It’s a wide open field for Fighter of the Year, with no one man clearly standing head and shoulders above his cohorts. Brock Lesnar seemed to be a shoe in after a dominant win over Frank Mir at the legendary UFC 100, but an intestinal illness kept him out of the cage the rest of the year. BJ Penn looked incredible against top lightweights, but could he really be considered the best after losing a one-sided bout to Georges St. Pierre? There was no simple answer. Fighter of the Year is particularly tricky this year, but Heavy.com is here to help.
Spencer Kyte: Jose Aldo
The Brazilian flash has gone 4-0 in 2009, scoring three Knockout of the Night awards and putting on a dominating performance in earning the WEC Featherweight championship from Mike Brown at WEC 44. The scariest part is that Aldo is just 23-years-old and will only keep getting better the more experience he gets under his belt.
Adam Morgan:Georges St. Pierre
Nobody can make a stronger case, based on quality of wins, than Georges St. Pierre for this crown. The Canadian was dominant in victories over current lightweight champion B.J. Penn and top 170 lbs. contender Thiago Alves. St. Pierre dismantled the most focused B.J. Penn we’ve ever seen by taking Penn down at will and forcing him to work from the bottom. He did the same with Alves and neutralized the standup game. You can make a case for Fedor in this category as he had two big knockout wins this year and was on the big stage of CBS for the second one but in my book GSP takes this category hands down just based upon caliber of competition.
Jeremy Botter: Georges St. Pierre
Is there really any doubt? The UFC welterweight champion turned away B.J. Penn and Thiago Alves in dominating performances in 2009. Not only that, he inked a sponsorship deal with Under Armour, becoming the first mixed martial artist to endorse the popular sports clothing company. And though injuries derailed plans for him to fight yet again before Christmas, St. Pierre did enough in his 2009 fights to earn this award going away. A victory over Dan Hardy will likely see St. Pierre — who promises to move up in weight once his walking weight hits 200 pounds — exit the welterweight division in pursuit of a dream fight with Anderson Silva.
Brett Jones: Jose Aldo
For me, this award came down to two fighters: Aldo, and his DREAM counterpart, Bibiano Fernandes. Both fought and won four matches in 2009, and both reached the top of their respective organization’s divisions. However, only Aldo beat the man previously regarded as the best in the world at Featherweight, Mike Brown, to win the WEC title. While Fernandes had the tougher schedule overall, he only had one particularly dominant performance, beating newcomer Joe Warren via armbar in 42 seconds. Aldo made his name synonymous with dominance in 2009, stopping all four of his opponents before the end of round 2, including an eight second flying knee TKO over Cub Swanson.
(Tiebreaker) Jonathan Snowden: Jose Aldo
Aldo exploded onto the scene with one of the most memorable knockouts of the year, putting Cub Swanson into hibernation, and then somehow topped himself by dismantling Mike Brown to win the WEC featherweight title in November.
Heavy.com Fighter of the Year: Jose Aldo