The midway point of 2012's calendar year has come, which means it is time to recognize the top fighter, knockout and submission of the UFC year to this point.
Fighter of the Half-Year: Martin Kampmann
Danish fighter Martin "The Hitman" Kampmann has earned victories over two top-10 welterweights in Thiago Alves and Jake Ellenberger thus far. The 30-year-old is also on a three-fight winning streak for the first time in over four years.
The victories alone aren't what earn Kampmann the spot as "Fighter of the Half-Year"; it is the fashion in which those victories occurred that makes him stand out from the rest of the group.
In both fights against Alves and Ellenberger, Kampmann was battered and bloodied by his opponents, but managed to find a way to crawl his way back into the fight and earn the victory. In the Alves fight, Kampmann submitted his Brazilian foe with a guillotine choke in the final minutes of the third round after being down on the scorecards. Against Ellenberger, the Las Vegas-based fighter dropped the first round only to come back and knock his opponent out and bring an end to Ellenberger's six-fight win-streak.
Kampmann received a lot of flack earlier on in his career for wilting in fights, especially when he would get hurt. If things got bad for him, it was almost a forgone conclusion that he would love, however, after his last two performances those criticisms can no longer be made by anyone, as Kampmann is now a top-5 fighter in the UFC welterweight division.
Honorable Mention: Jon Jones, Ronda Rousey, and Jose Aldo
Fight of the Half-Year: Chan Sung Jung vs. Dustin Poirier at UFC on FUEL TV 3
On May 15, "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung and Dustin Poirier put on a show that brought the house down in Fairfax, Virginia, in the main event at UFC on FUEL TV 3.
Jung put on the performance of a lifetime when he methodically dismantled Poirier en route to a fourth round submission victory and the third UFC win of his career in addition to of "Fight of the Half-Year" honor.
Although it was a fairly one-sided victory for Jung, the pace of the fight was extremely high from start-to-finish as the two young fighters exchanges strikes, submission attempts and grappling positions for over 15 minutes.
Jung hurt Poirier with his more powerful blows in nearly every round and attempted numerous submissions from multiple positions. After three rounds of beating his opponent down, the Korean fighter dragged the fight to the ground early in the fourth round and locked in a fight-ending D'Arce choke that put Poirier to sleep.
Poirier showed tremendous heart battling through Jung's attack but did not have enough to stop "The Korean Zombie".
The fight really showed what mixed martial arts is all about. If you have a friend or family member who is on the fringe about the sport, show them this fight. They will not be disappointed.
Honorable Mentions: Benson Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar at UFC 144, Daniel Cormier vs. Josh Barnett at Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier, Jake Ellenberger vs. Diego Sanchez at UFC on FUEL TV 1
Knockout of the Half-Year: Edson Barboza def. Terry Etim via KO (spinning wheel kick) - R3 (2:02) at UFC 142: Aldo vs. Mendes
The choice for knockout of the half-year was an easy one. To set the scene a little bit, it was UFC 142 in Brazil last January. The first two-and-a-half rounds of action between lightweight fighters Edson Barboza and Terry Etim were fairly exciting to watch, but nothing special by any means. It looked as if the fight was on the way to going to a decision until BOOM!
Just over two minutes into the third and final round, out of nowhere, Barboza threw a spinning wheel kick that landed flush to the face of Etim, knocking the British fighter out cold and sending him crashing to the canvas.
Etim was knocked stiff for a worrisome amount of time after the kick landed and the crowd and viewers watching at home were left trying to pick their jaws up off the floor.
The spinning wheel kick is not an easy technique to land as a lot of fighters throw it as more of a feeler to gauge distance and keep their opponents at bay. Never before has a fighter in the UFC landed the technique with such precision and power. The devastating knockout was an easy choice for "Knockout of the Half-Year", but don't be surprised to see it keep the top spot as the best knockout of 2012 when December 31 comes around.
If you've never seen the knockout, or even if you have and just want to see it again, watch it right here.
Honorable Mention: Anthony Pettis def. Lauzon via KO (Head Kick) at UFC 144, Jose Aldo def. Chad Mendes via KO (Knee) at UFC 142, Dan Hardy def. Duane Ludwig via Knockout (Elbows) at UFC 146, Justin Lawrence def. John Cofer via Knockout (Head kick) at The Ultimate Fighter: Live Finale
Submission of the Half-Year: Charles Oliveira def. Eric Wisely via Submission (Calf Slicer) - R1 (1:43) at UFC on FOX 2: Evans vs. Davis
Charles Oliveira made history at "UFC on FOX 2″ on January 28 when he submitted Eric Wisely with the first ever calf slicer submission in UFC history.
The fight was Oliveira's first in the featherweight division after competing at lightweight for all 14 of his career bouts prior to facing Wisely. The calf slicer is not an easy submission to secure by any means.
It requires skills, technique, and quite frankly, a little bit of lucky. Why luck, you ask? Because locking in the submission requires securing a position behind your opponent where you can bend your opponents heel towards their buttocks with your own leg between the calf and hamstring, which applies so much pressure that the opponent either must tap-out or have their knee blown out. That's exactly what Oliveira did.
Due to its rarity, Oliveira's submission was by far the most impressive from the first six-months of year. The win earned the Brazilian fighter a $65,000 "Submission of the Night" bonus and a place in the record books.
Honorable Mentions: Ronda Rousey def. Miesha Tate via Submission (Armbar), Dustin Poirier def. Max Holloway via Submission (Mounted Triangle-Armbar), Paul Sass def. Jacob Volkmann via Submission (Triangle-Armbar)