As 2013 comes to a close, there has been more good than bad, and considering the injury bug made 2012 a terrible year, 2013 was very nice. That does not mean that there weren’t some naughty people in MMA this year, but we can also get a good look at the nice. So who was naughty and nice this year? Well, here is a small breakdown of Santa’s list:
Naughty: Alistair Overeem
Yet another year on the Naughty List for one Mr. Reem. Last year a failed drug test sent the K1 and Strikeforce champion to the naughty list. In an attempt to make the nice list, Overeem made good on passing every drug test, and even laid off the horse meat. Unfortunately for poor little Alistair, taunting your opponents and not taking them seriously is a very naughty thing to do, and if getting knocked out twice didn’t take away your Christmas spirit, then the naughty list will have to do just that.
Nice: Lyoto Machida
Although The Dragon prefers his own urine over a cold glass of eggnog, the karate master has been nothing but good this year, as per usual. From posting hilarious photo’s on Instagram, to saving his friend from further punishment by holding off on ground and pound, Lyoto Machida is overall a great guy. His head-kick knockout of Mark Munoz put him even higher on the nice list, and his sportsmanship afterwards towards his former training partner might have even reserved a spot for him on next year’s list. Not only did Machida put himself on the good list, but he also put himself back onto the title contention list.
Naughty: Rousimar Palhares
Oh Rousimar. Another year on the naughty list for one Paul Harris, or as we’ve learned this year, Palyares. Pailaries? However you pronounce it doesn’t change the fact that Rousimar has been naughty this year. The leg lock specialist became one of the rare UFC fighters who were cut from the promotion after a win. What got him cut from the UFC is also what put him on the naughty list this year. Trying to break Mike Pierce’s leg is not what good fighters do, and when the ref stops the fight, you better be nice and let go. Hopefully Palhares can make a clean run in WSOF, with no early celebrations and no controversial submission holds. Be good in 2014 Rousimar. If you are, you can expect to get Pierce’s leg in your stocking next year.
Nice: Anthony Pettis
What a great year for little Anthony. The older of the two Pettis brothers got his hands on a championship this year, after stopping Donald Cerrone in the first round with a brutal body kick, then later in the year defeating lightweight champion Benson Henderson for the second time with a sweet arm bar in the first round. Not only does Pettis get his name on the nice list due to making short work of his opponents, but he did something that not a lot of fighters would do when getting their opponent in a deep submission. Unlike one man on the naughty list, Pettis felt that Henderson’s arm was going to break, heard a pop and the verbal submission. Before Herb Dean could get his hands on either guy, Pettis had let go, and both fighters separated, causing much confusion among the crowd and viewers. Once Dean waved his hands to call the fight over, the Milwaukee crowd erupted, and Pettis was declared champion. For this act of kindness, even in a championship situation, little Anthony gets his name on the nice list. Heal up though, because a champion who isn’t active can’t make the nice list next year.
Naughty: Dominick Cruz
Oh how it hurts to put an outstanding fighter like Cruz on the naughty list. A great sportsman, an amazing fighter and an all around good guy. But why did little Dom make the naughty list you ask? Well, as mentioned above, you can’t make the nice list if you are not active as a champion. For yet another year, Cruz held onto his bantamweight championship without defending it. Although his injured ACL was an unexpected disaster that looked like it would never heal, holding the championship while Renan Barao ran rampant on the division was not very nice. We’ll see him fight Barao on February 1st at UFC 169, and if Cruz wins he’ll find a spot on the nice list next year.
Nice: Demetrious Johnson
The undisputed ufc flyweight champion has had a spectacular year, one that may see him get Fighter of the Year honors. Mighty Mouse did what no other fighter has ever done in a single year, going 3-0 in championship fights and in each fight earning a different “Of The Night” honor. A Fight of the Night award for his close win over John Dodson, a Submission of the Night award for his late submission of John Moraga, and an absolutely stunning first round knockout of Joseph Benavidez, earning himself the Knockout of the Night award. Johnson is also a new father, seems to be a stand up guy, and has come off as a great headliner for Fox cards. Mr. Mighty Mouse has put on a year most MMA fighters could only dream of, and for giving fans free and entertaining championship fights, has been placed on the nice list.
Others Making The Nice and Naughty List:
Nice: Brain Stann (Life-long reserved spot), Eddie Alvarez, Chris Weidman, Shogun Rua, Mark Hunt, Duane “Bang” Ludwig, Josh Burkman, Shannon Knapp.
Naughty: Ronda Rousey, Tito Ortiz, Pat Healy, Bjorn Rebney, Uriah Hall (too nice is naughty in MMA), Colton Smith, Dana White, Kim Winslow, Sergio Pettis (Water Sergio!), Nevada State Athletic Commission.