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By: Chris Park, MMATorch UK Specialist
Throughout this week, we'll present a number of articles from MMATorch writers detailing their top ten stories of 2010. Check back during the week for a different perspective on the year that was MMA in 2010.
Paul Daley sucker punches Josh Koscheck, gets exiled from UFC
On May 8 2010 British welterweight star Paul "Semtex" Daley woke up in Canadian city Montreal knowing he was on the verge of what could be a career defining moment. Putting the final thoughts into his bout with Josh Koscheck, Daley knew he was one win away from - not only from claiming a coaching spot on The Ultimate Fighter - but to also challenge Georges St. Pierre for the 170 lb crown.
Less than 24 hours later, Paul Daley found himself on the first flight out of Canada a defeated man for the first time in his UFC career. He would not be coaching against St. Pierre, nor would he be challenging for the welterweight title. Instead, Daley was left pondering his now uncertain future after being banished from the UFC by organisation President Dana White.
A lot of trash talking was involved in the lead up to this fight, and when Josh Koscheck returned to his wrestling roots he dominated the Brit for the majority of the fight, even taunting him while controlling the action on the mat. As the horn sounded to end the fight Daley worked his way back to his feet and threw an illegal left hook at Koscheck which saw stunned referee Dan Miragliotta drag Daley up against the cage.
It wasn't so much the illegal punch that sealed Daley's fate, but the response he displayed when asked by Dana White if he valued a career in the UFC. Daley simply shrugged his shoulders, infuriating White, and the rest - as they say - is history.
Dan Hardy becomes the first UK fighter to challenge for a UFC title
At UFC 111 in Newark New Jersey Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy made MMA history by becoming the first – and is still the only – British fighter to compete for a UFC title. Hardy took on the superb Georges St. Pierre, knowing the vast majority of MMA fans didn't give him a shout.
While Hardy lost a fairly one sided affair, he walked out of the Octagon without a scratch on his face and knowing he had put on one of the greatest displays of heart that a fighter has ever shown.
On at least two occasions Hardy was caught in situations when his arm looked on the verge of being broken; and while many men would and have tapped in such situations, Hardy resisted, fought through apparently excruciating pain and escaped the Canadian's clutches.
St. Pierre himself was in disbelief that his British opponent had not tapped, even asking him after the fight how he managed to stay in the game. When you consider the manner in which St. Pierre dismantled the likes of Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck, B.J. Penn and Thiago Alves, Dan Hardy deserves a lot of credit for the display he put on in Newark - taking one of the most dominant champions in MMA history the distance.
While Hardy didn't leave the Octagon with the UFC title, he took with him a ton of respect and a whole world of new fans.
Michael Bisping's successful 2010
Michael "The Count" Bisping enjoyed a successful 2010. Starting the year by losing a closely contested battle with PRIDE legend Wanderlei Silva, Bisping bounced back to put on a dominating display against Dan Miller.
Bisping returned to the London O2 Arena in October for the first time since UFC 85 to take on the always exciting Yoshihiro Akiyama. Many felt Bisping could fall into trouble against the hard hitting Akiyama, and barely thirty seconds into the fight Akiyama landed a solid right to Bisping's jaw that left the Brit rocked and in retreat mode. Bisping recovered, regained his composure, won the round and then went on to dominate the entire fight.
It was truly a spectacular performance to watch. Bisping fought the identical fight to his previous bout, only this time defeating one of the top fighters in the division. The victory left Bisping looking for one more win, which he stated should be enough to earn him that shot at the middleweight title. When MMATorch suggested he face the loser of the Yushin Okami vs. Nate Marquardt bout the Brit hit back - ”I wouldn't mind fighting the winner, I don't wanna fight losers.”
The victory takes Bisping to 3-1 since his horrific loss to Dan Henderson last summer and all four bouts have been highly impressive. A victory over Jorge Rivera on the card for the return to Oz could see Bisping awarded the title shot he has craved for so long.
The roller coaster year for Paul Daley
Paul Daley endured one of the most incident packed years an MMA fighter will ever live through, as 2010 contained both highs and lows for the Brit. Competing five times, for four different organisations, in three different countries - it was a bitter sweet 2010 for "Semtex."
Opening the year at UFC 108 with a superb knockout victory over Dustin Hazelett, Daley then saw his UFC career in tatters following his post-fight attack on Josh Koscheck in Montreal. Daley kept busy, scoring decision victories in Australia for Impact FC and returning to America to compete for Texas based promotion Shark Fights.
Daley then committed his future to the biggest MMA organisation in America not called the UFC, when he put pen-to-paper on a lucrative deal with Strikeforce. His organisational debut couldn’t have gone any better, as he scored what will have to go down as a career-best finish as he handed Scott Smith a devastating loss. He caught the American with a counter left hook that saw Smith face-plant, going out cold before his head even touched the mat.
