If a regular old picture is worth a thousand words, a good MMA shot has to be worth millions.
When the speed of the shutter coordinates perfectly with the action inside the Octagon, the results are thrilling and sublime -- not mention suitable for framing.
Starting below, in no particular order, do enjoy the ten best pictures from 2009 as chosen by experts, fans and UFC.
The Headhunter returned to the UFC and showed he still had it in a three-round battle against six-foot-eleven Struve, who was buckled by this body blow. Watch UFC 107.
It was Fight of the Night, it made Fight of the Year lists and it made a lasting impression on everyone who watched: BJJ black belt Tim Credeur ignored his ground game and went toe-to-toe, blow-for-blow, mouse-for-bruise with heavy-handed Nate Quarry for three unbelievable rounds in September. Watch their battered post-fight interview.
If you follow any MMA buzzmakers, you may have heard that 22-year-old Jon Jones is the Next Big Thing; that he's the future of the sport; that he's got moves inspired by and belonging in video games. But once you've witnessed this acrobatic suplex, you already know all that. Watch the fight.
Some of Frank Mir's opponents get caught up in his trash talk and heap it back; Cheick Kongo didn't fancy stooping to that level and instead refused to make eye contact with the former champ at the pre-fight weigh-in. Mir didn't miss a beat and met Kongo with some body language of his own... which he followed up the next night with a first-round knockdown and chokeout. Watch the weigh-in.
UFC 100 was a night-long series of highlights, but one image became a favorite memory of Hendo loyalists, Anglophobes, those who tire of trash talk and Matt Hamill fans alike -- big-mouthed Michael Bisping getting his bell rung by Dan Henderson. Watch UFC 100.
It was hard to know who to root for when Forrest and Anderson faced off last summer, and this picture shows exactly why they're both fan favorites. Forrest is all grit, muscle and drive, delivering 110% with every punch; the Spider demonstrates his perfect understanding of his power, only expending enough energy to kick, hit, block or dodge with surgical precision. Watch UFC 101 or see the fight on UFC Unleashed on January 19.
John Howard's nickname is Doomsday, but in this shot he's more similar to his nemesis Superman, flying through the air with the power of a locomotive... and an unlucky opponent in tow. Watch the fight.
A well-timed head kick is always a jaw-dropper, be it at the toes of a knockout artist or a former wrestler. Here, the British former decorator shows perfect form during his win over Cobb. Watch the fight.
One of the best things about MMA is that you don't need to know all the rules, moves and histories to understand what's happening during a match (even Marge Simpson was romanced by the purity of the sport). There may be a word for what's happening in this bout, but honestly, does knowing it make a difference? Watch season 9 of The Ultimate Fighter.
How else would you expect a man who rubs his belly in spite to celebrate winning a reality show?! Watch TUF season 10.
and Mike Swick at UFC 99
For those of us who will never have the experience of winning inside the Octagon, this photo may be as close as we can get (legally, anyway) to understanding what it feels like. Hear how he prepared for the fight against Ben Saunders.
Honorable mentions (click to see): the ferocious staredown between BJ Penn and Diego Sanchez at UFC 107; brutal punches between Jay Silva and CB Dollaway at UFC Fight Night Diaz vs. Guillard, Krzysztof Soszynski and Andre Gusmao at UFC 98 and Chris Lytle and Kevin Burns at the TUF 9 Finale; Matt Hamill's high-kick knockout of Mark Munoz at UFC 96; Diego Sanchez' high-flying kick to Clay Guida at the TUF 9 Finale; and post-fight outbursts from Matt Brown at UFC 105, Dan Hardy at UFC 95 and Johny Hendricks at UFC 101.