The sports world saw a number of great things during the year of 2012. New champions, another session of the Summer Olympics and many other powerful stories captured our hearts from January through December. Now that the year is over, looking back at the special moments and athletes in the mixed martial arts community allows us to reflect on the moments that will remain in our mind. The first individual and moment that we would like to focus on is the individual who should be considered Fighter of the Year.
Looking back from a December 2011 through December 2012 time frame there is one individual who has pushed himself to the forefront of voting for this award. He’s defeated individuals that many didn’t expect him to defeat and done so in resounding fashion. Johny Hendricks has taken the mixed martial arts world by storm during the last 12 months and with the results he’s given, the Fighter of the Year award is his for the taking.
Hendricks has been a Zuffa employee since 2008 when he debuted against Justin Haskins and since then he has been on a tear through the organization. Winning this award should not be as much of a surprise, but the way he’s gone about doing so in such a fashion that has caught everyone off guard. At UFC 141 he did something that no one else in the UFC was able when he stopped Jon Fitch. Twelve seconds after the initial bell, Hendricks had dropped Fitch and blew a hole in the MMA world.
Five months later, Hendricks was standing across from Fitch’s former training partner and close friend, Josh Koscheck. In what was a hotly contested fight Hendricks was able to edge out the split decision and become only the second man to defeat both Jon and Josh. The other individual to do so was current welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. From that point, many expected Hendricks to be the next contender that “Rush” would face, but that would not come true for the former National Champion wrestler.
Martin Kampmann was the next name to fall to “Big Rig’s” power. At UFC 154 Johny needed only 46 seconds to stop the Denmark striker. Hendricks did exactly what he needed to do in order to be considered the number one contender, but once again he would be looked over and placed against Jake Ellenberger for the upcoming UFC 158. Taking to the social media world, Johny has begun his verbal assault against St. Pierre in hopes of getting a title shot if he is victorious.
In 12 months, few individuals have been able to take the positioning that Johny Hendricks has in his weight class. He went from outside contender to the recognized top guy in the weight division that many individuals are calling to see face the champion. If Hendricks keeps this performance up we may be talking about a new champion in 2013 and an opportunity for him to be considered Fighter of the Year after these next 12 months.