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Missed Fists: Celebrating 2022’s manic martial arts moments, including Car Jitsu, in-cage basketball, a rocked referee, plus the craziest knockouts and submissions

Car Jitsu
@Matysek88, Twitter

In terms of sheer combat sports delights, 2022 is hard to beat.

Not only did we witness the greatest championship fight in UFC history and a packed schedule for MMA’s top promotion that delivered through sheer volume if nothing else, but it felt like everyone from Bellator to the PFL to ONE Championship to RIZIN and everyone in between stepped up their game as the business continues to evolve and the talent becomes even more widespread.

We’re focused on the “in between” here at Missed Fists, which includes some truly strange sights and sounds that I couldn’t comprehend if I hadn’t seen them for myself. But before we get to the freakiest of the freaky, let’s kick off the fifth annual Fisty Awards by looking at the best fighters outside of the major leagues (who probably won’t be on the outside for long).

(hold for applause)

(Big thanks as always to @Barrelelapierna for their weekly lists of the best KOs and submissions, to @Grabaka_Hitman for uploading so many of the clips you see here every week, and to @Matysek88 for diligently shining a light on some of the strangest clips in all of combat sports. Follow them and all the other fight fanatics on Twitter without whom Missed Fists would not be possible).

Fighter of the Year (The Demolidor Fisty)

Christian Leroy Duncan

There’s a chance that Christian Leroy Duncan’s year ends on a down note by the time you read this as he’s scheduled to fight 49-fight veteran Jesse Taylor this Saturday at Cage Warriors 148 in London. Win or lose, Duncan has had a hell of a year, first winning the Cage Warriors middleweight title with a sensational flying knee knockout of Djati Melan and then successfully defending it against Marian Dimitrov.

Leroy Duncan isn’t just here because of style points (though those are an important factor), he’s also the first Cage Warriors fighter to successfully defend the middleweight title since James Webb managed to hold on via majority draw back in 2019. Three champions followed Webb and three immediately passed the belt on.

If Duncan keeps this up, he may someday follow in the footsteps of other luminaries to hold Cage Warriors 185-pound title, a list that includes Gegard Mousasi, Jack Hermansson, and Martin Kampmann.

Honorable mention:

Abdoul Abdouraguimov

Really, the only thing keeping Abdouraguimov out of the top spot this year is that he should already have graduated from Missed Fists to the big leagues. While he’s fighting fine competition in promotions like Ares FC and Brave CF, he’s been on such a hot streak these past couple of years that he deserves to be under even brighter lights.

In February, he became the first fighter to submit Godofredo Pepey and he did it with an absurd inverted triangle hold.

Abdouraguimov went on to beat longtime French standout Karl Amoussou by doctor stoppage to earn his fifth straight first-round victory. Don’t be surprised if 2023 is the year of the “Lazy King.”

Otar Tanzilov

Maybe the next breakout star from Georgia, 24-year-old Otar Tanzilov went 3-0 this year, racking up highlight-reel finishes left and right. He’s probably a year away from breaking through to the next level of competition, but if that means another year of Missed Fists-worthy highlights, we welcome it.

E. Casey Leydon

You all know E. Casey Leydon the critically acclaimed videographer and producer as well as the owner of the best mustache in the game, but in 2022 he added another accolade to his unimpeachable credentials: undefeated fighter.

Showing the grappling instincts of a prime Khabib, Leydon dominated in his amateur debut this past March, proving that there’s at least one media member who knows his way around the inside of a cage. Beware the wrath of “Mr. 30-24.”

Missed Fists Fight of the Year (The Frye-Takayama Award)

Freddy Kemayo vs. Xavier Lessou (Ares FC 5)

There was no bad MMA fight I enjoyed more than this one.

It’s so bad it’s good, and so good that it actually made my personal “Fight of the Year” list. I’m not apologizing for it. Watch that and tell me you’re not enjoying yourself. You can’t.

Freddy Kemayo is a veteran of about a hundred kickboxing bouts and none of that mattered once he stepped into the cage for his MMA debut against Xavier Lessou because this game makes fools of us all. For just under six minutes, Kemayo and Lessou threw nothing but power at each other and it’s amazing that they even came out for the second round. Thank goodness they did though, because the end of the fight was pure theater.

Honorable mention:

Dimps Gillies vs. Josh Kuhne (Eternal MMA 65)

If there was any justice in the world, Dimps Gillies and Josh Kuhne would both be getting an extra $500,000 for this ridiculous throwdown in Gold Coast, Australia.

Check out the full fight on Facebook and see for yourself the action that left Alexander Volkanovski and Jack Della Maddalena with their jaws on the floor.

Adam Meskini vs. Jalal Al Daaja (UAE Warriors 31)

You’ll have to queue up UFC Fight Pass for a proper replay of this fight, but it’s worth it.

Despite potentially being stopped at least three different times, Adam Meskini somehow came out with the win against Jalal Al Daaja and I’m still trying to work out how this happened.

