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2012's Unofficial Half-Year Awards: The Fights

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

Chan Sung Jung vs. Dustin PoirierThe Highly Unofficial Half-Year awards are almost over, so enough yapping, you know what you’re here for – the best fights of the first half of 2012.

5 – Anderson Silva TKO2 Chael Sonnen

For pure drama, the rematch between middleweight boss Anderson Silva and number one contender Chael Sonnen at UFC 148 in July will be hard to top over the rest of 2012. The build up to the fight was epic, and as soon as Sonnen took Silva down seconds into the bout, the MGM Grand Garden Arena erupted and the fans didn’t stop until the end came in the second round with Silva on top via TKO. Between those two moments, Sonnen dominated on the mat in the opening frame before Silva rebounded in the second like only he can (Watch Event). Nearly two years of anticipation preceded this championship match, and the end result lived up to the expectations.

4 – Louis Gaudinot Wsub2 John Lineker
The green hair of Louis Gaudinot was flying everywhere on May 5th, and with good reason, as the former Ultimate Fighter competitor had just planted his feet and engaged in a series of furious standup exchanges with Brazilian debutant John Lineker. Representing not only himself in the UFC on FOX 3 show, but his home state of New Jersey and the fairly new UFC flyweight division, Gaudinot fought as if everything was on the line, and Lineker matched him step for step. The end result was a fight that made you demand more 125-pound action in the Octagon and one that showed the world that the winner by submission in the second round – Gaudinot – was not the same fighter at flyweight as he was at bantamweight (Watch Fight). And that’s a good thing.

3 – Benson Henderson W5 Frankie Edgar

Two of the game’s good guys met up in the UFC 144 main event in Japan in February, but Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar fought like bitter enemies for 25 minutes, with Henderson taking a five round unanimous decision and the UFC lightweight title when it was all over (Watch Event). It was a bout that showed off all the best parts of this sport, not just the technical aspects, but the things you can’t really quantify on paper like heart and determination. As usual, Edgar had to bounce back from adversity early, cementing his reputation as the division’s premier action hero, but Henderson kept his cool throughout, picking his spots at times and then erupting with a burst of energy when he needed to. It was just a fun, closely contested fight to watch, and the great part is that we’ll get to see it again in the main event of UFC 150 on August 11th.

2 – Eddie Yagin W3 Mark Hominick

After Mark Hominick fought for the featherweight title against Jose Aldo in 2011 and then engaged in a high-profile bout with “The Korean Zombie,” Chan Sung Jung, a lot of people were surprised when he was matched up with relatively unknown Eddie Yagin at UFC 145 in April. But if some fans didn’t know the Hawaiian, Hominick sure did, saying before the fight, “Even though it’s a newcomer to the casual fan, I know him a lot better than a lot of guys that the casual fan may know. He’s got more of a track record, more experience, and more years in the game than a lot of the guys in our division combined.” So what happened on fight night shouldn’t have been much of a shock to “The Machine,” as a blood and sweat flying three round brawl ensued that easily took that card’s Fight of the Night award. Dropped hard by Yagin in rounds one and two, Hominick roared back each time, and despite a strong closing round, he was on the short end of a split decision verdict which guaranteed that fans would know who Eddie Yagin was from that point forward (Watch Event).

1 – Chan Sung Jung Wsub4 Dustin Poirier
When the UFC instituted non-title five round main events last year, there was concern that perhaps some of the matchups wouldn’t live up to that lofty billing. The featherweight war between Chan Sung Jung and Dustin Poirier wasn’t one of those matchups, especially with both 145-pound contenders being aggressive finishes with high-level fight games. But could their UFC on FUEL TV bout on May 15th live up to expectations? It sure did, and then some, with “The Korean Zombie” continuing to show off his fighting evolution with a varied attack that had him in control early on. But by the third round, fatigue began to set in, and Poirier began to turn up the heat. By the time the fourth round began, the momentum had shifted, and it was “The Diamond” who looked on the verge of a stoppage win. But the Zombie lived up to his moniker, stunning Poirier with strikes before ending the bout with a D’arce choke at 1:07 of the fourth stanza (Watch Event). These were two featherweights delivering heavyweight action, and it was clearly the best fight of the first half of 2012.

Honorable Mention: Ivan Menjivar-John Albert, Brad Pickett-Damacio Page, Carlos Condit-Nick Diaz, James Te Huna-Joey Beltran, Demetrious Johnson-Ian McCall I and II, Jake Ellenberger-Diego Sanchez, John Dodson-Tim Elliot, Igor Pokrajac-Fabio Maldonado, Martin Kampmann-Jake Ellenberger, Evan Dunham-Nik Lentz