Amateur Fighter of 2009: Thomas Campbell

Even though MMA may not have the most developed amateur system, there are still many fighters out there plying their trade in the ranks. In 2009 a handful of amateur fighters received some mainstream attention through the Las Vegas based Tuff-N-Uff promotion. However, on the other side of the country Thomas Campbell put together a solid run, and earned himself the title of the Amateur Fighter of 2009.

Campbell, a 23-year-old featherweight, began fighting two years ago. After a few fights, the native of Clarksville, Tenn. began training with Ron Daley at SSF Submission Academy. In 2009 Campbell went 10-1 to run his overall amateur record to 16-2.

The highlight of his year was winning an eight-man HookNShoot tournament. On that night, Campbell defeated three opponents to take the crown.

Read more Card of 2009: UFC 100

With the UFC putting on an ambitious number of shows there were fears that their product would become diluted. Yes, there have been some instances like UFC 108 and 109 when fans have been upset about the quality of a card. However, when MMA’s biggest promotion wants to put on a huge card they pull out all the stops.

In 2009 the UFC did just that for their 100th numbered card – UFC 100. Despite the fact that it was not a real milestone, the promotion still hosted several memorable fights. The contests not only looked great on paper, but also entertained the MMA viewing public.

The card featured two title fights, a showdown between coaches from “The Ultimate Fighter” and the debut of a foreign superstar. In the end it lived up to the hype and provided enough excited to be named the Card of 2009.

Read more Knockout of 2009: Fedor over Arlovski

All MMA fans know that Fedor Emelianeko is a great fighter. Deep down even the most vocal detractors realize that he can do things in the ring or cage that makes fans stand and applaud. In 2009, he gave us a few of those moments. One such moment earned him the knockout of 2009 award.

During the days leading up to Affliction’s second show so much of the talk was about Andre Arlovski’s improved boxing. In preparation for the fight, the former UFC champion trained with famed coach Freddie Roach. A lot of people thought that this would propel Arlovski to a win over the WAMMA champion, but after about three minutes of fighting he was face down on the canvass.

Arlovski, who had been backing the champ up with straight punches, attempted a flying knee. Emelianenko timed an overhand right perfectly and dropped his opponent. Arlovski was out before he hit the ground. He laid motionless, face down, for several moments before he woke up.

Read more Robbery of 2009: Beebe vs. Easton Decision

Judging and the way fights are scored in MMA became one of the hot topics in 2009 for fans and pundits. It seems as if the end of every UFC event was followed by people saying “someone got robbed” or “the ten-point-must system must go.” However, in 2009, there was no judging failure that could compare to the decision in the Chase Beebe vs. Mike Easton fighter – the Robbery of 2009.

The decision was terrible. It was so obviously wrong that it could not even be considered “hometown cooking.” Beebe clearly won four of the five rounds and even Easton’s biggest supporters couldn’t claim he won more than two.

The decision was terrible. Mike Easton, the most popular fighter in the DC metro area, was booed loudly less than an hour from his home city. The fans who paid to see him fight knew that he did not deserve to win.

Read more Comeback Fighter of 2009: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

If you stopped watching MMA after January 2009 you might think this award was some kind of a joke. However, no other MMA fighter experienced a bigger comeback in 2009. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua finished up his year with a controversial loss in a light heavyweight title bout. The fact that he was even competing for a title makes him the Comeback Fighter of 2009.

Two years after shocking the world in Pride FC, Rua made his UFC debut against Forrest Griffin on Sept. 22, 2007. The former Middleweight GP champion was clearly not himself and submitted late in the third round.

From that point on Rua’s career was marred by injuries. He needed multiple surgeries to repair a lingering knee problem. He sat out the entire 2008 campaign.

Read more Female Fighter of 2009: “Cyborg” Santos

Elite XC did a lot of ridiculous things that caused MMA fans and journalists to smash their heads against the proverbial wall. However, one of the positive things they did was bring attention to women’s MMA. The promotion that brought us $kala also brought us Gina Carano and the 2009 female fighter of the year.

Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos put herself on a collision course with Carano in 2008. After Elite XC closed their doors, the fans hoped that another promotion would save the match up. Eventually Strikeforce stepped up and signed the fighters.

Before taking on the so-called face of women’s MMA, “Cyborg” had to get by veteran Hitomi Akano. The fight almost didn’t happen since Santos didn’t even come close to making weight. In the cage, “Cyborg” was entirely dominant as she finished her undersized opponent late in the third round.

Read more Submission of 2009: Toby Imada’s Inverted Triangle Choke

When Bellator Fighting Championships released the brackets for their first lightweight tournament almost everyone looked forward to an eventual final between Eddie Alvarez and Jorge Masvidal.

One of the few people not interested in the match up was Toby Imada. In the end he actually inserted himself into that final with a brilliant submission hold also known as the Submission of 2009.

On May 1, 2009, Toby Imada faced off with Jorge Masvidal for a chance to fight for the Bellator lightweight championship. Throughout the first two rounds, and most of the third, Masvidal basically landed at will. He seemingly had the answer for all of Imada’s offense.

Read more Disappointment of 2009: Josh Barnett

Classic heavyweight fights are a rarity in MMA. There has always been a dearth of talent. Competition between promotions always ends up fracturing the already weak weight class. So, when Affliction announced Fedor Emelianenko vs. Josh Barnett, MMA fans thought they were in line for something special.

In the end, the fight never actually happened and Affliction ended up closing up shop and running back to Mr. White. For this failure, Barnett earns the award for 2009’s biggest disappointment.

Toward the end of his Pride FC tenure, Fedor Emelianenko started taking on fighters that were not bona fide challengers. After’s Pride’s demise this trend continued.

Read more Breakthrough Fighter of 2009: Muhammed Lawal

"King Mo" made his name in 2009Tenured MMA fans know about wrestlers in the sport. They’ve seen it turn out well like with Randy Couture and Dan Henderson, and they’ve seen it turn out terrible (see Ron Faircloth vs. Alessio Sakara at UFC 55). However, until 2009, MMA fans had not seen anyone quite like Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal – the Breakthrough Fighter of 2009.

After coming up literally one match short of the 2008 Olympics games, Lawal turned his attention to MMA. He finished the year 2-0 after scoring finishes over Travis Wiuff and Fabio Silva under the Sengoku banner. “King Mo” was born. The table was set for the former Oklahoma State Cowboy to have a king-sized 2009, and he did not disappoint.

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