Rogelio Luna vs. Socrates Hernandez (Bellator 277)

Rogelio Luna and Socrates Hernandez’s wildly entertaining scrap was buried in the Bellator 277 prelims and it featured two fighters with a combined 0-1 record, so it has to be eligible for Missed Fists.

This is just two guys standing in the pocket and landing clean shots one another for almost three whole rounds, with a little mixing of the martial arts thrown in. A battle of wills more than anything by the end of it.

Best Punch, Elbow, or Slam KO (The Krazy Horse Award)

Ahmed Abdelaziz

No finish shook me to my core quite like Ahmed Abdelaziz dropping an unknown opponent right onto his face. I’ve had difficulty identifying the man on the wrong end of this slam since the clip went viral and I’m convinced that Abdelaziz might have actually erased him from existence.

Honorable mention:

Justin Sauerzopf vs. Stephen Slattery

Jillian DeCoursey vs. Lindsey VanZandt

Raiden Oliver vs. Patrick Antonides

Nico Jefferson vs. Kurstan Davenport

Cedric Severac vs. David Karp

Marciley Alves vs. Carlos Soares

Ivan Londono vs. Duvan Felipe Lopez

Mehdi Zeidvand vs. Mauricio Cruz

Lewis McGrillen vs. Martin Fouda

Wallace Italia vs. Deydivan Luiz

Jessica Emerick vs. Kaelen Doan

Gabriela Campo vs. Cecilia Lujan

Dong Hyun Seo vs. Sung Hyuk Choi

Best Submission (The Tobikan Judan Award)

Leonardo Casotti vs. Mahmoud Mando

Another highlight that cracked my personal top 5, Leonardo Casotti scored maybe the best calf slicer variation I’ve seen with his brutal submission of Mahmoud Mando.

I don’t know if this is a common technique in jiu-jitsu that I’m just not familiar with or if this particular application of it has become more popular recently, but a lot of fighters will be in serious trouble if this is a standard ground technique going forward.

Honorable mention:

Keith Keogh vs. Ronan Deegan (“Keith-O-Plata”)

Jake Ngai vs. Byron Murphy (Tarikoplata)

Alan Castro vs. Osvaldo Gonzalez

Toshiomi Kazama vs. Shunsuke Miyabi

Sofia Bagishvili vs. Anita Bekus

Mahmoud Ahmed vs. Ammar Tareik

Vladimir Dayneko vs. Alan Makitov (Reverse Cross Side Howdy Breaststroke Choke?)

Raiymbek Asan vs. Alidzhon Shoev

Elaman Shertaev vs. Erzhan Shapauov

Joshua Van vs. Mario Suazo

Marif Mazhidov vs. Artem Demin

Best Head Kick (The Mirko Cro Cop Award)

Patryk Ozog vs. Merab Mamporia

As always, there was no shortage of choice here, with up-and-coming fighters usually being fearless when it comes to throwing out a leg and risking it all in pursuit of a knockout.

No one embodied that ethos more than Patryk Ozog, who went end-to-end for this jumping switch kick to the head.

Honorable mention:

Tae Young Yoon vs. Young Chul Lee

Yuri Neles vs. Maicon Almeida

Max Gandra vs. Bertin Descloux

Brian Hooi vs. Wisem Hammami

Julieta Martinez vs. Brenda Oliva

Juri Ohara vs. Yuma Ishizuka

Paulius Totoraitis vs. Wilf Kelly

Best Body Shot (The Goodbye My Liver, Goodbye My Friend Award)

Jacqueline Cavalcanti vs. Yulia Kutsenko

There’s a lot of directions you could go when handing out an award like this, so I’m going with “holy crap I have never seen that before” and awarding this category to Jacqueline Cavalcanti.

I honestly couldn’t tell you if Cavalcanti was aiming for Yulia Kutsenko’s body or if that was just a happy accident. Either way, it ended in immense pain and a truly unique finish.

Honorable mention:

Bakhachali Bakhachaliev vs. Zharkynbay Zamirbek uulu

Chris Brown vs. Alfonso Leyva

Rauan Bekbolat vs. Kenan Shamilli

Rauan Bekbolat vs. Ramzan Molochaev

Danial Williams vs. Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke

Andrey Pulyaev vs. Aleksander Kurshinsky

Geraldo Neto vs. Luis Henrique Quintella

Best Knee KO (The I Want You To Want Me, I Knee’d You To Knee Me Award)

Aleksandr Vertko vs. Arda Adas

Normally, this category is won by a knee of the flying variety or at the very least a one-shot driver up the middle that sends a brain bouncing against the top of the skull. This year, I leaned towards Aleksandr Vertko going Muay Thai crazy on Arda Adas.

Catching someone with a flying knee out of nowhere is cool. Stalking someone and destroying them with a bunch of knees is cool and scary.

