View Full Version : Best Of 2009: Breakthrough Fighters

JA Yount
12-30-2009, 12:42 AM

Jose Aldo 16-1

Jose Aldo was the easy choice for the top spot on our "Breakthroughs of the Year" list. His four fights in 2009 all ended by stoppage, and were never in doubt. Aldo’s combination of speed and power make him a dangerous opponent, regardless of match up. He easily defeated Rolando Perez and Chris Mickle earlier this year in WEC, setting up his meeting with Cub Swanson in June. It took just eight seconds, and one highlight reel flying knee, to defeat Swanson. With that win he earned himself a shot at the WEC featherweight championship against Mike Brown. Brown, who had been a dominate champion, looked like the contender in the bout as Aldo controlled nearly every second of the match, until finally finishing Brown early in the second. Aldo started the year as an almost unknown commodity in WEC, and finished as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world.


Gegard Mousasi 27-2-1

Mousasi’s breakthrough did not actually occur overnight, and he was already well on his way to stardom prior to 2009. But, unless you are the type that stays up all night watching Japanese MMA, you may have missed his rise to the top of the rankings. He established himself as the Dream middleweight champion with victories over Denis Kang, Melvin Manhoef, and "Jacare" Souza, but raised eyebrows when he vacated the title to move up in weight. Mousasi stated that he wanted to fight at light heavyweight and eventually heavyweight. In 2009, he submitted heavyweight Mark Hunt, and eventually signed with Strikeforce. He made an immediate impact in America when he captured the light heavyweight title from top ten ranked Renato "Babalu" Sobral by knockout. He later made his CBS debut against Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, winning by knockout again. Mousasi’s 2009 answered any questions about his ability to perform against the best competition, earning a spot in the pound-for-pound debates and now a worldwide fan base.


Dan Hardy 23-6

It is difficult to explain Dan Hardy’s rise up the UFC ladder in 2009. He debuted in 2008 with little fanfare outside of his native England. However, his knockout of Rory Markham in February made Hardy an instant star. He received a big push by the organization when fan favorite Marcus Davis was named as his next opponent. The two traded verbal jabs back and forth for weeks leading up to their bout at UFC 99 in June. The two brawlers laid it all on the line in that bout, with Hardy narrowly escaping with a split decision victory. The brash Brit would cash in on a variety of injuries to other top UFC welterweights that led him to bout with Mike Swick and the winner getting a title shot at champion Georges St-Pierre. Hardy took the November bout against Swick, winning by unanimous decision. Hardy closes 2009 with a guaranteed title shot and a legion of loyal fans behind him.


Brett Rogers 10-1

You would think that losing in 2009 would likely preclude a fighter from making a "Breakthrough Fighter" list. In most cases that would be correct. However, not many fighters had the year that Brett Rogers had. Coming into the year Rogers was not an “unknown," but he was not exactly at the top of anyone's contender list. That would change in his Strikeforce debut against Ron Humphrey in April.

Rogers unleashed a brutal assault, knocking out Humphrey with a series of knees. That win earned him an opportunity to become, what many thought to be fodder, for former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski in June. Rogers would prove all his doubters wrong, and would do it in twenty-two seconds. After demolishing Arlovski, Rogers would be tabbed to welcome Fedor Emelianenko to Strikeforce. He came into the bout with many people declaring that he would be the one to end Fedor’s reign at the top. Alas, Emelianenko proved to be too much for Rogers, knocking out the promising contender. But just making it into a bout with Emelianenko on prime time network television screams that a fighter has arrived as one of the best in the world.

Full Article - Ten Breakthrough Fighters (http://www.mmaspot.net/index.php/redblack/comments/20091228_mma_spots_best_of_2009_breakthrough_fight ers/)

12-30-2009, 02:51 PM
Thanks for the link.

I know I will definitely be watching the guys on this list.

12-30-2009, 04:02 PM
Todd Duffee? Or something like that - HW who knocked that guy out in :7 sec back a few UFC's ago .

12-30-2009, 04:43 PM
Todd Duffee? Or something like that - HW who knocked that guy out in :7 sec back a few UFC's ago .
True, but I think that the fighters listed have some semblance of a "body of work" so to speak. Duffee has just that, one seven second KO. Granted his record speaks more than that (6-0 with all being by KO/TKO), but his first five fights were in very small organizations.