2010 was a Heavyweight YearPosted on December 29, 2010, 08:06 PM by Joey Santosus
With the final major event of 2010 behind us, we begin to reflect on all of the memories and milestones that made this an amazing year in Mixed Martial Arts.
Upon doing so though, you may begin to notice a pattern emerge. From Brock Lesnar returning from near death to successfully defend his title, to Fabricio Werdum's shocking submission win over Fedor Emelianenko, it was undoubtedly a year to remember. However, some of 2010's biggest moments were created by those residing in the sport's Heavyweight division. With this in mind, lets take a look at some of the fighters responsible for bringing the Heavyweight division out of the shadows and back to the forefront in 2010.
Brock Lesnar survives a brush with death, then a brush with Shane Carwin
Although the former Heavyweight Champion may not have faired quite as well in his second bout of the year, battling back from near death due to a severe case of diverticulitis to successfully defend the title was undoubtedly one of the biggest story lines of the year. After collapsing while on a hunting trip in Manitoba, his return to MMA was questionable to say the least. But when the self proclaimed "Baddest Man on the Planet" survived a first round thrashing at the hands of Shane Carwin and sank in an opportunistic arm-triangle choke to force the tap at UFC 116, it was clear that Brock was back.
An Aztec Warrior rises in Cain Velasquez
With five consecutive UFC victories to his name, Velasquez came into 2010 as one of MMA's most highly regarded prospects. However, after his dramatic knockout victory over Pride legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in February, Cain had graduated from an exciting up-and-comer to a serious contender. Still, the question remained... How would the 6'1 240lbs. Velasquez fair against the 265lbs.+ monsters who stood between himself and the title? Though it would have to wait until October, Cain responded convincingly as he erased any doubts, defeating Brock Lesnar via vicious first-round TKO to become the new UFC Heavyweight Champion.
Randy Couture chokes the "Lights Out" in Boston
Although the UFC Hall-of-Famer started off the year fighting at 205lbs., defeating fellow veteran Mark Coleman in a match that was a decade overdue, Couture was more than willing to step up to Heavyweight to meet a loud-mouthed, trash talking professional boxer. After all, its a division he has reigned over on three separate occasions and even more importantly, James Toney would have never let him hear the end of it if he hadn't. In fact, Tony's pre-fight boasting had become so convincing, that even long time MMA fans couldn't help but consider the potential ramifications on the sport if Couture were knocked out by the boxing icon. However, when their August match-up rolled around "Captain America" wouldn't disappoint. After immediately dragging Tony to the mat, Couture used an arm-triangle choke to cut off his air supply, forcing the multi-division boxing champ to wave in submission as the crowd erupted in chants of "U-F-C."
Alistair Overeem proves he's a strike ahead of the competition
As the year got underway, Overeem's dominance overseas and chiseled physique had put him under fire amongst some who questioned whether or not this was a natural progression... or otherwise. However, come May the "Reem" was back in the U.S. to face Brett Rogers and defend the Strikeforce Heavyweight title. It would take Overeem just over three minutes to dismantle Rogers, and perhaps more importantly, his post-fight urinalysis was clean. "The Demolition Man" then headed back overseas for the K-1 Grand Prix Tournament, where he would eventually defeat Peter Aerts in the final to become the first ever Champion of a major MMA promotion to simultaneously hold the K-1 title.
Fabricio Werdum dethrones the Russian Emperor
While Fabricio Werdum competed just once in 2010, he achieved something that 30-plus fighters, over the span of a decade, failed to accomplish before him - He legitimately defeated "The Last Emperor" Fedor Emelianenko. When Strikeforce originally announced the match-up the general consensus among the MMA community was that Werdum would be nothing more than another name on the Russian's storied resume. Unfortunately, come fight night it seemed that Werdum hadn't received the memo and as Fedor rushed in to finish the grounded Brazilian, something no one was prepared for occurred. Within moments Werdum had secured an armbar-triangle choke combination, giving a nearly unconscious Emelianenko no option other than to tap just 69 seconds into the fight.