Voting ends tomorrow and it's not likely he'll move on, but it is still a win for Edson Barboza that his knockout of Terry Etim from UFC 142 this January is a nominee for “Play of the Year” at ESPN's yearly award show, The ESPY's.
The voting is done in a tournament format in the case of this award with a sixteen-nominee tournament. Barboza's kick is a 14-seed going against Louis Oosthuizen's double-eagle on the second hole during the final round of The Masters. To the average sports fan, The Masters is the most identifiable and famous golf tournament there is. To that same type of fan, MMA is still something to be considered underground and one kick KO isn't going to stand up.
This writer has seen both plays and was blown away by both.
The final day of The Masters has to be one of the most stressful days for a golfer, especially if they are in contention. Not only was Oosthuizen in contention on the final day, but the double-eagle he scored on hole two gave him the lead. Oosthuizen eventually lost to Bubba Watson thanks to a late shot by Bubba that was just as mind-blowing.
Barboza's knockout is still this writer's pick for KO of the year in MMA and is still one of the best moments in MMA in 2012. The main reason that this play won't end up winning is because not so much for the sport it came in, but because the fighter isn't a star. Had it been a KO from Lesnar or Velasquez or Aldo or Jones or Anderson Silva, then it would carry more weight with people. But this KO was in the undercard of a show in Brazil with no big name on the card other than Aldo.
Still, the fact that a lesser known fighter was able to produce a moment that the most mainstream sports network on the planet, ESPN, would nominate over any plain KO by someone more known should be seen as a good sign for the sport.
ESPN's coverage of MMA is, in this writer's opinion, 99% dedicated to UFC. And why not? They are the most known and successful promotion on the planet. But they aren't the only promotion on the planet, and not even the only promotion in this country. The other 1% (estimated) of ESPN's coverage of MMA revolves around Strikeforce, Bellator, and any other major MMA story that comes out. If ESPN wants to seriously cover MMA as opposed to just showcasing it as a fad, they need to continue moving forward along with the sport. MMA Live is a nice start, but it's going to take more than just that and having Anderson Silva or Brock Lesnar in the studio once or twice before a major fight to make die-hard fans believe you're taking the sport seriously.
This writer has voted for Barboza and would like to believe that he'll make it at least to the next round of voting. But whether the play does or doesn't, it is still a big positive for the sport of mixed martial arts.
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