2012 was another banner year for MMA in Houston, TX. As it comes to an end, I wanted to share my opinions on the best fights, fighters and finishes from the Houston scene from the guys who do it for free.
AMATEUR SUBMISSION OF THE YEAR
Ryan Hollis vs. James DeHerrera at Cage Combat 9
In a fight that would see Ryan Hollis capture the Garcia Promotions 125 lb. title, DeHerrera used his strength advantage to put Hollis on the mat early in the fight. It wouldn't take long for the great submission skills of Hollis to take advantage of a mistake though, as he grabbed an arm bar and finished violently just over a minute into the fight.
Runner-up: Julian Vega vs. Delin Borges at Legacy Amateur Series 7
Honorable Mentions: Robert Yamashita vs. Kaileb Cummins at Legacy Amateur Series 7
Brandon Hanna vs. Yan Digilov at Cage Combat 7
Michael Alvarez vs. Joseph Schnau at Legacy Amateur Series 8
AMATEUR KNOCKOUT OF THE YEAR
Cameron Graves vs. Jose Ceja at Cage Combat 10
In Cameron Graves pro debut he found himself in trouble early on in the fight. Jose Ceja used his stand-up to pepper Graves, who tried unsuccessfully to take the fight to the ground. Ceja may have gotten overconfident though, as Graves used his opponent's aggressiveness to find an opening for a high kick that put Ceja to sleep.
Runner-up: Geoff Neal vs. BC Compton at Cage Combat 7
Honorable Mentions: Aaron Croon vs. John "Chile" Rodriguez at Cage Combat 7
Chris Lopez vs. Michael Eaglin at Cage Combat 12
Servando Almaraz vs. Coltin Boggs at Cage Combat 11
AMATEUR FIGHT OF THE YEAR
Ricky Turcios vs. Ryan Hollis at Legacy Amateur Series 7
Most people would probably have picked a fight that featured a couple of strikers banging away at each other for this award. While that is always fun, this was a battle on the ground between two guys who could have stood and struck, but instead chose to put on one of the best grappling displays of the year. Turcios spent most of the fight on top, but Hollis never stopped threatening with his submissions from the bottom. While the judges scored it unanimously for Turcios, who won the 125 lb. title in this fight, it was one of the most closely contested fights of 2012.
Runner-up: Jacob Silva vs. James DeHerrera at Cage Combat 7
Honorable Mentions: Alex Chhang vs. Hector Cortina at Cage Combat 9
Carlos Jimenez Daniel Delgado at Cage Combat 10
Roberto Sanchez vs. Ramiro Cortina at Legacy Amateur Series 7
AMATEUR ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Jose Llanas (Team Tooke/Pitre MMA)
Long recognized as a top player on the competitive grappling circuit, Llanas proved he is not just a one-trick pony. He debuted at Cage Combat 8 earning a TKO stoppage against Carver Bennett. He then defeated the much more experienced James Powell for the Garcia Promotions 170-pound title in a fight that saw Llanas refuse to tap to a deep armbar in the first round. With his arm badly injured, he went on to win a unanimous decision using one-armed wrestling and ground and pound for the next 4 rounds. We look forward to seeing more of the freshly promoted brown belt in 2013.
Runner-up: Trevin Giles (Elite MMA)
Honorable Mentions: Brandon Gauthier (Team Tooke/Pitre MMA)
Cameron Graves (Team Tooke/Pitre MMA)
Christopher Rivera (ACS)
AMATEUR CARD OF THE YEAR
Cage Combat 10
The best ammy show of the year was the one put on by Garcia Promotions in late July. The card featured two epic title fights (Llanas-Powell and Jimenez-Delgado) and the knockout of the year (Graves). It also boasted excellent performances from Chris Rivera, Victor Lomax and John "Chile" Rodriguez.
Runner-up: Legacy Amateur Series 7
Honorable Mentions: Cage Combat 8
Legacy Amateur Series 8
Cage Combat 7
AMATEUR FIGHTER OF THE YEAR
Jacob Silva (Silverback Fight Club)
Silva was a true iron man in 2012, going 4-1 in his 5 fights while collecting 2 (LAS and CDM) title belts along the way. He won 2 fights in 15 days, both by 3rd round TKO. He was one half of two of the best fights of the year, when he beat James DeHerrera at Cage Combat 7 and Ricky Turcios at Legacy Amateur Series 8. While he would later drop the rematch against Turcios by split decision, it is hard to take away from the work he put in from start to finish in 2012.
Runner-up: Geoff Neal (Twin Wolves MMA-Killeen, TX)
Honorable Mentions: Ryan Hollis (Hard Head Hitters)
Ricky Turcios (Gracie-Barra- The Woodlands)
Kody Williams (Gracie-Barra- The Woodlands)