In honor of Major League Baseball’s All Star Game tonight at Chase Field in Arizona, we thought we’d offer up our thoughts on the standout performances from the first half of the year by naming our MMA All Star teams.
HeavyMMA Editor-in-Chief Matt Brown and Associate Editor Jeremy Botter were joined on Monday’s HeavyMMA Podcast by lead staff writer E. Spencer Kyte and the trio unveiled their all star selections. Here’s a rundown of who made the rosters and why.
Brown: I think (Kongo’s knockout of Pat Barry) is certainly an all-star moment; probably the knockout of the first half. As we get further along, probably other ones will come up. Is there any overlap?
Kyte: Kongo is definitely on my team. I feel so bad for Pat Barry because he looked very good and was seemingly on the verge of winning this fight, and then gets blasted into next month out of nowhere.
Brown: His footercut of Randy Couture; 100%, definitely an all star moment of 2011 so far. It was Randy’s last fight so the bout already had special meaning, and then to come in and finish it the way that he did. A lot of people were doubting Machida, wondering if people had figured him out, asking if he was the dynamic striker that we thought that he was, and sure enough, he proved that he is against Couture.
Botter: He knocked out Randy Couture’s teeth, plural. Not just one, I think two. Sent him packing into retirement; not the way Randy wanted to go out. I’d have to put that ahead of Cheick Kongo just for the fact that it was a dominant performance with an emphatic end.
Kyte: This is my top knockout of the first half; the original “footercut.” Kudos to Matt for coining the term “footercut” as the way to describe this technique too. To me this was a “Why do you people doubt me moment?” for Anderson.
People were asking if Vitor Belfort had the hand speed to beat Anderson. There was all the heat between the two leading up to the fight with Anderson wearing the Jabbawockeez mask, and then he walked out and kicked Belfort in the face, something we’d never seen before. We all jumped out of our seats, we all still talk about it, the picture is iconic.
Kyte: His performance over Ryan Bader gets Ortiz a spot on my all star team. This may be the death rattle; Tito may come out and get blasted in his next fight, but he’s earned an all star appearance for coming out and getting that win at UFC 132.
Brown: I like that call, adding Tito to your all star team. It’s almost the Moment of the Year so far. The crowd went absolutely berserk. You hear about people who have been watching MMA for such a long time, and it really touched them to see he be able to get that win and move forward.
Botter: Great minds think alike, Spencer; I’ve got Tito on my team for Comeback of the Year. I’ve also got him.
“THE KOREAN ZOMBIE” CHAN SUNG JUNG
Brown: I’m going to give “The Korean Zombie” an all star nod for his twister submission of Leonard Garcia. It’s such a rare submission to see that I think pulling it off almost gives you Submission of the Year to this point.
Kyte: I was in Seattle for this fight, and we were sitting on press row and we all kind of just looked at each wondering if we all saw the same thing, like “Did he just hit a Twister on Leonard Garcia?”
Botter: I knew that you guys were probably going to list “The Korean Zombie” and I wanted to do it; that was the obvious choice. But just to change things up a little bit, I went with Pablo Garza for his flying triangle at UFC 129. You don’t see it very often – it’s one of my favorite moves, just because it’s so sweet looking – so I went with “The Scarecrow.”
DIEGO SANCHEZ & MARTIN KAMPMANN
Brown: That was one of the most entertaining fights I’ve seen in quite a long time. Everyone talks about Martin Kampmann and his technical striking; while it did show up some in the fight, he did get sucked in to a little bit of the slugfest style that is Diego Sanchez. Everyone in that arena went crazy when that fight was over. It had a little bit of a controversial decision to it as well. There was a lot about that fight that made it a fun, really good fight. So far, I’m going to give my Fight of the Year to Diego Sanchez and Martin Kampmann.
FRANKIE EDGAR & GRAY MAYNARD
Botter: People forget how good Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar were. It’s July now and the fight happened in January, and I understand that was a long time ago, but seriously — there was no fight better than Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard.
I mean Diego Sanchez and Martin Kampmann is fun and all, but it was ugly; it was not a pretty fight. Edgar and Maynard had drama and technique and speed and skill and everything you should love about the sport. Those guys make my team for that.
Kyte: We started off this year with the best fight of the year; it’s one of the best fights I’ve seen as a mixed martial arts fan. It had such energy and action to it. Nobody thought Frankie was going to survive the first round. Then nobody thought he was going to come out and do what he did over the next four. These two guys have been linked since before the year started, they’re still linked now, and they will be until the trilogy fight finally happens.