Hello again fans and friends, and welcome to the start of a new series, several new ones in fact. Today marks the first time I take a concrete look at what happened in the previous month of action, with several definitive lists designed to give my full thoughts on all the MMA I watched the month before. Near the beginning of every new month, I’ll wrap up the previous month of action by counting down and listing off some of the month’s biggest moments and brightest stars. I’ll start out with this list: the top five fights of April 2011, featuring all the best and can’t-miss moments of April. Let’s dive right in.
5. Daniel Straus vs. Kenny Foster at Bellator 41.
Starting this list off is a three-round war at Bellator 41 that saw the young and dangerous Kenny Foster take on the soft-spoken “dark horse” of Bellator’s current Featherweight tournament, Daniel Straus. It was clear from the moment the fight started that Kenny Foster had more tenacity and exuberance, but Straus utilized a grinding style and several well-timed blows to take the fire out of Foster. In the end, Straus would win it with a little over a minute left in the fight, submitting the hot prospect and cementing his status as the “dark horse favorite”. As someone who entered Bellator’s tournament with almost no fanfare or hype, Straus rocketed past two very tough, young competitors and sealed his fate with a big stoppage to earn his shot in the finals.
Everyone knew how tough Keith Jardine was going into this fight, that was never in doubt. What was in doubt, though, was his ability to remain competitive against top-flight competition. And in Strikeforce, it doesn’t get much better than a former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion. But Jardine persevered through three tough rounds of action, taking down Mousasi frequently while absorbing all of Mousasi’s best shots. The fight would end in a controversial draw, with many thinking Mousasi should have won. Nevertheless, this was a very tough test for Keith Jardine, and he responded by putting on a very heartfelt display of guts and fortitude, taking a former champion to the limit.
It may have ended quickly, but I can’t think of a better finish in April 2011 in terms of pure brilliance and awesomeness. I’ve called it the Jumping Front Face Kick of Death, mostly out of humor, but that’s exactly what it was. No matter what the technical name of that kick is called, it was a beautiful, expertly-timed knockout blow from former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida. Plus, before that kick, Machida managed to neutralize the clinch game of one of the best pure wrestlers in MMA history. With the way the fight ended, and with Randy Couture going out on his shield and finishing his stellar career by taking on a former champion, there’s no doubt in my mind that this fight belongs on here.
For five straight rounds, Jose Aldo and Mark Hominick pushed each other to their limits. Seeing Aldo struggle against Hominick was the first time I’ve ever seen Jose Aldo have problems dealing with a fighter. Seeing Hominick battle on while having a giant lump on his head was just plain astounding. It was a five-round all-out war of attrition, and it was closer than I ever thought it would be. This could be a “Fight of the Year” candidate before all is said and done.
And the number-one best fight of April 2011 is…
It may have only lasted one round, but what a round it was. I honestly think you could make an argument that Diaz vs. Daley was one of the best one-round fights of the last several years. People were afraid that Diaz wouldn’t want to strike with Daley and turn it into a boring ground battle… and then Diaz started taunting Daley and brawling with him. It was an incredibly back-and-forth fight, with Daley nearly stopping Diaz several times before Nick’s “punches in bunches” style finally cracked Daley’s near-impenetrable chin. Even if it ended at 4:57, I was on the edge of my seat for every single second. And that’s why this fight earns “Best Fight of April 2011”.
And what about you, fans and friends? What were some of your favorite fights of the month?