Nice to have your violence back, Mr. Silva. We missed it last year. | Photo: Sherdog.com
2011 All-Violence First Team
• Heavyweight: Junior dos Santos
• Light Heavyweight: Jon Jones
• Middleweight: Anderson Silva
• Welterweight: Nick Diaz
• Lightweight: Nate Diaz
• Featherweight: Chan Sung Jung
• Bantamweight: Urijah Faber
• Flyweight: Ian McCall
Heavyweight: In most years, if you’re the most successful heavyweight in MMA, you’ll get on this list. If you win the UFC title, your chances are stronger still. But, if you knock out Cain Velasquez -- 2010’s All-Violence first team heavyweight rep -- in 64 seconds on primetime network TV with pinpoint punching standing and on the ground, you’re a lock. And that is to say nothing of dos Santos’ one-sided shellacking of Shane Carwin, either. According to FightMetric.com, dos Santos landed more strikes (116) than his two combined opponents threw (102). A third-teamer in 2010, it’s hard to imagine dos Santos not putting an all-V streak together for himself.
Light Heavyweight: Who else was going to be here? With a wide variety of tools, Jon Jones thrashed his 2011 opposition with startling ease, and as such, repeats as a first-team All-Violence entry. His schedule included three previous UFC champions, but it didn’t matter, as Jones buzzsawed everything in sight en route to a 2011 campaign that re-defined single-year success in MMA. Though Jones’ trio of submissions were set up with his unique blend of offensive tools, his sustained, whole-body beatdown of Mauricio “Shogun” Rua to take the title in March would’ve been enough to get Jones the top spot by itself. In a year full of sensational violence, Jones’ title capture was one of the year’s most grisly, hard-to-watch moments, and somehow, it was wholly fitting.
Middleweight: One never knows what they’re going to get with Anderson Silva in any given fight, let alone an entire year. In 2011, in between Nike sponsorships and Burger King ads, Silva managed to front kick the face off of Vitor Belfort before styling all over Yushin Okami in front of a partisan Rio crowd. After dropping Okami twice, Silva now holds the record for most knockdowns in UFC history at 15, usurping Chuck Liddell’s 14. Flying front kicks to the face were all the rage in 2011, and Silva lit that fuse with his knockout over Belfort, which Brazilian fight fans immediately immortalized as “bicuda na fuca” -- Portuguese slang loosely meaning “boot to the dog’s snout.” After all, when it comes to Silva, common words and phrases just can’t conjure the magic.
Welterweight: No need to recite a hit list for Nick Diaz in 2011; we all watched and rocked to this man’s V. So, let’s go to the boffins: according to the number crunching gurus at FightMetric, Diaz topped 2011’s list of Strikes Landed per Minute (SLpM) among fighters with at least three fights in UFC, Strikeforce, and Dream. How dominant was he? Second-place Melvin Guillard clocked in at 6.22 SLpM. Diaz? 10.95. He set the all-time record for significant strikes landed in a single fight by FightMetric, with 178 against B.J. Penn, a record his younger brother would later break -- more on that later. He’s the only man to ever put up two 100-plus significant strike performances in the same year. He also ties All-V legend Chris Lytle with four 100-plus significant strike performances. No one else has more than two.
Lightweight: What started with a one-sided loss to Rory MacDonald at 170 pounds in April ended with two capital-V performances. In destroying Takanori Gomi and Donald Cerrone, the younger of the esteemed Diaz brothers had the crew at FightMetric tweaking. Against Cerrone, Nate Diaz shattered the record for most significant strikes landed in a single fight with 238, wiping out older brother Nick’s mark of 178 from his victory over B.J. Penn in October. FightMetric tabbed Diaz as landing 65.8 percent of his significant strikes against Cerrone, nearly doubling the expected accuracy of a fight with 200-plus significant strikes. Diaz landed 300 significant strikes, the most in any calendar year in UFC history. For violence in 2011, 209 was the only number you really needed to know.
Featherweight: In 2011, Chan Sung Jung turned in the first twister submission in UFC history over Leonard Garcia and followed up with a seven-second knockout of Mark Hominick that may or may not have tied a UFC record -- applicable apologies to Duane Ludwig. Jung’s “Korean Zombie” persona embodies much of the spirit that this list celebrates, and this year, the cult favorite featherweight did it with the highest degree of style, whether striking or submitting. That, in a nutshell, is the violence yin and yang.
Bantamweight: Watching a relatively ho-hum March effort against previous All-V first-teamer Eddie Wineland, you’d be hard-pressed to figure out how Urijah Faber could end up on his list. But, with a thrilling, give-and-take 25-minute bout with Dominick Cruz -- one in which he actually did work with his hands -- Faber got back on the right track. In November, he put it in fifth gear against fellow former WEC champion Brian Bowles, who he positively savaged standing, in the scramble and on the ground in one of the year’s most consummate, complete asskickings.
Flyweight: Sherdog.com’s “Comeback Fighter of the Year,” Ian McCall deserved mention for “Breakthrough Fighter of the Year,” as well. That’s all part of the enormous striking and grappling improvements he’s shown under Colin Oyama and Giva Santana. In February, he overcame a tough first round against previously unbeaten Jussier da Silva to outslug him, before putting on a 15-minute virtuoso beatdown of another previously unbeaten fighter, Dustin Ortiz. “Uncle Creepy” capped the year by outdueling Darrell Montague and tapping him out in masterful fashion for the Tachi Palace Fights flyweight title. This is what 125-pound action is supposed to look like, and it came against three opponents likely to follow McCall to the UFC. That’s why he’s getting a chance to be a UFC champion, creeps.
Continue Reading » Page Three: Second Team