Honorable mention:

Anthony Romero vs. Kenneth Glenn

Ovidio Bojorquez vs. Matthew Colquhoun

Allan Begosso vs. Paris Stanford

Desmond Manabat vs. David Loureiro

Shoji Saito vs. Toshiomi Kazama

Michael Pagani vs. Dylan Hantig

Shawn Da Silva vs. Darien Diego Hevia

Tiago Mohamed vs. Everton

Trey Waters vs. Benjamin Bennett

Best Spinning Move (The We’re Throwin’ Spinning Sh*t Award)

Manny Akpan vs. Connor Hitchens

I’m a sucker for capoeira, so if you can add some of that sauce to your spinning your going to be winning this Fisty, ya dig?

Manny Akpan definitely digs. The Cage Warriors featherweight turned his back and threw blind and dug the sole of his foot right into the side of Connor Hitchens’ head. Practice that one 10,000 times, you’ll never land it as cleanly as Akpan did.

Honorable mention:

Magomed Kabardiev vs. Valmir Lazaro

Aerdake Apaer vs. Yang Guoxu

Mason Wester vs. Kasen Taylor

Dylan Sheppard vs. Dawson Sampson

Jhonnatan Insignares vs. Junior Mesa

Bogdan Grad vs. Tudor Dermenji

Craziest Fall (The Humpty Dumpty Award)

John Yannis vs. Gabriel Echavarry
Michael Oliveira vs. Guilherme Silva

This year, we’re handing out two Humpty Dumpty Awards as we have a couple of more-than-worthy recipients.

First, we have John Yannis causing Gabriel Echavarry to take a full-force dip to the mat that would make the contestants on Drag Race jealous.

Just as memorable was Michael Oliveira leaving Guilherme Silva literally frozen against the fence.

Honorable mention:

Charlie Radtke vs. Caleb Crump

Dastan Maksatbek vs. Giyosiddin Mirzamakhmudov

Jhonata Diniz vs. Guilherme Lazzarini

Bogdan Guskov vs. Alireza Vafaei

Fastest Finish (The Gone In 30 Seconds Award)

Jin Young Lee vs. Gyu Tae Seo

We’re introducing a new award this year and any finish that happened in under a minute is eligible. The winner isn’t strictly decided by speed, but also style and impact.

Keep that in mind as we award the inaugural Gone In 30 Seconds Fisty to Jin Young Lee, for his marvelous one-kick win over Gyu Tae Seo that clocked in at 15 seconds.

And now, a speed run of honorable mentions (seconds in parentheses):

Micky Mills vs. Cian Acheson (4)

Bogdan Gnidko vs. Damian Piwowarczyk (5)

Biniyam Shibre vs. Joshua Simpson (6)

Makoa Cooper vs. Ratavious Thrasher (9)

Kaan Kazgan vs. Mohammad Reza Naseri (9)

Gisela Luna vs. Sofia Montenegro (10)

Keweny Lopes vs. Erick Washington (10)

Gage Saunders vs. Kerry Latimer (11)

Jose Johnson vs. Dulani Perry (12)

Marcus Edwards vs. Leonardo Rodriguez (21)

Hamdy Abdelwahab vs. Tyler Lee (24)

Amir Fazli vs. Mohamad Osseili (24)

Javon Henry vs. Zeke Breuninger (25)

Jake Pilla vs. Josh Krejci (25)

Vladimir Seliverstov vs. Julio Cezar Santana (27)

Tai Zhicheng vs. Zhou Xiaofei (27)

Ray Hayes vs. Austin Spangler (28)

The Weird, Wild World of Fighting Award

If we’re talking the weirdest, wildest combat sports concept of 2022, it had to be the rise of Car Jitsu, right?

Car Jitsu didn’t start this year, but we had some incredible advances in vehicular violence led primarily by the irrepressible Punch Club. Sure, it might look ridiculous at first glance to see grown men battling it out inside of an automotive vehicle for no particularly good reason, but martial arts’ primary purpose is self-defense. Do you know how to defend yourself if attacked in a car? Doesn’t seem so silly now, does it?

Look, I’m not saying that Car Jitsu isn’t kind of dumb, but it’s no dumber than, say, a mainstream sports figure promoting a power slap league. There’s something you’ll never see.

And now, the best of the rest.

Punch Fall a close second

Batyr Ball is what Dana White should be investing in!

Dr. Bosconovitch, is that you?

Just like the coach drew it up

Nah, I’m good

The more the merrier

Please, please, please don’t try this at home (or anywhere!)

I said, “Don’t forget to shut the door!”

The Zuluzinho Saga continues

Remember Blake Perry’s nose?

Marney Maxx, one-handed fighter

Karate Combat

Super heavyweight showtime

Boxing beats pro wrestling

Referee meet rolling thunder

Crab legs and a threesome or three-piece and a soda?

Norman Parke, a heavyweight, and a tiny cage

“Better get some corticosteroids to treat that laryngeal fracture.”

A winner is who?

Strawweight vs. sumo

Rolling into 2023!

If you know of a recent fight or event that you think may have been overlooked, or a promotion that could use some attention, please let us know on Twitter – @AlexanderKLee – using the hashtag #MissedFists.

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