Lyoto Machida – He is 2-0 in 2009 with 2 huge wins. Obviously, he becomes a fighter of the year candidate for earning the belt, but perhaps the argument for Machida for fighter of the half year of 2009 cannot be found on a fight record. Many people caleld Machida a boring fighter who ran from opponents. I do not know of another contender that was as questioned as Machida. He proved the doubters wrong with two highlight reel knockouts. He really impressed with a dominant performance and amazing KO of Rashad Evans to earn the most coveted belt in MMA…the light heavyweight title.
Mike Thomas Brown – He proved he was not a one hit wonder. He successfully defended the WEC featherweight belt twice earning victories over Leonard Garcia and Urijah Faber. With those victories Brown cemented his spot as the best featherweight in the world.
Nick Diaz – Many though Diaz was done. He did not look great in EliteXc taking losses to K.J. Noons and Mike Aina. However, Diaz rebounded in the middleweight division with impressive wins over Frank Shamrock and Scott Smith. Granted, these guys are not top ten fighters, but Diaz showed off great boxing skills and he looked dominant. The only reason Diaz is not ranked higher is the quality of competition.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua – He was highly criticized after his win over Mark Coleman, but he rebounded with a big win over Chuck Liddell. Shogun will get a crack at the UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 104 when he takes on Lyoto Machida. The winner of that bout will likely earn the honor of “Fighter of the Year” for 2009.
Brett Rogers – He hasn’t done enough to earn the top spot, but he jumped up the rankings with his KO win over Andrei Arlovski, who may be the dud of 2009. Rogers will likely get a crack at the Strikeforce heavyweight belt against Alistair Overeem in September.
Cain Velasquez – He is 2-0 in 2009. He was another hyped fighter who proved doubters wrong. He earned a solid victory over Denis Stojnic, which he followed with a dominating win over Cheick Kongo at UFC 99. Velasquez is now a real threat and a real contender in the UFC.