripped him right before the finish, the bar I was at erupted. Cormier seems to get a lot of hate and I just don't understand it. While a little cocky at times, everything I hear leads me to believe he's a good dude and if we're going to talk about in-cage ability, he's a perfect 15-0, defeated Bigfoot Silva, Josh Barnett, Frank Mir, Roy Nelson, and Dan Henderson. People will find ways to pick apart the value of that list but the fact is, he's undefeated and has never even been in danger. He is deserving of fighting the winner of Jones-Gustafsson for the Light Heavyweight Title and I honestly believe he is more of a threat to Jones than Gustafsson will be.
4) Will Brooks: I have never really been a fan of Michael Chandler's and despite all of the praise and hype bestowed upon him by Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney, Chandler has faltered twice in a row. Will Brooks deserves some props for stepping in on late notice, making the weight, and taking advantage of a likely once in a lifetime opportunity and capturing the Interim Lightweight Title. Here's hoping Chandler doesn't get shoved down our throats again and inserted into a fight with Eddie Alvarez, as Alvarez-Brooks is the right fight to make.
5) Robbie Lawler: Robbie Lawler is simply a beast. I am still shocked that he was able to return to the cage a mere two months after that epic 25-minute war with Johny Hendricks, not to mention perform as well as he did, finishing Jake "WSOF-bound" Ellenberger. Lawler is again hopping right back into a training camp as he will meet Matt Brown in at UFC on Fox 12 in July in what is likely to proclaim the next contender for the Welterweight Championship.

Robert Winfree
1) TJ Dillashaw:
There really isn't another viable option here. Dillashaw won a UFC title, scored one of the biggest upsets in MMA history, and unseated a fighter many thought would rule the division for years to come. Easily the fighter of the month.

2) Matt Brown: Matt Brown returned from an injury related layoff and overcame a tough round one to overwhelm Erik Silva. Brown earned himself a title eliminator bout with that performance and extended his winning streak to six.
3) Daniel Cormier: Cormier rag dolled all time great Dan Henderson and choked him out in the third round. The only fight that makes sense for Cormier next is a title shot.
4) Will Brooks: Brooks upset the apple cart at Bellator's first PPV by scoring a split decision win over Michael Chandler and possibly setting up a date with champion Eddie Alvarez.
5) Gegard Mousasi: Mousasi got his first win in the UFC's middleweight division, and he made Mark Munoz look like a chump in the process.

Evan Zivin
1) TJ Dillashaw:
Well, TJ made this month an easy one to pick. You just beat the champion of your weight class who is on a 22 fight win streak, hasn't lost in 9 years, and is considered the best pound for pound fighter on the planet whenever Dana White is desperate to get people to pay to watch him fight? And you did it when absolutely no one was expecting you to? Yep. Sounds like Fighter of the Month to me.

2) Will Brooks: Most people knew Brooks was a good fighter but very few expected him to be competitive against a former champion like Michael Chandler (I did...). He may not have deserved the win, but he deserves credit for a breakout performance that also made him an interim champion. Now let's see how he does against Alvarez.
3) Daniel Cormier: DC gets on here for not just beating Dan Henderson but for absolutely manhandling him. Cormier is ready for a title shot and will get one after Jones and Gustafsson fight again. Will Cormier be able to throw Jones around like he did Hendo? We will see in time.
4) Rampage Jackson: He headlined Bellator's first PPV and earned a title shot by defeating his old rival in King Mo. It wasn't an amazing fight but I think it's worthy of some praise just for what he accomplished in victory.
5) Tito Ortiz: I would never joke about Tito Ortiz. The man just came back after not fighting for two years and beat one of the best fighters in Bellator. Beating Alexander Shlemenko when no one expected you to is more impressive to me than beating Erick Silva or Mark Munoz when everyone expected you to. Whether you like Tito or hate him, you have to show him some respect for that. Or not. Whatever. You people sometimes...

Jack McGee
1) TJ Dillashaw:
Everyone else summed it up perfectly. Dillashaw wins and wins easily this month with the biggest victory of his career, and one of the biggest upsets in MMA history. It's huge events like Dillashaw's win that still keep me a fan of MMA.

2) Matt Brown: Matt Brown's amazing stretch continues. Another win, and now he is being put into a title eliminator. This man was 12-11 and no one cares about him, and then something clicked and he has now run off seven straight wins. It's a great story, and I am glad to be a long for the ride.
3) Robbie Lawler: Robbie Lawler scored a great rebound victory over Jake Ellenberger, via TKO, and is now set for a title eliminator with Matt Brown. Lawler is another fun story, a guy from back in the pre-UFC 50 days, now coming back and looking like a beat.
4) Daniel Cormier: Took out MMA legend Dan Henderson to continue his undefeated run, and did so via submission. Daniel Cormier is a dangerous man, and whenever he gets his title shot, has a big time chance to become the new champion.
5) Gegard Mousasi: Destroyed Mark Munoz and is now looking a like a dangerous man at 185. I am glad to see Mousasi really putting it together in the UFC, he looked like a Joe Rogan certified "KILLER!"

Honorable Mention: Robbie Lawler - (7 points)

5th Place - Gegard Mousasi - (8 points)

4th Place - Will Brooks - (11 points)

3rd Place - Daniel Cormier - (13 points)

At UFC 173, Daniel Cormier defeated Dan Henderson via submission, and is now closer to a LHW Title shot.

2nd Place - Matt Brown - (24 points)

Defeated Erick Perez at the UFC Fight Night 4 event, and will now face Robbie Lawler for a shot at the UFC Welterweight Title.

411's Fighter of the Month for MAY is

 photo 25f940ff-ce79-44ea-be38-f02764d60d95_zpsd9d4fd3b.jpg

TJ Dillashaw - (35 points)

Ended the long winning streak of Renan Barao to become the new UFC Bantamweight Champion.

  • Ronda Rousey - 15 pts.
  • Luke Rockhold - 15 pts.
  • Johny Hendricks - 15 pts.
  • Jon Jones - 15 pts.
  • TJ Dillashaw - 15 pts.

  • Matt Brown - 12 pts.
  • Fabricio Werdum - 12 pts.
  • Justin Gaethje - 12 pts.
  • Pat Curran - 12 pts.
  • Daniel Cormier - 12 pts.

  • Anthony Johnson - 9 pts.
  • Lyoto Machida - 9 pts.
  • Alex Caceres - 9 pts.
  • Alexander Gustafsson - 9 pts.
  • Will Brooks - 9 pts.

  • Renan Barao - 7 pts. {Lost five points due to a loss to TJ Dillashaw}

  • 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.
  • Gegard Mousasi - 3 pts.

  • Donald Cerrone - 2pts.

  • Alistair Overeem - 1pt
  • Abel Trujillo - 1pt
  • Rousimar Palhares - 1 pt

  • Robbie Lawler - (-1 pts.) {Lost five points due to a loss to Johny Hendricks}

  • 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 itTO CSONKA'S TWITTER!



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