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Unofficial Half-Year Awards: The Fights

When it comes to classic bouts, 2010 has kept the organization’s history of excellence intact.

The fights – they’re why everyone tunes in when the UFC is on
television or in a local arena, and when it comes to classic bouts,
2010 has kept the organization’s history of excellence intact. So
without further ado, here are this year’s best thus far.

ufc113_09_stephens_vs_stout_0185 (tie) – Jeremy Stephens W3 Sam Stout

On paper, this UFC 113 bout had all the stylistic makings of a Fight of
a Night, and neither Stephens or Stout disappointed, as the
lightweights went at it tooth and nail for 15 minutes, with Lil’
Heathen emerging victorious via a three round split decision. Early on,
it was all Stephens thanks to his harder strikes, but Stout’s
resilience and fast hands kept him in the fight, and when he scored
with a big body shot in the third, it looked like he was going to pull
out the win. But Stephens shook it off, got back to his feet, and the
two ended the fight the way they began – by throwing punches. Watch UFC 113

UFC Fight Night Evan Dunham vs Efrain Escudero5 (tie) – Evan Dunham Wsub3 Efrain Escudero

Fights like these are a prime example of why MMA has captivated the
world. Two rising unbeaten stars fighting fairly early in their
careers? Unheard of in boxing. But in the UFC, it’s commonplace, and
Dunham and Escudero left it all in the Octagon in order to preserve
their perfect records, but after surviving a rocky first round and a
third round submission attempt, it was Dunham who kept his “0” after
locking in a tight armbar that forced Escudero to reluctantly tap in
the final frame. Watch post-fight interview

GYI00609578244 – Ricardo Romero Wsub2 Seth Petruzelli

If this was what Ricardo Romero does in his UFC debut, what does the
New Jersey native do for an encore? A victim of hard shots and
submission attempts from an ultra-motivated Seth Petruzelli, Romero
refused to go away, and bloodied and buzzed, he hung tough until he was
able to secure a fight ending armbar in the second round. Watch the fight

ufc115_07_condit_vs_macdonald_0033 – Carlos Condit TKO3 Rory MacDonald

Going into their UFC 115 match in June, fight fans wondered whether
20-year old wunderkind Rory MacDonald had the experience to hang with
former WEC welterweight champion Carlos Condit. Well, that answer came
early and often against ‘The Natural Born Killer’, as MacDonald took
the first two rounds of the bout thanks to a dynamic attack that kept
the aggressive Condit off-balance. But in the third, Condit’s
experience paid off as he got MacDonald to the mat and grounded and
pounded his way to victory with seven seconds left. In the end, Condit
got the victory, MacDonald got respect, and the fans got a helluva
fight. Watch UFC 115

GYI00609585032 – Stephan Bonnar TKO2 Krzysztof Soszynski

The first fight between Stephan Bonnar and Krzysztof Soszynski at UFC
110 in February was damn good. Their rematch at UFC 116 made the first
one look like a three round lay and pray fest. Filled with intense
exchanges that could have ended the bout at any number of times, Bonnar
and Soszynski earned their Fight of the Night bonus checks, but it was
Bonnar who resurrected his career with the type of performance that
will guarantee him a job for as long as he decides that he wants to put
on the gloves, bite down on his mouthpiece and go punch for punch with
all comers in the Octagon. Watch UFC 116

GYI00609588791 – Chris Leben Wsub3 Yoshihiro Akiyama

It wasn’t an enviable position to be in – following the second and
fourth entries on this list on the epic UFC 116 card in July, but Chris
Leben and Yoshihiro Akiyama may have taken that as a challenge, as they
went on to put on the best fight of the first half of 2010. Featuring
fierce toe-to-toe action, solid ground work, changes in momentum, and a
shocking and exciting finish, this bout had it all. And in the process,
Leben, fighting for the second time in two weeks, completed his
transformation from MMA’s problem child to legit middleweight
contender. Watch UFC 116

Honorable Mention – Lesnar-Carwin, Cro Cop-Barry,
Simpson-Lawlor, Stout-Lauzon, Grove-Munoz, Grove-Reljic,
Sonnen-Marquardt, Wallace-Hamman, Hague-Beltran, Hamill-Jardine,
Harris-Miranda, Pearson-Siver, Nogueira-Brilz, Doerksen-Lawlor,
Soszynski-Bonnar I

See more half-year lists: Best Knockouts, Best Submissions, Best Newcomers and Best Upsets.