2013 showed an increase in fight cards and an abundance of truly memorable moments. From crowning the first ever female champion to crowning several new champions and saying goodbye to a couple legends.
Let me start by reflecting on some of the final fights that truly shaped up 2013 in the UFC.
The final fight of 2013, UFC 168, was headlined by the rematch of Wideman vs Silva, which certainly did not disappoint.
Gruesome Finish to a Legendary Career
Although this fight will be widely known for its graphic finish (Silva suffering a gruesome broken leg) it will be more importantly remembered as being the end of one dominate champion and the beginning of another. With that said, although it is not currently official, I do believe that was the last time we will see Anderson Silva inside the Octagon. With many different statements being tossed around, I will say this; Anderson Silva may or may not be the greatest of all time, but he was the most valuable to the UFC and will be a great loss to the organization. Anderson Silva, whether being the good or bad guy (often criticized for showboating), was always an extremely entertaining fighter and every time he walked into the octagon there was a sense of the unknown, unsure of what Anderson would or could do next.
25 Minutes with GSP
This sense is something that GSP was hugely criticized for. Many fans believe that a finish is the only way to have an entertaining fight. In my opinion, that is nonsense. George graced UFC fans with five round spectacles that you could rarely see other fighters accomplish, let alone other athletes or sports teams perform. For the sports fans, all you want to see in your favourite football team is to play four straight quarters or your hockey team to play for three solid periods. Then why when an athlete dominates five straight rounds in one of the most intense sports in the world is he criticized?
With all of that said, I believe that George should not return to the UFC. Having put more time in the octagon than any other fight, no matter how dominate you are, you still take a lot of damage. Although I believe he would look better against Hendricks should the rematch happen in a few years’ time, I believe he left at the right time and on his own terms. The response and respect he got from former and current fighters was great, and should he return he would be forced to fight beyond what he should and potentially lose some of that respect from both peers and fans.
This brings up the issue of fighting contracts and the pressure put on the fighters to continue to fight. I will discuss this in much more detail in another article.
Rowdy Women’s Division has High Entertainment Level
Ronda Rousey had an interesting 2013. She went from being the queen of the UFC by being crowned the first ever UFC Women`s Champion at UFC 157 to being portrayed as the bad guy as she coached against Miesha Tate, a last minute replacement for injured Cat Zingano, on the Ultimate Fighter. The Ultimate Fighter also showed how entertaining Women’s MMA can be as the Women outshone the Men throughout the show. The way Ronda was portrayed throughout the show not only increased the Miesha Tate fans coming into UFC 168, but it also created a steady amount of boos before and after their bout. Although making Ronda look like your crazy ex-girlfriend may have been both easy and helped in increasing the ratings of this seasons Ultimate Fighter, it may not be the best way to treat one of the sports upcoming greats, especially at a time when we are seeing some legends come to an end.
2013 was also the beginning of “official“ divisional fighter rankings as well as a list of the top ten pound for pound fighters in the world. This is obviously very subjective, especially the pound for pound rankings as it breaks down the weight class barriers. I will break down each divisional rankings as well as the top ten pound for pound fighters in a later article, but I will tell you this, the man that is now on top of this list is where he should be.
First Taste of Adversity for Bones
Jon Jones, since joining the UFC, has shown he has the promise to be the greatest fighter of all time. His only loss coming from a disqualification (illegal elbows) in a dominate performance against Matt Hamill in 2012. He started this year by shutting up Chael Sonnenat UFC 159 and ended in an epic battle at UFC 165 in Toronto.
Did Jones’ fight against Gustafsson prove that “Bones“ is human? Yes. Does it show any signs of him slowing down? No.
The light-heavy weight division is stacked to say the least. Jones will face many difficult match ups in the near future making 2014 the most important year for Jon’s career and his legacy.
Mighty Mouse Making Noise in 2013
On a smaller scale (as far as weight goes) we have flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. Of all the champions there were none more dominating than “Mighty Mouse”. From having the submission of the night award and the latest submission in UFC history at 3:43 of the 5th round to a huge knockout in the rematch against Joseph Benevidez. In a pretty weak division, it looks like “Mighty Mouse” will likely continue to dominate for the foreseeable future.
A Rivalry for the Ages
Now to the other side of the scale we saw a rivalry that was finally settled in 2013. Velasquez and Dos Santos III saw Velasquez win the fight in very dominate fashion and finish the rivalry, at least for now. Velasquez also proved that he will be unmatched for a while as he also dominated Bigfoot Silva earlier in the year.
Showtime All Around the Division
In a less stable division and possibly the most stacked for talent the light weight division saw some changes. After Benson Henderson barely squeaked out a decision win over Gilbert Melendez he later lost his belt to Anthony Pettis at UFC 164. Although Pettis won that fight in a relatively decisive fashion talks of a super fight with Jose Aldo is pre-mature and mostly fuelled by Pettis himself.
Aldo was another dominate champion in 2013. Many people thought that Frank Edgar might have been ‘the answer’ but all that fight showed was how dominate Aldo is.
Although 2013 saw Dominic Cruzcontinuing to recover from an injury suffered at UFC Live in 2011 it did show a true contender in Renao Barao, the interim Bantamweight Champion.
To sum up the big moments in 2013 we saw three new champions crowned, two legends fight what seems to be their final fight and several up and comers climbing the ladders at an impressive pace.
Best of 2013
Fight of the Year:
Mark Hunt vs Antonio Bigfoot Silva at UFC Fight Night in Brisbane, Australia
ñ One of the most epic battles in MMA history which appropriately finished in a draw
Jones vs Gustafsson at UFC 165
Knockout of the Year
Anderson Silva vs Chris Wideman
ñ With the fashion in which it happened it is hard not to give this award to Chris Wideman as he dethroned a legend by capitalizing on Silva’s mistake.
Bigfoot Silva vs Alister Overeem
Uriah Hall vs Adam Cella on the Ultimate Fight
ñ One of the craziest spinning head kick knockouts you will ever see. After TKOing Chris Leban at UFC 168 please watch out for this kid
Submission of the Year
Ronda Rousey over Liz Carmouche at UFC 157 via Arm bar
ñ In Rowdy’s 7th fight it was her 7th win by arm bar in the first round
Johnson vs Moraga
What will 2014 bring? Please stay tuned for analysis of fights announced for early 2014, as well as some bold predictions on who is the real deal and who has potential to take a title in 2014.
Ogi is a graduate of Humber College’s Sport Management program. He is the founder of Blago Blogger Sports.