I am not usually one to do the whole best and worst of the year thing but given it was such a massive year in the UFC I thought I’d have a crack! I am going to focus on 7 categories:
- Male Fighter of the Year
- Female Fighter of the Year
- Fight of the Year
- Comeback of the Year
- Happiest moment of the Year
- Biggest disappointment of the Year
- Biggest shock of the Year
So as the risk of being publically criticised and ridiculed, here are my choices:
Male Fighter of the Year
Now I know this one is gonna ruffle some feather straight away however my male fighter of the year is Vitor Belfort.
Please, start the chants about TRT use and the fact that he didn’t fight outside of Brazil… regardless of any of these discussion points Vitor took 3 of the top fighters in the UFC and left them all lying unconscious on the mat!! First up, Michael Bisping – historically difficult to fight and even harder to finish (unless you are Dan Henderson) however Vitor kicked him right in the head, cut him up and knocked him out. Next was one of the better fighters to come from Strikeforce Luke Rockhold – devastating spinning back kick and he was knocked out! And finally the iron chined Dan Henderson – well after an uppercut and head kick he was knocked out too! In 2013 Vitor reinvented himself from ageing veteran to #1 Contender and potentially the next Middleweight Champion of the World.
Female Fighter of the Year
No real surprises here; although I don’t necessarily think she is a great person there is no doubt that the winner of this category is Ronda Rousey.
Her list of credentials is ultra impressive! First female fighter to fight in the UFC, and what a fight it was. After being in a little bit of trouble courtesy of a Liz Carmouche neck crank, Ronda escaped and shortly after locked in a picture perfect arm bar. Then she confronted The Ultimate Fighter and her old friend Meisha Tate. If you sift through the tantrums, tears and constant ‘flipping off’ you will see that Ronda has a brilliant MMA mind and the knowledge she imparted on her team will be valuable for a long time to come. Then bring on the fight itself; action packed, pulsating 3 rounds of mixed martial arts – honestly the best Judo and ground transitions I have seen from a female fighter ever! The fight finished with another perfectly executed arm bar and that was that. If Ronda can keep her head on her shoulders (and out of her own backside) the world is her oyster.
Fight of the Year
Probably the toughest category of all! Could have selected Hunt vs. Struve, Jones vs. Gus or Shogun vs. Henderson but for me it was the Mexican War – Melendez vs. Sanchez.
I have tried to think of alternate words that describe this fight but ‘WAR’ is the only word that comes to mind. Punches in bunches, haymakers, vicious elbows and the occasional kick where all on the menu in this fight! Throw in a few knockdowns and a cut big enough to park your car in and you have fight of the year. What I loved about this fight was that both men had chances to finish it; Diego got hurt and Gilbert got badly hurt in the 3rd but they bit down on their mouthpieces and beat the living crap out of each other for 15 minutes. When it was all said and done Gil was given the nod in a close decision, I had lost my voice and had pulled a hammy from jumping around so much! The word ‘heart’ gets thrown around a lot in this sport however if you want to see the true meaning just watch this fight…
Comeback of the Year
Time to turn to the Heavyweights for my comeback of the year, and in a true sign that extraordinary punching power and showboating don’t mix, the winner is Bigfoot Silva.
Although it wasn’t a fight for the ages Overeem controlled the first 2 rounds with effective striking and didn’t really allow Bigfoot to implement a game plan at all. Winning the fight 20-18 after 2 Reem came out in the 3rd and played a few games with his hands dangling around his waist. Just 5 minutes from a Heavyweight Title Shot and then WHACK WHACK WHACK… Bigfoot Silva unleashed a tirade of uppercuts, hooks and straights! The result was a muscly crumbled mess lying against the cage with a 260-pound monster circling ready to swallow his prey hole like a massive python. Thank god for Herb Dean or Bigfoot Silva was probably looking at a lifetime ban but his finish (and post fight verbal spray) are enough to win him Comeback of the Year.
Happiest moment of the Year
With so many good things happening in the UFC in 2013 it’s a little sad and sadistic that I take this route, however my winner of happiest moment of the year was Rory MacDonald getting the crap beaten out of him by Robbie Lawler.
Yes Yes I know there were better moments that this but there is nothing I hate more then a cocky, arrogant disrespectful little boy that thinks he is the best thing since sliced bread and has yet to prove anything! His actions towards the great BJ Penn were very disrespectful, the way he basically overlooked Robbie on route to a Welterweight Title Shot was disrespectful, but didn’t that come back to bite him on the bum!! I actually really enjoyed seeing Rory in guard eating massive punches but I enjoyed even more the look on his face when the referee raised Robbie’s hand in victory. So back to the drawing board for Rory… Karmas an ugly beast old son… but you had it coming!
Biggest disappointment of the Year
In such a great year it was initially hard to pick a real disappointment; then I thought about something I was really looking forward to that broke my heart and the answer was simple. The winner of this category is Daniel Cormier’s performance in the UFC.
I loved watching DC in Strikeforce; he seemed to find the right mix between wrestling and power punching and damn he was devastating! But in the UFC he has definitely lost his mojo! His fights against Mir and Big Country literally provided an instant cure to insomnia. I have never seen a man pin another man against a fence for 15 minutes and whisper sweet melodies in his ear. This is mixed martial arts Daniel not wrestling, time to evolve big man!! With so much talent hopefully 2014 will be a better year; however an unfortunate meeting with the 2nd most boring fighter on the planet Rashad Evans will probably have him as a front runner for the winner of this category again next year.
Biggest shock of the Year
No competition in this one! The biggest shock of the year was the definitely GSP’s sabbatical.
I never saw it coming, and I still have trouble believing it right now. In my opinion the best fighter on the planet earth suddenly leaves probably to never return. GSP still has so much to offer this sport; although lacklustre against Hendricks he is still the best 170 pounder alive today so hopefully we see him back in the near future. I have said everything I need to say about this situation in a recent blog ‘What’s the rush…?’ so check it out.
So there it is people, my best and worst of 2013! No doubt some will have different opinions so hit me up and let’s chat!!
Blog by Josh @thefightershub