Congratulations to BJ Penn, OTM's MMA Fighter of the year!
With three wins in three weight divisions (including a title victory) and promoting one of the top MMA organizations in the world, BJ Penn has certainly had a stellar year.
MMA Fighter of the Year
This was definitely a tough category to call, and quite a few writers and organizations have come up with differing opinions on who the top MMA fighter of 2004 should be.
Wanderlei Silva certainly had a tremendous year going 4-1, including a spectacular rematch against Quinton Jackson, and a split decision loss against a much larger (and hard headed) Mark Hunt.
Fedor Emelianenko also had a trendous year, going 4-0-1, with impressive submission victories over Coleman, Randleman and Ogawa, as well as dominating Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in their third rematch (the second match being the no contest).
But we here at OntheMat have elected upon BJ Penn for MMA Fighter of the Year. If you're a long time reader of OntheMat, you'll know that we've been friends with BJ since long before he even captured the Mundial Gold, and he's continued to surprise us each and every year by constantly seeking out new challenges.
So BJ began 2004 by moving up a weight class and taking out who many considered the fighter of the year of 2003 Matt Hughes in quick fashion to be crowned the UFC Welterweight Champion in a fight that nobody (except us that is) expected him to win.
BJ then gets a big money offer from K-1 to fight Duane Ludwig back down at the 155 pound class, which he wins with relative ease again. Although this caused him to be stripped of his title by the UFC, the resulting boost from K-1 into his own promotion, Rumble on the Rock, catapults the event to the very elite of North American cards.
Then in front of a sell out crowd of over 8000, BJ moves back up in weight to 185 to take on the previously undefeated Rodrigo Gracie and wins again in dominating fashion.
A training injury forced BJ to withdraw from the K-1 New Year's Eve show. With his accomplishments in and out of the cage, and his continually pushing himself, winning three matches in three weight categories, earns BJ our pick for top MMA fighter of 2004.
Tomorrow will have out final thought and wrap up on 2004. Keep coming!