The nominations have been cast and the proverbial Octagon door has been slammed shut. Leading MMA magazine Fighters Only have announced the finalists for the official 2009 World MMA Awards, and now the fighters in question face their final battle of the year to beat off their respective rivals.
Over the past six months, MMA fans across the globe have been voting via the World MMA Awards website to nominate their Fighter of the Year, their KO of the Year, even their Gym of the Year amongst 15 other categories.
Votes have arrived in their droves, categories have been contested more eagerly than a $100,000 contract between Forrest Griffin and Stephen Bonnar, and ultimately those 18 categories have been narrowed down to just five finalists each.
Now is the time when your votes count as the sport’s true voice more than any other.
On December 30th, MMA fans will be able to witness the world’s top fighters strutting down the red carpet in their James Bond tuxedos as they gather at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, where the historic first official World MMA Awards ceremony will take place.
Some lucky fans will even be able to purchase tickets to gain access to the ceremony itself; further details can be found on the World MMA Awards ‘Buy Tickets’ page.
Dana White will be there as a strong candidate for 2009’s Leading Man and he will be joined by a who’s-who of the Mixed Martial Arts world, prompting wild speculation that even Rampage Jackson may make a Kanye West-style appearance to dispute Rashad Evans’ claims for Best Knock-out.
Like the Grammy awards in music or the Oscars in the film industry, these awards will sit alongside the UFC Hall of Fame in shaping the sport’s history.
They will become the no-questions-asked bible by which we remember the MMA greats. Your votes and your votes alone will determine if Brock Lesnar is remembered in the same regard as Randy Couture, they will establish if historical reflections have Anderson Silva eclipsing Georges St-Pierre. In a world of speculation and counter claim, these awards will spell things out in black and white.
When the debates begin over who was the more legendary fighter out of Dan Henderson and Wanderlei Silva, for instance, a World MMA award settles all arguments.
That is the significance of your vote.
The finalists have been decided, but the identity of the winners remains totally in your hands.
One glance on the World MMA Awards website at the Fighter of the Year nominees proves that the categories are about as tight as a Lyoto Machida/Shogun Rua showdown.
Who deserves their arm raised for 2009’s Best Fighter out of pound-for-pound animal Georges St-Pierre, Brazilian artists Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida, heavyweight monster Brock Lesnar, and WEC crowd-pleaser Mike Brown?
Brown cemented his place in the Best Fighter group with a breakneck battle against Urijah Faber at WEC 41, but if you could only see one fight again in your lifetime would you overlook the ridiculously punishing tear-up between Diego Sanchez and Clay Guida for Fight of the Year?
What about the KO of the Year? How do you separate a punch that rocked the world by Rashad Evans, from the impish jab that tested the rewind function on television boxes around the globe by Anderson Silva?
For those who witnessed it, 2009 will also always be the year when British MMA truly stamped its mark on the world scene, but will that get officially recognized as Michael Bisping, Dan Hardy and Terry Etim compete against the likes of Gegard Mousasi for the European Fighter of the Year award?
And what about the vote of the purists? Submission of the Year always recognizes technical brilliance, so it’s no surprise to see BJJ masters Demian Maia and BJ Penn going head-to-head for the greatest grappler gong.
If all of the above categories are rewarding the stars of today, the award for Best Breakthrough Fighter is a mark of appreciation for the stars of tomorrow.
All five Breakthrough names come from the UFC, proving that the Ultimate Fighting Championship is once again the place to be for the stars of the future, and 25 of the overall 30 nominees for fight-related awards come from the sport’s premier organization.
Fighters Only do not just want to recognize the fighters though, they want to salute the men and women who are contributing towards making MMA the fastest growing sport in the world today.
Arguably the most contested of these awards is Coach of the Year, which sees Greg Jackson and Mark Dellagrotte competing with Shawn Tompkins, Ricardo Liborio and Greg Nelson to be crowned the greatest mind outside of the Octagon.
If you had the choice, which coach would be your go-to man?
Dellagrotte is the man behind arguably the most improved fighter of the year in Kenny Florian, although Tompkins may have something to say about that with Gray Maynard and Tyson Griffin under his guidance. Greg Jackson and Greg Nelson both train champions in Georges St-Pierre and Brock Lesnar, as does Liborio who boasts Mike Brown and welterweight contender Thiago Alves.
One man has never made a team though, and there will truly be some pride at stake in the Gym of the Year category, where American Top Team, Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts, the Wolfslair and Xtreme Couture take on the Brazilian juggernaut that is Team Black House.
Throw in a vote for the sport’s Best Ring Girl, the world’s Best Female Fighter, and the year’s most popular MMA Clothing Manufacturer, and it is fair to say the 2009 World MMA Awards have got all angles covered.
The only thing remaining is for the most powerful voice, you the fans, to cast your final vote.
As MMA fans the majority of you will have been there since the very start and will therefore have experienced the honour of witnessing Hall of Famers such as Royce Gracie and Randy Couture. Others in the future will not have been so lucky.
In 50 years’ time a new generation of MMA fans won’t be able to cast their minds back to 2009…they didn’t live it. They will be relying on your votes to give the truest representation of what we witnessed so that when they look back to the first ever World MMA Awards, they know which fighters ruled our respect.
The UFC has been nominated for Best MMA Brand, Best MMA Promotion, and Best MMA Gloves, while UFC fighters dominate all others categories.
To have your say on whose hands each award goes to, make the industry’s true voice heard by going to the World MMA Awards website, voting closes in only 2 weeks time on December 5th from then the winners will be calculated.
For details on how to purchase tickets to the ceremony itself, go to the BUY TICKETS page now.