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MNMMANEWS AWARDS: Submission, event, upset and rookie of the year Print E-mail
Written by Ben Pherson   
Thursday, 12 January 2017 15:57

Welcome to the annual Minnesota MMA News Awards.

Earlier this month, we asked for nominations from across the state in categories like fighter of the year, most improved, fight of the year, amateur of the year, etc.

Again this year, we did not receive nominations from many people across the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Also, it turns out fighters are HORRIBLE at reading rules ... as several nominations weren't close to qualifying (wrong category, not full nominations, no video, etc). The good news is only one award will be vacant; we had at multiple nominations in every other category.

Once again, only a handful of fighters properly nominated their coach ... others were too lazy to write up even a single paragraph for their mentor, the person who does so much for them. It's mind-boggling to us, that a coach can put in countless hours and yet the pupil can't spend 15 minutes crafting a paragraph about their leader. I guess that's the way it goes.

But it is what it is ... the nominations we did receive were fantastic and very worthy. So, here we go...

In order to win an award, fighters and trainers needed to be nominated — if you see a fight, an event, a fighter who you thought should have won, well, why didn't you nominate them?

After the nomination process, the winners were up to Minnesota MMA News. These awards were not determined by a fan vote. They are MNMMANEWS Awards, nothing more, nothing less. They are, essentially, one man's opinion based on what he saw throughout another year of covering MMA in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Over the next few days we would be handing out 10 awards: Fighter of the year, fight, amateur, submission, knockout, upset, rookie, coach/trainer, event and round of the year.

So, today, we reveal the first four awards for 2016:


Matt Veal def. Mike O'Gorman

For the record, this wasn't our first choice. There were better submissions against more high-level opponents. Gerald Meerschaert's submission of Chase Waldon at RFA comes to mind

... it was two guys on the verge of the UFC, and sure enough, after the win, Meerschaert got the call. Doing that on the biggest stage in the biggest spot of his life against an elite fighter like Waldon was incredibly impressive.


But the nomination from Veal's coach really swayed us here. Frankly, we can't say it any better than Mr. Matt Richer, so we'll let him do the talking here:

"On April 2, 2016 Veal took to the cage and dominated O'Gorman. After a quick exchange, the fight went to the mat where Veal took further control and was quick to finish. Veal methodically cut through O'Gorman's guard to side control where he began baiting and setting up a north-south choke, however O'Gorman attempted to bridge away and Veal quickly transitioned to a "ninja choke" (also known as an) armless darce, which left O'Gorman with the choice of tapping or sleeping. The tap came and Veal became the Savage Entertainment featherweight champ. Savage is a show in which he is 3-0 on, holding wins over the Bash Brothers as well. This was Veal's last fight as he now will step away to focus on family and coaching. Veal has been ranked in the top 10 in Minnesota for about seven years and deserves the Submission of the Year award for this unusual and very slick choke as a nice feather in the hat to cap off his long career fighting in Minnesota. Kid Lightning always brought it and was always an entertaining fan favorite. Give him the love eh!"

That was perfect...here's the video:



Three River Throwdown X

This event took place Sept. 10 at the La Crescent Community Arena, and it was a thriller from start to finish.

There were many worthy nominees in this category. RFA 45 comes to mind, and March Badness 2 at Savage also was glorious. RFA 45 was elite, high-level MMA from start to finish. But it wasn't just a bunch of grinding decisions, it also featured many amazing finishes.

Much like the submission of the year nominee, we are going to let Eric Anderson, who is the matchmaker for Three River Throwdown, do the talking here:

"Three River Throwdown X had more than 1,300 fans and there were 11 fights, including Fight of the Year nominee Brandon Apfel vs. Elijah Phillips," Anderson said. "Only two of the fights ended in the first round, and one of those was an awesome female KO. Three fights were back-and-forth battles that went the distance. We also had a title fight that was amazing; it was stopped in the second round due to a massive cut over a competitor's eye. Fighters in six of the 11 fights required stitches afterward, and one fighter was sent by ambulance to the hospital."

Simply put, this event had a little bit of everything.

Obviously, RFA featured more high-level fighters, but that's to be expected of the one of the sport's top promotions. This gem went down in the far southeastern corner of our great state, and it was deserving of our attention.

Here's a link to the results for that fantastic night in September.



Ben Neumann def. Jordan Larson at RFA 45

Neumann was an underdog for sure, but he proved once again that he never should be written off.

Larson came in with a 6-2 record, having won three of his past four fights, with two of those wins coming in RFA against top-level competition. He's a tough-nosed competitor who hits hard and has a great chin.

But after weathering the storm early, Neumann did what he does best in the second round. He got the fight on the ground, and from there he went to work, setting up a pretty choke and finish, securing what's arguably the biggest win of his career.

Neumann likely will be an underdog once again at LFA 2 on Friday, Jan. 20 at Mystic Lake. He's taking on Minnesota standout Damion Hill in a televised bout. But it's probably time Minnesota MMA fans STOP underestimating Ben Neumann. Though, maybe that's best for Neumann ... the Baker seems to do his best work when people give him little to no shot. But the Baker always has something in the oven, and for that, he earned MNMMANEWS Upset of the Year honors.



No award

We did not have a qualifying nomination for this category. We had several nominations, however none of those followed the guidelines for Rookie of the Year. This category was for a fighter who turned pro in the calendar year. We received several nominations of amateurs who still haven't turned pro. So, this award falls off in 2016 unfortunately.