Best of Canada 2012: Comeback Fighters of the Year
Fighters come and fighters go, but sometimes they come again after re-building themselves, re-branding themselves, or just renewing their passion for the fight game. Just when you start thinking “whatever happened to that guy”, they re-emerge and re-introduce themselves to, at times, a whole new generation of fans. 2012 was no different as several fighters returned from lengthy layoffs, be it from injury, retirement, work or school and made their triumphant return to the cage.
Top MMA News Top 3 Comeback Fighters of 2012
1. Mike Hackert – Two years ago, Mike Hackert was a Middleweight that had just tasted defeat for the first time at the hands of Nick Hinchliffe after starting his pro career with four straight, slow moving decision victories over some solid competition. Fast forward to March 2012 when the undisputed #1 Heavyweight in Canada, Tim Hague was looking to put a win streak together to get back on track and back to the UFC, in steps Hackert and the questions begin… Why is Hague fighting a Middleweight? What business does Hackert have being in there with a UFC vet? The fight starts and Hackert quickly begins picking apart his opponent, surely he can’t keep this up? Second round, more of the same and again in the third. With three rounds in the books, Hackert has taken a clean sweep on the scorecards and overtaken the top spot in the Canadian Heavyweight division. There were still a few doubters, including Hague himself who signed up for a quick rematch a few months later – this time in the MFC ring. Hackert proved that the first fight was no fluke, finishing Hague with strikes halfway through the first round to earn his first win by stoppage, the #1 spot in the rankings and effectively retiring Hague from MMA. Not bad for a “Boring Middleweight”!
2. Georges St-Pierre – GSP had just taken out Jake Shields, whom many said was to be St-Pierre’s toughest test in a long time but just as he has done many times previously, GSP dominated his foe and retained his Welterweight Title. Next up was another former Strikeforce Champion making his way over to the UFC to try to take his belt. GSP vs. Nick Diaz was one of the most anticipated fights of the year, unfortunately Diaz missed several UFC press events which prompted President Dana White to do some shuffling and thrust Carlos Condit into the spotlight and a UFC title fight, while Diaz would face BJ Penn. With less than two weeks to go until the Welterweight title defense, St-Pierre was forced to pull out of the bout due to a knee injury. Diaz went on to defeat Penn and White announced that Diaz would challenge GSP for the belt at UFC 143. Unfortunately the injury bug reared its ugly head again when it was announced that GSP was out ten months due to an ACL tear and Diaz went on to lose to Carlos Condit for the Interim Welterweight Title. Finally, GSP was ready to return and it was announced that he would look to unify the titles at UFC 154 and did so in his usual dominant fashion. There was no ring rust to be seen following a 20 months absence from the sport. A great comeback by Canada’s top fighter!
3. Guillaume De Lorenzi – De Lorenzi opened his career with a 9-1 record dispatching the likes of Nordine Taleb, Ryan Machan and UFC veteran Dale Hartt on his way to a Top 3 ranking in the Canadian Lightweight division. Well on his way to the UFC, Guillaume suffered a severe injury that put him on the shelf for over two years. Would Il Toro ever return to fighting? Would he return to his dominant self? Guillaume answered those questions with a one-sided victory over Jonny Carson at Bellator 79. Not only is he one of the best comeback stories of 2012, he also received a spot in Bellator’s 2013 Lightweight tournament on Spike TV.
- Tim Jenson – Five years ago Tim Jenson was one of the most promising prospects in western Canada opening his career with a 6-1 record including a win over recently signed UFC fighter Jordan Mein. But as it seems to be with many Team Toshido fighters, Jenson took a long hiatus from fighting. Jenson continued to train but at the time, with MMA still in it’s infancy in Canada, it was just too difficult to make a full time career out of fighting and Jenson was faced with the difficult decision to take a step back and work towards a career that would support him financially. Jenson was originally set to return in the Aggression Lightweight tournament against Kurt Southern but that bout never came to fruition and, ultimately, Jenson made his return with a first round armbar over Lightweight prospect CJ Bagg at Caged Rage 6. With the announcement that Jenson, along with his Toshido teammates Michael Hill and Mike Adams have all signed multi-fight agreements with Aggression FC, Jenson and the rest of the Toshido boys should be much more active in the near future.
- Curtis Brigham – Before the UFC was a household name, Curtis Brigham began in the sport as a way to put himself through university. Brigham put together a respectable 9-5 record along the way despite sometimes fighting well above his natural weight. Once Brigham was finished with school, the intention was to put his education to work a get a job in the real world, however Brigham began coaching full time at his Winnipeg Academy of Mixed Martial Arts and taking care of his fledgling family. After a retirement that lasted as long as some fighter’s careers and the emergence of the lighter weight classes, Brigham decided it was time to return to the cage and took on Matt Trudeau at Aggression FC 11 in Winnipeg. Brigham won that bout in convincing fashion with a first round rear naked choke. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another 8 years for Brigham to step back in the cage as he certainly has the tools to be a Top 10 Bantamweight in Canada.
- Clay Davidson – After losing his pro debut against Dwayne Lewis, Clay Davidson put together a solid 5 fight win streak and felt like it was time to step up to the next level and took on grappling phenom Robert Drysdale and was submitted quickly by armbar. Davidson got right back at it and took on UFC veteran Jesse Taylor in his next bout but again came up short and lost a one sided decision. Just over 18 months later, Davidson, now a Middleweight returned to the cage and picked up a pair of guillotine choke victories over Tony King and Caleb Grummet on 2012 and Davidson will look to continue his new winning streak into 2013.
- Thierry Quenneville – The Surgeon has fought some of the best Canada has to offer with wins over Kajan Johnson, John Fraser and Ben Greer as well as high level international fighters like Douglas Evans and Paul Reed. Each of Quenvillle’s losses had been to top notch competition with his most recent coming in a rematch to John Fraser for the W1 Featherweight Title, a fight that Quenneville was winning until the Haggis Basher came from behind to secure an early fourth round submission due to strikes. Quenneville decided to take a step back from the fight game to focus on his wife and kids due to the effect his family obligations were having on his mental game. Two years and a week later, Quenneville seems to have gotten his mind right and returned to dominate UFC veteran Luke Caudilo and get back in the win column. Hopefully, this isn’t the last time we get to see the Surgeon operate inside the cage!