Junior dos Santos (white trunks) | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
2010 All-Violence Third Team
• Heavyweight: Junior dos Santos
• Light Heavyweight: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
• Middleweight: Alexander Shlemenko
• Welterweight: Paul Daley
• Lightweight: Edson Mendes Barboza Jr.
• Featherweight: Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos
• Bantamweight: Michael McDonald
• Flyweight: Mitsuhisa Sunabe
Heavyweight: In 2010, dos Santos solidified himself as the UFC’s top heavyweight contender on the back of his violence. He polished off Gilbert Yvel and Gabriel Gonzaga in the first round, but his most crushing performance was in his lone decision win against Roy Nelson in August. By FightMetric’s effectiveness score, dos Santos posted a 610 against Nelson. For context, Georges St. Pierre dominated Dan Hardy for 25 minutes at UFC 111 and only scored a 553.
Light Heavyweight: Owing to his dreadfully injury-prone knees, “Shogun” only fought once in 2010. Fortunately, there may not have been a more sterling performance at 205 pounds all year. Rua took a fighter renowned for his evasive, unhittable style in Lyoto Machida and left him as a corpse on the mat. His brutal finish from full mount to wrest the UFC light heavyweight title tickled all of our violence-loving organs like few other incidents in 2010.
Middleweight: Shlemenko is another fighter whose outings highlight our love for violence. In 2010, he was 5-1 with four stoppages. Among them were a nasty spinning back fist on Jean Francois Lenogue and an eviscerating knee to the body of Sean Salmon. Violence just seems to encircle Shlemenko, who was the other man in the Bellator cage when Jared Hess blew out his knee in freakish, stomach-turning fashion.
Welterweight: Daley’s 2010 campaign will likely be remembered for the not-so-lovely kind of violence, due to his May sucker punch against Josh Koscheck at UFC 113. However, Daley still blew away three opponents with wow-level stoppages, collapsing Dustin Hazelett, elbowing Daniel Acacio so hard that he literally thought his skull had been crushed and knocking out the sturdy Scott Smith in jaw-dropping fashion. After all, he is nicknamed “Semtex.”
Lightweight: Barboza’s competition in 2010 was mediocre, including his UFC debut against late replacement Mike Lullo. However, MMA’s deepest weight class did not have a great deal of elite-level violence during the last 12 months, and Barboza’s exploits had serious style points. He stopped two opponents -- Lullo and Marcelo Giudici -- with low kicks, which is perhaps the All-Violence equivalent of a four-touchdown performance from a quarterback. However, his one-punch knockout of Jose Figueroa in March was easily among the year’s most picturesque finishes. Barboza’s violence has swag for days, as the kids say.
Featherweight: A woman? Yes, a woman. So overwhelming is Santos’ violence, she can treat elite fighters like they are average fighters. Yes, her throttling of an overmatched Jan Finney was gruesome to watch, given the size and skill disparity, but “Cyborg” also crushed skilled veteran Marloes Coenen in January. Coenen then promptly showed her elite skills, cutting to 135 pounds and taking the Strikeforce crown off of then-unbeaten Sarah Kaufman. In the post-Gina Carano climate, Santos’ violence is the biggest reason fans are being magnetized to women’s MMA.
Bantamweight: McDonald, who turned 20 on New Year’s Day, has never seen the scorecards in his MMA career -- and with good reason. In 2010, he punched out WEC veterans Manny Tapia and Cole Escovedo and, in the latter’s case, rather badly. In his big-show debut, he smoothly took home tough Clint Godfrey’s arm in less than three minutes at WEC 52. It may not seem necessarily eye-popping, but McDonald’s violence is both exciting and efficient.
Flyweight: One of the flyweight division’s most exciting sluggers, Sunabe diversified his portfolio last year. Though his two fantastic matchups with rival Kiyotaka Shimizu were most memorable, the greatest single moment of any Sunabe bout in 2010 was when he slammed super-skilled Shooto regular Noboru Tahara through the floor for the knockout win in September.