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2012's Unofficial Half-Year Awards: The Fighters

The Highly Unofficial Half-Year awards season concludes with the best fighters of 2012 thus far…

UFC middleweight Chris WeidmanI know I’ve made exceptions in the past for fighters with one single defining performance in the first half of a particular year, and while there were many that fit that bill, I’m standing firm to my original premise. So…if you’ve had more than one fight in 2012, you’re eligible here. If not, we’ll see you in January. The Highly Unofficial Half-Year awards conclude today with the best fighters of the first half of 2012.

5 – Matt Brown
Once on the verge of being cut from the UFC, Matt Brown is now on a three fight winning streak, with each fight coming in 2012. Sure, he didn’t beat the level of competition faced by some of the other fighters on this list, but his level of activity, the way he won his fights (knockouts over Chris Cope (Watch Here) and Luis Ramos and a clear-cut decision over Stephen Thompson (Watch Here)), and just the feel good nature of his comeback from some rough times in and out of the Octagon over the years earns him the nod here.

4 – Demetrious Johnson

Ian McCall was considered by many to be the top flyweight in the world when the UFC launched the division in March. Former bantamweight title challenger Demetrious Johnson fought six rounds with McCall over two fights, drawing in the first one (Watch Event) and clearly beating “Uncle Creepy” the second time (Watch Event). Now Johnson has to be considered the top dog at 125 pounds, but only a win over Joseph Benavidez in their bout for the UFC flyweight championship will cement that title in the eyes of the fans.

3 – Fabricio Werdum

Fabricio Werdum’s exit from the UFC in 2008 wasn’t one he would like to remember, as he was knocked out by a debuting Junior dos Santos (Watch Here) at UFC 90. Four years later, dos Santos is the UFC heavyweight champion, Werdum has gone 5-1 with two ultra-impressive victories in his Octagon return over Roy Nelson (Watch Event) and Mike Russow, (Watch Event) and with his world-class jiu-jitsu game and improved standup, a rematch with JDS may look significantly different than the first fight did.

2 – Martin Kampmann
Long respected throughout the fight game, Martin Kampmann is finally having the breakout year people have expected from him since he arrived in the UFC in 2006, and he’s doing it by finishing top contenders in dramatic fashion. First it was his come from behind submission of Thiago Alves (Watch Event) with less than a minute left in their January fight, and then “The Hitman” showed why he owns that moniker as he took out heavy-handed Jake Ellenberger (Watch Event) in the second round after getting rocked and cut earlier in the fight. Will he keep this momentum going? It’s going to be fun finding out.

1 – Chris Weidman
The top spot belonged to Martin Kampmann until Chris Weidman came along and blitzed one of the best middleweights in the world – Mark Munoz(Watch Event) in July via second round TKO. It was the Long Islander’s second win of the year, and while he wasn’t spectacular in his workmanlike decision win over Demian Maia (Watch Event) in January, when you consider that he took the fight on late notice and had to cut an enormous amount of weight in a short time, it makes the victory over the former middleweight title challenger even more impressive. Weidman is the real deal, and fight fans can’t wait to see what he does in the second half of 2012.

Honorable Mention – Mike Pyle, Stefan Struve, Stipe Miocic, Cub Swanson, Charles Oliveira, Steven Siler, Erick Silva, James Te Huna