2012 tazmma Fight of the Year
One of the biggest narratives of 2012 was the toll that injuries took on the UFC. For the first time in Zuffa history, a UFC card was cancelled when Dan Henderson pulled out of his fight with Jon Jones mere days before the event. Georges St-Pierre only stepped inside the Octagon once in 2012, as did Jose Aldo, both as a result of injuries. Dominick Cruz was completely absent from competition because of his knee injury and ensuing surgeries. Injuries obviously hampered a great deal of what the UFC wanted to accomplish in their first full year with Fox, but I find it hard to hold the bug in too much contempt.
Why? You ask?
Well, looking back at one of the best action cards the organization put on all year, UFC on Fox 4, injuries played a huge part in making that card as entertaining as it turned out to be. Originally, Mauricio Rua and Brandon Vera both had fights scheduled on earlier cards, but injuries led to them meeting in Los Angeles in August and putting on the type of entertaining slugfest that has become synonymous with ‘Shogun’. As with all great cards, there was not simply one memorable fight, as the Rua/Vera bout was outshone by another main card bout which is my fight of the year.
Another bout that was changed because of injury on the UFC on Fox 4 card was the scheduled match-up between Joe Lauzon and Terry Etim, and we should all be glad it was. While Lauzon/Etim surely would have been a fine fight, its replacement far exceeded all expectations. Let’s all take a minute out to thank injuries for the 2012 Fight of the Year, Joe Lauzon vs. Jamie Varner.
Lauzon is always in exciting fights, as evidenced by him being the recipient of the second most ‘of the Night’ awards in UFC history, and Jamie Varner has received four ‘Fight of the Night’ bonuses in his time with the UFC and WEC as well. Sometimes the results we see when two entertaining fighters square off aren’t particularly enthralling, but in this case both fighters left everything they had in the cage.
Throughout the fight Varner was landing the better strikes, dropping Lauzon twice in the first round alone, and ripping big shots to the body which would have completely sapped Lauzon’s gas tank in the past. Undeterred, Lauzon began to implement his grappling in the second round by forcing scrambles to put Varner in bad positions. What made this fight more than just a good back and forth battle was the fact that Varner actually worked to get out of those bad positions, where in the past he may have succumbed to them. We even got some classic Varner weirdness, as he managed to start the third round without his mouthguard. This isn’t even to mention that he broke his hand for the umpteenth time and switched to a steady diet of standing elbows. Finally, we saw something we haven’t seen out of Joe Lauzon before, and that is enough cardio late in a fight for his dynamic grappling to be effective. He swept Varner off of a double leg, and instantly transitioned to a triangle in the resulting scramble. A beautiful finish to a beautiful fight, and 2012’s fight of the year.
The only downside to this being the fight of the year, is that despite it being aired on free network TV, Zuffa has made it as difficult to find on the internet as possible. However, if you’ve found your way here, I can no doubt assume that you know how to find fights online in one way or another. If not, you know I’ve always got your back.