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MMA's Best In 2011 With Luke Thomas And Dustin Green On The Fight Fix

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From fight of the year to fighter of the year to submission of the year, SB Nation's own Luke Thomas gives his take on the best in mixed martial arts (UFC, Strikeforce, Bellator and more) from 2011 on CSN Washington's The Fight Fix.

Dustin Green, Luke Thomas preview UFC 140
Dustin Green, Luke Thomas preview UFC 140

What was the best mixed martial arts (MMA) fight card of the year? Which fighter had the best performance of 2011? What about the best submission or knockout? Host Dustin Green of CSN Washington's 'The Fight Fix' had your's truly on this week to help break all of this down. I offer my view on the questions aforementioned plus I take a look ahead in 2012 and what should be on everyone's radar.

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19 secs, Fight of the Year: "It was crazy that it happened this late in the year.  I'm gonna actually go with Michael Chandler vs Eddie Alvarez.  I had a close inclination to say Shogun Rua vs Henderson, but for what Chandler was able to do when the odds were stacked against him.  He stated his claim ahead of time about what he was going to accomplish.  And to do so after being in peril, after being tired, and against a fighter who was believed to be significantly better than him, I thought it was a helluva back and forth - a fight where he had to persevere.  I was an incredible win for him and he's the new champion.  I think for m that's a little bit better than a fight where Shogun Rua - great fight against Henderson, but a little bit sloppy, this one had a little bit more technique to it.  I like hat one better."

59 secs, Fighter of the Year: "Jon Jones.  It's pretty simple.   I don't see anyway you can pick against Jon Jones.  Here's a guy who had the best year of any MMA fighter irrespective of weight class.  Sort of noodle that and think about how many great fighters there've been .  How many great runs they've been on.  This guy beat 'em all.  Fought 4 times in a calendar year.  Finished all 4 opponents.  At the end of 2010 he had faced Vladimir Matyushenko.  At the end of 2011, he had defended his title for the 2nd time by putting away Lyoto Machida with a standing guillotine.  He is the best fighter of 2011 hands down."

1:30, KO of the Year: "This one was a little more difficult for me to pick.  There's been some pretty good ones.  I'm gonna have to go with the front kick to the face.  Anderson Silva against Vitor Belfort.  We know Lyoto Machida had his own against Randy Couture.  That looked kind of cool too - it was a little more Karate Kid sort of theatrics to it.  I believe that the skill level/differential between Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort was much narrower than it is between Randy Couture and Lyoto Machida.  He sort of was the 1st guy.  You see it in Tae Kwon Do tournaments, you see it in karate tournaments, but you never have seen it in MMA.  With the stakes so high - it was the fight of the century as it was labeled in Brazil - you gotta give it to Anderson Silva.  What an unbelievable way to dispatch opponents."

2:09, Submission of the Year: "This was the toughest call I think of them all, or maybe the 2nd closest.  I'm gonna say it was a tough choice between Chan Sung Jung & Leonard Garcia - the "Twister" - or more recently UFC 140 Frank Mir vs Nogueira.  I think you could make a very, very compelling case for either one.  In Mir' case, he broke a legend's arm.  The first time this guy's been submitted - at least in MMA.  He's been submitted in grappling tournaments.  To do it on such a stage & after being hurt, that's pretty big.  But, Chan Sung Jung - the "Twister" is such a novel submission.  It's so difficult to pull of.  It's never been done before in the UFC.  You gotta give it to the Korean Zombie on that one."

2:42, Card of the Year: "I think this one was the hardest one to go on and the reason why is not that there haven't been great cards.  There've been a lot of card that were marred by injury, thing went wrong from the top all the way to the bottom.  This was a bit of a challenging year even though the UFC had some breakthrough moments.  This is gonna be super debatable and that's fine.  My choice personally: UFC 129.  Now I know the main event between St. Pierre & Shields didn't really deliver what people were expecting, but I was in Toronto when this went down.  First of all, every aspect of this card was great.  From the 1st fight tot the last there were finishes all the way through.  They had a lot of Canadians on the card who stepped up in big important fights.  You're very 1st of the night ended with a flying triangle!  Yes, the main event not delivering hurts my argument.  You could make a great case for UFC 134 in Brazil.  You could make a case for UFC 139 more recently.  Even 140!  I think top to bottom, even with a suffering main event, you gotta go UFC 129 for me."

3:40, What to look out for in 2012: "There's a lot to look out for.  There's gonna be just an unbelievable amount of shows.  32 shows, Strikeforce is back now as well.  There's gonna be a lot on the plate - Tuf Brazil I think that's pretty interesting.  But for me, I got my eye on one guy.  Guy named Alexander Gustafsson.  He's a Light Heavyweight.  He had a little bit of a rough run against Phil Davis to begin with, but I thought he was surprisingly challnging for Phil Davis and I think he's gotten way better.  I think this is gonna be a year where you see some breakout performances.  Note: when Jon Jones fought Andre Gusmao it was a nice win for him, but no one really knew a Jon Jones was on the rise.  I'm not saying Alexander Gustafsson is on the same level, I'm just pointing out he seems to be ultra talented.  He seems to be getting better.  He's young.  And I think he has a very bright future.  LEt's see what he can do."