The victory sets up Daley for what could be another explosive year, starting with a bout against either K.J. Noons, Tyron Woodley or possibly even Gilbert Melendez next. Should Daley win his next encounter then a shot at Nick Diaz for all of the marbles could be one of the showpieces for the summer of 2011.
Dan Hardy's return snuffed by "The Natural Born Killer"
Looking to bounce straight back from his loss to Georges St. Pierre, Dan Hardy returned home to face Carlos "The Natural Born Killer" Condit at UFC 120 in London. Known individually for their stand up wars of the past, the fans were eager to see what was widely touted as the likely "Fight Of The Night" for the UK return.
With around thirty seconds remaining of the very first round, Condit and Hardy – both standing and trading in the pocket – threw simultaneous left hooks. Condit threw his with immense force and, landing his a split second earlier, caught Dan Hardy on the button, laying him out in front of his home crowd. A couple of follow up shots put the lights out on Hardy and silenced the London O2 Arena.
The loss was the first stoppage of Hardy's career, and left the Brit reflecting on a year he will be glad to leave behind. Looking to rebuild in 2011, a rumoured bout with the dangerous Anthony "Rumble" Johnson with be a tough test for the Brit but, at the same time, has all the hallmarks of a classic.
Brad Pickett ends 2010 on a high note to enter the UFC
The UFC/WEC merge will finally see East-London's Brad "One Punch" Pickett grace the UFC Octagon in 2011 as the bantamweight contender continued to entertain through 2010.
Always expressing his desire for the UFC to put their arm around the "lighter guys," no-one will be happier than Pickett that the UFC finally opened their gates to the very best bantamweights and featherweights in the world.
With three highly impressive performances against Demetrious Johnson, Scott Jorgensen and Ivan Menjivar in 2010, Pickett will take a lot of momentum with him when he finally makes his UFC debut in 2011.
Nick Osipczak first Brit of 2010 cut from the UFC
While 2010 saw the first British fighter to ever compete for a UFC title, there was an unwanted first last year as well. After three consecutive losses in 2010 the UFC made Nick Osipczak the first Brit to be cut from the roster.
Osipczak dropped decisions to Rick Story and Greg Soto before he faced Duane "Bang" Ludwig at UFC 122 in Germany. Osipczak took the first round and almost finished matters, and he also appeared to get the better of the second. Round three saw the Brit completely run out of gas and, despite showing a granite chin, was well and truly beaten in round three.
Ludwig got the nod from the judges, and may count himself lucky to have done so, but the third round left a lasting impression with the powers that be, with Osipczak receiving his walking papers a few weeks later.
A naturally talented and well-rounded fighter; Osipczak is young enough to learn from his experiences and one day return to the UFC a much more experienced and improved fighter.
Andre Winner takes part in "Worst Fight of the Year" candidate
Andre Winner was at the centre of an MMA rule debate after he dropped a decision to Nik Lentz at UFC 118 in Boston. As the considered leader of Team Rough House, Dan Hardy took it upon himself to hit out at Lentz, claiming he "clung to Winner like a sailor to mast during a storm," bringing the sport into disrepute with his lack of "fighting" during the encounter.
Lentz made no attempt to finish Winner at any point during what will be regarded as the least entertaining "Prelims Live" bout to hit screens. Winner was a figure of frustration as he walked away, barely breaking a sweat although still having to accept the loss on his record.
TUF winner Ross Pearson suffers first loss in the UFC
Ross Pearson took on top submission fighter Cole Miller in September with one of two outcomes being an obvious prediction for the observing fan. It would be a fair assumption to predict that Pearson could claim a (T)KO victory over Miller, while Miller himself would be expected to finish things with any one of the submissions he has in his arsenal.
The fight did result in a rear-naked choke for Miller, but it was the build up to the finish that was the most shocking. With only three KO/TKO victories in his 21-fight career, no-one would expect Miller to have much success in the stand up. Miller, however, performed well, using his superior reach to good effect, rocking Pearson before dropping him hard to the canvass.
As Pearson hit the mat, Miller made no attempt to score the TKO and instead instantly went for the submission and found success by finishing matters late in the second round.
The Renegade works back to title contention
Former TUF contestant Dean "The Renegade" Amasinger ended 2010 the same way he began it, with a domestic title shot immanent. Amasinger broke his arm during his February title challenge against Alberto Mina, but managed to battle on until the third round despite conceding the break during round one.
After a long rehab under the supervision of Leicester Tigers' Ollie Richardson, Amasinger came back to win a three-round war against Jermain Facey in October.
While Amasinger was far from satisfied with his performance, he dug deep to grit out the win against the active Facey, despite the fact he had been sidelined for over eight months.
The win will now see Dean Amasinger challenge reigning champion John McGuire for the UCMMA welterweight title in February.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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