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Un-caged: A look back at the year’s best action
Now that the dust has settled, it’s time to take stock of the biggest winners and losers from the previous 12 months.

2011 HAS SEEN an unprecedented amount of action inside the Octagon and now is the perfect time to look back at the best of it, preferably over some mulled wine and mince pies.

Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard

The year kicked off with a great bout for the lightweight championship. The chief protagonists, Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard, would have to face each other again before the year was out, making their first, indecisive encounter only the opening salvo in a lengthy battle.

Maynard’s victory looked all but assured after a devastating performance in the first round, but The Answer exhibited incredible powers of recovery to steady the ship and earn an improbable, belt-saving draw.

A re-match was virtually agreed upon in the cage, and when their second clash of the year got underway, history looked eager to repeat itself.

Maynard opened strongly, nearly finishing Edgar in the first round.

This time, however, the 30-year-old recovered quickly enough to force the pace in the next two rounds and finally get the better of his rival by achieving an unexpected knock-out.

It proved a dramatic end to an enthralling trilogy of fights.

YouTube Credit: Thinkboxxer

Dan Henderson and Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua

Two light-heavyweight giants of the sport collided in November and produced one of the best MMA fights all-time.

Henderson was fresh off a decisive victory over Fedor at Strikeforce, while Shogun was looking to build on his recent demolition of Forrest Griffin.

The two had managed to avoid one another in their early UFC career, meaning the stage was set for a titanic, suspense-laden battle.

They didn’t disappoint.

Henderson was on top in the early stages of the fight and came close to finishing the job a couple of times, but Rua managed to regroup and finish the stronger of the pair.

Both men took heavy shots and were rocked at stages during what amounted to a multi-round display of total commitment. When the final bell sounded, all in attendance knew that they had witnessed something very special.

YouTube Credit: FlyWinMMA

The year of Jon Jones

Despite all the great fights, the year undoubtedly belongs to the current light heavyweight champion, Jon “Bones” Jones.

Jones hasn’t looked back since depriving Shogun Rua of his championship belt in March, and has ended the year with the scalps of Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida and Ryan Bader on his beating stick.

One of the most dominant and ruthless performers of the year, Jones has got to the stage where it doesn’t look like anyone in the division can provide adequate competition for him.

A super-fight between the Rochester native and Anderson Silva is on every MMA fan’s Christmas wish-list.

YouTube Credit: highlightking81

Here’s hoping 2012 provides us with as much cracking fights as this year did.

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