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2011 Year End Report: The Middleweights

| December 24, 2011 | Reply

Anderson Silva is the king of the MMA middleweight division and the best pound for pound fighter in the world. He disposed two opponents this year alone, one by dazzling face kicks, the other by sheer dominance to avenge his last loss by beating Yushin Okami last August.

Below are the remaining men yet to test the waters with “The Spider” but have had their share of success and failures over the past year. MMA Valor presents the 2011 best and worst in the middleweight division and who to look out for in 2012.


Mark Munoz (12-2) Looking better in each outing and evolving his game, Munoz has had a dominant run this year and positioned himself for a title contention match next month against Chael Sonnen. Strengthened by his training family at Reign Training Center in California, “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” is showing fans and the world he is more than a wrestler inside the cage.

Winning two of his three fights this year by KO/TKO; he has power in his hands and is becoming more comfortable throwing them. Crediting his knockout loss to Matt Hammil as the motivation for him to become a better fighter, focused on training to achieve champion status, it could be a possibility should he overcome former training partner Anderson Silva.

Hector Lombard (31-2) The best fighter in the world to not fight inside the UFC octagon currently, Lombard extended his win streak another year; his last loss was a unanimous decision from Gegard Mousasi in Nov of 2006.

Despite the criticism some have given him of fighting sub par opponents, it is important to note many factors: anything can happen in a fight and he is always victorious; he has faced and defeated UFC veterans (Jesse Taylor, Brian Ebersole, Jay Silva and others) and is skilled in every aspect of the game. 2012 should be the year for the ATT fighter to finally make a way into a Zuffa contract and against the best in the world.


Chris Leben (22-8) Starting off rocky with a KO loss to Brian Stann in January, Leben bounced back by decimating and finishing MMA legend Wanderlei Silva in under thirty seconds this summer. Most recently he was finished after two rounds in England against Mark Munoz and then ran into trouble outside of the cage yet again in his storied career.

Post fight tests for the Oregon southpaw revealed he had oxomorphine and oxocodone in his system going into UFC 138 and faces a year suspension. Not the first time to pop dirty, things appear that Leben has lost focus altogether on being a professional in the sport and it’s hurting his image to fans, sponsors and students who train with him. Admittedly wrong for his actions, hopefully the time off will allow “The Crippler” to give the sport everything or walk away for good.

Yoshihiro Akiyama (13-4) Entering the UFC in July 2009, the Judoka had only one loss on his record. Winning his debut in a contested split decision did not sit well with fans and other fighters, Akiyama has since gone on to lose three consecutive fights. Looking at a pink slip in his next bout, he holds the home field advantage by fighting in Japan (UFC 144) and will be dropping to welterweight to face off with Jake Shields. The weight cut should allow for more explosiveness from “Sexiyama” who is not scared to trade punches with anyone.


Michael Bisping (22-3) Love him or hate him he is dominant at middleweight and is improving on his quest for a title shot. Fighting next in January on UFC on FOX: Chicago, “The Count” will be tangling with BJJ genius Demian Maia. If he can dictate the bout and pace like he did against Jason Miller, he will easily have a case for a title shot in mid 2012.

If you missed any of the previous weight classes in our 2011 year-end review you can click here for the welterweights.

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Tags: Anderson Silva, Chris Leben, Hector Lombard, Mark Munoz, Michael Bisping, Middleweight, Mixed Martial Arts, MMA, Year End, Yoshihiro Akiyama

Category: Exclusive, Featured, MMA, Opinion

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