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USCS Year in Review: Six Major Upsets That Rocked MMA in 2011

Rick Spearman
09 January 2012
Tito Ortiz - US Combat Sports

Fight fans were treated to a series of devastating knockouts, a few bone cracking submissions, and continuously thrilling fights of the night in 2011. The past year also brought heartbreaking upsets that derailed more than a few careers. Here are six major upsets that stood out in 2011.

A major upset can be measured by the cost the fighter pays after the loss. Whether felt by the screeching halt of a win streak, a plunge from the top ten rankings in a weight class, or losing the championship belt upsets can often shatter confidence and pave the long road back from defeat. 

Here are six major upsets that stood out in 2011.

Bellator 58 Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler

Eddie Alvarez defending his Bellator Lightweight Championship against Michael Chandler was originally scheduled for Bellator 54; however an injury for Alvarez forced a postponement of the bout. 

Avarez was still hyped as the top lightweight in the world not under UFC contract. A successful defense of his title was rumored to lead to a rematch with Shinya Aoki, who defeated Alvarez by submission in 2008.  

Michael Chandler had battled through the lightweight tournament winning all four fights, two by submission and two by decision. Chandler, a four-time NCAA qualifier in wrestling, was not expected to match up with Alvarez’s standup and striking. Wrong!

In the first round Chandler silenced his critic’s by almost knocking Alvarez out. The fight was back and forth for the next three rounds with Alvarez chipping away and appearing to take control of the fight. In the fourth round Chandler floored Alvarez, took his back, forcing Eddie to tap out with a rear naked choke. Chandler is now the Bellator Lightweight Champion.  

UFC 141 Jon Fitch vs. Johny Hendricks

Jon Fitch dropped from down two spots to fourth in the welterweight rankings in 2011 after a majority draw against B.J. Penn at UFC 127. A rematch between the two was scheduled for July, but  Fitch pulled out of the fight due to a shoulder injury that hindered him for most of the year.

So, Fitch agreed to meet wrestling standout Johny Hendricks in  knocked Fitch out twelve seconds into the first round. This was Hendricks’s second K.O. of the night in his last three fights.  The loss will drop Fitch further down in the rankings and ended his 6 fight unbeaten streak.

Bellator 51 Joe Warren vs. Alexis Villa

Bellator Featherweight Champion Joe Warren wanted to be the promotion’s first two division champion. However, Alexis Villa only needed a minute and a left hook to knock out Warren. Villa advanced to the finals after a controversial split decision over Marcus Galvao.  

In the finals he would lose for the first time in his career by unanimous decision to Eduardo Dantas. The first round knockout by Villa ended Warren’s five fight win streak and his hopes of winning the Bellator Bantamweight championship.

UFC Fight Night 25 Jake Shields vs. Jake Ellenberger

2011 was a tough year for Jake Shields. In April at UFC 129 the BJJ black belt lost a unanimous decision to welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. In August, Jake’s father and manager Jack Shields passed away.  In the main event on September 17, in New Orleans, Jake Shields and Jake Ellenberger met in the main event.

Shields was struck with a devastating knee to the face and a flurry of punches ending the fight in just 53-seconds. Ellenburger took home the knockout of the night and established himself as a top ranked welterweight.  Shields finished the year with a two fight losing streak and was finished for the first time in over ten years.

UFC on Versus Rick "The Horror" Story vs. Charlie "The Spaniard" Brenneman

Rick “The Horror” Story, a rising star in the welterweight division with wins over Jake Ellenberger, Johny Hendricks, and Thiago Alves, was expecting to fight Nate Marquardt. But within hours of the weigh-in Marquardt was denied medical clearance. Charlie Brenneman’s opponent T.J. Grant also pulled out due to illness. 

This set up the two facing off in the co-main event. Once in the Octagon Brenneman defeated Story winning by unanimous decision. Story closed out 2011 losing to Martin Kampmann by unanimous decision at UFC 139

UFC 132 Tito Ortiz vs. Ryan Bader

Tito Ortiz hadn’t won since 2006, going 0-4-1 since his win over rapidly declining Ken Shamrock. Tito was a huge underdog versus Ryan Bader as “Darth Bader” hoped to rebound from his submission loss to Jonny “Bones” Jones at UFC 126.

Ortiz dropped Bader in the first round and locked in a guillotine choke winning the fight and submission of the night in under two minutes, saving his job with the UFC.

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Last Modified:
09 January 2012

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